Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Thirty top athletes named to challenge for ultimate adventure race title.

The participants who will compete for the ultimate adventure racing title have been named. Thirty top athletes from 23 nations have been chosen out of the world’s top paragliding and endurance elite after a lengthy selection process.

Every application was thoroughly checked and assessed by the Race Committee and due to the high standard, making the final cut was very tough. Selection was made on the strength of each application, the applicant’s flying skills and endurance ability.

Swiss athletes have won all previous Red Bull X-Alps and after 2009’s cracking performance, defending champion Christian ‘Chrigel’ Maurer, will start as favourite and is therefore given the coveted SUI1 (Switzerland 1) team code. Chasing hard will be two-time winner Alex Hofer (SUI2) and Martin Müller (SUI3).

Among the returnees on the start line in Salzburg on July 17, 2011 for the 864km race will be Heli Eichholzer (AUT1) and Christian Amon (AUT2) who will be keen to make amends after disappointment in 2009. Eichholzer was disqualified after entering a no-fly zone while Amon dropped out after twisting his ankle on day one.

They will be joined by Red Bull X-Alps rookie ‘Mad’ Mike Küng (AUT3). Better known as an acrobatics pilot, Küng, 42, says he is taking the event “seriously,” but is "not afraid of it.”

France also fields three strong athletes in 2011 who all have the ability to reach goal in Monaco first. Vincent Sprüngli (FRA1) returning after competing in 2007 and 2009 is joined by newcomers Philippe Barnier (FRA2) and Clement Latour (FRA3), two extremely accomplished paragliders and endurance athletes.

‘Running Man’ Toma Coconea (ROM) will be back for his fifth Red Bull X-Alps, hoping to finally win the race he has dedicated his life to, as is another five-timer, Andy Frötscher (ITA).

Other athletes who notched up top ten placings in 2009 and returning in 2011 are Honza Rejmanek (USA), Evgenii Griaznov (RUS), Michael Gebert (GER), Jouni Makkonen (FIN), Ramon Morillas (ESP) and Thomas de Dorlodot (BEL).

Further rookies include Martin Romero (ARG), Steve Nash (GBR), Ferdinand van Schleven (NED), Ivar Sandstå (NOR), Pawel Faron (POL), Nuno Virgilio (POR) and Richard Pethigal (BRA)

“We really had a hard job of choosing just 30 athletes for 2011,” said Red Bull X-Alps mastermind Hannes Arch. “There were so many who applied who would be good competitors, but we are satisfied that we made the right decision.”

"I am confident the race will be a thriller, and all these guys will really push their limits to get to Monaco first."

The thirty athletes are:

1. Martin Romero (ARG)
2. Lloyd Pennicuik (AUS)
3. Heli Eichholzer (AUT1)
4. Christian Amon (AUT2)
5. Mike Küng (AUT3)
6. Thomas de Dorlodot (BEL)
7. Richard Pethigal (BRA)
8. Max Fanderl (CAN)
9. Jan Skrabalek (CZE)
10. Jouni Makkonen (FIN)
11. Vincent Sprüngli (FRA1)
12. Philippe Barnier (FRA2)
13. Clement Latour (FRA3)
14. Steve Nash (GBR)
15. Michael Gebert (GER)
16. Andy Frötscher (ITA)
17. Masayuki Matsubara (JPN1)
18. Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN2)
19. Ferdinand van Schleven (NED)
20. Ivar Sandstå (NOR)
21. Pawel Faron (POL)
22. Nuno Virgilio (POR)
23. Toma Coconea (ROM)
24. Evgeny Griaznov (RUS)
25. Pierre Carter (RSA)
26. Ramon Morillas (ESP)
27. Alex Hofer (SUI1)
28. Christian Maurer (SUI2)
29. Martin Müller (SUI3)
30. Honza Rejmanek (USA)

Full profiles for all 30 athletes are viewable on

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