Speed Flyer of the Year 2008

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Speed Flyer of the Year 2008

Following on from the SpeedFlying Pro results

Antoine Montant is overall winner of the Columbia Speedflying Pro!

The winner (best rider in both the Speed Cross (parallel slalom run) and the Free Ride on the Arandelières slope, Aiguille Rouge - Arc 2000 ) also becomes the Speed Flyer of the Year.

SpeedFlyingPro event was in two parts

Speed-Cross a timed Slalom run against another flyer with the following rules

* 2.5 meters before and after the Gates speed-flyer must be in contact with the ground
* both skis must be in contact with the ground for a minimum of one metre between the gates
* with a 5 seconds time penalty at each gate for No Ground Contact.

The Big Mountain Free-Ride which was held on the Arandelières slope, on the Aiguille Rouge in Arc 2000, France.
Each competitor had one practice run and then a single competition run to impress the other competitors, who collectively judge the event. on the following factors:

* Choice of Line Flown
* Fluidity (of the run)
* Technical Abilities

David Eyraud finished 2nd and Vincent Reffet and Mathias Roten were joint third.

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a random Speed-Flyer


There is an annual competition to determine the best speed flyer in the world. Normally, this event is held in the French Alps. This seems appropriate since the sport was practically invented there.

To those unfamiliar, speed flying is an extreme sport that combines elements of skiing and hang gliding. It requires a fair amount of skill and nerves of steel. The athlete literally starts at the top of mountain, like they are about to ski. However, they are also equipped with an apparatus called a canopy. This is similar to a hang glider, only it is capable of attaining speeds up to 90 miles per hour.

As the athlete proceeds downward, they literally fly down the slope. Contact with the mountain is infrequent and to an extent, unpredictable. Winning such an event is quite an achievement. This is even more extraordinary when one considers that the majority of the judging for this event is done by the competitors themselves.

Antoine Montant won this event in 2008. He also won the same event in 2007, the first year it was held. He has no plans of slowing down and is looking for ways to bring the sport to the attention of the general public.

a random Speed-Flyer

There has literally been only one man that has dominated the sport of speed flying since its inception. Yearly competitions have been held since 2007. The hot spot for these events seems to be France. The major event is called Speed Flying Pro Les Arcs is held every year in the French Alps. It will typically attract the best pilots in the world.

Every one of these events was won by a man named Antoine Montant. He was considered to be the absolute best at this sport by his peers as well as fans. In fact, he was named speed flyer of the year in 2008, and every year thereafter until his death in 2011. He was sponsored by Red Bull energy drink and well known for his ability and eagerness to push the boundaries.

I remember watching one of the stunts he pulled a few years ago. In 2011, he performed a spectacular cable car flight or slide down the side of a mountain in France. The man literally went up this mountain in a cable car, and then started coming back down in the cable car. At a certain point fairly close to the summit, he jumped out of the car. Of course, he was in full gear with skis and the canopy.

What made this jump or flight so incredible was how much of it was actually shown. Mr. Montant had a camera equipped in his gear and there was also a hang gliding camera person filming. You could see in certain places just how sheer the drops were on some of these sections of the mountain. There is also a point where he seems to literally slide along the cable used for the car. Really incredible.

Too bad the poor chap died in a freak accident. He was parachuting in the mountains and his chute failed to open.

a random Speed-Flyer

There are several questions which come to mind. No, not the usual why would someone be crazy enough to try something like this (although certainly that thought has indeed crossed my mind!).

The first thing I wonder is how many different ways are there for an athlete to begin the run or descent. In a closely related activity, participants start on the ground and then are carried by the wind. This is called ground launching. I wonder if someone could literally stand at the top of a mountain and wait for a strong breeze and then literally jump into it.

Potentially an athlete could begin their run as a normal skier. They would start off like they were going to ski down the side of the mountain and wait for a strong breeze to launch them into the air and start the flying phase of the competition.

I also recall a few years ago seeing an interesting video with a number of snow boarders being dropped out of a plane or helicopter. They were literally flown in a plane up to almost the summit of mountain and then jumped out about 4 or 5 feet to begin their descent. It was actually pretty breath taking. At the time, I remember wondering if the video might have been fake. Now I think that this could be an interesting take on speed flying.

Of course, most observers could agree with me that we do not need to try to make this sport any more exciting or dangerous. It is already plenty dangerous, and certainly exciting in its own right. Starting the descent from an even higher point on many of these slopes would only serve to increase the rate of speed and descent. Imagine smashing into the side of a mountain going even faster than the 90 miles an hour that is currently achievable?

Someone who was interested in getting involved in such a sport would need to get some serious training. My advice would be to start off with the basics. First master skiing. I really mean master the sport. Certainly you would not need to actually be a competitive slalom participant, although this would not hurt. You should, however, be very confident with your ability to handle at least expert level runs. After this, consider taking some training in parachute jumping and then sky diving and maybe even hang gliding. Only at this point should you consider finding a speed flying school with a qualified instructor.

There are approximately 20 of these schools in various locations around the world. Again, make sure that it is a recognized location along with a certified instructor. Only after advancing to their expert level instruction (which will likely be given in a graduated manner), should you consider doing this on your own. Nevertheless, this would be the basic process that one should follow in order to enter the sport. I am not familiar with the process of how to enter actual events.