The Breakdown: 2019 Red Bull X-Alps

The Red Bull X-Alps is a year of serious endeavor. Physical training. Flying as much as possible, especially in tricky conditions. Tightening up the game. Packing fast, moving fast, thinking fast. Assembling the team, getting all the tech dialed (this is endless in itself), the preparation and planning never ends. And then FINALLY 11 am arrives on the first day of the race in Salzburg and all of that is behind you and for the next 11+ days you have an adventure that is nearly impossible to articulate. It’s heaven a lot of the time and it’s also hell some of the time. And it’s everything inbetween.

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Episode 96- Christian Ciech and a life of Hang Gliding

Christian Ciech has been flying Hang Gliders for over 30 years. He remembers watching his Dad fly when he was just four years old. He has an arsenal of trophies that showcase his legendary competition skills, including 3 World Championship wins. Christian became a test pilot and designer for Icaro in 1991, a position he still holds. In this episode we discuss competition strategies and the art of winning, how to read the sky and flying the conditions you find…[more]

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Episode 95- Willi Canell and wrestling with the Risk

Willi Canell will represent the US in the 2019 Red Bull X-Alps, the 5th US athlete in the history of the race to call Sun Valley, Idaho home of the 10 US athletes who have competed. He’ll be lined up with me in Salzburg June 16th in the greatest game on Earth as a rookie. He’s my neighbor, flying partner and consistently surprises me with the way he thinks about this crazy sport we all find so compelling. I invited Willi onto the Mayhem because he recently shared his private journal with me and I found his thoughts and ideas about paragliding, risk, training, fitness, and the ultimate question- why we all do what we do not only fascinating but informative and thought-provoking

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Episode 94- Patrick Von Kanel and the greatest Game on Earth

Patrick Von Kanel is only 25 years old but in a few days he’ll be one of the athletes to really watch in the Red Bull X-Alps. His mentors include Michael and Chrigel Maurer, he’s a test pilot for Advance, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s of course Swiss (no non-Swiss pilot has ever won the X-Alps), he’s solid in acro and he came in second in his last two hike and fly races- to the Eagle himself, Chrigel Maurer.

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Episode 93- Wolfgang (Wolfi) Siess and the Hang Gliding obsession

Wolfi Siess has been chasing it hard for the past 19 years. He watched his Dad fly from the time he began to walk- the flying blood runs thick in this family! As soon as it was legal (and his mom gave him the ok!) Wolfi took to the skies and hasn’t looked back since. He’s big on the comp scene, flies tandems all summer, speed flies, makes films- basically does whatever he can to keep the dream alive. Four years ago Wolfi tumbled low on a perfect day in Elsinore and a delayed fear injury set in that took over three years to come back from.

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Episode 92- Marcella Uchoa and breaking the Women’s World Record

Marcella Uchoa breaks the Women's world record

On October 25th, 2018 Marcella Uchoa flew into the record books by flying 411 km across the Sertao, Brazil. She broke Seiko Fukuoka’s record of 402 km in Australia set in December of 2015. Marcella was in good company, team flying with Rafael Saldini, Frank Brown, Samuel Nascimento, Marcelo Prieto (the same group who flew 564 km to break the world distance record a few years back) as well as Sebastien Ospina, an ace pilot from Colombia.

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Episode 91- Rick Heatley and the pucker factor

Let’s face it- sometimes things go wrong. And sometimes you get lucky. This is one of those stories and there is a LOT here we can all learn from. Rick Heatley was having a lovely day in the sky on a near-perfect day at a new site on the rugged and wild Vancouver Island, British Colombia when suddenly things went proper pear shaped. Moments later he was on a super steep slope, his wing was in a tree and he was in knee deep snow. It was going to be a very long, cold night…

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Bonus Segment- Jeff Shapiro and the Thermal Crescendo

We’re working on a series of weather shows and Nik Hawks recently jumped on the phone with Jeff Shapiro to talk weather and they headed off into a super interesting direction for about 15 minutes into a talk that Jeff has been giving to his students about how thermals work…and the strategies we need to employ to use them effectively. “Use some fu$%ing discipline!”. Find yourself bombing out in comps? Frequently frustrated by a shorter day than you could have gotten? Listen up.

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Episode 90- Threat and Error Management (TEM) and Free Flight

TEM is a simple system that helps pilots identify threats so they don’t lead to errors which if they multiply could lead to an “undesirable aircraft state.” It’s simply an awareness protocol laid out through a series of checklists and procedures that become built-in threat mitigation.  Threats in all forms of flight are ubiquitous- internal and external threats are everywhere. So how can we use this remarkably successful program in free flight to reduce risk?

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