What the drone sees … a view of the main take off in Kopaonik during the Paragliding World Cup in 2013. Video: Nobojsa Rosic
The European Paragliding Championships kicks off in Serbia on Sunday 3 August for two weeks of high-level competition.
The comp is being held in Kopaonik from 3-16 August 2014 and will see pilots from 22 European countries compete for title of European Paragliding Champion.
Kopaonik (map) is one of the largest mountain ranges in Serbia and is in the middle of the country. Its highest point is 2,017m Pancic’s Peak, home to a national park and the largest ski resort in Serbia.
Known for its mountain landscape and good flying conditions the best flying month according to local organisers is August.
The area saw a Paragliding World Cup competition in 2013, and has hosted two Pre-PWCs and the Pre-Europeans in 2013 as well as many other national events. Tasks of 100km can be expected.
However, numbers are down on previous championships – the organiser’s website shows a confirmed total of only 116 pilots attending, out of a possible 150 allowed.
The competition’s offical FAI Steward Nicky Moss said it’s “not that many” pilots. “Everybody who qualified and wanted to come got a place. This is the first time I’ve seen that – that’s unusual.”
Pilot numbers are down because competition in general is “maybe not quite as attractive any more,” plus pilots have other commitments. “There was a Paragliding World Cup last week, it’s August, family time, and two weeks off in the middle of summer is a lot of holiday to take.”
The result is that Czech Republic, France, Germany and Poland are all fielding large teams of 10 pilots.
Other countries that are fielding larger teams than normal are Italy, which has a team of nine, including father and son Luca and Nicola Donini; Team GB with eight; and Slovenia with seven.
Switzerland has seven pilots in their team, including Red Bull X-Alps triple-winner Chrigel Maurer and younger brother Michael Maurer.
Spain has four pilots, with Francisco Javier Reina Lagos – disqualified winner of the ‘Enzogate’ Superfinal earlier this year – leading that pack.
Current European Paragliding Champion Yassen Savov is in a team of one from Bulgaria. He knows the site in Serbia well and should be in with a strong chance of doing the double and taking the European title for a second time. However, the competition is a long one and there are lots of pilots who could come out top.
Notably, there are only eight women on the confirmed pilot list. That includes France’s Seiko Fukuoka and current Women’s Paragliding World Champion Klaudia Bulgakow. Both pilots could give the overall title a run for its money.
Live tracking, the pilot and team list, and daily blog are all at Air Tribune, www.airtribune.com/euro2014.
Team GB pilot Juan Sebastian Ospina (aka Seb) will be tweeting throughout the competition in English and sometimes Spanish using the Cross Country Twitter account. Follow him at www.twitter.com/xcmag.
The European Paragliding Championships happens every two years. It is overseen by the FAI, the world air sports body, and is a Category 1 competition. See About CIVL for an explanation of its role in paragliding competition.
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