Last week 35 of the best wingsuit pilots from around the world traveled to Kjerag, Norway to compete in a wingsuit race. This race was the first of its kind because it had a complete U-Turn built into the course. Because this is a maneuver that is Rarely done in the BASE world, it was a course that was challenging for all.
ProBASE Kjerag U Turn Race! - Ellen Brennan
The first day of the competition we had one practice jump and 2 round for qualifications. The following day, we finished the competition. We were so lucky to have one of the most beautiful days of the year! Sunny, warm, not windy, (apparently this happens maybe ones a year in Norway ;-) And it was on the day of the race!
The first round 35 jumpers competed to be one of the 16 competitors to enter the semi-finals. To my surprise, I made it to the semi finals! I was elated to be the first girl to ever make it into the semi-finals at a wingsuit race. After that, the 16 jumpers competed to be in the top 8 for the final round.
We all took the heli to the exit point, and I, for the first time, actually felt the nerves of competition. I am not a competitive person... but at this moment- I Wanted to be in the top 8. So I geared up, closed my eyes, and practiced this jump in my head over and over again- visualizing myself pushing from the cliff, the wind speed picking up as I position my body into the most aerodynamic position- visualizing reaching the turn- pausing for a half-second as to not cut the corner, then turning- and then diving like hell to the finish line, flaring my suit and pitching.
Once it was my turn to go, I jump just like I had practiced, it felt Good, it felt Fast! When we got the results from that round, I Made it to the finals! Woo hoo! First girl to ever make it to the finals!
I was super happy to make it to the finals, the only problem is that there was a female world record jump at the same time as the final round. I had to decide if I wanted to jump in the race, or jump in the world record. I decided to stay in the race, and I got to watch 15 of the top chick jump from one of the most beautiful cliffs in the world- there were girls jumping in skirts, track suits and wingsuits- and they nailed it! It was so amazing to see them all flying at the same time!
Now its time for the final round- the only way I can make my time faster is if I cut it closer to the corner. So this is my plan. Judging from my previous jumps I had about a 10 meter margin on the turn, so I planed to reach the turn, and instead of pausing for a half a second before turning, I was just going to go for it. Why Not?! This is my chance to make it to the podium! All 8 of us jumped, and when we got to the bottom, the judges wouldn't tell us how we did until that night at the ceremony. Finally after waiting for several hours it was time to celebrate! Coming in first place was a super quiet Russian who took us all by surprise! He is super solid, consistently flying fast and clean every round- Gleb Vorevodin. Second was Robert Pecnick- the man! Third was Noah Bahnson who has excelled in wingsuit flying in the recent years. 4 of us in the final round ended up cutting the corner too short, thus getting disqualified and placing 4-8.
These races are so much fun because the competitors are not trying to make the other fly worse- on the contrary- every one is helping each other get better. We all want everyone to fly better, faster, safer. There is no heave cloud of competition. Every time i participate in these events I learn more in 2-3 days than I would all year. I am excited to compete in the next race in Romsdalen Norway in 2 weeks!