Chrigel Maurer is paragliding’s ultimate all-rounder and his achievements are numerous. He dominated the Paragliding World Cup scene in the mid-2000s, and went on to do the same with the Red Bull X-Alps. In acro he set world records for infinite tumbling, and has competed at the highest level. He has even won the Swiss Hang Gliding Championship in the past.
Most recently, in October, he completed a personal project to visit all 152 Swiss Alpine Club huts in the Swiss Alps. On foot, ski, mountain bike or paragliding. It was a project he started as training in the run-up to the 2013 X-Alps, and he had wanted to complete it in a year. However, a foot injury meant he had to put that ambition on hold.
Planning and optimisation are key elements of his approach, as is self-reflection and analysis, as he explains here…
“Autumn is here and my flying season is coming to an end. As an optimistic athlete I usually like to orient myself forward, but now I can also look back, and look over what has worked.
“I am particularly proud of the fact that my physical fitness is better than ever, and I have no setbacks. Winning the X-Pyr is the standout sporting memory from my year. To cross the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean we only needed three days, thanks to good flying conditions and teamwork. It also set a new record for the course.
“The hard training, the meticulous preparation as well as my supporters and sponsors all helped in this success. The X-Pyr was the highlight of the season, but I was also able to celebrate further victories in different paragliding disciplines. How did I achieve these goals? And what can I take from them with me in 2017?
“Such reflections are a factor of success in sports. Self-critical analysis shows me where my personal strengths and weaknesses lie. When I look in the mirror, I do not just look at what my face looks like.
“Not infrequently, I ask my reflection who it is and what it wants. The more precise answers I get from myself, the more efficiently I start the day, and the more successful and fulfilled I return home in the evening.
“Especially in flying I have learned that one must be self-critical in order to survive. Arrogance, and thoughts such as, ‘That’s all right’ can be fatal. From today’s point of view, it was worthwhile planning for a few more competitions this season and making them more serious. While five years ago I was able to perform several disciplines at the highest level in both training and competition, now I have to back off a bit.
“Through reflection, I also realised that at 34 I am probably already too old for the ‘wild days’ of Acro. To train in acro is fun and promotes skills in the air, which benefits, for example, my passengers on the tandem glider. But in order to compete in acro competition I would have to focus only on acro – and the younger pilots would still be better!
“Of course, this will sooner or later be the case anyway in this sport, of which I am aware. However, it is nice that there are paragliding disciplines where older pilots can compete with experience and endurance well.
“However, in order to maintain constancy in my ‘profession’, I will reduce the diversity of what I do. And if one thing or the other goes wrong (such as the Paragliding World Cup in Italy this year, where I placed 36th) then I will try to learn something from it. It is important for me to understand the cause behind it.
“The change from high to low belongs to life as well as to the weather. But since the ‘high’ dominated this season, I am confident and motivated when I look to the future. There are a few local competitions in the valley where I live, and some demonstration flights to complete before it will be warm-up time for Governador Valadares – and the Paragliding World Cup Superfinal in mid-January 2017. I wish everyone a great year ahead!”
First published in Cross Country 176 (Dec 2016 / Jan 2017). If you enjoy this sample article, perhaps you’d consider subscribing and supporting the only international free flying magazine?