Our Mayhem editor Myles Connolly is about 350 hours into his flying journey and is leaving soon for an SIV course with Jocky Sanderson in Turkey. We thought it would be fun to connect and have him fire questions at me about all the things he’s currently curious about as his XC skills and training progress. Hike and fly; risk related to big events like the Red Bull X-Alps; how to approach Vol Biv (gear, locations, top landing, distance, etc.); Wing and gear developments and the new 2 liner C wings, gear choices and a lot more.
Gaspard Petiot is a mountain guide and very accomplished pilot who competed successfully in the Red Bull X-Alps in 2015 (5th, Monaco), 2017 (broken wrist, withdrawn after leading day 6) and 2019 (7th, Monaco) despite having very bad knees. In this episode we rewind the clock as we have done with the others in this X-Alps series and hear the behind-the-scenes stories that the fans didn’t see on live tracking.
Manuel Nubel has competed in four Red Bull X-Alps, starting in 2015. On Team USA 1 we call him the comeback kid. He often starts in the middle or back of the pack but gets stronger and more crafty as the race goes on. We rewind the clock to 2015, his first race and find out the back story of landing in a tree on his way to Monaco and the hilarity that ensues, the ups and downs of his campaigns, (for example having to quit due to exhaustion in 2017, and making a series of magical moves in 2021 which saw him climb from 16th to 6th in the final days of the race) and his decision to not compete in 2023, but why we may see him again in 2025.
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.
We keep the absolutely nutty going this week with 5-time Red Bull X-Alps competitor, 2 X Superfinal champion, and winner of just about everything in our sport, Aaron Durogati. Aaron and I sat down in person on the final day of the Superfinal in Valle De Bravo in Mexico and he had me in stitches from the get-go. Aaron is a fantastic story-teller and his triumphs and beat-downs in the X-Alps are jaw dropping. Enjoy these incredible amazing tales from the edge!
We’re continuing the theme of radical stories from radical people this week with Honza Rejmanek, who competed in 5 Red Bull X-Alps from 2007 to 2015. Honza begins the storytelling in 2007 with what has to the hardest start in the history of the race after eating some questionable food the night before the event even started, puking (and worse) all night, spending the night on the Dachstein because he could barely move, and then the long fight back. We learn about his podium in 2009 shared with Red Bull X-Alps legends Chrigel Maurer and Alex Hofer…
Tom De Dorlodot has done more Red Bull X-Alps than everyone other than Toma Coconea (who has done them all!). The Belgian explorer extraordinaire started at the tender age of 21 in the 2007 race and hasn’t missed one since. He is currently training for the 2023 event, which will be his 9th! We got together recently to dive into his campaigns just after he and his family moved into their new home on the island of Faial in the Azores. We rewind the clock to a time where teams didn’t have GPS, athletes used paper maps (in the air!) to navigate, and a Russian athlete carried over 20 kg on his back! As we wander through Tom’s highs (getting to Monaco in 2019…) and lows (getting evacuated in 2015…) of his campaigns we tap into all kinds of great advice for pilots dealing with risk (who doesn’t?), family (ditto!), and living life to its fullest.
Steve Bramfitt was a rookie in the 2021 Red Bull X-Alps (GBR1) this year and had a phenomenal race, and like everyone this year- experienced plenty of harrowing and wonderful moments. In this episode we talk about his physical and mental preparation, dealing with the unknowns going into such a huge endeavor, how he assembled his team, some of the crazier (and hysterical) moments in the race, his scary accident in the UAE Hike and Fly championships and his rather nasty accident on the last full day of the X-Alps.
season Serena won the female XContest and flew OVER 10,000 kilometers in a single season! She quit her job as a teacher and went on an 8 month sabbatical to fly and spent over 3 months in the Sertão of Brazil. Serena takes us back to her time in Brazil and learn about flying in a lot of wind, towing, figuring out the flats and having it all come together. Serena takes us through her journey to become a pilot, the addiction that set in, her dreams and hopes with flying and then the accident that brought it all to a sudden halt and the extraordinary and difficult road she’s undertaken to recover.
Ovcharov hails from Sofia, Bulgaria who’s background is in acro but he’s about as all-purpose as you can get in the realm of free flight. He’s passionate about wing suit base jumping; he just competed in the UAE Hike and Fly Championships in Dubai; he won the overall XContest this year chasing huge distance in Brazil and around the world; he competed in this year’s World Championships in Argentina and still holds the world record for Infiniti tumbling. We talk in detail about his amazing year, the art of chasing huge distance, the craziness and accidents that happened in Dubai, Chrigel’s continued amazingness, his incredibly forward-thinking 3RS acro harness, how we really can follow our dreams and a ton more.