Meet the Race Committee

Ever wondered where decisions get made? The Race Committee is where all the big calls are made, from athlete selection to deciding the route, from race rules to the day-to-day running of the event. The committee consists of Race Director, Race Organizer and Event Director. 
 

Red Bull X Alps 2023 Ulrich Grill
© zooom

Race Organizer: Ulrich Grill

Bio: In 1994 Ulrich was the co-founder of the Red Bull Acro team together with Hannes Arch and Andy Hediger. He was an aerobatic hang-glider pilot and adventure photographer. It was Ulrich who co-founded the race with his friend Hannes in 2003.

Tasks: Ulrich is the Race Organizer and brain of the race, taking care of the strategy side of things, everything from sponsorship to media deals, from rules to day-to-day organization, as well as millions of other details.

When Hannes and I created the Red Bull X-Alps 20 years ago we never imagined we were inventing a sport that would inspire millions of followers all over the world.

Red Bull X Alps 2023 Ulrich Grill
© zooom
Red Bull X Alps 2023 Ferdinand Vogel
© Ferdinand Vogel
Red Bull X Alps 2023 Ferdinand Vogel
© Ferdinand Vogel

Race Director: Ferdinand Vogel

Bio: Appointed in 2022, Ferdinand is an instructor and test pilot, who flies for the German national team and who also works for the German paragliding association, the DHV. Based in Innsbruck, Austria, he was supporter to Pal Takats in 2017 and knows the race intimately. He takes over from Christoph Weber who decided to take a step back after many years at the helm.   

Tasks: Athlete selection, rules, airspace regulations. During the race it’s the job of the Race Director to monitor the tracks and progress of every athlete, watch for infringements and ensure everyone is following the rules. The race director is constantly in touch with athletes, checking they’re ok, but also issuing penalties – and eliminations when required.

Being involved in the most exciting adventure race that I know makes me proud. I'm happy to be there for the athletes and to ensure a fair race.

Event Director: Jojo Pölzl

Bio: Jojo is an event organizer who’s been organizing big sports events since the mid 90s. Besides the Red Bull X-Alps he’s been behind the FIS Ski World Championships, UCI Road World Championships and numerous Red Bull events. Jojo has a remarkable ability to make everything and everyone be in the right place at the right time while never losing his famously dark sense of humor.   

Tasks: Jojo is in charge of the events team whose job is to ensure everything is set up and co-ordinated properly for the Prologue, Race Start, Turnpoints and Finish. With the race spread out over hundreds of kilometers at any one time it’s an incredibly logistically demanding job.

RBX23 Juergen Wietrzyk
© Jürgen Wietrzyk
RBX23 Juergen Wietrzyk
© Jürgen Wietrzyk

Safety Director: Jürgen Wietrzyk

Bio: Jürgen is an international mountain guide and former professional rock climber who's made many ascents up to grade 8b and knows the whole area of the Alps. He was also a climbing partner and great friend of the race mastermind Hannes Arch, which is how he came to be involved in the Red Bull X-Alps when the first edition launched from the Austrian Dachstein in 2003. He's been looking after safety officially since 2007. He still guides clients but besides his role with the race, he's also a qualified psychotherapist. 

Tasks: Jürgen has one of the toughest jobs in the race – creating the framework conditions to make sure the race is as safe as possible. This means constantly monitoring conditions in the mountains from the weather to the avalanche situation, advising on mandatory safety equipment and being in constant touch with athletes, the Race Committee and relevant authorities.

Safety rules are one thing, but ultimately, the best and most important person to judge whether a risk is acceptable is the athlete.