18th FAI World Paragliding Championships launched in France
Long-expected Paragliding Worlds in France have kicked off this Saturday in Savoy - Mont Blanc area. It will be held from May 20 till June 03, 2023. The headquarter is located at the paragliding centre of Chamoux-sur-Gelon. The flying zone includes all the territory of the Isere valley and even expands towards the Alps around Annecy lake and Grenoble.
The event was awarded by the plenary 2019 and originally was planned to be held in 2021. But due to the pandemic was moved to 2023. Last year we had a Test event also having the status of Pre-PWC held here and it was great training for the pilots. The area of Chamoux and the Vallée des Huiles, between the Grand Arc and Belledonne, is the heart of French "paragliding paradise" and also rather a tricky place. The relief is less high and the breezes are rather strong here, it is an area that can create big changes in rhythm and split between gaggles. We have an article dedicated to the peculiarities of this flying site published. There Julien Wirtz, shares his opinion of flying in this place.
150 pilots from 49 nations came to compete in the Championships. Which is a record in itself. Before we had a maximum 48 nations at the worlds of 2019 in Krushevo Macedonia. The youngest pilot is 21 years old - Dusan Surina from Slovakia, the oldest - 66 - Etienne Coupez from Luxemburg. This time the junior category will not be awarded - we do not have sufficient juniors participating - only 6 instead of the required 8. But the two of participating juniors are the rivals for the female title - french pilots Meryl Delferriere, Constance Mettetal. In total, we have only 14 women from 12 countries competing. As you know to take part in the championship the pilots have undergone a severe selection - only those ranked top 500 in the world were accepted. Multiple exemptions were requested but only Chinese ones were satisfied. This country had suffered from the most severe lockdowns in the past 3 years valid for the ranking. It is interesting to notice that though 2 nations have 2 females selected - France and USA, only US team has 2 women nominated to score for the team - Galen Kirkpatrick and Violeta Jimenez. The others have only one. The French pilotess was selected as an exception for the 5 top-ranked women who can enter the championship with a wild card but cannot score for the team.
The first day of the championship started with registration followed by the mandatory safety and team leaders briefings where the main issues of the local rules were addressed. The Meet Director Jacques Fournier, the Safety Director Joel Favre, and the scorer Ulric Jessop answered the questions. They were assisted by FAI CIVL Steward Goran Dimiskovski. FAI Jury: Zeljko Ovuka, Ivan Lukanov, and Bill Hughes were also present at the meeting and took notes.
The pilot parade started in the evening. The participants marched from the town-center of Chamoux toward the competition HQ, where the opening ceremony was held. The local authorities were represented by Beatrice Santais, President of the Local Communities (Presidente de la Communaute de communes), Eric Sandraz, Regional counselor of AURA, Christian Grange, Vice-President Delegate of Sport, a representative of the president of the Department Council and Savoy Mont Blanc Council, and Alexandre Dalla-Mutta, the mayor of Chamoux gave a warm-hearted greeting to the competitors. They were also welcomed by the main organizer Philippe Roea, and Jean-Louis Coste, the President of FFVL. Zeljko Ovuka, the President of FAI Jury has declared the championships open.
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