Kinga Masztalerz

KINGA MASZTALERZ / CHRIS WRIGHT

"I'm so stoked soon to race through the breathtaking Pyrenees, make new friends and learn from other athletes. Let's rock!!"

Pilot: Kinga Masztalerz
Nationality: New Zealand
Birth Date: 01.22.1986
City: Patumahoe, Auckland
Country: New Zealand
Job: Growing tropical waterlilies and lotuses. Teaching other pilots how to get into vol-bivouac and hike & fly.
Web: YouTube, Facebook
Glider: SUPAIR Wild
Harness: SUPAIR Strike 2019 Pro
Helmet: SUPAIR PIlot
Sponsors: Supair, Garmin
Assistant: Chris Wright
Nationality: New Zealand
Birth Date: 01.22.1986
City: Patumahoe, Auckland
Country: New Zealand

INTERVIEW

What is your greatest sporting success?
I'm a 2x NZ distance record holder and NZ womens champion.
I participated in Red Bull X-Alps 2019 (however, I rather look at it as a lesson, still on my way to the real success in this race!)
I fly vol-bivouacs in various mountains (NZ Southern Alps, Himalayas, European Alps) alone and with friends, this is a real core of my flying and my greatest love.
Lately I started tutoring other pilots, sharing knowledge on vol-bivouac and hike&fly during specialized curses and I find it deeply satisfying to safely introduce other pilots into the world of mountain flying.
I'm also a certified tandem pilot.

When and why did you start paragliding?
In summer 2014. I was a keen rock climber back then, all my life was connected to climbing - everyday routines, weekends, holidays, friends, diet... I couldn't imagine life without it. Until one day during a training I hurt tendons in my elbow and had to rest it for a few months. My body was used to everyday training so I started running more and more. However running is not the same adrenaline, not the same vertical, spacial experience. My friend suggested paragliding course and since I thermaled up to my first cloud base, I've been totally hooked. I left my fancy job and city life and moved to Semonzo (Bassano del Grappa) to fly a whole winter. Than I moved to Saint Hilaire in France and from there traveled with my paraglider through mountains in China, India and Australia to finally find home in New Zealand. In my first year, when I was still learning to thermal, I flew 300h and some decent 100km+ flights in the mountains. I have never come back to climbing.

What is your mountaineering experience?
I live in the mountains most of the year 🙂
Before I started flying I was a keen rock climber, doing sport routes up to French 7c and easier mountain routes (up to VII/VII+). I have glacial experience (walking, not technical ice climbing). I've done some ski touring in Tatra Mountains and the Alps.
Then of course a lot of hiking. And I can hike! I had adventures in Southern Alps of New Zealand when I hiked through tough terrain all days for two weeks, in wet shoes, with 26->23kg backpack eating 1200kCal /day and my body handled it well.
Last year I participated in Red Bull X-Alps.
I Also finished a couple of ultra marathons in the mountains.

What does your typical training week consist of?
For last five years from November till April I'm in New Zealand where I train at the gym 4 to 6 times per week and run. My job is very flexible so of course I fly when it's flyable (it's Summer season), there is a lot of wind there, good training opportunities! May - September is time for European Alps! I live in a campervan and follow the weather. Training becomes more organic - hiking, flying, camping, washing myself in mountain streams and chasing the sun. October is time for Indian Himalayas. Training there is about hiking at the higher altitude and of course flying the big mountains in vol-biv style.

I've been hiking to take offs since I started flying, even before I knew anything about hike & fly, vol-bivouac or even light gear. I have flown in dozens of mountains on 4 continents, always keen to try new lines rather than squeezing extra kilometers riding well known ridges and often involving smaller or bigger (or unplanned!) vol-bivs. For last three seasons I've been flying with bivi gear in my harness - it gives me cool feeling of freedom and if the conditions are favorable, I have no excuse not to go deeper!

What are your best and worst sporting memories?
So many ups and downs, hard to choose one! For sure Red Bull X-Alps 2019 delivered extreme emotions, some of the highest highs, and lowest lows.

In my first year I made a few serious mistakes, especially my first spring was quite brutal, I put myself in a rotor and landed on a very tall pine in Swiss Alpes or didn't notice an overdevelopment in the grey sky and put myself in a middle of a healthy spring storm, which included unplanned wing parachutal... This time was probably the worst as I was really relying on my luck instead of experience. However I learned those lessons and the same year I flew 140km flat triangle between Saint Hilaire and Annecy and for example flew Tour de Mont Blanc to the left as everybody went clockwise and I decided to enjoy the mountains my way 🙂

Best, because the most emotional and freeing, is probably still my first big solo vol-bivouac in 2018, I put myself alone deep into New Zealand Alps unsupported for 16 days, with complicated weather and many doubts and I flew the most beautiful line there is to fly in New Zealand, doubling my previous national record and coming at the other side a better pilot and a stronger person. This first big solo vol-biv experience pushed me so far outside of my then comfort zone in many ways and shaped me as a better pilot and as a stronger human so it's still one of my best memory.

Both stories of my first 2017 national record and 2018 vol-biv were published in XCmag. Here is also a short movie from the vol-biv. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDu7BPL5yqc I like sharing adventures and especially emotions connected to flying so I regularly publish in various magazines (XCmag, NZ Airborn, Polish Vario, USHPA Magazine).

My so called personal best would be 215km triangle from Antholz, but I wouldn't call it my most favorite flight. However it was important, as I was able to help another pilot who went down under reserve.

Another memorable flights happened in Indian Himalayas where I spent last four Octobers (and definitely going there this Autumn!), mostly in a vol-biv mode. Some beautiful flying in big mountains, in Hanuman Tibba area, over Bara Bhangal, East from Kullu Valley... sometimes almost at 6000m and camping at 4000m.

Why did you choose X-Pyr?
Red Bull X-Alps last year was fantastic, exhausting and unforgettable. I heard X-Pyr is at least as much fun and suffering, shorter but higher pace, and also great atmosphere and organisation. What's more, it's a great motivation to hike and fly in Pyrenees and get to know them better.

Have you participated on X-Pyr before?
No and I can't wait to do it!

Have you flown in the Pyrenees before?
It's terra incognita for me, I've only done a few flights in Ager area.

What will your strategy be during the race?
To fly whenever it's possible and be unstoppable on the ground!
My strategy is same as always, I just hope to execute it better and better 🙂

What excites you most about X-Pyr?
Full-on racing in the wild Pyrenees, learning from other pilots and connecting to nature. I'm sure this race will take me places I would never touch otherwise.

What scares you the most about the event?
Getting lost on the straight road ;-D

Why will he/she make a good assistant?
Chris has great mountain experience, is a good paragliding pilot and has been supporting me in other races so he really knows what is involved. He's also my life partner and best friend and he knows me like no one else which is a great asset. There will be only two of us in the team and we have a serious plan to embrace the adventure and have heaps of fun on the way.

Anything else you like to comment?
I'm so stoked soon to race through the breathtaking Pyrenees, make new friends and learn from other athletes. Let's rock!!