<h4>WWL 2015 Qualifications</h4>

WWL 2015 Qualifications

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Ready for China Grand Prix

Voss, Norway

<h4>WWL 2015 Qualifications</h4>

WWL 2015 Qualifications

Read more...

Espen Fadnes vs. Mike Swanson

Voss, Norway

<h4>WWL 2014</h4>

WWL 2014

Practice, Noah Bahnson filming Maurizio DiPalma

China Grand Prix

<h4>WWL 2014</h4>

WWL 2014

Eliminations, Rex Pemberton vs. Espen Fadnes

China Grand Prix

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2016 Grand Prix Successful Despite Terrible Weather

2016 WWL China Grand Prix Successful Despite Terrible Weather

Clouds descended on Tianmen Mountain after a summer of sunshine and almost thwarted the World Wingsuit League’s October 13-17 China Grand Prix – but in the end, there was enough clear sky to complete a two-event race and crown a veteran WWL athlete 2016 champion.

French pilot Vincent “Le Blond” Descols won both the speed challenge and target events, posting the fastest time and the most accurate flythrough of a 1 meter by 1 meter target mounted 15 meters above the mountainside. Carson Klein (USA) was second overall, followed by Graham Dickinson (Canada) . Chinese jumper Shupeng Zhang finished in 12th place overall, a spectacular achievement for the rookie competitor and wingsuit pilot of only three years.

best wingsuit pilots

“It was great to see Le Blond win,” said WWL president Iiro Seppanen. “This was his fourth Grand Prix, so we were all happy to see such a long-time competitor take home the big prize. It was also interesting to see how well the very first Chinese pilot competed. Shupeng had wanted to compete for three years, and he compared favorably to our world-renowned professionals by finishing in the middle of the field. It just proves that if people are committed enough to put in the time and resources, they can grow quickly and, in Shupeng’s case, it added a lot of interest and exposure to our league in Asia generally and China specifically.”

The top speed event finishers were Descols with a time of 32.848, followed by American Carson Klein (32.926) and Canadian Graham Dickinson (32.932). Descols also topped the target field, scoring a two-run total of 70 (20-50), followed by Dickinson with 30 (20 + 10), and Dutch pilot Jarno Cordia and Norwegian flyer Jokke Sommer, who tied for third with 20 points (0 + 20, 20 + 0, respectively).

The 2016 Grand Prix was originally designed as a three-event race, starting with a slalom, followed by head-to-head speed, then finishing with target accuracy. The weather, however, narrowed the time available to conduct the race, so the slalom was discarded – as well as the head-to-head event.

“We had no chance for training flights and the air was very rough even when it was clear enough to fly,” said Seppanen, “so we changed the speed event to solo runs because we didn’t think it was safe enough to have side-by-side racing in those conditions.”

Seppanen said the professionalism of the WWL athletes made the frustrating weather situation much easier to deal with as they went up the mountain early each day and waited until late afternoon hoping for a chance to fly.

too cloudy for flying

“All the athletes were great,” he said. “They checked their egos at the border and were facilitating, professional and patient. We sat in the clouds every day with nothing happening but their spirits stayed very high and that helped a lot during the downtime and kept everyone fresh and excited for the jumping on Monday when the mountain had mercy on us and gave us perfect weather.”

Seppanen said organizers and athletes alike breathed a big sigh of relief after they completed the first round of solo speed runs.

“We were a little worried if we could get it certified as an official race,” he said, “because our rules say we need at least one complete to count it, so we were really happy when we actually completed two speed rounds.”

Then came the WWL’s first-ever target accuracy demo-event. The weather remained pegged on perfect, and four selected pilots were able to complete two rounds. More importantly, said Seppanen, they gave birth to a compelling new competitive event.

Wingsuit Target

“We proved we could create an interesting new discipline,” he said, “and I think it will become the flagpole event in our races from now on because it’s so technically demanding. I think it’s amazing that people can jump off a cliff a kilometer away and hit that target. It started in June with Jeb Corliss and the Human Arrow project at the Great Wall; that introduced the concept of not just flying fast but flying accurately, and there’s no better proof of accuracy than hitting a target size of an apple at one hundred-plus miles per hour! It was great that the athletes accepted it and great to see that it was not too difficult for them – but also not too easy. It is definitely something that sparks the imagination of not just our fans but the pilots, too. I think this is the future of competition because it challenges the pilots more than just flying fast in a long, straight line.”

wingsuit championships

Another element of the 2016 Grand Prix also played well with WWL fans and more casual TV viewers too; pre-produced video packages about many race-related subjects, including how wingsuits and parachutes fly, and how one person can fly faster than another.

“Our parent company, Pan-Pacific Entertainment, spent a lot of time collaborating with Hunan TV to create an interesting TV spectacle,” Seppanen explained. “We made a big effort to not just organize the event and highlight the athletes, but to showcase its beauty to the world and to engage new fans. And fortunately, when the weather ruined our plans and we went live on Sunday with no racing to show, those packages still entertained and informed our viewers and kept them engaged in the event and increased their appreciation for the skills of our pilots. So that was a good experience as well and, in the future, we will continue with our broadcast partners to offer these kinds of enhanced entertainment experiences during our events.”

Participants of WWL China Grand Prix

Participants of WWL China Grand Prix

Another element of the 2016 Grand Prix also played well with WWL fans and more casual TV viewers too; pre-produced video packages about many race-related subjects, including how wingsuits and parachutes fly, and how one person can fly faster than another.

“Our parent company, Pan-Pacific Entertainment, spent a lot of time collaborating with Hunan TV to create an interesting TV spectacle,” Seppanen explained. “We made a big effort to not just organize the event and highlight the athletes, but to showcase its beauty to the world and to engage new fans. And fortunately, when the weather ruined our plans and we went live on Sunday with no racing to show, those packages still entertained and informed our viewers and kept them engaged in the event and increased their appreciation for the skills of our pilots. So that was a good experience as well and, in the future, we will continue with our broadcast partners to offer these kinds of enhanced entertainment experiences during our events.”

wingsuit accuracy

“It’s clear we need to move away from head-to-head speed races and focus more on target accuracy and slalom-type courses,” he said. “The athletes no longer find the pure speed races challenging and from a production standpoint they are more difficult to properly cover. Target accuracy and slalom, on the other hand, are easier to present and they showcase a more complex and visually exciting skillset. So we’re very happy with this year’s results and, hopefully, we’ll continue to grow and inspire new generations of fans and flyers.”

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