Cross Country is at the Coupe Icare in St Hilaire du Touvet, France. We’ll be blogging on this page so check back over the weekend 22-25 September and refresh this page occasionally for updates. If you’re heading to the festival, come and visit us on stand B21.
MONDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2011
The final day of the Coupe Icare, Sunday, was another great day. Storms overnight left the valley cloudy and a little humid by 7am, but with the peaks clear lots still made the trek to the summit of the Dent de Crolles for an early morning fly-down.
Wi-fi problems and a lot of work on the Cross Country stand meant no posting yesterday, so here’s an update from the final day. First off, a video of Chrigel Maurer and the new Impress 3 harness from Advance.
Plus a few photos from the XCmag wall of f/sh/ame:
So it’s over for another year. This one can go down as a good year. The weather was good, lots of flying was done, loads of gear was traded, swapped, sold and tried out. Thanks to Aussie Kym Fielke for taking on the role of XCmag photographer for the weekend, and thanks to all those who dropped by to say hello, to tell us their story, to pitch an idea or show us their photos. We love hearing from everyone, and love meeting everyone in person even more. Until next year! A la prochaine!
DAY 3, SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2011
9.30pm: Babu’s Everest film won the top prize here at the Coupe Icare – The Icare d’Or. Go wild in Pokhara people!
7pm: The acceptable face of competition paragliding…
As well as the masquerade flying, the film sessions and the salesmanship, there is another game going on at the Coupe Icare. It’s called, ‘Guess who’s doing what next?’ And it involves either uncovering or spreading as many different versions of slightly similar rumours about the possibility of a new EN E / Comp EN D class.
These fall into a few camps, including, but not exclusively:
- It can’t be done
- What’s the point of doing it? The accident rate stays the same whatever you do
- It can be done but it will ruin everything for the EN D class and means serial class or ‘fun’ comps will be ‘swamped’ by pilots on super-hot EN D gliders
- It will increase accidents as pilots used to flying ‘regular’ EN D gliders switch to ‘comp’ EN D gliders that they can’t handle
- The R11 will be certified along with all other two-liners
- EN class will be done away with altogether
The Paraglider Manufacturers’ Association had a nine hour meeting earlier in the weekend. Yes, nine hours. With one half hour break. Among the happy daytrippers you can spot the odd person with a cloud across their face, obviously wondering, ‘Was I kidnapped by aliens and experimented on, or was it a nine-hour meeting on a flyable day in the Alps?’
“Exciting and interesting times,” as ‘someone close to the discussions told us’, as they say.
6.30pm: Wi-Fi problems all day meant no posts. Here are some snaps from the day:
10am: The marquees open at 10am. Don’t forget to come visit us if you are here. And if you are around at 5pm, head to the cinema tent to see XC360 – XCmag’s Short Film Competition. We’re presenting half a dozen short films on the big screen from some of the XC360 entries from this year and last.
9.15am: It’s a beautiful day…
As expected last night at the movies was Babu and Lakpa’s night. They got a huge round of applause when they took off from the summit of Everest half way through the film, a big cheer at the end and a standing ovation when they were presented on stage at the end. As John Sylvester said when he heard Babu had flown from the summit back in May, “That’s a man in charge of his own destiny.”
A great, passionate, inspiring film. Short, to the point, packed full of action and fairly raw it grabs you and takes you along for the ride. The words, “Oxygen, oxygen!” as Lakpa, without O2 for two hours on the summit got breathless on the descent, will stay with me for a while. As will Babu’s reply later on: “No Sherpa ever died from lack of oxygen! No problem!”
Starting at 10am today is Parabatix. Yesterday was considered a practise run, so today is the big day for that. Paramotor World Champion Michel Carnet is around, so will undoubtedly be there.
Top paramotor pilot Russell Ogden will also be there. He popped into the XCmag stand yesterday to pick up some tips from the experts in the mag. Rusty is a new PPG pilot but according to some shows great promise. Watch this one, as they say.
So, the day promises much. The sky is clear, the PPGers are all set, the masquerade starts at 11am and goes until 4pm on the north launch, and the acro boys are primed.
Two more photos: One of the news from this morning, and one that made me stop and think on the way to wi-fi this morning. Have a great day.
DAY 2, FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2011
3.30pm: Everest lions on the XCmag stand… Babu and Lakpa talk about their flight of flights. ‘Dream is never ending. And Life is Challenge.’
3pm: A couple more famous faces…
1pm: Et voila! It’s a beautiful day…
12noon: Hmmm… spoke too soon. The cloud has lifted from the valley but it hasn’t burnt off the mountain yet – although the sun is trying hard to come out.
The Parabatix boys put in a good display in the paramotor field, buzzing around in the wisps between the trees.
This is what it looks like out there a few minutes ago. Come back XCmag team, we need you…
Apparently the Ozone team flew above the clouds from the summit, and landed back on top. Meanwhile, Ant Green, XCmag’s resident acro pilot, flew down and landed next to the tents. He reckons there were 60 pilots waiting it out on the summit this morning. We’re sure to see more float down as the cloud lifts.
Ant describes his flight through the clouds…
10AM: “It’s cloudy,” said a voice.
“Don’t worry, it’ll burn off,” said another.
Half the XCmag crew set off for the summit of the Dent de Crolles this morning at 7am. They’ll be slogging up the slopes right now, as the rest of us brew coffee and munch down on croissants. Good luck guys, and see you soon.
Last night was all about the movies. Star of the show was Le Nid, a film by three locals, Antoine Boisselier, Christophe Tong Viet and Nicolas Assael.
Elan, flair, superb editing and a genuine love for all forms of free flight, as well as the outdoors in general and specifically this special mountain behind us, shone through. The three got a rousing ovation at the end of the 52min showing.
XCmag got to spend much of the night hanging out with this year’s stars of the show. Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tshering Sherpa are here for five days only, jetting in and out of France on their first trip to Europe in under a week.
After completing their historic flight from Everest in May this year, the pair continued on, running and flying south. They switched to a double kayak when they reached India and canoed all the way to the sea. A huge adventure.
“Everest very very small part of this trip!” laughed Babu, as he explained we had to wait until tomorrow to see the film, when all our questions about height, wind speed, climbing, flying etc would be answered.
The day looks good for flying, once the mist has burnt off, and we’re looking forward to a great day. The day kicks off with Parabatix here on the plateau. If you don’t know what that is, check this out:
Drop by and say hello if you are around sometime today. Otherwise check back here for news during the day.
Some photos from yesterday.
DAY 1, THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2011
4pm: Media jury meeting
Cross Country magazine is part of the media jury for the film festival – we get to choose a film that we think is the best of the fest.
The full jury is made up of, left to right: Sascha Rental (Paramotor Mag, DE), Bertrand Burlot (Vol Passion, FFVL), Amandine Collinet (Parapente Mag), Catherine Mouligné (Parapente Plus) and Ed Ewing (XCmag). The prize for the best shorts goes to … XCMag! Winners all round.
2.45pm: Perfect weather and loads of flying for the early birds
Come on down, the air is lovely. Blue skies greeted the early birds here at the Coupe Icare this morning, free flight’s biggest, funnest flying festival.
If you’re into paragliding, paramotoring, hang gliding, speed flying or acro, you’ll find something for you here.
The Cross Country magazine team arrived late on Wednesday night. We met up with Australian pilot Kym Fielke who had saved our bacon by offering to look after the keys to our apartment for us and beers and the odd vodka flowed well on into the wee small hours. No rushing up to the summit of the Chartreuse for a fly down for us this morning. Instead we had to build the stand – always tricky.
A couple of stand-outs from the general buzz right away: Babu Sunuwar’s 30-minute film about flying from the summit of Mount Everest in May is tipped to walk away with all the prizes in the film comp. Everyone’s said it – the adventure is just too huge not to reward with glitter and gold. Anyway, that’s my early (and probably only) prediction.
As mentioned, Kym Fielke is here presenting his short film. It closes the official film festival on Friday night (there are two parts to the film festival – the best films, and then an ‘off Broadway’ second selection.)
But to be honest, most people heading to St Hilaire this weekend will be here for the flying. The forecast is good – perhaps storms on Sunday is the word – and plenty are already in the air. Phew… the last two years have been a bit of a washout, so a good year is deserved.
We’ll be blogging here throughout the weekend, so check back to see who we’ve spotted and what antics people have been getting up to.
One early bit of news: Red Bull X-Alps star and Advance pilot Chrigel Maurer is on his annual three week military service, so isn’t here just now. Apparently he has the weekend off so might pop down then.
And finally, this is what’s ahead of us according to the info:
- Two days of the famous Masquerade flying
- 10,000 pilots flying or attending
- 75,000 spectators
- 4 days of parties
- 200 airsports exhibitors in 5,000 sq m tents inside, plus 10,000 sq m outside
- 60 entries in the film festival
- Demos of acro, winguits, sailplanes, parachuting, speed riding, ULMs, paramotor plus a fly-by by the Air Force
- The famous Tura balloon release: thousands of lantern balloons float off across Grenoble
- Kids’ zone with paper plane comps, balloon making, falconry, aerology, kite making and more
- Street festival, bands and music
- Loads of secondhand gear to test and buy
- Shuttlebuses up and down the valley from take-off back to launch
Plus ‘many novelties in store’!
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