Paragliding isn’t just a man’s sport, although according to paragliding statistics, men outnumber the women 85/15. Most instructors agree that paragliding is really more about technique than strength, so the ladies could easily do as well as many men. In fact, there are several women who have made a name for themselves, not only in US Paragliding Nationals, but also in the international scene.
- Kari Castle Known as an all-round sports woman, Kari’s not only one of the greatest-ever hang gliding champions, she’s also won multiple U.S. Women’s Paragliding championships. She took up paragliding in 1988 and went on to win women’s competitions at Chelan in 2001, Owens Valley in 2002, Telluride, 2003, Inspiration Point, 2004, Lakeview, 2007 and Red Rocks, 2011. While still competing, Kari likes to give back to the sport. She likes coaching and guiding newcomers and encouraging women to take up extreme sports. She is one of the organizers of the National Championship to be held this September at Owens Valley.
- Meredith Malocsay is a go-getter in both national and international competition. This Seattle lady loves competing and was U.S, Women’s Champion in 2008 and 2009. She won the women’s championship at Chelan Flats and the Ozone Corryong Open in 2014. This year she won the Bright Open and the Ozone Corryong Open. Her preferred gear is a Niviuk Icepeak 7. Malocsay is currently ranked # 83 in NTSS points and 59 in CIYL ratings.
- Lisa Dickinson won first in the women’s division at Dunlap in 2013 and is listed as the National Series Champion for 2013 and 2014. She currently ranked #87 on the CIVL list. At #44 on the NTSS points, she is the highest ranking female pilot.
- Julie Spiegler currently lives in San Francisco. She has 21 years of flying experience. She won the 2013 women’s race at Inspiration Point, Utah. Another lady who likes to give back, she and her husband run the Tinkering School Summer Camp where, among other things, they introduce children to paragliding. Julie is also a current member and webmaster for the Bay Area PG Association. She has held several offices in USHPA, presently serving as membership chairman for that organization. She is #56 on the NTSS ratings.
There are many other American women who not only enjoy paragliding, but are competing and winning. For example, expect to see more of up-and-comer Dawn Westrum. She was one of only two women who took part in the Red Bull X-Alps. By the way, look for the upcoming calendar, “Girls just wanna have flights” featuring photos of women flyers from all over the world.