Winning isn't easy and continuing to win is even harder. In this four-part series we talk to the champions of the Red Bull Air Race to see how they continue on their path to success. In last week's part one we spoke to Yoshihide Muroya. In this part we ask two-time title winner Kirby Chambliss about what keeps him pushing forward.
Chambliss is one of the longest-serving pilots in the Red Bull Air Race, competing in more than 80 races. He is third on the all-time wins list, with 10 race wins, and was crowned the title winner in both 2004 and 2006 – so he knows what it takes to be a champion.
"You know, a lot of people say it's more difficult after a world title, but to me, I always felt better about it because I knew that I COULD do it," explained Chambliss. "The first time you win, you're almost a little surprised, like, 'Holy cow, I did it!' But then, if you win enough you start to expect that, and sometimes you can start carrying the momentum so you're winning races right off the bat in a new season."
But Chambliss is quick to point out that thinking like that can also hinder you when things aren't going your way. "However, I think that anytime you're not doing well when you're starting your season, then it has the opposite effect. Where you feel like it's harder and harder and harder, and it never seems to go your way," he said.
Winning a championship will take a lot out of an athlete and their team. But it's about coming back and fighting for that title – you can't rest on the success of the past. "I would say it's good to have the momentum, but I think it's also really important to set the right tone for the new season when you come back into it. You have to keep that knowledge deep down that you can do it. I had that, especially when I was doing [the US national] aerobatic competitions, because I was winning back-to-back every year, so I would go expecting to win. You still have to put in the time and practice, and do all the right things, but you know that you can do it and I think it does sometimes make it easier!" Chambliss concluded.
In Part III of our series we talk to 2016 World Champion Matthias Dolderer on what keeps him focused when trying to win his title back.