Paragliding star injures back after blow-out and reserve throw
Alex Hofer, one of the Swiss paragliding stars of the Red Bull X-Alps, has been forced to withdraw from this year’s competition just days after storming back onto the international competition scene.
According to a press release issued by the Red Bull X-Alps organisers, while training for the X-Alps in Switzerland Alex suffered a collapse on his glider, threw his reserve and injured his back on landing. He is in a Swiss hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery.
The full statement was issued on 21 June and said:
Swiss athlete Alex Hofer (SUI2) has withdrawn from the Red Bull X-Alps 2011 after incurring serious back injuries in a flying accident.
Alex was flying in the Swiss Alps, and encountered turbulent weather leading to a collapse of his glider. He used his emergency parachute but landed hard which led to his back injuries. The 34-year-old is currently in a Swiss hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
Alex is the most successful Red Bull X-Alps athlete, winning the race as a rookie in 2005, winning again in 2007 and finishing second in 2009.
“We are very sorry Alex cannot take part in this year’s race,” said Red Bull X-Alps mastermind Hannes Arch. “Alex is an outstanding champion with a great history at the Red Bull X-Alps. The entire Red Bull X-Alps team wishes Alex a speedy recovery and hope to see him flying again soon.”
Alex was on top form flying-wise before the accident and had just won the Paragliding World Cup held in Lienz, Austria. The week-long comp attracted a strong field of Europe’s best pilots but only saw one valid task after bad weather plagued the comp. It finished 18 June.
Alex flew his new two-line Ozone R11 to win the competition and had revealed he was planning to fly it during the Red Bull X-Alps too.
In an interview in the current issue of Cross Country magazine Alex, who lives in China, said: “I’ll get to Europe at the start of June, leaving enough time to participate at the Paragliding World Cup in Lienz and to do some test-runs together with Roland [his Red Bull X-Alps partner].”
He added: “I will fly an Ozone R11 – these gliders are so much fun to fly! I plan to use a Woody Valley harness.”
Posting on his blog on 18 June Alex wrote: “After a successful World Cup in Lienz we are on the way to Switzerland. It’s our first trip together in our team and with our Summermobil teambus. A real training situation.
“We wanna check out some important places and train together. We are sure we have fun ‘at home’!!! These days we are travelling incognito but when we come back to Salzburg we will get our special Busdesign from PICup – we love it! It looks cool!”
As well as winning the Red Bull X-Alps twice, Alex has been Paragliding World Cup champion and won the FAI Paragliding World Championships in 2003.
ALEX HOFER, 34
• Born 13 January 1977
• Paragliding since he was 10
• Licensed since he was 16
• 1995 started to fly competitions
• 2001 won the Swiss Championships
• 2002 Paragliding World Cup champion
• 2002 moved to China to work in paragliding
• 2003 World Champion
• 2003 260km record Alpine flight from Ebenalp to Lienz
• 2005 won Red Bull X-Alps in 12 days
• 2007 won Red Bull X-Alps in 14 days
• 2009 second in Red Bull X-Alps
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