Doesn’t this just look like the best sport in the world?
Speed Flying with the new 2012 Gin Fluid kite
The fantastic start to the ski season in the European Alps gave Gin Gliders the perfect conditions to try out their new kites. Samoens, Val d’Isere, Flaine and les Arcs became the “photo studios” used to present the Nano and Fluid with their 2012 colours and trim.
This sport is a mixture of freeride skiing, paragliding and kitesurfing. It is destined to become the latest greatest winter sport! But, don’t be misled by how easy it looks. Speed-Flying is to Paragliding as BASE jumping is to Skydiving. it can be dangerous. Very dangerous. Like all extreme sports you would expect it to have its fair share of danger, but there could be a tendency to under-estimate it with speed flying.
Flying a few feet above the ground at high speed gives you an intense adrenaline rush, but for inexperienced speed flyers it is important to understand how many things can go wrong at any time – during take off, while in the air, on the ground, and during landing. It is worth noting that in 2009 there were 9 deaths – and all 9 deaths were experienced pilots. 9 deaths is a lot when only a few hundred people around the world participate in this sport.
Why is it so dangerous? Because you are flying at high speeds at a very low altitude… the sport is like a marriage between downhill skiing and skydiving. Riders can reach speeds over 90 miles per hour and descending from the top of Mont Blanc, for example, 12,000 ft to the valley floor in Chamonix, can take as little as 10 minutes!
Where does this leave the newby who really wants to try this sport?
Well, before you even think about it you’d better realise that you need to be an experienced paraglider and an experienced skier before you even think about trying it. You will also need mountaineering skills because there is no guarantee that you will be able to re-launch your kite when you are on the mountain so off-piste skiing and mountaineering skills might be required to get you off the mountain safely. You will need a thorough knowledge and understanding of mountains, climate and equipment conditions.
And don’t even think that you can take the easy way out and use pisted slopes like all other skiers. You can’t! They are completely banned to anyone with a kite.
You must – must must must – take instruction. Do not launch yourself off a cliff in the mistaken belief that it’s easy! That will be an irresponsible act and very bad image for this fledgling sport.
Speed flying down the Eiger
Mein gott! That didn’t even look easy….
feature photo courtesy of Gin Gliders