Elizabeth (Eli) Egger is one of the rookies in the 23′ Red Bull X-Alps. She’s also a paragliding instructor, Niviuk team pilot, high-level competition pilot (we sat down after the Superfinal in Mexico to have this chat), has supported Simon Oberrauner (2017) and Aaron Durogati (2019 and 2021) in the X-Alps, and has a very interesting professional background in earth mapping and engineering. In this wide-ranging talk we discuss her training for the upcoming race and what she’s learned from supporting Simon and Aaron, preparing for comps, progression, instruction, and going to bat against the best in the world.
The media magic maker Ben Horton just released our 2021 Red Bull X-Alps Highlight video! This year was an epic battle, mostly against the elements. Window-breaking hale, epic storms, mesmerizing lightning, torrential rain and endless strong wind (strong S and N Fohn wind) defined the race. In a word- it was scary. It was also an epic adventure and after a really rough start Team USA made some nice moves, avoided elimination and gave it everything we had. Here’s a short film produced and edited by Ben Horton, complete with some incredible drone footage of our 12 days across the Alps.
This year’s Red Bull X-Alps, if you could put it in a word- scary. We didn’t have a single “standard” day of flying with light wind, nice cumulus, and good base, unless you count the Prologue! We had incredible heat the first three days, low base, wind and stable conditions, then the thunderstorms started, strong Fohn from the South and North, window-breaking hail, severe lightning and really, really strong wind for the remainder of the race. Every athlete I spoke with at the awards at the end had a look of just going to battle. For the first time in my four races, the bad weather got everyone, regardless of where you were on the course, and it didn’t let up. There were times when all 12 pairs of my shoes were soaked. After a good showing in the Prologue and going into the race pretty beat up from a crash at the end of May, and carrying the remainder of a flu into the race, which later turned into some kind of pneumonia (we’re not sure, but it was ugly!) and having a terrifically bad start, Team USA 1 started clawing back.
A few months ago I interviewed Bastienne Wentzel about her book “Paragliding, The Beginner’s Guide” and at the end of the interview Bastienne turned things around and interviewed me for her magazine about the upcoming X-Alps, my history in flying, preparing for this campaign vs previous campaigns, why learning is so addicting, flying and family, making a living through flying (sort of!), the book (Advanced Paragliding), why the X-Alps and flying itself is so addicting (and could it be without the risk?), comparing the Alaska Traverse and the X-Alps, what the spectators miss in the race, the most memorable days, how to eat for the race, dealing with the physical trauma, the wonderful impact of the fans and a lot more.
In all my years of flying I’ve never been so excited for a new wing to arrive. With the 2021 Red Bull X-Alps getting close I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve heard from Niviuk’s test pilots and their lead designer Olivier Nef; and the photos I’ve seen on social media have displayed an extraordinarily profile, but you never know until you have it in your hands and take her for a spin.
This is another Ask Me Anything show that we typically release as bonus content but we got so many great questions that cover such a wide range of topics we’ve decided to release it as a regular show and for this one I went out to the experts to get the answers. Max Jeanpierre, Bruce Goldsmith, and Reavis Sutphin-Gray take on a wide range of questions, and their answers are gold. Enjoy!
Ziad Bassil is someone most pilots who have gear questions already know. His blog the “Dust of the Universe” is probably (definitely?) the most comprehensive independent gear testing site on Earth. He does it solely for pleasure and is PROLIFIC. If it flies, he flies it and then gives his many, many followers his opinions.
In this episode we discuss why we are sometimes in the “flow” and confident and everything is just clicking and why at other times we can’t seem to get anything right, and how we can maybe improve the odds to be in the former. Felipe talks about how important it is to visualize how a wing flows through the air and how understanding fluid dynamics, which he learned through surfing and shaping lent to not only flying better, but lent to designing better wings. Felipe’s story is fascinating, hope you enjoy!
It was a remarkable week- nearly 1,000 km in three flights, all of them one personal best after another. But the big one is a pretty wild story in extreme conditions in huge terrain on a very marginal day at best, and one that probably should never be repeated. Top speeds of 115-120 km / hr in the flats is one thing, but flying over 6 major mountain ranges from Idaho deep into Montana at that speed is certainly living on the edge!