The Red Bull X-Alps 2017 were the most demanding X-Alps of all time. We at skywalk are thrilled about our four top placements – and about eight incredible stories. All teams that flew with skywalk gear demonstrated world-class performance and experienced unique adventures – and, most importantly, they completed the world’s toughest outdoor race without injury.
skywalk is pleased to announce our best results ever for the Red Bull X-Alps. Christian Maurer, Paul Guschlbauer, Ferdy van Schelven, Simon Oberrauner and their teams are in four of the top five places. « We are delighted and are also a little proud that our commitment to the past few years to the development of high-class lightweight equipment has produced such top results, » said Arne Wehrlin as he reflected on the past 12 days. The skywalk boss followed the world’s toughest outdoor race in person for many days this year and was able to get a firsthand impression of the athletes’ performance on their way from Salzburg to Monaco. « The rain, ODs, thunderstorms, wind and the weather developed differently in every part of the route, every day and for each individual athlete, and this certainly made the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps the most challenging of the eight editions so far. »
« Sometimes I have a dream, and then I try to make it reality, » says Christian ‚Chrigel’ Maurer in conversation with Arne Wehrlin his last flight after eleven busy days. The flight from the Tende Pass to the Mediterranean beach lasted only three hours, but demanded all the skills of the now five-time X-Alps champion. « It wasn’t the longest, but it was one of the most beautiful flights of my life. » One of the most difficult flights of his five X-Alps competitions was the 80 kilometer stage from Turnpoint Three in Aschau to Turnpoint Four in Lermoos. Flying in the lead position, Chrigel had to fight tricky thermals and strong headwinds. With his superior flying skills, his incomparable tactics, and his even greater physical fitness this year, Chrigel secured his fifth victory in a row at the Red Bull X-Alps.
One of the most experienced X-Alps participants is our « flying Dutchman » Ferdinand van Schelven. In 2017 the Dutchman participated for the fourth time in a row. In the end, like Paul Guschlbauer, he missed reaching the finish line by only a few kilometers.
Several other skywalk-equipped pilots also managed some outstanding flights. Rookie Simon Oberrauner surprised participants and live-tracking followers with his consistent performance, a spectacular launch from a rock near the Matterhorn, and some brave chess moves that catapulted him to fifth place in his first race.
Manuel Nübel, a finisher in 2015, flew a clever line to the turning point Matterhorn. While in a promising position, he had to give up the race with the finish line in view, just 200 kilometers from Monaco. His body was giving him some clear signals after several strenuous stages. skywalk tips its hat to the German champion for making this decision. « A few pilots suffered injuries during the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps. We very much appreciate the fact that our team pilots have not pushed the limits and put their health at risk! », says Arne Wehrlin.
Like Manuel Nübel, Stephan Gruber also had to give up the race at an early stage. The skywalk R&D team member’s ankle joints rebelled unexpectedly after a few days. Stephan Gruber was exceptionally well prepared for his second Red Bull X-Alps. « I had never had similar problems in training. This was probably the price to pay for the endless marches in the cold and wet at the beginning of the race. » Arne Wehrlin is extremely proud of him: « We are glad that Stephan listened to what his body was telling him and did not risk injury. »
Shortly before the start of the Red Bull X-Alps 2017, Canadian Richard Brezina and the young US American Jesse Williams joined the skywalk X-Alps team. The two rookies put in excellent performances and managed to finish the race in 15th and 18th places. « I am so happy to be able to fly this great skywalk gear, » said Jesse Williams.
Like the other skywalk-equipped pilots, he flew the X-ALPS3, which was developed especially for the Red Bull X-Alps 2017. At 3.3 kilograms, the X-ALPS3 is the lightweight version of the current skywalk serial comp wing POISON X-ALPS. Both models are distinguished by their ingenious and efficient handling, as well as their exceptional stability when flying on bar. With skywalk’s « Speed Control », the 3-liner can be steered efficiently at high speeds via the rear risers, without the pilot having to go off bar. « I was really motivated by the fact that I had such a stable glider with the X-ALPS3. It helped me to make progress a lot faster, especially against the wind, « said Chrigel Maurer enthusiastically about his gear for this year’s Red Bull X-Alps.
The X-ALPS 3 ultra-lightweight glider is available now for pre-order. All three sizes have EN/LFT certification in category D.
skywalk Red Bull X-Alps Team 2017
1st place: Christian Maurer / CH
3rd place: Paul Guschlbauer / A – 5km to goal
4th place: Ferdinand van Schelven / NED – 49km to goal
5th place: Simon Oberrauner / A – 51km to goal
15th place: Richard Brezina / CAN – 319km to goal
18th place: Jesse Williams / USA – 474km to goal
20th place: Manuel Nübel / D – retired 209 km before the finish
29th place: Stephan Gruber / A – retired 984 km before the finish