December 19, 2010

Speed-Flying

What is Speed-Flying ?

Speed Flying is a new winter sport created by paraglider pilots and skydivers looking for a new sensation and to create a link between gliding by ski and gliding through the air. For a few years, pioneers have used skydiving parachutes or modified kites. Now there are a specially designed SpeedFlying wings and gliders. Linking the flight of a glider with the turn of your skis adds a whole new dimension to the descent from a mountain.

It’s an exhilarating sport which will excite and fascinate both participants and spectators. This new sport has taken the slopes by storm, quickly attracting more and more enthusiasts as the buzz of excitement sweeps across Europe! First in France, where Speed Flying was born, but now also in Switzerland and Austria with Italy and Germany not far behind. As it's an extreme sport in the same league as Skydiving and BASE jumping etc. It is also very dangerous with a high risk of injury or even death. Wings can reach speeds in excess of 100km/h in the hands of the top Speed Flyers but normally are flown between 35 & 70 km/h and unlike Paragliding you don't have a reserve/safety parachute if anything goes wrong.

Two similar sports have been around longer created by skydivers one is called Blade Running, this is where the rider exits an airplane then flys their open parachute down a marked course of Blade shaped flags. The other is Swooping where the pilot again exits an airplane and scores points for tricks and style marks for their controlled swoop landing which is often over water or grass.


Speed-Flying or Speed-Riding ?

Now the sport has been around for a few years the terms Speed-Riding and Speed-Flying have become the standard definitions when talking about the individual activities of both the Winter and Summer aspects of the sport.

> Speed-Riding is flying down snow covered slopes with ski's with frequent ground contact.
> Speed-Flying is flying down snow free slopes after foot launching with no ground contact until landing.

Speed-Flying is also the general definition which covers ALL the activities - both riding and flying and everything in between.

Speed-Riding

Speed-Flying


There are few extreme sports to which you could realistically ask for a gentle introduction. ……but speed riding, which is best described as falling down a mountain with grace, is one adrenalin rush that your grandfather could experience and hope to live to tell the tale.

Not that this new French addition to the thrill-seeker’s repertoire isn’t dangerous: hurtling down a snow-covered mountain at 60mph can only be risk-free when you’re at the controls of a Wii console. But this bizarre fusion of skiing and flying comes with an incredible get-out-of-jail-free card that has given it a safety record that’s hard to beat. When you see a rock, tree or Prince Charles and his entourage on the slopes ahead of you, all you have to do is yank on a cord and the paragliding canopy above your head will hoist you straight up and out of the danger zone.

“Base jumping is so extreme that there are no margins,” says 35-year-old François Bon, one of the paragliders who invented the sport at the end of 2003. “You have to be 100 per cent precise and base jumping is little more than a cascade. Speed riding is something that you can learn, slowly. It’s not something you have to throw yourself off the top of a mountain to try out.”.

With just one fatality and a smashed back to date, speed riding is proving insurable and a surprisingly low-risk “danger” sport. “When you see our videos on YouTube, it looks pretty intense,” he says, accurately describing footage of one of his own hair-raising descents of the Eiger. “You’ll see that we’re going very fast and that there’s lots of flying, but when you start out there’s a lot more snow than air.”

17 comments:

  1. I had to show these videos to my friend it blew his mind! I want to do something like this one day >_< if i have the balls lol

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  2. Wow only 1 fatality so far? That is amazingly low for such a risky sport!

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  3. @Bargain Hunter

    It's pretty low since you can't just go hike a mountain and try it out without any practice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_3Ftt0m3bo

    This is what it looks like when you're beginning.

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  4. I love combo sports, I want to see someone combine UFC fighting and scuba-diving.

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  5. This is so cool - I'm really keen to try speed-flying after watching this.

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  6. Some how I doubt my fear of heights would be down with this. Looks fun from a spectator standpoint though.

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  7. Wow! How do they come up with this stuff? It's so awesome!

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  8. It gives a totally different dimension to skiing.

    Don't know if a parachute would help my skills on the snow, fell pretty bad last time i went.

    But man speed flying without the snow...that's adrenaline

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  9. Wow that looks amazing. I can only imagine what happens when things go wring. But man it looks so worth it.

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  10. that really looks incredible! the landscape is beautiful.

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  11. I wish I had enough courage to do this! It looks dangerous... But that feeling!

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  12. i saw something similar at the beach. a guy was surfing and gliding around with his board. not nearly as fast or high as this, though.

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  13. this looks dangerous
    but adrenaline makes it worth i guess

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  14. adding this to my bucket list.

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  15. Hey Guys,

    Just to let you know speed flying is a sport I am very involved with, if anybody wants to know more then drop me an email.

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