The 2011 USA Red Bull X-Alps Team, Honza Rejmanek and Dave Hanning finished 10th, once again maintaining a top 10 position for their third time competing in what is clearly the most challenging paragliding adventure race of all time. Honza traveled 1552 kilometers of the 1807km that made up the course. He was only 181km away from reaching the goal in Monaco. 51% of the time was spent flying while a grueling 49% was spent hiking. Choosing a favorite line straight towards the goal on the final hours of the race allowed Honza to jump ahead of Tomas of the Belgian team beating him out for 10th place by only 2km! In all Honza spent 153 hours resting, 142 hiking and a mere 22 hours flying!
The 2009 USA Red Bull X-Alps Team Honza Rejmanek and Dave Hanning achieved an astounding 3rd place finish after an impressive run in the final 24 hours. The straightest line south from Chamonix towards the goal proved to be the magic line for Honza as he beat out Aidan of the British team whom had proven to be tenacious and a ground walking machine. Having sustained an overuse injury early in the race, Honza knew to make the podium he would have to out fly "the machine" as he came to call Aidan. Every time Honza made a great flight and left the rest of the field behind Aidan was sure to catch up by walking thru the night. Luck and chance favored Honza and his supporter Dave, as they pushed on through the night on the final day outlasting and out distancing Adian, the Russian Evgenii and the field of racers that followed behind. It was a proud year for the USA as we put an American pilot on the podium next to the two world's best pilots!
Team USA cannot express enough of our gratitude for the support we have received from usparaglidingteam.org over the years. Without the generosity of this organization and all of our fellow pilots and friends, the costs of travel, logistics and lost time at work would make participation nearly impossible. This event is beyond racing, it is the core culture of paragliding on our planet. Around the globe we have received messages of support and indications that people who are not even related to paragliding are glued to their computers watching the live tracking. Supporting the US Teams as they represent USA in the most grueling event on our planet is essential in order to just be able to have a team reach the starting line. Honza Rejmanek and Dave Hanning THANK YOU for all that you have done in helping us achieve our goal of participation. We are proud to have represented our country. We are proud to say that we were able to do this because YOU supported us thru donations! Dave and Honza
The 2009 U. S. Paragliding Team included Eric Reed, Matt "Farmer" Beechinor, Brad Gunnuscio, and Kari Castle. The Team Leaders were Rob Sporrer and Jeff Huey. All of these pilots worked extremely hard to earn their position on the U.S. Paragliding Team. The U.S. Team also won the Pre-Worlds (warm-up event to the World Championships) in Valle de Bravo in 2009 against a very strong international field, and had 2 members on the podium at Monarco Competition just a few days before.
The 2009 World Championships was another great achievement for the US team. Out of the 11 tasks flown, 3 tasks were won by American pilots. Eric Reed won the first task, followed by Brad winning task 2 the next day, and Matt Beechinor won task 11. In addition, the US team finished 5th overall in the Nation's standings, which is the best finish in US team history. In addition to his first place finish on Day 1 of the comp, Eric Reed also had two top 5 finishes. This is another accomplishment that is unprecedented for U. S. Paragliding Team Pilots and no other team in this event had all their pilots win a day's task in this event.
The World Paragliding Championships ended on Feb 6, 2009. You can relive the action by visiting the team blog for photos, maps and interviews: U. S. Paragliding Team Blog
A Final farewell to the 2009 U. S. Paragliding Team:
"I’ve been to a few world championships since my first in 1991 ( I know, before a few of you were born! and by far this is one of the best experiences I’ve had because of the amount of support we had!!! To know so many people back home all helped to get us there in the first place, and for that to happen without the forever giving of Tony, Bill and Kevin as the Bard of Directors of this Corporation…Wow…thank you!! Jeff to be with us again was…well…heart warming to say the least and to add his expertise in competition team strategies was a blessing. His new love Jane and her infectious smile was so welcoming all the time……Ty in your face with the camera…video or on the computer posting the stuff almost live so people back home could follow and did I mention his calm wonderful presence ALWAYS..Then there is Raul…that man worked and worked…always smiling…so helpful… Then there was Rob who was the glue…he made everything happen…he gave so much….and how he stayed so happy all the time while tapping away on his Blackberry…. was impressive....My wonderful David was always there helping anyway he could and shooting both stills and video’s of launches……we’ll get them posted soon!!! THEN THE A TEAM…Brad, Eric and Matt…you guys rocked…I love your enthusiasm and go for it attitude and encouraging me the whole time to keep pushing to win and ON THE SPEED BAR!!! Thank you all!!!! This was a dream team for real!!!"
Kari Castle, 2009 U. S. Team Pilot
We are very proud of our team's efforts at 2009's incredible World Paragliding Championships. We are also very thankful for all the support that has been shown to us by our sponsors and the paragliding community. Please know that mere words can not express how we feel for the generosity that has been shown to us.
On a sad note, our deepest condolences go out to Swiss pilot Stefan Schmoker's family and friends. Stefan was an amazing pilot and person, and we will miss his spirit and smile.
The day before the 2009 World Championships, Team Leader Rob Sporrer declared in his opening statement on the U.S. Team Blog:
"Let gets ready to rumble! The 2009 Paragliding Worlds start tomorrow, and Team USA is fired up. The team has been flying here this week getting ready to race. We walked through the streets of Valle with the American flag and a group of kids from Valle as our escorts. Lots of people were chanting “USA”. We all had big smiles, and waived with approval.
The parade caravan arrived at the cultural center for the opening ceremonies. The Mayor, and many others spoke to the large audience. They ended the show with some fireworks, and Team USA made off for our private team dinner to debrief on the day’s meetings, and go over some strategy and mindset for the two weeks of racing ahead. We had an excellent discussion, and veteran Jeff Huey brought up some great history and got us all fired up. This party gets started tomorrow, and we will bring you all the news at the end of day 1."
Congratulations to 2007 US Paragliding Team pilot Tom McCune for his 3rd place finish at the World Championships in Manilla, Australia. This was the best individual finish for a US Team Pilot in history. Josh Cohn also had an excellent finish at 8th place. The US Team finished in 13th place in the Nation's team standings.
2007 US Paragliding Team Individual Results:
3rd - Tom McCune
8th - Josh Cohn
105th - Kari Castle
135th - Bill Belcourt
The 2005 Worlds saw floods and wet weather in GV, which meant super scratchy conditions. There was one thermal soon after the start where two gaggles entered, one low turning one way and the other high turning the other. The lower one climbed up through the upper one and half of us were trapped on the inside of counter-rotating gaggles. Priceless. This one was all about patience and consistency.
2005 US Team Individual Results
20th - Eric Reed
66th - Len Szafaryn
71st - Josh Cohn
113th - Kari Castle
The 2003 Worlds took us to the ancient town of Montalegre, Portugal. We had Scotty Marion, who had recently won two PWCs and was a contender. We had our team mascot, Mr. Pickles. And we had two able team leaders as well as two female pilots on the team. We got to see one of the first mini wings, an Advance kite with modified rigging. Conditions were challenging - often scratchy over the undulating valleys and more racy over the gentle ridges. We had several days where the alternate takeoff in Chaves was used. This meant an hour extra drive and then a race to get the good spots on the small takeoff.
2003 US Team Individual Results
7th - Scotty Marion
36th - Josh Cohn
58th - Eric Reed
105th - Kari Castle