The tale: “we were at an altitude of 2700 meters, there were strong wind gusts and windchill was as low as -21°”
You get a total sense of freedom while practicing this sport. Doing it on Mount Etna, a volcano covered in snow next to the sea, is absolutely unique. Moments earlier you are swimming at sea and after that you go up all the way to 3000m”. Armin Sononer comes from South Tirol, he is 36 years old and in his eyes you can see the serenity of someone who is used to climbing regardless how adverse the weather can be before gliding down on the snow. In 2015, on the Alps, he broke the speed riding world record. Speed riding consists in skiing down a slope with an open parachute attached to your head while you reach speeds of up to 153km/h. We met him a few days ago, the day after he rode down mount Etna, while he was talking about drones, cameras and adverse weather to his team.
How does it feel when you ski that fast?
“you have a total sense of freedom which allows you to play with the mountain itself. The “sail” is only used if you want to jump or take a different slope. It’s a 3-D sport and it can be dangerous, I had some serious accidents and I have decided to take it easy”.
Tell us a story about these days you spent in Sicily.
“We were at an altitude of 2700m, there were strong wind gusts and windchill was as low as -21°, I had to put my skis on and my sail was already open. Two of the boys from my team were trying to hold me down, but the wind was too strong and it swept me off my feet. It would have been impossible. Luckily the sail can be opened or closed as you need it and I went straight down again.”
Do you think you will try again?
Who knows? I would like to try again because there is a beautiful atmosphere between the mountain and the sea. You don’t find something like this in many places.”
What projects do you have now?
I have put aside speed riding, even though when I receive important offers like this one on Mount Etna it is hard to say no. I am also an alpine guide and during the winter I am a ski instructor. I would like to spend my time doing something new, like climbing and visiting new mountains I haven’t been on yet.
Tell us about the alpine rescue project you are a part of.
For the last two years, every May I have been part of the helicopter rescue program on Mount Everest. Helicopters can only fly up to base camp at an altitude of 5500m. Simone Moro had the idea to establish an Italian rescue team to help those in need beyond base camp.