With the Red Bull X-Alps on the horizon in the latest issue of Cross Country (147, May / June) we asked some of the pilots how their training was going and what they thought of the new route. At over 1,000km long it’s the toughest yet.
Chrigel Maurer told us he was “a bit stressed” but physically in great form. “I’m very happy with my body.” He also revealed that his equipment would be even lighter than in the 2011 race. He likes the look of the new route too, but adds it’s “much harder – because it crosses the Alps so much.”
We also asked Alex Hofer, who is an X-Alps legend, why he wasn’t taking part this time around. In 2011 he was all set to go head-to-head again with Chrigel, but had to pull out when, getting to grips with the new two-liner technology, he came down under reserve and damaged his back.
“I decided not to do it this time,” he told us in an email that arrived too late to make the magazine. “I still have those titanium bolts in my back, and I am not sure how that would work out.”
That sounds dramatic. “My health is fine,” he said, “and if I still had the same passion about it, I certainly would be able to participate,” he added. However, Alex, who lives full-time in China “far from the scene”, told us he wasn’t “on a level” to win the X-Alps this year.
“It would take a serious effort to get there … again,” he said. “Last time it didn’t work out. In 2011 I spent a huge amount of energy to get myself in the shape of my life, on the ground as well as in the air – then I crashed, and became a spectator with a back injury.” Ouch. “This time, I feel more like going to ride some waves in Bali!”
He did however cast his eye over the route. What did he think?
“The new route is longer, although the St. Hilaire part doesn’t make it much more difficult though. I flew such a route in 2009 and still won the race, barely. There is good ridge flying all the way to St Hilaire and a strong tail wind into the mountains from there on. The ongoing crossings over the Alps from north to south, to north and back to south will be strenuous though, especially in bad or average flying conditions.”
As the countdown to the X-Alps 2013 ticks on, find out more about the route and all the athletes in Cross Country 147.
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