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latest Para-Newbie News-n-Pics, Jan07, Issue #0001, monthly e-zine.
January 31, 2007

Fresh Paragliding Stuff

Selected News, Images, Site Update

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Issued on Jan 31st 2007, Issue #0001

Table of Contents

1. News of the Month

2. Images of the Month

3. Website Content of the Month

News of the Month

Having scoured the Web using a number of world news resources, here's a couple of items that really stood out to me. Hope you find these summaries interesting!

Snow Finally Blankets the Alps

Source: BBC News

Date: 04 Jan 2007

Although this report was mainly about the effect of low snowfall in the Alps, it also mentioned the fact that snow resorts are now offering more activities than just skiing. In particular, the sport of paragliding!

After one of the weakest Christmas snowfalls on record, heavy snow finally began falling across the Alps. This started to give a much needed boost to the winter tourism industry. However, the usual problems associated with heavy snowfall also cropped up, with power cuts and traffic disruption across Europe. An avalanche claimed a victim in Switzerland.

Skiing holidays are something of a tradition in Europe, but the recent trends in low snowfall are making people wonder how much longer this can last. People have been surprised at how early global warming has started to affect them.

The snow resorts, with an eye on their profits no doubt, have started offering alternative things to do in the mountains. The reporter classed 2 of these in particular as 'adventurous'. They were ice climbing and ... paragliding. For the first time, according to some resort owners, many people appear to be thinking of having a winter sports holiday rather than just a skiing holiday.

Hence, it will be interesting to see if global warming actually contributes to an increase in paragliding activity across Europe in coming years!

Red Bull X-Alps 2007

Source: Newspirits Extremsport Magazin (yes, that's the German spelling!)

Date: 11 Jan 2007

The report starts with a reference to last year's event, that is, a paragliding race across the Alps conducted over 3 weeks. A unique feature of the race is how it is tracked using the latest Web media technology and delivered to millions of interested people around the world.

The news is, this event will be held again in 2007 and should commence on July 23. It's one of the world's toughest adventure races, with plenty of potential for pain and danger.

Quoting directly from the report here:

As a novelty for 2007, the race will start in the world heritage site of Hallstatt. From there, the participants will hike up the Dachstein, cross the glacier by foot and launch their paragliders from a windswept, icy cornice perched perilously over thousands of feet of vertical wall, the Dachstein south face.

From this first take-off spot the athletes’ long and cumbersome journey continues, leading them across the most beautiful peaks of the Alps including the turning points of Dachstein (Austria), Marmolada (Italy), Eiger (Switzerland), Mont Blanc (France) and Mont Gros (France) – until they finally reach their goal in Monaco.

Whew! This event gets T.V. coverage too, I can remember seeing a documentary last year. Notice how paragliding is only half the story here. The participants are referred to as 'athletes' rather than 'pilots' since the hiking is such a big part of it. I'd call that 'extreme hiking' actually! Getting the opportunity to compete in this amazing event is an achievement in itself. Apparently there is quite a selection process involved, finishing up in a 'test camp' in June. Here, the Red Bull X-Alps committee will assess each competitor's endurance, paragliding and orientation skills before the official event starts in July.

Images of the Month

There's plenty of paragliding imagery on the Web these days, much of it so-so. Thanks to some paraglider manufacturer friends of mine, I can bring you some great pics that you might not find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy the two pics featured below, just click on them to enlarge.

How's this for a sun-drenched paragliding paradise! Here's Tommy Schwarzer, a noted Acro-pilot, floating across a beach in his native Venezuela. He's a good friend of Independence, the company which designed and manufactured the Dragon 3 paraglider shown.

A fine shot of an Ozone Open Class Competition wing, the Mantra R, wheeling over a wooded slope. This pic was taken during the 1999 Paragliding World Championships at Morzine, in France.

Website Content of the Month

Pages are always being added to the site, and I've selected a recent one to focus on here. The Ladyguard paraglider from U-Turn is an example of a new direction being taken by paraglider manufacturers. The marketing guys seem to have concluded that catering for the female pilot will be a smart move.

Now for a little more on the Ladyguard. According to U-Turn, they interviewed dozens of lady pilots for their ideas on an ideal paraglider. This information then influenced a re-design effort on the existing Bodyguard wing.

To suit female pilots, whose numbers are apparently growing, several aspects of the Bodyguard design and color scheme have been altered. For example, a new type of material is used to help make the canopy significantly lighter than the Bodyguard canopy of the same size. A softer treatment of the U-Turn 'claw' design and added motifs such as a butterfly help distinguish the Ladyguard as a lady's wing. For ease of use during flight, the brake toggles have been redesigned too. They are a bit thicker, with improvements in comfort and grip.

In some parts of the world there is significant support for aspiring female paraglider pilots. For example, Peak to Peak Paragliding in the U.S. runs a Women with Wings series of courses and trips from time to time. These are designed to improve safety, skills and confidence and are organized by other women, notably Kay Tauscher. Kay is an USHPA Certified Advanced Instructor, one of only 5 other females in the U.S. as of 2005. Having learnt to fly in mountainous Colorado she's particularly good at high altitude alpine flying.

Bearing in mind that this newsletter and in fact most of the website is really for paragliding 'newbies', any constructive feedback is welcome! Just reply to this newsletter and tell me your thoughts.

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