Streaking through an aerial slalom course above Northern California this weekend, Andy Farrington of the United States fought off a fierce challenge from an international field of 40 men and women from 18 countries to be crowned Red Bull Aces champion for the second consecutive year. The event takes the concept of snowboard cross to the skies as athletes jump four at a time from a helicopter at 8,000 feet/2,440 meters above sea level and fly – head-to-head – through a twisting course of five gates positioned at descending altitudes between 6,500 feet/1,980 meters and 3,500 feet/1,065 meters. Fellow American Noah Bahnson had a repeat second place in the competition that has launched a new age in wingsuit flying, while a newcomer to the Red Bull Aces podium, Matt Gerdes, completed the American sweep in third. Athletes from Norway, Sweden and Australia also clinched finishes in the top 8.
By the time the lineup of only the best athletes from five continents was narrowed down to the Final 4, the race was almost too close to call. Farrington and Bahnson were neck and neck through the 112- foot/34-meter long gates suspended by helicopters. Because both pilots passed through the gates with perfect accuracy, it all came down to time, and Farrington edged Bahnson by less than four-tenths of a second.
Andy Farrington of the United States races during Red Bull Aces, a wingsuit 4-cross race, in Cloverdale, California, United States on October 25, 2015.
Combining speed, precision and agility, Red Bull Aces was developed to determine the world’s best allaround wingsuit pilot in a competitive environment that has inspired new training methods for the athletes as well as visionary designs for the suits, which enable swift and agile flight thanks to their ingenious construction.
“This is such a unique event, and a previous win doesn’t guarantee you anything against the talent here,” said Farrington, who has logged 24,000 jumps in his 33 years. “I raced Noah [Bahnson] three times today, and if the slightest thing had changed, he could have been at the top of the podium in a heartbeat. We’re going up against the top caliber of competitors in the world and the field is only getting stronger.“
Red Bull Aces 2015 USA – Oakdale Competitors