- Interview -
Géraldine Fasnacht the bird woman makes her nest in a sea of daring!
Saturday June 7th 2014. It is midday. The ascent has taken over eight hours. Géraldine Fasnacht is perched at an altitude of 4,478 m. The impending JUMP has been extensively researched. Equipped with her wingsuit, she takes off and – at a speed of than 150 km/h – experiences a few minutes of pure ADRENALIN and unadulterated joy. Accompanied by a friend, she achieves a world première: the Matterhorn! But who really is this bird woman?
Géraldine’s version of Icarus’ dream
“From 1998 onwards, I sought a compensatory measure for the absence of snowboarding in summer and was swiftly drawn to base-jumping.”
Prior to making her first jump, however, Géraldine wanted to be completely in control of what she was doing. As a result, she learned to parachute and 300 jumps later, threw herself off a cliff in Lauterbrunnen! She subsequently discovered a discipline still in its infancy: wingsuiting. Her first jump took place in Norway in 2001 and there was no doubt whatsoever that this was her thing. She practiced for more than ten years without a break. Equipment evolved and she achieved a world première by jumping from the Drus in 2012. She dreamed of the Matterhorn – to which she treated herself two years later. “The first three seconds are the most intense.” The noise level is substantial. The suit inflates, giving you the feeling of being on an air cushion and barely two minutes later the flight is over, but what a flight! “Human beings can’t fly like a bird and yet I actually can fly!” Géraldine’s bold claim is backed by another of her world premières, because on November 5th 2015, she actually flew with an eagle. Victor and she set off from the Brévent in Chamonix, making the same flight towards the valley. In parallel to her life as an athlete, Géraldine’s range of experience has qualified her to give seminars on learning to manage risks, channel energies and surpass personal limits… “Dare to make your dreams come true” is her motto and she has certainly done well in that department!
Par Valérie Blanc
A quick biographyGéraldine Fasnacht has been skiing in Verbier since the age of two and when she was not quite ten years old, discovered snowboarding. It was a lightbulb moment! While snowboarding became an inseparable part of her existence, she nevertheless wanted a “proper life”, combining her passion with normal schooling and an apprenticeship in business that she served with Swissair in Geneva.“I awaited the famous Verbier Xtreme with great impatience every year. All the people I dreamed of rode the Bec des Rosses before my very eyes. My only wish was to take part!” So why not her? She wrote to the organizer whose response was that at the age of 15 she was too young! She swallowed her pride but her determination was not even remotely dented. On the contrary, she decided to ride as much as possible in order to make it onto the legendary slope. A sponsor noticed her and she took part in one competition after another over a period of a few years and won them all! As yet unable to survive on the sport from a financial standpoint, Géraldine turned her attention with her characteristic vigor to obtaining the job of her dreams at Swissair. And by dint of perserverance, she did just that at barely 20 years old! The The only problem was that a month later, the Xtreme called, offering an opportunity for her to take part! She agreed instantly and immediately requested three months’ unpaid leave in order to train for it. The leave was refused! So what next? The answer came from her mother, who said: “He who hesitates regrets”. Géraldine gave notice – a daring move – and began a new life in Verbier that she describes as bohemian, riding every morning and working every afternoon. And in March 2002, the big day of the Xtreme arrived. She threw all her passion and determination into the slope… and won! Her life would never be the same again.
© C. Schmid
© Ph. Fragnol