Wingsuit Slalom Competition Pushes Limit of Sport

Whenever you turn around these days it seems Red Bull Sports is doing something that blows you away. The kings of obscure and extreme sports failed to disappoint again recently with the second edition of Red Bull Aces, a wingsuit slalom competition.

That’s right, you read that correctly, a wingsuit slalom competition. Competitors jump out of a helicopter four at a time and race around a series of obstacles suspended by other helicopters at lower and lower altitudes. Winners are drawn from the fastest times and whoever can stay within the course.

An international field of 40 competitors from 18 countries squared off in October. Winning for the second year in a row was Andy Farrington. While wingsuit slalom is not a new sport, racing four-at-a-time — what they call “four-cross” — is unique to the Red Bull event.

Racers leaped from a Bell Huey helicopter at 8,000 feet to pass through five “air gates” 112-feet long dangling from helicopters from 6,500 to 3,500 feet. Competition was fierce, with racers even making mid-air contact at various points, but nothing serious. One of the strategies in wingsuit racing is to cut off your opponents air flow, what they call getting “burbled.” 

Using a wingsuit, skydivers are able to travel three feet forward for every foot down. By inflating with air through tiny pockets, the suit actually pressurized, building stability and allowing for the simulation of flying.