Perfect start to the 2013 Red Bull X-Alps
The Red Bull X-Alps 2013 got underway to a perfect start. Thousands of fans cheered the 31 athletes from the Mozartplatz in the centre of Salzburg from where there 1000km journey across the Alps has now begun.
Athletes ran through the old quarter of the city before crossing the river Salzach and climbing to the top of the Gaisberg, 1,287m where thousands of cheering spectators had gathered to watch them take to the skies.
Toma Coconea (ROM), famed for his endurance, was first to the top, in 1hr 10, to be greeted by huge cheers from his army of supporters who have travelled with him. But the race committee found he had deviated from the set route and he therefore will not be awarded the Gaisberg trophy for being the first to the summit.
That will now go to Thomas Hofbauer (AUT3). In third place was Michal Krysta (CZE). Race favorite Christian Maurer (SUI) was fourth to arrive on the summit but the first to unfurl his glider and take off.
Sunday afternoon, the athletes attempted to fly as much ground as possible to the next turnpoint, the Dachstein, 2,995m, which lies 55km straight-line distance from Salzburg. Weather conditions were favorable for flying with a moderate north-easterly wind and most athletes made good ground and were predicted to pass the turnpoint on Monday morning.
But conditions on the Gaisberg made take-off difficult, especially for Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN1). The 53-year-old suffered a collapsed wing shortly after take-off and brushed into trees. Fortunately, he emerged unscathed and with a new glider, was able to rejoin the race.
For what happens next in the drama, go to Red Bull Mobile Live Tracking, which lets you follow the athletes in real time on redbullxalps.com. And it could be about to get very interesting... As of last night, two athletes had pulled a Night Pass which lets them hike through the night. They were Christian Maurer (SUI1) and Thomas Hofbauer (AUT3). Will it give the Swiss the lead he needs?
Follow the race on: www.redbullxalps.com/live-tracking