The first 12 pilots have been announced for the Red Bull X-Alps 2023. And the first surprise? Acro legend and two-time X-Alps veteran Pal Takats is coming back for a third go.
Pal competed in 2009 and 2017 when he placed eighth and seventh – he’ll surely be hoping for sixth spot or above for 2023. Pal posted a video of himself on Instagram running and grinning with the words, “Finally it’s official. I’m racing at the Red Bull X-Alps 2023.”
He was perhaps the biggest surprise out of the Red Bull hat during the announcement of the first 12.
Of the rookies announced, the biggest name is Cedar Wright, a pro climber and award-winning filmmaker turned paraglider pilot who has been flying for seven years. He came 18th in this year’s X-Pyr and has a phenomenal climbing CV. He will be doing the Red Bull X-Alps for the adventure.
He told RedBullXAlps.com: “It’s the premiere hike-and-fly race in the world and it’s a bit of a bucket list item for most adventurous paragliding pilots. For me personally it means the opportunity for an unforgettable adventure.”
Other rookies include Canadian James Elliott, who was 11th in this year’s X-Pyr, and Sepp Inniger, a young Swiss pilot who is one of seven-time Red Bull X-Alps winner Chrigel Maurer’s protégés. A test pilot at Advance and colleague of Red Bull X-Alps veteran and Chirgel-chaser Patrick von Känel he will definitely be one of the rookies to watch.
Also racing for the first time is the first pilot from China. Junming Song, 45, is a two-time national cross-country champion.
The 12 pilots announced today include:
Paul Guschlbauer (AUT2)
Thomas Friedrich (AUT3)
James Elliott (CAN)
Junming Song (CHN)
Damien Lacaze (FRA2)
Pal Takats (HUN)
Tobias Grossrubatscher (ITA1)
Aaron Durogati (ITA2)
Michal Gierlach (POL)
Yael Margelisch (SUI3)
Sepp Inniger (SUI4)
Cedar Wright (USA2)
Yael Margelisch (SUI3) was the first woman to be confirmed taking part in the 2023 race; she was 18th in the 2021 edition.
The full pilot list will be announced by Thursday 13 October and will total 35 pilots.
The route will not be announced until 15 March 2023, and the race will start on 18 June 2023.