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Speed-Flying Andorra 1st/2nd March

VALLNORD commits itself to the new skiing trend; Speed Riding


On 1st and 2nd March, the Arcalís sector of VALLNORD will hold the first concentration of Speed Riding. A skiing discipline developed in the French Alps and unknown in the Pyrenees. That’s why VALLNORD is committing itself to this sport, by organising a demonstration with the world’s 20 best riders and planning the creation of the first speed riding school in the Pyrenees.  http://en.vallnord.com/novedad-141-vallnord-commits-itself-to-new-skiing-trend-speed-riding.aspx

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  Speed flying is a new

 

Speed flying is a new extreme sport that has finally made its way to the Pyrenees. The practitioners have been doing this sport for over a decade now, but finally it has come to the country of Andorra, which is located between France and Spain. Apparently it works best when used in higher mountains, which makes this country a perfect choice to host a speed flying event.

As I discovered, there are many different types of events for speed flying. It is also estimated that about 5,000 athletes engage in this sport worldwide. Despite the label of world wide, most of the participants are from the USA and Western Europe (especially France). There are established speed flying sites all over the globe now. In fact, there has even been some well documented media attention to the sport with some rapid descents from very high mountains.

This also led me to wonder if there are any places where one can get instruction in this sport. My answer was a surprising and resounding yes. In fact, there are actually over 100 qualified and certified instructors around the world. There are at least 20 different schools that hold classes and various types of training for speed flying. Not that I am thinking of signing up, but still the idea is quite interesting.

I also wondered about the injury in the sport. I was not terribly surprised to learn that at least 25 pilots have been killed since 2006. The speeds that can be attained range anywhere from 20 to 90 miles per hour. I cannot imagine going down the side of mountain in a para glider at 90 miles an hour. Then again, to each his own, as the saying goes. This is definitely not something that should be attempted without having a ton of training.

Speed flying is a type of

Speed flying is a type of extreme sport that was actually developed in the French Alps. The best I have been able to discover is that this started sometime during the later 1980s or early 1990s. Many of the early videos and reports that I was able to find are either videos shot in the mountains of France or reports written in French.

Until very recently, I had not heard about speed flying. This extreme sport is actually a combination of skiing and hang gliding. The participants start at the top of a mountain equipped for skiing. However, the equipment is quite interesting. On their feet are skis, and they are also hanging on to an apparatus called a canopy.

The canopy is like a combination of a parachute and a hang glider. It is about the same size as a parasail, and allows for a bit more control (from what I have been told). This is used to somewhat control the rate of descent. The skis are used to guide the person through the snow when they come into physical contact with the mountain. However, this is a lot less often than you would think. The main objective is actually to try and never come into contact with the mountain, at least not until you reach the base or landing position.

This sport is indeed quite extreme. I would imagine that injuries are very common. Many of the early pioneers in this endeavor were highly skilled athletes and trained in a variety of disciplines like skiing, hang gliding and even sky diving.

While speed flying is something that I have begun to enjoy watching, I do not see myself booking a trip to the French Alps in order to give it a go any time soon. To me, this is something very dangerous. Without the right training, it is best left to the professionals and other adrenaline junkies.

Has anyone ever heard of the

Has anyone ever heard of the sport of speed flying before? Has anyone ever been to the country of Andorra?

These were the first questions which came to my mind after reading this article. This led me to do some further research. I learned that speed flying is actually considered a sport by some, but mainly just a very high risk, adrenaline packed type of activity. This activity, for lack of a better description, is a combination of skiing and hang gliding. For many, this is the closest that you might ever come to actually seeing someone fly. 

I will admit that the idea of this is a bit strange to me. I do not know whether to call this a sport or activity or another word entirely. I am afraid that by calling it a sport, this will give people the idea of being something that they can train for and compete in actual events. While I suppose this is possible, it would take a huge amount of training, expertise and certification just to be qualified to even try this for real.

The people who actually do this sort of thing are all incredibly well trained. They are literally world class. I want to emphasize this again. This is not something for the uninitiated to try at home. Those involved in this activity normally have certifications as sky divers or hang glider and are also master level skiers.

Speed flying or speed riding, as it is also called, was developed in the French Alps. There are plenty of videos on YouTube and across the web to tickle your interest for an actual demonstration. Just be prepared to see people sort of skiing down a mountain while also wearing something that sort of resembles a parachute or a parasail.

The most interesting thing to me is that when this is done the proper way, there is actually very little contact with the mountain. You will actually be flying just above the face of the mountain. Again, looking at some of these videos, it is also apparent that there are times when even these professionals wipe out. They literally hit the mountain at a weird angle, or there is a cliff or piece of rock that suddenly juts out a little further than was expected. These are just little reminders that this type of activity is still very dangerous, even if it does look quite exhilarating.

Vallnord Video 29-02-08

Video from the 29th Feb. at Vallnord

VallNord & SF/SR

Great news ! Shame I don't get out to Arinsal until the 23 March ! Might check out the schools tho (if there are any) and write a report when I get back. Wish I was gonna be there for this event, should be awesome ! Thanks Kitesurfa.