Full house of France - 5 world champion titles for the team
The 18th FAI World Paragliding XC Championships have come to an end with 9 valid tasks. In total 647 km were flown, and 2 tasks were stopped due to rain but scored as valid. Pilots from 49 nations took part in the competition. The last task of the Paragliding Worlds was short but very intensive - 53 km in a straight line from Grenoble to Chamoux-sur-Gelon that was decisive for the female podium.
With the victory of Maxime Pinot, the French team becomes the first ever Paragliding team having 5 world champion titles - 2 female and 3 male - "Kings full of Queens" as they say in pocker. Meryl Delferriere for the second time becomes Paragliding XC World Champion among women. Her first world gold medal was won in 2019 in Krushevo, North Macedonia. Honorin Hamard was the world champion in 2015 and Pierre Remy in 2017. Also, the French team becomes the 5th time world champion in Nations.
It is interesting to observe that never in the history of paragliding the same pilot has won the champion title twice in his life so far. In Women's category that happened: Petra Slivova CZE was 3 times World Champion and Seiko Fukuoka FRA 2 times. In Nations, Switzerland has won 7 times World Champion titles - probably the next goal for France to achieve.
If overall the 3 French pilots Maxim Pinot Honorin Hamard and Pierre Remy took the 3 top places from the start and never left them. So the main intrigue in Overall was which French pilot will be the winner - there were 2 of them most often in the top 3 - Maxim Pinot or Honorin Hamard. Maxim Pinot was never on podiums of Category 1 events except for the silver medal of the European Championship in 2022 in Serbia. A 32-year-old pilot from Savoie he was ranked 2nd in the World Pilots ranking since January 2023 leaving first place to more experienced Honorin Hamard who had 4 World Championship podiums and 2 European including 2 gold medals of Worlds and Europeans in his sport career. So this championship was also a way for Maxim to climb the World ranking in overall. Max Pinot was in top 3 of 6 tasks of which he won 1. Honorin Hamard was in the top 3 of 4 tasks of which he won 2. Worth mentioning there was another promising French pilot always in the lead - Baptist Lambert was 3 times in the top 3 winners of the task.
The women's podium was very vague in the first 2 tasks but then Meryl Delferriere a 25-year-old pilot from Annecy pull herself together and never left the first place in Female Overall. So the main battle was going between Constance Mettetal FRA and Nanda Walliser CHE. But Constance got silver finally by being better in the final race.
With the undoubtful domination of France, the winner in the Teams was also certain. During the first 4 tasks, it also seemed that the nation's ladder is somewhat solid: France, UK, and the Czech Republic. But then in Task 5 North Macedonia disrupted the podium coming 2nd overall. In task 6 the British pilots managed to regain the leadership returning to second place and never left it since then. Macedonian pilots managed to keep the third also in Task 7, but lost it in Task 8, when they landed 2-3 km short of the goal. The gap seemed to be too big ' they needed more than 280 points to beat the Czech. So in Task 9, which was also very short, they were racing like crazy - and they did it arriving over 30 min ahead of the rivals. With 2 points of advantage, North Macedonia jumped on the podium and became the bronze World champion.
Congratulations to the winners:
1 Maxime Pinot FRA
2 Honorin Hamard FRA
3 Pierre Remy FRA
1. Meryl Delferriere FRA
2. Constance Mettetal FRA
3. Nanda Walliser SUI
2. United Kingdom
3. North Macedonia
Official website https://civlcomps.org/event/pgworlds-2023
Live tracking https://lt.flymaster.net/bs.php?grp=5121#
Live video broadcast https://paraglide.webtv.live/en