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Meet the ADVANCE X-ALPS Team

Title defender and rookie – the ADVANCE team could not be more diverse. In the middle of their preparations for this year’s X-Alps Chrigel Maurer and Sebastian Huber answer journalist Christian Mörken’s questions, and talk about their very individual views about the greatest paragliding adventure.
Picture: Thomas Ulrich

Sebastian Huber, winner of the Borderairline 2013, is a novice compared to Chrigel - three times X-Alps winner and an old campaigner. Only a short time ago hardly anyone would have ranked the quiet Bavarian (a.k.a. Basti) among the favourites for the X-Alps. Chrigel, on the other hand, would like to know what it’s like to add another win to his hattrick. For months now the two pilots have been preparing intensively for the X-Alps, and are both working together with ADVANCE to develop the perfect equipment. At the moment they are a team – soon to become rivals? Here they describe the experience of cooperating with each other, and ADVANCE, and tell us how they will set about the X-Alps.

How is working together with ADVANCE going as you prepare for the challenge?

Chrigel Maurer: Very well. We started work on our preparation programme some time ago. While doing so we laid out the development of our equipment of choice, and are working on it now. For sure we are developing a complete and dedicated X-Alps total equipment package, consisting (naturally) of wing, harness and rucksack.

I have a successful track record with ADVANCE. Together we have won the X-Alps twice already.

Chrigel Maurer

What can you tell us about it?

Chrigel Maurer: We took an existing prototype and analysed it exactly. From that we put together our wishlist of the changes we needed to make it perfect for the X-Alps.

And the developers are now working on it?

Chrigel Maurer:  Exactly so. And we are very much in the picture; we meet regularly with the ADVANCE development team to give feedback and discuss progress – several times a week.

Sebastian Huber: Actually the cooperation is really close. It’s a new experience for me to have a manufacturer on my side; one that is so involved. I mean, here is a complete team who are concerned that we get the best possible equipment for the X-Alps. The effort they put into this is enormous.

  • Picture: Thomas Ulrich
  • Picture: Thomas Ulrich

Why does ADVANCE devote so much energy to this competition?

Chrigel Maurer: It’s always been like this: it’s worthwhile experience for ADVANCE that finds its way into serial products later, even if, so far, our material could not be bought in customised form. Best example is the LIGHTNESS line, which emerged from my 2009 X-Alps harness.

So what then has this cooperation with ADVANCE led to for the two of you? For you Chrigel, is it really a comeback - the reanimation of a very successful team?

Chrigel Maurer:  Well; firstly I’ve had a long and successful association with ADVANCE. We’ve won the X-Alps together twice, and have celebrated three PWC victories. On the other hand being close by is very important when it comes to communicating. I can drop in anytime and talk to the development people, and plan the next step. Along with that there are also things that apply to the finer points of wing development; the obvious quest for perfection, for example!

A whole team is involved here in getting us the best possible equipment for the X-Alps. The dedication that goes into this is enormous.

Sebastian Huber

Sebastian Huber: : The effort that ADVANCE has spent on just me, including the level of inclusivity and communication, is convincing. The degree to which ADVANCE values its pilots is striking.

How well do you know each other as pilots?
 
Chrigel Maurer: I’ve come across Sebastian at the Bordairline competition…

  • Picture: Thomas Ulrich
  • Picture: Thomas Ulrich

 So that means you recommended him to ADVANCE?
 
Chrigel Maurer: Yes; I saw him there and noticed that he can fly very well. And – and this is important for the X-Alps – he can handle himself pretty well in the mountains. I had no doubt that I would recommend him to ADVANCE as a second X-Alps pilot.
 
Sebastian Huber: What I appreciate about Chrigel is that, despite his success, he remains so modest and down-to-earth. He doesn’t show off – it’s all in a day’s work. We don’t compete. All the participants are driven by only one thought - getting to goal. The notion of a competition is secondary.

We don’t compete. All the participants have the same motivation - to make it to the finish. The idea of a competition is secondary.

Chrigel Maurer

While you are concerned with developing the equipment you are quasi partners. In the competition you will compete against each other. Does this affect you during the training?
 
Chrigel Maurer: We don’t compete. Not for one moment have I thought that the other entrants feel this way. The X-Alps is a huge adventure, to be survived. And all the participants have the same motivation - to make it to the finish. The idea of a competition is secondary.
 
Many thanks for this interview.

This interview with the ADVANCE X-Alps pilots is the kick-off for our ADVANCE X-Alps series. Over the coming weeks we will report here in detail on the team’s X-Alps 2015 preparation, and naturally tell you all the tittle-tattle about the X-Alps harness and the X-Alps 2015 wing. Stay tuned!

X-Alps Series 2015


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