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Flying, freedom & joy

Flying, freedom & joy

Flying, freedom & joy

In addition to satisfying her thirst for adventure, up to a thousand flights a year make Christina Kolb from Sibratsgfäll a world champion and World Cup winner in acro paragliding. Her most spectacular flight started out in the Bregenzerwald, where she appreciates the Niedere and the Diedamskopf areas as ideal take-off destinations.

Schoppernau. Rays of golden sunshine blanket the landing area. It’s still quite early, but Christina Kolb from Sibratsgfäll is already smiling from ear to ear. On her shoulders, she carries a huge backpack for paragliding. During the summer months, a strong wind from the valley blows through the Bregenzerwald region. As a result, it’s really only possible to enjoy summer paragliding during the morning hours at the Diedamskopf mountain, which is an ideal paragliding destination in winter.

“It’s possible fly year round at the Niedere where in summer it’s better to head towards Andelsbuch.In winter, flying is best on the Bezau side. The Diedamskopf mountain, however, features the more spectacular mountain panorama,” explains Christina when justifying her choice of flight area today. “I prefer to take off from places where there is a cable car and then do long mountain flights from there. Once I flew towards Piz Buin mountain, then on to Switzerland and back to Bludenz. That was the first time I was really able to soar over the high mountains with a paraglider. I was able to see so many places from the air that I really only knew from the ground. That was my best flight yet.” In the meantime, Christina, an acro paragliding world champion, has also experienced the mountains of Tajikistan and the Himalayas in flight. “All of them are beautiful,” says the globetrotter, “but they cannot compete with the Alps.”


On our way to the summit, we discuss her childhood dreams, flying, and how a “crazy colleague” of hers started paragliding shortly before her and paved the way for her dreams to come true. Once upon a time, paragliding had a reputation for being a dangerous sport. “We all expected our friend to die in some crazy accident. When he survived, our whole group of friends lined up to fly with him. We took off from Niedere, had a beautiful flight, and almost knocked over a couple of cows when we landed. That’s when I realised: This is what I want to do too!” She was referring to flying, not knocking over cows. At the time, no one in her family was overly surprised. She was travelling around a lot at the time. Once, she even called home from India to announce her intent to buy a camel the next day. Her mum dryly wished the then 19-year-old good luck, and those around her were not shocked by her actions.

Arriving at the Diedamskopf mountain, Christina spreads out her coloured chute and checks things over carefully. “Paragliders are extremely safe these days and very little goes wrong when you consider how many people are flying,” says Christina from Sibratsgfäll. “If you take things one step at a time, danger can be easily avoided. Accidents typically result from bad decisions. I’ve certainly tested my limits over time.” At one point, however, she did have a pretty dicey experience due to poor decision-making. “I didn’t even have time to be afraid for my life. I just reacted and bailed out into the safety chute.” She turns her scrutinising gaze to the horizon, then the clouds over the mountain peaks, then to the nearby windsock. The conditions are ideal. Now the time has come for both of us to start running. Yes, I’m flying along with Christina. The wind fills the chute and pulls us upward. We concentrate our efforts forward as our feet lose contact with the ground. As the paraglider briefly dips, so too does my heart. Seconds later, a gust of wind catches the glider and the thermals pull us up into the air. My tension fades and gives way to joy. The panorama all around us is seemingly endless. I am gripped by a feeling of absolute freedom. During my flight with Christina, the wind blows hard. Towards the end of the flight, she shows off one of the maneuvers that earned her first place in the 2021 World Cup. “Competitions are not something I’ve trained for all my life. If you do something often and like it, eventually you’ll become good at it automatically. For me, flying is freedom. If I put pressure on myself, I would no longer be free.” When the time comes, the landing is surprisingly soft. At first, I have to get used to being on solid ground again. After the final maneuvers, my adrenaline level is still high and I look over to admire the joy in Christina’s eyes. “Flying becomes more normal over time, but that awesome feeling still remains. And the best part is that every flight is different.” When asked if she could ever imagine a life without extreme sports, she replies: “I’ve already calmed down quite a bit anyway. I hope, however, that my current level of adventurousness stays with me!”

Author: Christina Düringer
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2022