Jan Sterren. Photo: Swiss League
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Jan Sterren, 28, killed in ski-touring accident

Wednesday 7 March, 2018

Chasing Moments 2016, by Jan Sterren

One of Switzerland’s leading XC paraglider pilots was tragically killed in an avalanche while ski-touring on Sunday 4 March.

Jan Sterren, 28, had won Switzerland’s Cross Country Cup twice, in 2017 and 2013, and was one of only a handful of paraglider pilots to have flown more than 500km.

Among his numerous achievements, he held the record for the longest paraglider flight in the Alps at 355km, and flew 515km in Brazil in October last year.

Jan was hit by an avalanche on Sunday 4 March while ski-touring in the Augstbord region, north of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps, close to his home town of Visp. He was skiing with Michael Witschi, who survived.

Swiss team leader Martin Scheel said: “Normally both are very safe when ski-touring, but there was a fresh track down a nice slope. Jan wanted to follow. He was caught by the avalanche, and any help came too late. He was very deep in the snow.”

Posting the news on the Swiss League forum Martin paid tribute to Jan.

“Jan, you have inspired us all with your big flights and your open and honest way. Thank you for the time you shared with us. Thank you for the sunshine you have given us. Thank you for the power with which you have pursued your goals.

“We miss you. But we also know that your too short life was fulfilled. We know that you have had more experience over the 28 years than many have in 100.”

He added, “Infinitely sad.”

Fellow pilot Philip Steinger called Jan “a true champion”. “On the ground a quiet, honest and down-to-earth colleague who possessed no celebrity. Thank you for many unforgettable moments.”

The funeral service was due to take place on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at 10am in the parish church of Visp, Switzerland.

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