This is the incredible moment three ski gliders become the first in the world to tackle Europe's highest mountain.

 

A Russian daredevil and two French companions almost literally flew down Mount Albrus, which stands 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) high, in southern Russia's Caucasus Mountains.

 

Ski gliding, also known as speed riding, is a new sport that combines off-piste skiing with paragliding to tackle slopes that would be beyond conventional winter sports.

 

The Russian thrill seeker, who competes under the name of Sergey Al., 39, from the city of Yekaterinburg in western Russia’s Sverdlovsk Oblast region, is a pioneer of the sport.

 

Enthusiasts wear skis and paraglider wings to tackle extreme slopes at speeds of up to 150 kph (93 mph).

 

It enables them to ski down off-piste slopes but also use their wings to fly over mountain ridges and other obstacles.

 

Sergey shared a spectacular video, shot with a helmetcam, giving an inside view of the trio's breathtaking descent of Mount Elbrus.

 

He is seen flying over sheer drops, at one point even glancing off the roof of a mountain chalet, in between cutting through the snow on his skis.

 

Sergey said the challenge proved more difficult than expected as poor weather meant they had to hike up the mountain earlier than planned, giving them little time to adjust to the altitude.

 

"We reached the mountain in nine hours. Speed riding down was at the limit of our abilities due to very strong wind from the side and behind, and huge turbulence," he said.

 

Sergey was always into parachute sports, such as BASE jumping, but got hooked on ski gliding after meeting some French enthusiasts in 2005.

 

For the next decade, he was the only Russian ski glider participating in international competitions.

 

Explaining the thrill of the sport, he said: "During the descent we change between skiing and flying. We even perform some elements of aerial acrobatics."

 

Sergey said there was no organised federation for the sport in Russia so far but he hoped one would be established in future.

 

A second video shows excerpts from the same feat, which had started with more enthusiasts making the attempt, but one reportedly did not dare go down all the way and another had to stop because she got mountain sickness.

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Author: Zoey McDougall

Zoey McDougall
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