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
Mark Watts is one of only a very few UK pilots to have won the British Championships, a PWC, the UK X-Contest League, AND held the open distance record (at 275 km, which held until 2017). He has been on the British team many times, currently shares the out and back record in the UK with Hugh Miller and has been competing for over 25 years. Relentlessly fast, tactical, and consistent whenever Mark shows up at a comp you’ve got a formidable opponent. Mark has been one of the most-requested guests we’ve had because he avoids the spotlight, so while his flying resume speaks for itself not much is known about what makes him tick.
Jeff Shapiro is a world class sponsored athlete and a world class human being. He’s flown and competed on hangliders since he was 17 all over the world, he sends 5.14 big wall routes in climbing, he flies wingsuits, rides sport bikes, is a gifted Falconer, and is also a Dad and family man. But don’t call him extreme and don’t call him an adrenaline junky. Jeff is grounded, thoughtful, eternally grateful to be able to pursue his passions and his approach to risk and danger is something we all need to ponder. In this amazing episode we discuss the incredible numbers of losses in the wingsuiting community the last three years, including his close friends Sean Leary, Dean Potter, and Graham Hunt; an amazing close call flying at King Mountain Idaho a few years back on his Hanglider; how he has flown for more than twenty years without an accident; his own brush with death this year; and if it’s possible to justify participating in a sport with such terrible odds, among many other things. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and prepare to be whisked away into a realm that very, very few people inhabit. It’s a special place.