Millennium Post

Swiss pilot Kuffer wins AAI Paragliding World Cup

Swiss pilot, Michael Kuffer finished a close second in the final Task on Saturday but emerged as the overall champion of the AAI Paragliding World Cup here in Bir Billing. The 26-year-old Kuffer finished a mere 14 seconds behind Mexican Manuel Quintanilla but his steady performances in the earlier tasks ensured the overall honours.

The women’s overall crown was claimed by Japan’s Yuki Sato. Sato was second in the final task, which was won by the legendary Polish pilot Klaudia Bulgakow. It was Kuffer’s first World Cup win and the young pilot from the German-speaking area in Switzerland was overjoyed with his 

His best finish in a World Cup prior to this win was a third place finish in his home country Switzerland, as he was third at Dissentis World Cup earlier this year.

Enroute to his win in the AAI Paragliding World Cup, he beat the in-form Xevi Bonet of Spain, legendary French pilots, Julien Wirtz and Maxime Pinot, both former World Number 1s, and Slovenia’s Jurij Vidic, another former World No. 1.

Kuffer did not win each of the Tasks. He was ninth in Task 1, second in Task 2, 28th in Task 3 and 16th in Task 4 and capped it with a second place in Task 5.

The prizes, which included a customised 18-inch Winged Trophy, was presented to the winners by Sudhir Sharma, Minister of Urban Development and Town Country Planning and President of the Billing Paragliding Association. 

Also present at the Closing ceremony and the prize distribution were Mr. R K Srivastava, Chairman of the Airport Authority of India and Mr. Rajesh Srivastava, Senior Vice President of BPA.

Speaking about his win, Kuffer said, “I am overjoyed and I am going to celebrate this success with a relaxed week and I am going to see some more places around.”

Kuffer, who divides his time between studying Business Administration and taking tourists on Tandem flights in Interlaken, Switzerland added, “I have loved India, its food and the people. Bir Billing is a magnificent place and it just the kind of a place a Para gliding pilot would dream about,” said Kuffer, who was lying second overall after the penultimate task on Friday, completed his final task of  75.33 k in two hours, 29 minutes 42 seconds, which was just 14 seconds after Quintanilla touched down in 2:29:28. The Mexican, however was ninth overall.

Xevi Bonet Dalmau of Spain, who was the overall leader till Friday evening, ultimately ended second, while former World No. 1 and legendary Frenchman Julien Wirtz, who was fourth in the final task was third overall.

Another Frenchman Maxime Pinot and Slovenia’s Jurij Vidic ended fourth and fifth overall. Pinot was third in the final task and Vidic was sixth.

Among the Indians, Ajay Kumar was the best in 31st place overall, while Gurpreet Dhindsa was 63rd and Arvind Paul 70th.

The weather on the final day was clear and quite warm at times giving the pilots a good chance for a final shot at the AAI Paragliding World Cup. 

Task 5 on the final day of the weeklong AAI Paragliding World Cup was set a distance of 75.33 km and it ended just as the clouds began threatening to engulf the sun over Bir Billing, which till then had been bright and warm.
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