Kitty Egelman - Paraglider (NLD)

 

Your Age: 28

Your Location (where do you ride mostly): Anywhere in the Alps and the Dutch dunes.

Weapon(s) of choice: Paraglider, GoPro.

What’s an average day for you like? Wake up, jump on my motorbike, work, jump again on my bike, eat, train, sleep and repeat. At least during the week. In the weekends whenever possible I'm flying or groundhandeling to practice my skills.

What is the most difficult part of your activity/sports for a beginner? The basics of paragliding are easy to learn. Getting to know the environment and identify the conditions you're flying in (before and during the flight) requires focus, reading a lot about weather systems and talking with locals. You may never forget you're playing with nature elements. Mother nature will always be more powerful than us, you've got to respect her.

What is the best and worst thing about being female in your sport? I like hanging around with the boys, they're always willing to help you to become a better pilot. They say handling a wing comes more natural for women (can't conform nor deny that). The only moment I sometimes wish I was a guy is the moment you're at the take off, need to pee and first need to crawl through bushes (if they're even there) to get some privacy.

What would you like to see change in your sport to make it better for you and other female athletes? It would be great if there would be more wings for light weight pilots. I don't necessarily believe in separate competitions. I like the ambiance of mixed groups and believe that if you give it all you have there don't have to be a difference between a male or female pilot.

Besides your ability and style factor as an athlete, how would you describe your personal style? My motto is 'Make a Wish and Live by it'. That's how I believe achieving things works and that's how I live my life. There's nothing I love more than flying. It makes me indescribably happy and I choose to never live without. Some may call me stubborn and overconfident. In some cases they might be right but I will never step away from a challenge and will always ask more from myself then people think I'm capable of.

What are your favorite brands/designers for your sports apparel and for stepping out? There aren't many paragliding clothing brands. Aloft is the one that is up and coming. I prefer hanging out in my jeans, tank top, sneakers and cap (if it's cold completed with a jacket or a hoody).

Let’s hear your thoughts on how important looking good is to feeling good. “Being” your personal best? I won't deny that looking good influences being my personal best. Look good, feel good is absolutely true for me, brings up my confidence. I prefer my nails look perfect, I don't step outside the door without make-up (just mascara and eyebrow pencil but still) and love nice clothes and shoes to complete the look. Even if I have to climb up a mountain or fly with the birds (I have to land sometime).

How dangerous do you really think it is compared to what people do in their regular activities? Paragliding is an extreme sport but you can do a lot to ensure your safety (know your gear, yourself, the environment, the systems and more important; know when not to fly). You're responsible for the risks you take. I think being an extreme sport athlete makes you more aware of the risks you take in your sport but also daily life.

I bet in your experience you have seen some crazy crashes. Describe one. During my first competition one of the pilots died. When I think about it, I still get this horrible feeling. It did show me how beautiful the paragliding community is. There's so much respect for every single person. Saftey is one of our key topics and we should never stop talking about it. We should learn from every experience and help eachother trough the challenges and losses.

What usually gets people hooked on your activity/sport? I think flying gives you the ultimate freedom feeling. For me flying really is a drug.

What is your favorite trick? I'm currently fly XC (cross-country) and love to climb up as far as possible in thermics (the faster the better, the sound of my vario beeping is the best sound in the world). In 2017 I'll start with flying acro (acrobatics).

Do you own any other toys? For paragliding I've got several wings and harnesses. Also I've got a Suzuki bandit S for some adrenaline while on the road.

What gets you pumped up for the day? My daily ride to work (music included).

What are three things you could not live without? Flying, music and the people I love.

What are your expectations for this activity/sport? I think that paragliding will give me a lot of challenges. I think it will learn me a lot about the things I feel and believe are important in life. It probably will give me more than once an important life lesson. I think the sport will develop more and more and we will be more and more able to fly with even less material. I hope it will be more recognized as an athletic sport and gets more media attention during big events (like the X-Alps).

Who have been your biggest supporters in getting you to where you are now? My Family and best friend.

Who’s your favorite rider? I'm a sucker for the videos from Jean-Baptiste Chandelier. Also a big fan of 'Don't try this at home' with François Ragolski.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not riding/shooting/competing? Spare time after work and training is rare. When I do have some I mostly listing to music and relax.

How about in the off season to stay in shape? I practice Kuk Sool Won (korean martial arts) and run/swim as extra training.

What is your biggest goal to accomplish this/next season? Start flying acro, compete and do a lot of hike & fly's.

What do you do to prep for a competition? Mostly condition and core training but also take enough rest.

What competitions and other awards have you won? None in paragliding (yet). In 2014 at the European championship of Kuk Sool Won, I won silver and bronze.

What’s your favorite “way” to ride? XC with preferable a hike before the flight.

Favorite conditions? A lot of thermics ;). Flying in the winter is awesome cause the world from above looks beautiful covered in snow. But flying in sunny condition is nice 'cause you can do without a lot of layers (although it's always colder up there and the first thing you do when you land is take of your clothes).

Where would be your biggest dream place to ride and why? Pakistan is the Valhalla of paragliding. The mountains are never ending, beautiful, the nature raw. But my biggest dream is to compete in the Red Bull X-Alps. This is the ultimate Hike & Fly race in paragliding.

What song(s) do you listen to while riding that puts you in the zone? The song of the wind ;) I mostly fly without music.

What turned you on to your sport? I never did something that gave me such an incredible freedom feeling as paragliding does. Also the amazing views are indescribable. Knowing you can climb up a mountain with just a backpack and than fly your way down is the ultimate feeling. I feel so small up there but at the same time I feel like I can rule the world.

Any new tricks you’re working on? I'm currently working hard to get my hike skills up to speed (also my condition) will also start with climbing for more alpinism & fly's.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done in your sport? I think climbing the last part of the Zugspitze and take off there was definitely one of my most awesome rides. Also fly alongside a sailplanes still is a pretty cool experience.

What other extreme/action sports are you into? I also practice Kuk Sool Won (Korean Martial Arts).

If extreme/action sports didn’t exist, what would you be doing with all the free time you’d have? If extreme sport didn't´t exist I probably never experienced the ultimate happiness. I would probably keep on searching for something that would removes the incompleteness I experience.

What’s your favorite board/bike/sled to ride and why? When doing XC I use a more standard mountain wing. When hike & flying I prefer a light weight wing or freestyler. For soaring it depends on the wind but most of the times I fly miniwings. They all have different pros and cons, and every condition could ask for a different wing. I do prefer flying with a harness with split legs. I like the way you can use your weight when steering more effectively. Also in my opinion, you have a better feeling about the input of the wing.

What’s the trick to riding features and not killing yourself? Whenever the thought 'Ah okay just one more' ever comes up: DON'T DO IT!

How would you describe your riding style? Confident, smooth, without fear. Someone once described my style like a remotely controlled airplane.

What would you say is your signature trick? Yet to be determined.

Favorite drink of choice to refresh yourself after a long day of riding? An ice-cold coke.

What do you want to be when you "grow up"? I want to live my life for paragliding. Just have to find a way to make it my living. To be continued...

Any of your own web pages or social media buttons you want links to? www.instagram.com/kitty.erina_red.arrow / www.facebook.com/kitty.egelman