Paragliding in the Swiss Alps

If you’ve ever wondered, what it’s like…it is an AMAZING experience, tandem gliding from the snowy Swiss mountains above Villars-sur-Ollon! Rather than just taking a smooth ride, Claudia Peifer, aka ‘Jane Blonde 006 – licence to thrill’, also agreed to doing a ‘wing-over’ stunt ahead of the flight, so please note this swear-word alert, as it does get a bit hairy. Flying with an experienced instructor is the trick, and she flew with the best there is in Villars!  So, if you like a bit of excitement in your life, hit that start button now to find out what a tandem paragliding flight entails – have fun!

TA-DAH TV films in Villar-sur-Ollon in the Swiss Vaud Alps, society hot-spot and one of the locations of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics 

As big lovers of all things sport and all things fun in the snow, we loved filming the Paragliding Tandem flight taking off from snow off Roc D’Orsay, high above the famous village of Villars. This very chic and ‘very Swiss’ place has been on the radar for the rich and famous since the Hollywood hey-days in the 50s. Extremely understated, this is the playground for celebrities and famous personalities, who want to keep a low profile when on their winter holiday.

Another reason, why this somewhat ‘secret’ place with spectacular views of Lake Geneva is frequented by so many high-profile snow resort lovers, is that there are several outstanding international schools are situated in Villars itself or in Chesières, the hamlet just below Villars. So, with their offspring well looked after at famous schools like College Alpin Beau Soleil, Aiglon College or La Garenne Int’l School, it is always huge fun to visit the kids at a beautiful place with stunning views of the French Alp massifs, including Les Dents du Midi and the Montblanc. Situated just ‘around the corner’ from Leysin and one hour from Gstaad, you really will not be short of first class experiences, including glacier skiing at Les Diablerets , which can be reached on ski just across the valley.

And it so happens, that the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics chose Villars as one of their locations to stage several competitions in the snow-filled valleys above the village. Officially known as III Winter Youth Olympic games, this third edition of the games was held in January, with its base in Lausanne, where all the athletes were housed and prize giving was staged. With the future generation of budding winter sportsmen and sportswomen displaying their amazing skills, this was no-doubt the best games to date! Let’s look at what the games entailed.

The Games

When people think of winter sports, they think of skiing and snowboarding. Don’t get us wrong, they are fascinating sports, but a plethora of other sports were on show for us all! Ranging from bobsleighing to ice hockey, we were in awe of how talented the competitors were across all the various disciplines! Some of the sports on show were:

  • Curling – An underrated sport to say the least, this game consists of players sliding stones on ice to try and get them into the target. We gave this a go ourselves and struggled – how the athletes are so accurate is mind-blowing!
  • Bobsleigh – You may have seen ‘Cool Runnings’, but actually seeing the athletes fly down the track in a sleigh is surreal! The sheer speed gained as they soar down the snow leaves you constantly on edge! This sport no doubt takes a lot of bravery and mental strength.
  • Luge – Potentially the most dangerous sport at the games, this one isn’t for the faint-hearted. Similar to bobsleighing, the athletes fly down a track but this time they are alone and with a lot less protection! Using just a small sled to lie on, this is definitely a sport you shouldn’t try at home!
  • Ski Jumping – The infamous Eddie the Eagle gave it a go, but we surely wouldn’t! Don’t get us wrong, it looks like a whole lot of fun, but the heights the jumpers get to seem much higher in real life! Sit back and watch the jumpers gracefully gliding through the skyline and somehow landing perfectly – what an incredible skill set this sports discipline entails!
  • Ski Cross – Being a timed race event, ski cross is often considered to be part of freestyle skiing, because the parcours also includes features found in freestyle skiing, like artificial features like big air jumps & high. Banked turns. But natural terrain can also be included in a course, and so it’s important to realise the difference between alpine skiing and ski cross, where more than one skier compete in a single race! Usually it’s 4 racers in total, so you’re not just skiing against the clock, but against real life competition on the slope. Daredevil attitude is a must…

Ski Destinations

As good as the games are, the event is bettered by the fact that you can give skiing a go yourself! During the games, several areas across the spectacular Switzerland host some of the games and have brilliant ski resorts to stay at! So, for those who wanted to watch the games and ski themselves, the options were amazing! Some of the best places to go skiing there yourself are:

  • Villars
  • Leysin
  • Les Diablerets
  • St. Moritz

Villars – home to the Ski Cross World Champion and Olympic medallist Fanny Smith

Ski Cross is a relatively young winter sport discipline to the Olympic Games, but that means very little, as the contest is fought between 4 racers in the same race, flying down a specially created parcours, entailing jumps, crazy curves and bends and other obstacles, which make the contestant an all-rounder on ski in so many ways. 

Fanny Smith is a freestyle skier and one of the fearless contestants in the feminine category of Ski Cross. Literally growing up on skis, with her father being a prominent paragliding and skiing instructors in the village and excellent skier himself.

Clearly, competitive blood runs in the family: Fanny represented Switzerland at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympics, where she won a Bronze medal. Furthermore, she has 39 podiums in the World Cup, with 60 top ten finishes to her name. So, watch out for Fanny Smith at the XXIV Olympic Winter Games held in Beijing, China, in 2022!

If you feel motivated top get on the slopes due to the games, (like we do!), Villars, as well as the other locations stated above, have stunning views, enthralling slopes to dive into, offering spectacular skiing for all levels – we hope to see you up there soon!

For more information on paragliding from snow and ski cross champion Fanny Smith, visit TA-DAH.TV today!

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