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Paragliding Nationals soar into Pemberton

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The skies of Pemberton will be full of sails next week as the town hosts the 2012 Canadian National Paragliding Championships Aug. 5-12. Locals have already gotten a taste of what it will look like as many of the competitors arrived early to check out the venue and enjoy the strong afternoon updrafts.

August 4 is the unofficial practice day for the event, as well as registration and the mandatory safety meeting.

Flying days run through Aug. 12, with the last day serving as an extra weather day if necessary. If the weather cooperates though, the awards will be handed out on Aug. 11.

The pilots will take off from the Upper Mackenzie launch site at the top of the Big Nimby trail and a very worn forestry road. Once airborne, the paragliders will steer their way around to various checkpoints as the clock ticks, while GPS tracks their progress and ensures they fly over the landmarks. The accuracy of the landing is also measured.

The event is capped at 125 fliers, and the most up-to-date pilot list boasts 131 names — some of which have to confirm. There are pilots from across the U.S. and Canada, and as far away as Germany, New Zealand, Peru, Hungary, Great Britain, Mexico, Colombia, Iran, Venezuela, Denmark, Chile, Switzerland, France and Ecuador taking part. The international showing bodes well for plans to host an international World Cup event in the community.

Race director Jim Orava has been busy getting the venue ready for the event, preparing the take-off and landing areas, as well as doing some work on the rugged road up to the launch site.

For more on the event, visit www.paraglidenationals.com.

Semenuk undefeated, third in rankings after Colorado

After missing the first part of the season with injuries, Whistler's Brandon Semenuk, 21, has stormed back into contention for the overall title on the Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour with three straight wins.

He returned for the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes slopestyle on July 14. A week later he won the Claymore Challenge, and a week after that — last weekend — the Colorado Freeride Festival's Shimano Slopestyle. All three are gold level FMB events with a lot of points on the line. Semenuk pulled into third in the overall rankings with 3,500 points. Martin Soderstrom of Sweden still holds the lead with 3,807.5 points, followed by Sam Pilgrim of England with 3,523.75.

In Colorado, Semenuk was the only rider to clear the opening feature with a straight jump — a massive air that is worth a trip to YouTube to see — followed by a number of tough tricks including a 360 x-up off the drop and an inverted 720 spin.

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