Not all landings go to plan in the Red Bull X-Alps.
In video and images of the Red Bull X-Alps you’ll sometimes see athletes pulling off some spectacular landings – often slotting down between trees or into small green fields.
Most of the time this goes well and the athlete can quickly pack up and convert from flying to hiking mode within minutes.
But somethimes athletes can mis-judge it and their glider can fall into a bush, or get wrapped up in a tree. Sometimes, the pilot even lands in a tree.
In popular paragliding spots in the Alps where there is a lot of forest cover there is a saying: “There are two types of pilots – pilots who have landed in a tree, and pilots who will land in a tree.”
It’s not comfortable, it can be embarrassing, and it can also tangle up and sometimes even damage the lightweight paragliding equipment. But very rarely is it life threatening or truly dangerous.
When incidents like tree landings happen at the Red Bull X-Alps our first thoughts go to the safety of the athlete. Are they ok? Do they need emergency assistance? If they do, then that is immediately organised.
However, if athletes are ok and they prefer to manage the situation themselves, then that’s fine – we know their teams can take care of it. We continue to monitor what is going how but we step back. We know they are in a high pressure situation and our teams know not to add to that.
Landings that go awry can end up taking a lot of time to sort out – that is the main problem for athletes racing. But once they have been sorted out the athlete tends to get back on track very quickly and back in the race. That is the true spirit of the Red Bull X-Alps.
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