July 15, 2021
This year's Red Bull X-Alps, if you could put it in a word- scary. We didn't have a single "standard" day of flying with light wind, nice cumulus, and good base, unless you count the Prologue! We had incredible heat the first three days, low base, wind and stable conditions, then the thunderstorms started, strong Fohn from the South and North, window-breaking hail, severe lightning and really, really strong wind for the remainder of the race. Every athlete I spoke with at the awards at the end had a look of just going to battle. For the first time in my four races, the bad weather got everyone, regardless of where you were on the course, and it didn't let up. There were times when all 12 pairs of my shoes were soaked. After a good showing in the Prologue and going into the race pretty beat up from a crash at the end of May, and carrying the remainder of a flu into the race, which later turned into some kind of pneumonia (we're not sure, but it was ugly!) and having a terrifically bad start, Team USA 1 started clawing back.
Gavin McClurg hosts a podcast (The Cloudbase Mayhem podcast) dedicated to free flight where he interviews the best pilots in the world to glean out what makes them great and contributes regularly to magazines like Cross Country and Parapente and many others.