Bir: Swiss pilot Michael Kuffer finished a close second in the final task on Saturday but emerged as the overall champion of the Paragliding World Cup that concluded here.
The 26-year-old Kuffer finished a mere 14 seconds behind Mexican Manuel Quintanilla but his steady performances in the earlier tasks ensured the overall honours.
The women’s overall crown was claimed by Japan’s Yuki Sato.
Sato was second in the final Task that was won by legendary Polish pilot Klaudia Bulgakow.
It was Kuffer’s first World Cup win and the young pilot from the German-speaking area in Switzerland was overjoyed with his success.
His best finish in a World Cup prior to this win was a third place finish in his home country Switzerland, as he was third at Dissentis World Cup earlier this year.
En route to his win in the Paragliding World Cup, he beat the in-form Xevi Bonet of Spain, legendary French pilots, Julien Wirtz and Maxime Pinot, both former World Number 1, and Slovenia’s Jurij Vidic, another former World No. 1.
Kuffer did not win each of the Tasks. He was ninth in Task one, second in Task two, 28th in Task three and 16th in Task four and capped it with a second place in Task five.
The prizes, which included a customised 18-inch Winged Trophy, were presented to the winners by Sudhir Sharma, state minister for urban development and president of the Billing Paragliding Association.
Speaking about his win, Kuffer said: “I am overjoyed and I am going to celebrate this success with a relaxed week and I am going to see some more places around.”
Kuffer, who divides his time between studying business administration and taking tourists on tandem flights in Interlaken, Switzerland, added: “I have loved India, its food and the people. Bir-Billing is a magnificent place and it just the kind of a place a paragliding pilot would dream about.”
Kuffer, who was lying second overall after the penultimate task on Friday, completed his final Task of 75.33 k in two hours, 29 minutes 42 seconds, which was just 14 seconds after Quintanilla touched down in 2:29:28.
The Mexican, however, was ninth overall.
Xevi Bonet Dalmau of Spain, who was the overall leader till Friday evening, ultimately ended second, while former World No. 1 and legendary Frenchman Julien Wirtz, who was fourth in the final task was third overall.
Another Frenchman Maxime Pinot and Slovenia’s Jurij Vidic ended fourth and fifth overall, respectively. Pinot was third in the final task and Vidic was sixth.
Among the Indians, Ajay Kumar was the best in 31st place overall, while Gurpreet Dhindsa was 63rd and Arvind Paul 70th.