Paragliding takes Teva to a new height |

Paragliding takes Teva to a new height

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado First, they went through the water on kayaks. Then, Teva Mountain Games competitors moved across land by foot and by bike. And then, they climbed on rocks.Now, theyll be flying high above the mountains. The Mountain Games have added paragliding, an already-established activity in Eagle County, as an exhibition event to this years lineup.Every year, were looking to see what we can add to the mix, Mountain Games organizer Joel Heath said.The Mountain Games are partnering with the Vail Soaring Club to put on the four-day event.This is a good way to introduce people to foot-launched aviation, said Greg Kelley, the meet director for the Mountain Games and safety director for the Vail Soaring Club. A lot of people have no clue about (paragliding).Starting tomorrow through Sunday, competitors will take off launch in Wolcott and navigate a course of several GPS points that finishes at Vails Ford Park. Pilots with the will earn points based on their finishes and the results will be added up for all the days of competition.The event has some limitations, Heath said. You cant definitely say, Look in the sky at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The weather is a big factor.Depending on the conditions, organizers will start each days race one of two ways.We may have a start time where everyone has to go at the same time, or an elapsed-time race where you can choose in a (time) window when you can launch.For the mass-start, all competitors must be in the air at a certain point, and are told when to go. Organizers said they may use the elapsed-time start in less-favorable weather conditions; if the weather is bad for flying, there wont be a competition on that day.

While the spectators may not be able to see the GPS points, the flyers should have a good idea where they need to go. Each point is a 400-meter radius around a specific spot that goes from the ground up to 18,000 feet. Competitors have GPS trackers on their paragliders that mark their path.Its kind of like bread crumbs, Kelley said. The GPS stores it. The track log will be downloaded at the end of each day.Kelley said the course should lead the competitors along the Red and White Mountains into Vail, and he estimates that it will take between 11⁄2 to 3 hours to navigate the course. The top paragliders may reach speeds in excess of 18 miles per hour, Kelley said.People should go over to (Ford Park) and check out the equipment the pilots are flying with. We use instruments that are similar to what an aircraft flies with, Kelley said.Depending on the success of the event, the Mountain Games will considering expanding paragliding in the future.As when we always bring new events, we have exhibition year to see if it has legs, and if it does, well go after it together with the governing body (of the sport), Heath said. These guys are here to have fun and want to grown the sport, and they are will to work anyway they can to do that.Kelley, who has been flying for 19 years, hopes this years Mountain Games is just the start to competitive paragliding in the valley.Down the road there is a lot of potential to make this world-class, he said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or