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In celebration of ‘You Never Know’ premiering on the channel, EDGEsport caught up with Paragliding World Champion 2013, Klaudia Bulgakow, and Film Director, Martin Smekal, to find out more about the film.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT IN PARAGLIDING OVER THE YEARS?
“There are so many! I particularly love the moments when I fly over stunning landscapes, sharing the sky with birds and fellow pilots.
Two years ago, during training days before World Cup Superfinal in Baixo Guando in Brazil, I saw potential in the day’s weather and so flew to Pancas, 40 km away, which was super nice for landscape. I took my best friend with me and we arrived there and it was just like magic. Soon after, another friend joined us and we were flying around, taking photos and then we went back. This is exactly what freedom means to me. To fly somewhere, to enjoy the process and share the good vibes with friends.
If there are no friends around, I love to fly with birds and observe them and learn from them. We mostly fly with different species of vultures and birds of prey. Two years ago I got to share one thermal with seven species that are very rare. One of them was a King vulture and I had never seen one before. It was very special moment for me.”
DO YOU HAVE A BEST MOMENT FROM AN EVENT YOU HAVE COMPETED IN?
“Yes, racing with paragliders is like flying as a big bird tribe. We gaggle, we compete with each other but at the same time we cooperate to get to goal. To share the same flight and same experience with 100 other people is unique. On the ground we often discuss the day and the experience makes us closer. For me every flight is special and unique. It is hard for me to tell you about one particular.”
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO PARAGLIDE?
“Oh! I love so many places! In ‘You Never Know’, you get to see some of my favourites. I love Brazilian Espiritu Santu and Minas Gerais regions, I love Colombia – north of Cali, I love the Alpes – especially Annecy, Saint Andre les Alpes and Slovenja.”
“THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT FREEDOM MEANS TO ME. TO FLY SOMEWHERE, TO ENJOY THE PROCESS AND SHARE THE GOOD VIBES WITH FRIENDS.”
— KLAUDIA BULGAKOW
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING THEIR SPORTING JOURNEY – WHETHER IN PARAGLIDING OR OTHERWISE?
“Start with people who know what they’re doing – instructors, coaches. You will save yourself lots of frustration and fatal mistakes. Go slowly. Enjoy the process. When sometimes it is hard, don’t give up. Learn from it and become stronger as a person. It will pass and you will enjoy again. Smile!
I am still competitor, so a lot. Due to world situation, it is relatively less than usual as I haven’t been to the southern hemisphere since 2020.”
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR ‘YOU NEVER KNOW’ COME FROM ORIGINALLY?
“When we met Klaudie, we were due to film a short promo video. But Klaudie, Producer Standa and myself are all people who like challenges so we we decided to make a longer movie. We didn’t stop until we did all the shooting and parts of the story that we wanted to have.”
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF BRINGING THIS PROJECT TO LIFE?
“I guess Klaudia 🙂 but in nice way. I’m a director and I’m interested in a strong story. Klaudie wanted to have mostly a sport documentary, but had a strong story as well. It took a bit of time (years) until we found a common path and from there managed to make the balance between sport and personal story.”
“I WAS FILMING WHILST FLYING IN TANDEM AND TO BE PART OF THAT CROWD IN THE AIR WAS PRETTY INTENSE AND MOVING.”
— MARTIN SMEK
WERE THERE ANY STANDOUT MOMENTS DURING FILMING THAT YOU FOUND PARTICULARLY MOVING?
“I guess flying with the pilots in the crowd during the world championship. I was filming whilst flying in tandem and to be part of that crowd in the air was pretty intense and moving.”
WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE AUDIENCE WILL FEEL ONCE THEY’VE WATCHED ‘YOU NEVER KNOW?
“Everyone has their own story but I hope it might motivate athletes, women or people in the sports industry.”
This documentary tells the story of one of the most successful female paragliding pilots in history. Klaudia shows throughout her career that if you really want something, there is nothing to stop you making it happen. Despite many difficulties throughout her career, she managed to win the World Championship Title in 2013. But she didn’t stop there. Winning medals isn’t the goal but progress, pursuit of personal excellence, sharing joy with friends and motivating others to follow their dreams is the most important.