DOB: March 21, 1980
Profession: Paragliding Instructor, Adventurer
COMPETITIONS & EXPERIENCE
Since the age of 12, Michael has participated in various cross country skiing races, mountain bike competitions and running races
Experienced in flying in strong wind conditions all over the world
Two-time winner of the German junior hang-gliding challenge
2005 Para Bavaria Adventure Race Competition (1st)
Competed in the Red Bull X-Alps for the past 4 competitions
PREVIOUS RED BULL X-ALPS EXPERIENCE
2005 X-Alps (5th)
2007 X-Alps (7th)
2009 X-Alps (6th)
2011 X-Alps (6th)
When did you start paragliding?
As a kid, I always dreamt of being able to fly, so I started paragliding as soon as I was old enough, which was at the young age of 14 years old - I haven’t stopped flying since! My first experience of flying was actually using an old hang glider behind my house. From that day I was hooked and four years later I started paragliding using a handmade glider. Since then I’ve been paragliding all around the world, including locations such as Brazil, Venezuela and Ethiopia.
What appeals to you about the Red Bull X-Alps?
This year will be the 5th time I have competed in the Red Bull X-Alps. I love the diverse skills and fitness required for the race, from paragliding one minute to hiking the next. I also love the sense of adventure the race brings with it. The X-Alps is not just a race but also a chance to explore a new environment in a spectacular part of the world.
What personal sporting moments are you most proud of?
I’m extremely proud of having competed in four grueling X-Alps – not many people can say that! I would love to finish higher up the leaderboard, but just being able to complete an X-Alps race from start to finish is an achievement in itself.
What is your best adventure or racing memory?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world to participate in various races and experience different cultures. I wouldn’t say I have a particular favorite memory as they’re all great, but the best adventures are the ones with good friends in unexplored spots. It’s the whole experience that’s important – from deciding on the area to explore to where to land and take-off. It’s not as easy as you might think and can often be stressful but it’s made so much more fun with good company.
What is your scariest adventure or racing memory?
There are always slightly scary moments when you’re floating hundreds of meters in the air. Off the top of my head, perhaps a more challenging than scary moment for me would be during a trip to Ethiopia. During one flight we desperately needed a place to land and after finally finding a spot we were accosted by thousands of locals. It was a real fight to escape without getting hurt or damaging our equipment. I don’t think they meant any harm; it’s more that they had never seen a paraglider in action.
What’s your typical training week?
I spend the majority of my time teaching others how to paraglide so it’s important that I keep myself physically fit and healthy all year round.
My weekly training regimen consists of a variety of outdoor activities and includes running, mountain biking, hiking and skiing and ski-touring during the winter months. Ski-touring really helps me develop my cardiovascular fitness and co-ordination. It’s also a fun way to travel in the snow!
Leading up to big races like the X-Alps, I often enlist a sport scientist to help me with my training. Ahead of the 2011 X-Alps race I worked with a sport scientist from Switzerland who helped me focus and get the most out of my training, including how to prepare mentally for the race. One trick to use when things get stressful is to imagine a beautiful place where everything runs smoothly and is stress free. Practicing this during a competition really helps me focus when things aren’t necessarily going as planned.
Tell us why you’ve teamed up with Reebok?
I live in the South of Germany surrounded by beautiful mountains, so living an active lifestyle is important to me for both my profession and my own general well-being. I teamed up with Reebok not only because their products benefit my training but also because they believe in living a fit lifestyle, something that is very close to my own heart.