A new sport evolves as the World Wingsuit League begins
By Mike Hanlon
September 7, 2012
Sport is not new to mankind, but the evolution of new sports has been largely dependent on the evolution of new technology. From javelin (spear) throwing, archery and chariot racing in ancient times, through bicycle, motorcycle and automobile racing in recent times, as new forms of human endeavor develop around a new technology, there's always a competition to be found. Wingsuit flying is little more than a decade old, but the spectacular nature of the endeavour has been brought together in a new competitive sport which will have its first outing with the formation of the World Wingsuit League, which will hold its first Grand Prix on October 13-14 in Hunan Province, China when the 16 best wingsuit pilots in the world will race against the clock.
The Tianmen Mountain Grand Prix Wingsuit Race will be held at the site of last year’s spectacular wingsuit flying exhibition, the Tianmen Mountain Flythrough, which featured Jeb Corliss flying through Tianmen Cave.
The race course will see the wingsuited pilots drop around 2,600-foot over the 1.2 kilometer course after launching from a clifftop platform. The course will then run around a sweeping turn marked by an anchored Red Bull hot-air balloon, then fly in a straight line down the mountain and under a finish line designated by cable car lines.
The 16 contestants for the first Grand Prix have already been chosen and include the world's best known wingsuit pilot, Jeb Corliss, and two females.
There will be two rounds of two flights each – one elimination round and one final round that will be televised to millions of people throughout the world. Scoring is based on the time of each pilot’s fastest flight per round.
All 16 pilots will participate in Round 1 with the fastest eight pilots going on to the final round. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in the Grand Prix, with the winner taking home US$20,000, the runner-up US$10,000, and third-place US$5,000. A trophy will also be awarded for the fastest single-run time.