Battling it out at the Paragliding World Cup Superfinal in 2009
Features

PWC Superfinal 2009: Better or worse?

Thursday 21 March, 2019

Introduced a decade ago the new Paragliding World Cup and Superfinal format proved controversial from the start. At the time we asked leading World Cup pilots for their thoughts. Here’s what they said all those years ago…

“For people like me with jobs and a family the new format is infinitely preferable: under the new format I can compete, under the old format I can’t. The whole system was exciting. It was nerve-wracking trying to qualify, exciting to qualify, and exciting to be at the Superfinal. I’ve competed in Cat 1 events for 10 years and the Superfinal was undoubtedly the highest level of competition I’ve ever been in.”
Adrian Thomas (GB)

“Much worse! We have a champion from each event, but not a real champion from the whole year.”
Andreas ‘Pepe’ Malecki (DE)

“The new format is excellent, a major step forward. It is the best way to get the best pilots to the top of the PWC and not just the pilots with the funding and time to attend all the PWC events. I’ve been doing the PWC for 15 years and I’ve only actually done the whole circuit twice. You cannot get a good ranking under the old system unless you do the whole thing – it was seriously flawed. I hope this new format is here to stay.”
Bruce Goldsmith (GB)

“The old system was a little easier: if you made some mistakes, you got new chances at the next event. Now you only have to fly perfectly in the two weeks of the Superfinal. If you are not in a good shape, it’s bad luck.”
Chrigel Maurer (CH)

“Better. Now it is a truly global event. Before, it was only a European comp – it was often difficult to [get a visa for Europe], and as most of the events that count were in Europe it was hard for us.”
Raul Penso (VE)

“So-so. The new format has some advantages as you no longer have to fly the whole tour with five events. So it was a tour for ‘rich’ pilots with a lot of time. On the other hand the sporting value is now less. We had outstanding pilot performances during this season eg Stefan Wyss, Yassen Savov and Aljaz Valic. All of them flew very consistently during 2009 and had bad luck during the Superfinal. With the old format they would be on the podium or at least top 10, with the new format they are not even in the top 30.”
Torsten Siegel (DE)

“The old version is more competitive, because we flew in different places and in different conditions. But we are not professional and we don’t have time and money to fly in all events: last year I think no more then 25 pilots flew in all the events. So I think the new format is quite good, but needs some adjustments. This year’s Superfinal saw pilots complaining because we didn’t fly enough. Having bad weather never helps anything.”
Jimmy Pacher (IT)

“For me it’s a good thing. I was able to spend more time at work and with the family and yet still compete for a world title. For the few young fulltime pilots a world tour is far more interesting though. However, the final ranking based on one competition is a slightly flawed format and is not necessarily representative of all of the pilots’ results over the entire year.”
Russell Ogden (GB)

Comp of Comps?

We also asked: “Is the Superfinal more or less prestigious than the old system of getting an overall winner from five separate rounds?”

“Because of the conditions you needed luck this year. If we had better conditions we would have had a really good event. But a real champion over five World Cups, like the old format, is a more legitimate champion.”
Andreas ‘Pepe’ Malecki (DE)

“Very much more. Before, everybody was there for the first three events, then after that pilots lost motivation – because of points or money. Like this, all pilots are in one spot in equal conditions.”
Raul Penso (VE)

“The main advantage of the old series was different flying areas (from flatlands to alpine), different weather conditions and also the chance to improve the wing during the season for the manufacturers. For me this was more exiting. So I think the old PWC series was, from the sporting perspective, more prestigious. However, maybe we can combine the old and new PWC series and have something in between. There are some interesting proposals on the table. Hopefully by 2011 we will have the ‘perfect’ PWC.”
Torsten Siegel (DE)

“It’s the same. Whether it is the best way of deciding the overall winner is another matter. I don’t think it is, but everyone still gives it 100% to win.”
Russell Ogden (GB)

“In some ways more: the Superfinal is more intense. In some ways less: the series provides enough events to guarantee a large number of tasks. They are different.”
Adrian Thomas (GB)

“Less. I think it was easier before to win the World Championship and European Championship than PWC overall. But even with this format, the PWC Champion title is still important.”
Jimmy Pacher (IT)

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