Brothers among the clouds

They are currently ranked at the very top of the world skydiving. Urban is in first place in the FAI (Civil World ranking). What does that mean to you? For us, this is a confirmation of our work so far, a confirmation of everything we have invested in this &scar so far

They are currently ranked at the very top of the world skydiving. Urban is in first place in the FAI (Civil World ranking). What does that mean to you?

For us, this is a confirmation of our work so far, a confirmation of everything we have invested in this sport so far: a lot of effort, energy, time... Of course, this would not be possible if we did not also enjoy it. Paragliding gives us a lot of satisfaction. The achievements and awards that have been received so far give us the impetus to move forward, motivation,...

When did you first fly with a paraglider?

We started paragliding eight years ago, and we flew before that. We started flying with a glider when we were fifteen. Our father is also a pilot and he introduced us to this world. But flying with a glider is much more expensive and not so practical, because in paragliding you only need a parachute and you can go anywhere in the world with it. It is not necessary to pay 15,000 euros for transport to the other side of the pond as with a glider. It is true that there is more competition because there are many competitors from all over the world.

What is your typical day like?

We don't have strict training. When we are at home, we are in the air a lot and take advantage of every good weather. We also play other sports differently. In the summer, we bike and hike a lot in the hills. If possible, we go out into nature for a few hours every day, to the nearby hills, which are not lacking in the area around Ajdovščina, where we live. When it's mushroom season, we also look at where porcini mushrooms grow and then tell mom where to go to pick them. We only collected them once, but since we didn't have a basket with us, we put them in our backpack. When we got home, it turned into a real pate (laughs)...

Does that mean fitness is key to your performance?

Fitness is a basic condition, but it is not as crucial as good equipment and tactical decisions in the air, the way of flying and the experience we have gained so far. Flying requires composure and good concentration. It is important to pay attention to all the happenings and changes in the air, so it is difficult to stay completely focused in the air for several hours. Many competitors therefore use various techniques to increase concentration and awareness, from relaxation exercises, yoga, etc. Right now, we relax best in nature and in the company of friends.

Is there still time for hanging out with friends?

Especially female friends (laughs). Yes of course! Sometimes we go to the cinema. If we're in Ljubljana, we stop by the Zvezda pastry shop, otherwise we don't stop by bars often. Urban sleeps a lot, but I like to cook: various pastas, seafood and desserts. The last time we were in Mexico, Urban made a tiramisu, otherwise it was a little too dry, not enough soaked in coffee... (laughs), but we ate it anyway.

You compete all over the world, so does paragliding also enable you to travel and learn about different cultures?

Yes, we have competed almost all over the world. It's nice because we have matches in more uninhabited parts, where nature is still fairly untouched and you are in contact with genuine locals. Many times we can stay for a week or so after the match to rest and recharge our batteries. But we usually don't visit very touristy places, we prefer to discover less touristy areas.

Most people walk or drive to work. You two fly. You have always dreamed that flying could become your job or have you thought about starting to live a normal life: eight-hour workday, family, children...?

Aljaž: The desire to make a living from flying has always been there. But in the beginning it was just a hobby, but now I could say that it has really become our job. we still enjoy flying as much as we did at the beginning. We live day by day. "Free life, risky future." An eight-hour workday? I hope that we won't have to and that we will live from skydiving for quite some time. But I had the idea of working in a mine and raising a family (laughs again).

Probably it can't be done without the help of sponsors and the club?

Last year we were lucky that MasterCard decided to sponsor us, and it seems that we will continue to cooperate in the future. We also have other equipment sponsors and are always open to new offers.

What is the best thing about flying and where are the dangers?

The best thing is to be in the air, fly and feel freedom. The biggest danger is to yourself, because how it will end depends on your decisions.

And the birds?

Sometimes the eagles threaten us a bit, because they are territorial and sit on the parachute, peck out a hole, ... (laughs), but at the same time we also help each other, show each other the directions of flight, because we both need lifts, so the birds watch us and we watch them. Some have already gotten used to us and then we fly together on similar routes.

What was your most interesting landing?

Urban: One of the more interesting landings was my landing in my grandmother's garden. Every weather change reminds me of that (laughs). When I landed, all I could see in front of me was my neighbor's glazed living room and my grandmother's pear tree. So I landed on the pear, and Nonna watched everything and congratulated me because she thought I had planned it like that (laughs)... then it took me quite a few days to come to my senses.

They already had a date in the air; do you have many female fans?

Interesting idea, but no, we haven't had a date like this before. But it is better that the girl is not a sailor, that at least one is "down to earth". Female fans? There are 10 of them waiting for us every time we land, that's why we love landing so much. Everyone knows us at home, none of us get stuck anymore (laughs), so in the future there will only be foreign countries and underdeveloped countries (laughs).

Info Box

Urban and Aljaž Valič

"We live day by day. Free life, risky future."

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