World Team Fails to Break Record

    Photograph by Andrey Veselov/AP Attempts are currently under way in Eloy, AZ to break the two point big way world record. The World Team has 222 skydivers from 28 countries are working hard at carving their names into the record books. The goal is an ambitious one with the previous world record standing at only 110 jumpers, so should the World Team successfully accomplish their goal, they will have more than doubled the number of jumpers on the record that currently stands. The event is being held as the 20th anniversary event for the World Team.
    Training jumps began already on Friday, March 28 when warm weather and a light breeze offered the jumpers near perfect conditions for the first day of training. The first training jumps consisted of 4 groups of jumpers, a base group of 42, along with three other groups of 66. Initial jumps were quite successful with the base group managing to complete four successful jumps, while the groups of 66 managed to perform three jumps with two complete sectors on each jump. The record attempt schedule set three days aside for practice, with record attempts beginning on March 31st.
    On the second day of training the bar was raised with only two groups being created, as opposed to the four groups that jumped on the first day. The formation practice was now done via the formation of a 90-way and a 132-way. Each group managed to make four jumps on the day and again progress was clearly evident, as the jumpers gave it their all. Safety is always of the highest standard during big way events, and despite the extremely skilled nature of the team, the demands that a large scale record attempt puts on the competitors make it easy for concentration to lapse. The practice days of the event seek to slowly build up the quality of the jumps and move the team closer and closer towards the final goal.
    The final day of dedicated training began with some reshuffling of the formation sectors. The 132-way group which was operating on a full base got some practice in on the mini base by downsizing to a 90-way group, while the 90-way group from the day before would spend some time getting practice on the full base as a 132-way group. Practice on this day was cut short by 30-knot winds at 1600'. Time that was lost in the sky was spent by the team practising their jump with some dirt dives on the grass. Earlier in the day the 90-way team was able to make a first point completion, but the 132-way team was still struggling due to difficulties with the base.
    Record Attempts Begin
    The World Team began early on Monday, with a forecast for some less than ideal wind conditions later in the day. The plan was for a couple of final practice jumps in the morning before the record attempts would start, at around noon. The base managed to make two practice jumps, with only the Alpha team docking as one sector. The second jump provided a well established base and it was then decided for the record attempts to begin. The first jump would not seek for completion but rather aim to establish the build in stages. The base would complete and then allow the jumpers from the sectors to get into their quadrants and feel become comfortable with their position in the formation, there was no pressure for them to dock during this exercise. Unfortunately, as predicted, the wind did come up in the afternoon and cut the attempts short. The down time once again being used for dirt diving practice.

    Photograph by Gustavo Cabana/AP Improvements were made on Tuesday, 1st April when the team began practising achieving the full 222-way formation. The first jump of the day saw the teams beginning some of the docking on the base, while the second jump saw a further improvements in the attempt. The third and final jump of the day was the most successful with the formation then nearing completion. The team would look to then, on Wednesday further the progress and attempt to make their first point. Once the first point is made, the sights could focus on completing the two point formation.
    It was an early start on Wednesday when the team began through first dirt dives just after 06:30 in the morning, but before being able to get into the air at the scheduled time of 07:00, low cloud came in and caused a delay to the progression of the record attempt. The teams decided that they would spend the morning period while unable to get in the sky, to practice with smaller groups, which would then take to the sky once the clouds had passed. There were some changes to the base in order to give the group confidence that they would have a solid base to build on. The first jump after the weather cleared would consist of the 42-way base which would be docked on by a further 66-way group. This jump was extremely successful with the base building quickly and the remaining 66 jumpers slotting into position with good form; a 108-way formation was done to perfection and eyes then turned to the ultimate goal of completing the 222-way.

    Photograph by Andrey Veselov/AP The second jump of the day saw all 222 jumpers and come very close to completion. One of the sectors were complete while another fell just short. Overall things were very close, and hopes turned to being able to complete the formation and break the record later that day. Unfortunately however, the weather once again hampered proceedings and high winds meant that it would be the last jump for the day and attempts would resume on Thursday.
    Tragedy Strikes
    On Thursday, 3 April 2014 the atmosphere in the camp changed dramatically. Early in the morning one of the Diana Paris of Berlin, who was participating in the event suffered a malfunction. Paris, aged 46 was declared dead on the scene after her parachute was released too low, and unable to open fully prior to impact. Diana Paris was an experienced skydiver with over 1500 jumps. The team honored Paris later in the day by performing a "man missing" formation. The team have also decided that out of respect, they will not be replacing Paris for the record attempt, and instead will be aiming for a 221-way record instead of a 222-way.
    Despite suffering the loss of Paris, the team are still motivated to accomplish their record on Friday, the final day of the attempts.

    The Final Day
    The World Team returned to the record attempts on Friday morning, but were unfortunatly unable to complete the FAI sanctioned world record. Things were looking solid at the end and the team came extremely close, falling only two skydivers short of the record, with them being unable to link. As such an unofficial record of a 2-way 219-way skydive was achieved.
    Information sourced from The World Team Blog

    By admin, in Events,

    World Parachuting Championships 2016 - Wrap Up

    As the 2016 Mondial draws to a close it has got me thinking about what competitive skydiving means to our community as a whole. Most of the world has little or no idea that the act of falling from aeroplanes can qualify in form and function as a sport - let alone into the myriad ways of counting up points to assess who is the best at all its different disciplines. Many of us begin our careers in this same way - learning to skydive because it is exciting and cool before knowing anything about the existence of a competitive element. During the height of a serious competition it can sometimes seem a long road from those initial intentions of hoofing about in the sky with your friends - serious faces glued to monitors, disappointment in a missed move or a weak round, tension amongst a team, arguments about the rules and controversy over judging. With the pressure on it can be easy to cast an envious glance at the easy body language of the fun-jumper loads sprinkled here and there amongst the motivated and meaningful march of team after team after team.
    Yet competition is a big part is how we evolve. Gathering the most accomplished of our peers into a single place for the purpose of deciding who is best is a huge undertaking - the collected years of refined skill on display at a world level skydiving competition is amazing to witness and the sheer amount of training put into the last week or so here at Skydive Chicago often represents the accumulated knowledge of entire careers in the sky - years and decades - to which the end result of all this is more than simply deciding who is the best. Friendships are made and plans for the future created. Lines of communication are drawn across borders in the skydiving world where perhaps there were none. Skills in every discipline that have been honed to a fine edge over recent weeks and months scatter across the globe as this great swarm disperses - to filter back into the progress of skydiving’s nations, communities and individuals.

    Putting on the Mondial represents a three-year project for Skydive Chicago, and their attention to detail came together with few hiccups. The main issue they have had to wrestle is that the sheer amount of accuracy teams represented meant that despite recognising the task it and going hard from the start they were still trying to get finished after all the other disciplines had long since wrapped up their business. Medal ceremonies were held as the separate competitions ended - starting with the artistic categories, VFS and the eight-way awards first then moving through the others each evening that they finished. There are lot of disciplines at the Mondial which involves much applause, hugs, standing respectfully and proudly for national anthems, and positioning for endless photos. It was an entirely sensible choice to break the awards up over empty evenings as to do it all at once would take a long time indeed - yet this perhaps resulted in a slight sense of fragmentation after the grand communion of the opening ceremony and the weeks proceedings as teams began to scatter once their affairs grew complete. It might have been missing a trick to not keep everyone together until the end - giving the finale a touch more scale and bombast. Yet these are small things in an otherwise impressive undertaking.

    With the end in sight the SDC staff even put in the extra work to bring the banquet and party forward a day to breathe a little room into those tight travel schedules or perhaps allow time to pursue an adventure in the city - for which many are grateful. Many are now in debt to SDC for a free day through which to nurse a hangover brought on by the multiple encouragements of a table-service banquet, a local funk band, the famous SDC fireworks display and Jay Moledzki playing records late into the night.
    So what is next for us? New champions have been created and numerous wold records broken (some obliterated). What we could really use though is some more exposure for our sport. The people of Ottawa and the surrounding communities of Illinois have been as welcoming and hospitable as that for which the people of the United States are celebrated by anyone who has ever actually been here. However despite it being on their very doorstep, when you say “skydiving” and “world championships” together in a sentence there is that familiar battle behind people’s eyes between admiration and incomprehension as they try to commute one idea to the next with no frame of reference. With advances in training methods and equipment skydiving only grows more accessible so the way ahead is bright and clear. That there are places like Skydive Chicago in the world - with the space, support structure and lift capacity to make the demands of a forty-nation get together seem relaxed and efficient means we can plan healthily for the future competitive skydiving - building on our successes and see the sport as a whole continue to grow, educate and amaze people around the world.
    View full list of results here

    By admin, in Events,

    World Parachuting Championships 2016 - Introduction

    Photo by Joel Strickland There is much to love about spending time in America. For every little chuckle outsiders have about the way they do things here there is a cultural counterpoint that raises the place above its oddities. For every ludicrous psychedelic foodstuff lining the shelves of Walmart there is a dining experience that you will talk about forever, and for each curious use of language or baffling advertisement there is an example of doing things with such brio and flair it will makes you wish wherever it is you are from was a little more like it is over here.
    It has been a long while since the World Championships was held in the United States. Eloy presented the World Cup in 2005 but not since 1993 has skydiving biggest shown been to town. When discovering a place like Skydive Chicago it seems curious that it has been so long. Rook Nelson’s SDC is a great example of American bigness in the way the space and resources available here are presented. Manicured grass spills out and rolls off in every direction, looking for all the world like it is someone’s job to perpetually ride a mower in the manner of Sisyphus pushing that rock up that mountain. Uniform aircraft proceed in a unbroken cycle around a bespoke creation in a land-load-takeoff cycle eating up the ever increasing demand for lift capacity as one nation after another arrives to shake off the jet lag and get used to the place.
    By Friday the floorspace in the huge hanger is at a premium as there are more than 800 competitors from 37 nations scheduled to arrive from all over the world in time for the opening ceremony on Sunday afternoon. We are a well connected bunch so there is lots of catching up to do - perhaps just days have past between friends and rivals - or there are those have not seen since the last world meet in the Czech Republic two years ago. Teams weigh each other up. Progress is mostly hidden in the sky so much of the judgement is expressed about who has the nicest delegation gear to wear about while on the ground. This is parachuting’s biggest affair so everyone acts like it - style points, swagger, matching colours, matching luggage. The colourful menagerie of the length and breadth of skydiving is present - everything from nations where parachuting is largely a military concern representing proudly in canopy formation work and accuracy jumping, through the storied history and wide appeal of flat flying to the fresh faced kids turing up to throw down the new new way in the artistic categories.

    Photos by Joel Strickland

    Photo by Craig Poxon By the time Sunday morning arrives the place is packed out. A day of heavy rain broke the oppressive humidity of earlier in the week but also flooded out the ancillary dropzone at Cushing Field (‘Swamp’) - so every category is here trying to get in their final practice efforts. Jumping only goes until noon to allow for the briefings and draws and to allow time for everyone to get to town for the opening ceremony. The usually perfectly adequate manifesting software was been set aside in favour of good old paper and pencils for which the result is a gigantic snake of humans at the window putting names in for thirty loads down the line. Pressure builds as we get closer to the start of the competition and everyone is deep in their own affairs - but getting this done should be recognised as no small achievement by the SDC staff as half a dozen aircraft do multiple passes and multiple heights - juggling every single category and jumping everyone safely.
    Some nations present huge delegations for the FAI Worlds using their full allotment of qualifiable teams. France, Great Britain and the USA itself each bring a small crowd to Ottawa Township High School brandishing flags to be introduced and applauded in turn. It is the smaller delegations though that raise the biggest cheers - the UAE has three representatives, Israel two, but the crowd rise to their feet for Cuba and India - nations both with a single member in the competition.

    Photo by Will Penny The UK is not so far removed from the USA - we have been trading culture back and forth for a long time. Even so the images of a thousand movies echo in my imagination as we parade around the local high school football field in our delegation uniforms and it makes me wonder how representatives from more exotic nations find it here. The bleachers, the line of proud veterans with old bolt-action rifles, the national anthem perfectly timed with a formation flypast from the SDC aircraft and an enormous flag demo - Old Glory blazing in the strong afternoon sun. Americans are good at this stuff.
    The competition kicks off in the morning with an early start for some and a more relaxed call of noon for others. For now though we are thirsty and intent on embracing the invitation of hospitality from the mayor and the local community as we ooze out of the school into the town and the setting sun.
    Stay tuned for further updates out of Skydive Chicago by Joel.

    By admin, in Events,

    World Parachuting Championships 2016 - Day 4 Update

    Henrik Raimer by Daniel Hagström
    There is so much going on across the Mondial proceedings that keeping abreast of everything that is happening is probably impossible.
    As a competitor you are acutely aware of how well you are doing, your personal battles and what is going on directly above and below in your table. You are also probably loosely aware of what is playing out throughout the rest of your category but likely not the specifics. You might have a general picture of how the other members of your nation are doing, discussed in the downtime in your delegation tent. By the time you are reaching across the disciplines to those with which you have few connections the myriad complexities, technical acumen and gatherings of points can quickly retreat into mystery.
    Early call times and some long waits for the right conditions give people a chance to mooch around and learn a bit more about the strange animals on display. An important thing that one can and should take away from this event is that no matter how askance you look at the disciplines somewhat removed from what you do personally, and no matter how much more exciting and important you think your jam is - everyone here is under the same pressure and dealing in equal measures of precision to get the job done.

    Solaris Freestyle by Nicolas Campistron
    At this mid-point through the scheduled days the logistics and weather considerations mean that some disciplines are nearly complete, while some still have the lion’s share to go. The Accuracy area has proven a bit of a draw throughout some long hours when prohibitively low cloud puts paid to any freefall activities - there are something like two hundred representatives doing ten rounds each so they descend carefully from the sky in a seemingly endless precession as human after human plops down onto the pad with a projected sharpened heel presenting a score, most often just a mere couple or few centimetres from the dead centre - which when hit is celebrated with a ripple of applause and a happy squeak from the machinery.
    Formation Updates
    Formation Skydiving is serious business - with a level of skill and technical mastery that takes years to perfect as you evolve through the platforms. Belgium’s Hyabusa have been running away with the open category while a tight battle is playing out in the women’s category between the U.S. Golden Knights and the French ladies with at times just a single point a separating them. Talk of the town here is how much the Qatar team have improved and now throw down proudly in the middle of their peers despite only having become licensed skydivers in 2012.
    French Domination
    The French delegation get good support from their government throughout skydiving and as such their depth of skill is on display across the whole championships. Canopy Relative Work has Frenchies in strong medal positions across the three categories but at this point the exciting part is that both the French 4-way Rotation team and the Qatar 4-way Sequential team have broken world records early on then both proceeded to repeat the feat through subsequent rounds - Qatar doing so a half-dozen times.
    What's happening in freefly
    On the Freefly side of things, local team SDC Core have cleaned up in the business of turning points in VFS - yet despite being far enough out in front for it not to matter were forced to express some concern over a series of busts throughout one round for the same thing over and over which was explained away as them ‘doing it too fast’ even when reviewed on 70% speed.
    In the Artistic categories there is always the thorny issue of exactly what the judges like and don’t like, and the discrepancies between that and the points awarded and the opinions of the flyers taking part. This world meet is turning out to be the same story over again as the consensus of opinion from many of the teams is at odds somewhat with the positions on the scoreboard. However - few would argue that the Russians have been leading the way in Freefly for a few years now with amazing creativity and precision. The truest sign of being on top of the pile in freefly is that a lot of other performances start to look a bit like yours - and the Tunnel Rats influence can be traced down through the scoreboard. Freestyle is another category largely ruled over by the French, with their two teams battling it out for gold and silver by a clear margin. Freestyle is evolving and with a strong showing this year, interest from many other countries and a new generation of born and raised flyers on the way things look to be very exciting from here on.

    German Accuracy by Matthias Walde
    Team dynamics are interesting and complex - there is always a fair amount of conflict and cat-herding even amongst smaller teams, so it is no surprise that the very best 8-way FS teams are military concerns with the discipline and organisation to make it work. On the back of previous victories the Golden Knights are way out in front and show no signs of slipping. For me, the 8-way competition is the most interesting outside of my own as you can kind of make it out from the ground while laying back on an inflatable crocodile in the SDC pond.
    Big numbers in the speed skydiving category
    The biggest surprise of the event so far has come in the Speed category - Sweden’s Henrik Raimer not only broke 500km/h for the first time in an official competition but recorded a new world record with a difficult to comprehend 601km/h. For context - the speediest of the other forms of competitive skydiving operate at around half of that. This is like turning up at the Olympics and running the hundred meters a couple of seconds faster than everyone else. Zoom!

    By admin, in Events,

    World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2016 - Part 2

    With the conclusion of the FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2016 we have proved a few things, re-affirmed some others and learned a couple more. The standard of flying on display and the speed at which teams of humans fling themselves around the tube has been of an eye-bulging, jaw-dropping standard throughout. Dynamic teams are separated by the kind of times that require lasers to accurately judge and the 4-Way scores can be upwards of forty points. Juniors in every category across the competition demonstrate that they are skilled and able to step up and battle the grown-ups whenever they choose that they are ready.
    The Dynamic 2-Way competition kicked of with everyone fighting for where they would be seeded into the knockout stage. The eight fastest teams got a buy through the early battles with the exception of the 2015 Suisse 1. Defending world champions Filip Crnjakovic and Fabian Ramseyer made a small early error which snowballed into them performing a whole speed round the wrong way - and subsequently had to work against some strong mid-table opponents to make the finals. Tie-break speed rounds separated the positions at the top - with the Polish Flyspot locals the Vipers taking the gold after sub-one second wins over the French team from Windoor. Special mention should be made for crowd favourites iFly Aspire (Kayleigh and Noah Wittenberg - formerly of Mini Maktoum) and Firefly Singapore (one of which - Kyra Poh - won gold in the Junior Freestyle) as both teams are now competition veterans despite being children - who place among the highest level and are certainly capable of victory.

    The battle raged in the 4-Way Open between Belgium’s Hyabusa and the French team representing the Weembi tunnel (counting a former Hyabusa member among their number) as the two traded rounds until the later part of the competition where the Belgian’s took it. After a slow start the French ladies began to put up scores in the 4-Way Female that would see them place highly in the open category - leaving the two British teams Volition and NFTO to weigh each other up for the remaining positions on the podium. A very healthy turnout of 8 teams for 4-Way Junior saw the Canadians win a gold, with France occupying 2nd and 3rd and proposing that the next crop of French flyers might represent as strongly in skydiving competitions as the current generation. VFS was all about the imperious performance of Mondial champions SDC Core - who intend to continue for for another few trips around the calendar and don’t show any signs of being beaten just yet. However, the young Golden Knights team are looking promising after their battle for Silver with the Russians and have vowed to go hard into next season.
    If they can bring the same pedigree to their new vertical team that the Golden Knights have to their FS interests things might get very interesting.

    The last few competitions have seen indoor Solo Freestyle settle into a legitimate position in the proceedings (and gather a huge number of views with some viral videos) and things are only getting more interesting. The standard of this gathering was high enough that a few mere tenths of points arranged the rankings. Interested competitors now seem to understand that cobbling together your best tunnel moves into a loose sequence is not enough to play at the top - that you have to present all the details properly.
    While not a competition in which music was a part of the rules, many believe it was successfully demonstrated that a well choreographed routine is only added to by a soundtrack - although it remains to be seen exactly how far this element of the format can be taken as the balance between theatre and the parameters actually written down caused some conflict between the judges scores. Leonid Volkov came from Russia with seven separate routines each accompanied by its own piece of music - yet went home with a Silver medal. There is certainly something to be said for that kind of effort and variety but the ruleset does not specify any criteria for rewarding it. He was beaten but one tenth of a point by Finland’s Inka Titto who performed an intricate, technical free round built from the kind of moves the rest of us can only dream of.
    Some scuttlebutt about the nature of the competition - that modern tunnel skills are somewhat overlooked in favour of classical freestyle - can be analysed in the battle for third place. Mad Raven Martin Dedek of the Czech Republic beat young Polish local Maja Kuczyńska to the bronze medal by the same single tenth that decided the top two with a fast, powerful dynamic routine that included enough creative elements and concessions to presentation to secure the win over Maja’s prettier, more classical set.
    This has been the first competition in which the entries in the Dynamic flying category has outnumbered those in the 4-Way open. After some dismissive thinking and comment over the elitist nature of high-end tunnel flying over recent times - that it is solely the province of tunnel instructors and professional coaches - the amount of non-pro and aspiring teams is growing all the time. This reflects the advances we have been making in teaching technique and the accessibility of our sport as a whole. Despite tweaks from one competition to the next - the rules and competition format work with some efficiency, and the rate at which tunnel facilities are sprouting up out of the earth like mushrooms with no signs of slowing down means these world gatherings look set to carry on and continue to grow.
    Full results can be found on the official IPC website at: http://ipc-wcresults.org.uk/
    A wealth of images and more information is available on the WCIS Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=2nd%20fai%20world%20cup%20of%20indoor%20skydiving

    By admin, in Events,

    World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2016 - Part 1

    Over the last few years - as tunnel competitions have grown ever more popular - it began to look increasingly necessary that some kind of formalisation was in order. A small central element of the involved and interested had been doing a splendid job of arranging indoor skydiving competitions, yet the exponential growth of the industry was bringing with it showdowns of condensing frequency - to the point where it was creating an overall muddle in which not a handful of months would pass without a new set of winners earning a small window of opportunity to declare themselves and be declared the best in the land - right up until the next gathering rolled around.
    Alongside a strong sense of independence from the tunnel community there was a building desire for more intricate and complex measures that could and would validate victory in the form of accepted world champions with trophies and medals and such. Despite the obvious symbiotic relationship between the sky and the tube there was no small resistance to the idea of joining forces with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, and although it seemed some form of cooperation was a likely outcome - voices could be heard on both sides of the line.
    Perspectives were argued and both had validity. One view held that the FAI was nothing to do with the tunnel (A somewhat ironic switcharoo from the resistance indoor flying was subject to from skydiving traditionalists in its primary years as not being ‘proper’) and that the tunnel community had been doing a bang-up job so far, so what were they really offering other than to assume control over something that belonged to us?
    Yet with the increase in scale across all areas of tunnel business there was the question of the organisational structure that could be offered - was the flying community able to manage all of the bureaucratic considerations for operating what are now truly widespread international shenanigans? Could they create and produce all of the documents suitable and necessary to conduct professional sporting events? The office nitty gritty and the formational nuts and bolts? Who was going to do all that?
    On the other side - throwing in with the FAI meant access to a support structure that has been in place for many years across myriad airborne disciplines - including the ones out there are already related to skydiving. However the FAI might bring with it the problems that have become routine in artistic skydiving competitions - issues with judging, format and structure and an unwieldy ability to change enough and fast enough despite being continually presented and queried about the problems - thus hanging an albatross around the neck of something that is moving too quickly and altering form from one event to the next while still finding its feet and discovering the best way to find out who is the best.
    After some to-ing and fro-ing the result was more-or-less ‘Let’s give it a try and see what happens’. The proof would be in the pudding.
    After a tentative first go at iFly Austin in 2014, the Hurricane Factory in Prague hosted the first formal World Indoor Skydiving Championships a year later with broad success, and now with over 200 teams from 29 countries spread across 4-Way Open, 4-Way Female, VFS, 2-Way Dynamic and Solo Freestyle descending on Poland’s FlySpot on the outskirts of Warsaw - it would seem that the overall appeal has proved the relationship to be valid as the World Cup 2016 gets going.

    Opening Ceremony Notably absent from proceedings is a 4-Way Dynamic competition. 4-Way Dynamic is the most dazzling display of what can currently be done in the tunnel and it is a shame that not quite enough teams were ready for this one - also likely indicative of the combination of high difficulty and a still shifting dive pool that sees teams struggle to commit or even spit up into the 2-Way competition.
    There is also a strong turnout in the Junior Freestyle category, with two thirds as many members as the open version and many kids also present across the belly competition. Everyone has been saying it for years - that the next generation of flyers, raised up in a tube before having anything to do with skydiving would soon be upon us. Well, with some of even the smallest participants electing to fly with the grown-ups and earn their way on a level playing field - here they are.
    Many here keenly feel the absence of two of our best loved and most talented individuals, both of whom we lost to accidents in the mountains this year while pursuing their dreams - Ty Baird, a peerless, perma-smiling ambassador for the sport in general and FlySpot in particular, and Dave Reader - equally influential in quieter ways. The fingerprints of these two are all over the place - not just directly on how people fly by way of their students - but on the evolution of the very techniques we use and also on the composition of some of the elements of the competition itself. They are much missed.
    Each time out things are bit bigger and a little smoother. The rules are starting to settle into a reliable shape, the technological gremlins behind the scenes are becoming more manageable, the live presentation gets a bit slicker and as a result our exposure to the outside world a little wider. There is still some work to do to perfect the system, but everything is only getting better - which just leaves us wondering exactly how many people it might be possible to fit in this room to watch what unfolds over the next few days.
    More information, including the live stream, is available at http://wcis2016.com

    By admin, in Events,

    World Cup of Canopy Piloting Results

    Bartholomew wins Canopy Piloting Triple Crown, Hernandez earns European Canopy Piloting Championship & Windmiller sets new Speed World Record at the 7th FAI World Cup of Canopy Piloting
    They say there’s no rest for the weary and the pros at the FAI 7th World Cup in Canopy Piloting & 3rd European Championships were ready for battle as the competition got underway Wednesday.
    The World Cup in Kolomna, Russia is the third major Canopy Piloting championship in the past two months and while some began the competition with an eye on sweeping the three events, others arrived ready for redemption.
    7th FAI World Cup of Canopy Piloting:
    This leg of the competition season has seen the same 4 competitors battling for the top spot time and again: Team Alter Ego’s Curt Bartholomew and Nick Batsch versus the PD Factory Team’s Tommy Dellibac and Pablo Hernandez. However, 76 other pros arrived in Kolomna ready to take over.
    Day 1 - Speed & Distance
    There was no playing around during Day 1 when competitors completed 6 rounds of the competition and closed the day with a new Speed World Record and a tight point spread between the top 15 competitors.
    US Army’s Greg Windmiller (USA), began the competition with three Speed World Records listed in his resume and would add one more to the list before the first day was halfway over. With a speed of 2.371 in the final Speed round, he became a 4th time Canopy Piloting Speed World Record Holder.
    The field quickly shifted to Distance, and another World Record would be challenged in the first round with Skydive Dubai’s Cornelia Mihai (UAE) setting a new Female Distance World Record after flying 138.54 meters. Curt Bartholomew (USA) flying his canopy 154.02 meters was only .07 meters short of teammate Nick Batsch’s current world record of 154.09 meters. Batsch, however, would continue to dominate the Distance rounds, ultimately besting Bartholomew and the UAE’s Billy Sharman.

    Day 2 - Zone Accuracy Rounds 1 & 2
    The field awoke on Day 2 with expectations of an intense 3 jumps, with the scores so close that anyone in the top 15 could still podium.
    Bartholomew would broaden his lead over the other competitors with a 91 score (100 points) in the first round and a perfect 100 score in the 2nd round, which would be the only perfect 100 scored by any competitor throughout both completed rounds.
    After the second round, Bartholomew was comfortably in first by nearly 60 points, leaving Dellibac to protect his silver standing from Sharman and the rest of the top 15, who were all within striking distance should they outscore him in the last and final jump.
    Event organizers had planned to complete the competition on Day 2, but only about half of the field were able to complete the final round before a weather hold stopped the competition for the day.
    The competitors arrived the next morning ready to complete the final round, but would end up spending two days waiting on weather to clear to finish that final Zone Accuracy Round.
    With weather forecasts not showing a promising window, event organizers called the competition complete Saturday afternoon without the final round of Zone Accuracy.
    The World Cup of Canopy Piloting victory gives Bartholomew what is known as the Canopy Piloting Triple Crown - the current champion of the World Cup, World Canopy Piloting Championship and the World Games.
    Overall Winners:
    Gold: Curt Bartholomew (USA)
    Silver: Tommy Dellibac (USA)
    Bronze: Billy Sharman (UAE)
    Speed Medalist:
    Gold: Curt Bartholomew (USA)
    Silver: Tommy Dellibac (USA)
    Bronze: Billy Sharman (UAE)
    Distance Medalists:
    Gold: Nick Batsch (USA)
    Silver: Billy Sharman (UAE)
    Bronze: Curt Bartholomew (USA)
    Zone Accuracy Medalists:
    Gold: Curt Bartholomew (USA)
    Silver: Pablo Hernandez (ESP)
    Bronze: Dominic Roithmair (AUT)
    3rd FAI European Canopy Piloting Championship
    In addition to the World Cup events, 43 competitors were also vying for the title of European CP Champion.
    Hernandez would lead the field following a comanding lead in Zone Accuracy, followed by Brice Bernier (FRA) and Dominic Roithmair (AUT).
    Overall Winners:
    Gold: Pablo Hernandez (ESP)
    Silver: Brice Bernier (FRA)
    Bronze: Dominic Roithmair (AUT)
    Distance Medalists:
    Gold: David Maleze (FRA)
    Silver: Roman Dubsky (SVK)
    Bronze: Johan Karlsson (SWE)
    Speed Medalists:
    Gold: Brice Bernier (FRA)
    Silver: Peter Kallehave (DEN)
    Bronze: David Maleze (FRA)
    National and World Records
    Several new World and National records were set throughout the competition, showing the continued push in the discipline as competitors are going further, faster and harder.
    World Records:

    - Greg Windmiller (USA): 2.371 seconds
    Distance - Female:

    - Cornelia Mihai (UAE): 138.54 meters
    National Records:

    - Netherlands National Speed Record:

    Erwin Baatenburg de Jong: 2.505 seconds

    - Sweden National Speed Record:

    Johan Karlsson: 2.503 seconds

    - Norway National Speed Record:

    Barton Hardie: 2.686 seconds


    - United States of America National Distance Record - Female

    Jessica Edgeington: 136.49 meters

    - Netherlands National Distance Record:

    Erwin Baatenburg de Jong: 130.95 meters

    - Sweden National Distance Record:

    Johan Karlsson: 131.36 meters

    - Norway National Distance Record:

    Barton Hardie: 130.24 meters

    One more international Canopy Piloting event is scheduled for 2013, the 4th Dubai International Parachuting Championship from November 27 to December 10.

    By admin, in Events,

    Women's Vertical World Record Set at Skydive Arizona

    The Women’s Vertical World Record [WVWR] attempts brought 95 women from 18 different nations to Skydive Arizona November 26-December 1st. I can’t help but reminisce back ten years ago when Amy Chmelecki and I organized our first WVWR and only had 20+ women from 5 nations. The rise of female participation from 2003 to now has been remarkable
    However, what makes this event so remarkable, are the women who participate in the journey of making history. We organizers, Amy Chmelecki, Sara Curtis, Anna Moxnes and Domi Kiger and myself, set the stage by hosting camps around the world to help prepare women for this venture. And that’s what it’s about, the journey, not the destination. We were set out to break our own world record of 41.
    There were many women whose journey’s I was so honored to be a part of, that inspired me in my own journey that I asked three of them to share a bit of their story. Shannon Fitzgerald D’Alessio made her first jump in September 2002 at Skydive Crosskeys. She attended her first WVWR camp I hosted at Skydive Elsinore in October 2012 and said she had the most fun there than in the past ten years of skydiving. “I left the camp feeling energized to improve so I could be on the record the following year.” After she made the resolution, she found out she was pregnant four days later.
    At age 17, Cathy O’Sullivan did her first jump out of a helicopter but it wasn’t until college days that she did her AFF Course. Cathy jumped off and on but in 2010 she moved Skydive Chicago and decided to seriously pursue learning to freefly. “The WVWR was the perfect goal to set in order to improve my skills and be a part of something amazing.” On June 30th 2013, just a few months before the record attempts, Cathy’s canopy collapsed about 30 feet from the ground from turbulence that left her hospitalized for a week and a broken pelvis/sacrum in four areas.
    Valentina Solis pulled off the most epic covert move from her parents at the age of 12 – she did her first tandem, without her parents knowing! That moment became much more for than just sneaking away, she knew that she was destined to be a skydiver and in 2007 started her AFF in Mexico. In 2012, Valentina finished her first marathon. Along that journey she met Cathy O’Sullivan and she sent Valentina a link of all the WVWR camp info. She knew then that was to be her goal for 2013. But she was just getting proficient flying on her head.
    When Shannon learned she was pregnant, she stopped jumping and flying in the tunnel. She did her first jump back after having a healthy baby boy ten months later, when he was 7 weeks old. “I wasn’t sure if I would be ready to participate. I went to the last scheduled WVWR camp in Eloy last Halloween and my flying was not awesome. I was pretty disappointed,” Shannon recalls. She not only had to deal with coping with her uncurrency, she also had to tend to sleepless nights and an enormous amount of energy to nurse her newborn.
    Cathy helped me organizing logistics during the Summerfest camp at Skydive Chicago, and I would glance at her as I reviewed our jumps. Her eyes were wide open with complete focus, sitting with her legs crossed, leaning forward with her fist under her chin. She had the look of determination. “The goal of the record stayed in the back of my mind. I tried to stay involved and sat in on the WVWR during Summerfest on crutches, and watched the debriefs in an attempt to learn as much as possible from the ground.”
    Valentina came to my camp in Sebastian for the Invasion Boogie in 2012/2013. I could tell she was a new freeflier, but that’s exactly why we hold camps. “I attended the first camp in Eloy and I realized how hard this actually was, and that is what made me stick to it and train hard,” Valentina said.
    “My husband Daless supported and encouraged me in every way,” begins Shannon. “He said to me, ‘How cool will it be to tell JD [her son] you’re a world record holder? If you don’t try, you’ll always wonder if you could have made it.’” Shannon’s husband took care of their son while she did more skydive training and the Nor Cal crew worked with her in the tunnel.
    Cathy’s doctor cleared her to “ease” back into normal activities less than 2 months to the attempts. She used a hanging harness to determine if her pelvis could handle opening shock, did stability drills in the tunnel and a friend organized a big way skills camp so she could get current flying with others. She said, “With the memory of my accident still fresh in my head, there were a lot of issues with fear that I had to learn how to manage as I was trying to ‘ease’ back in the sport. By far, the biggest challenge of getting back into the sport that fast was overcoming the fear of getting hurt again.”
    Valentina’s journey lead her through intense moments of frustration. She was training in the tunnel and attending big way camps. However digesting huge amounts of information on how to exit and approach formations and applying them were on two different tracks.
    “For me, the biggest challenge was building my confidence, controlling my emotions and having positive thoughts, despite the frustrations between the good and bad jumps."
    A world record requires so much focused energy – mentally and physically. It requires you to be your best for the team to succeed. There’s so much pressure and expectation to perform and it is the job of the organizers to select the team to conquer that goal. We organizers said at the initial debrief, “there’s no crying in skydiving. Only when someone dies or you’re at the Grand Canyon.”
    When the team was selected, Shannon was part of the first attempts, however Cathy and Valentina were not. Shannon explains, “My goal was to have fun and be safe. If I made the record, awesome. If not, I was spending 5 days doing awesome skydives with amazing women. So when my name was called for the first attempt, I was utterly shocked. Followed immediately by nerves and adrenaline.”
    “Having to tend to a sleepless child and breastfeed was a lot of hard work and controlled chaos. I had to do things that I never imagined would be a part of my skydiving routine. Every morning I would pump in the car while my husband drove me to the dz. I hired a packer, so in between loads I could jet off to the bathroom to pump again. I’d get done just in time for the debrief and dirt dive.”
    Cathy’s perspective shadowed Shannon’s. “By the time I got to Arizona, I had set my expectations realistically, expecting to be on the B team. I felt the B team was going to be an amazing outcome by itself, and would be valuable training for another record someday.”
    Valentina explained, “The beginning was very hard for me, as I wasn’t part of the attempts, so I had to keep focused and positive to do my best on the B team. On every jump I thought to myself, ‘this jump is my record and I will make this happen.’”
    After the first day’s attempts, Shannon was rotated out of the formation. “When Melissa walked towards me, I knew I was cut. I was disappointed, but not surprised. Jumping with the B team was awesome – a relief! I told myself I had nothing to lose, so my goal was to be consistent and solid.”
    The third day was challenging as the ladies were starting to feel the physical effects of going to 18,000’ for the last few days and facing the mental challenges of repeating the same jump over and over. Since the third day was the last day, we changed the size of the formation from 69 to 65, then 63.
    We organizers tirelessly reviewing the B teams jumps. “Melissa came up to me and asked if I was ready. I asked, ‘ready for what?’” Cathy recalled. “My initial response was disbelief, then I realized what was happening, then I said, YES!”
    “Working on being solid on the B team paid off!” Shannon explained. “I got put back onto the attempts!” Shannon kept a mature perspective throughout the changes. She even said to me that she had to concentrate on staying calm in the plane and in the air to control her nerves and focused on small things to improve.
    “When the final day of the attempts came I was super nervous and stressed, but deep inside I knew I was ready,” Valentina remembers. “One by one I felt I did a very good job on each jump. Then Anna came up to me and said, ‘get ready, you’re in the record.”
    Day 3, Attempt 12. The core 40 built quickly. The levels were looking good, the energy was there. A small part of the formation exploded and one person flew out, yet the rest of the formation was unaffected and finished building. The troubled section rebuilt and the last dock happened the last second before break-off. We knew we built a new world record!
    “It feels freaking amazing! I’m still in awe of all the hard core women who made it happen.
    In such a male dominated sport, I’m proud to be part of a group that reached this level of flying!” explained Shannon.
    “It’s still a little surreal. When the judges announced that we got the record, the floodgates opened and I literally had tears of joy streaming down my face (which was cool because the record was over and we couldn’t get cut for crying)!” she joked. “I looked around the room at all of the amazing people and was so proud of what we accomplished, and so grateful to be a part of it.”
    “Words are not enough to express how amazing this whole experience has been! I’m thirsty for more!” Valentina said. The mental strength played a big role for me and this quote became my mantra, “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch, but on it’s wings. Always believe in yourself.”
    On every jump, cameraflyer Jason Peters had with him the ashes of our fallen comrade, Stephanie Eggum. The plan was to release her ashes on the world record. Although the judges weren’t in the air to confirm that Attempt #12 was official, through his lens Jason knew without a doubt that we had it and let Stephanie free. So to us organizers, we really built a 64-way.
    And this is why I keep doing this. The amazing experience, the amazing women, and the amazing ride. This is my 11th World Record, and it just keeps getting better.

    By admin, in Events,

    Women's Vertical World Record Camp: Teamwork

    Teamwork: work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.
    Have you ever been a part of a team? Felt the pressure of performing? Emotionally and physically put your efforts on the line for a common goal? That’s what we did August 1st – 3rd – a group of 23 women from Mexico, Canada, Dubai, Sweden and all over the US converged to participate in the Women’s Vertical World Camp hosted by myself in the cornfields of Skydive Chicago during Summerfest.
    This is one of several camps in preparation of the upcoming Women’s Vertical World Record attempts to be held November 27th – December 1st at Skydive Arizona. The specialty of this camp was designed so women could experience 2-plane shots, practicing different exits, flying in a formation, and on the last day, attempt to break a state record. (The current Illinois Women’s Vertical Formation State Record an 18-way set in 2005.)
    Every camp faces their own set of unique challenges – cutaways, fatigue, nerves, etc. Our camp especially did. Participant, and overall badass, Stephanie Eggum died from a low reserve deployment on our 3rd jump of the first day of the camp.
    An hour later after the news digested, we re-grouped. I asked, “I’m going to jump. Does anyone want to join me?” Unsure how to move on, the entire group agreed they were ready to jump. “Then we’re going to do 2-plane shots.” Some gentleman jumpers joined in to be the base and grew our group to practice 30+ ways. Each jump a special camaraderie was developing even though our jumps only yielded 19 to 20-ways.
    The next day we awoke to cloudy skies, but met to discuss the finer techniques of formation skydiving including exit techniques, showing videos from the current 138-way co-ed Vertical World Record, talking about the mental and physical aspects and what it takes to get on a world record skydive. We also took this time to introduce ourselves, state our home dz, jump numbers and goals. Not too much later the skies started clearing and we were back up doing 2-plane shots.
    After lunch the camp’s direction shifted gears in selecting a group to break the state record. “This is where it gets emotional,” I began. “It’s not political or playing favorites. This is about being a team. Even if you’re not selected to be on the record, you’re still as much a part of this team. Our goal is to build the safest, largest state record.” We finished the day building 14-ways.
    Saturday’s weather couldn’t have been more picture perfect – high, puffy clouds, light winds, and 70°F temps. There was an intense feeling as we walked together as a group to the skyvan. We were 20. The plane ride up began with clapping, the silence. From the first day till now, some of the women weren’t ready to build a 20-way. But now, they stood at the door with the experience and skills to be a part of a team, to build a record.
    We huddled around 11,000’ and I said, “I know you can do this, that’s why you’re here. Now you have to know it too. Be safe and let’s build a record!” The skyvan door opened and I could feel my own heart beating faster. I smiled, “Ready, set go!”
    The formation didn’t build on the first jump. Nor the second or third. I re-engineered the formation and we tried again. No success. I re-engineered it again. By this time, the whole drop zone was rooting for us. Spectators watched us intently with awe as we’d board the plane and greet us when we landed asking if we were successful. Although each jump wasn’t successful, something greater was happening – we were truly becoming the essence of a team.
    It’s easy to go up and do one jump and be successful. But can you do it over and over? Especially after two days of an intense camp, lack of sleep and having lost a comrade? We really had to dig deep for the energy and motivation; we had to keep doing our best even when we were doing our job and others weren’t; we had to be patient and keep moving forward.
    The sun was low on the horizon and the temperatures were slightly dropping. We huddled together on the ground in support of each other. “I believe in you girls. Level, slot, dock. Be safe, let’s do this!” We cheered loudly as we got on the skyvan. We clapped, hooted and hollered on take-off and became quiet with focus. “No pressure, but now there’s pressure. This is the last jump of the camp and our last attempt. Stay focused. Stay safe. Let’s build it!”
    We exited cleanly. The stingers were docking. Wackers were building. Levels were awesome. The formation was flying!
    When we landed we ran to each other because the dive just felt so good. It felt so good we were unsure if we made the state record. We smiled, laughed, high fived and hugged. In that moment, it didn’t matter if we built it or not. We knew how much we progressed as a team and that was our best jump together!
    After reviewing the video, we saw we were super close to building the formation, but at the last moment, ditters were going off and we broke off. So close!!
    At the close of the camp I didn’t feel defeated. I was lucky to have a great group of girls who stuck by each other’s sides, improved their flying, and was so determined that we embraced the real spirit of teamwork. And in that, we were successful.
    My heart goes out to the Eggum family. Your daughter was determined to be on the next Women’s Vertical World Record. We will remember her during the attempts. Much respect.
    This camp’s success also goes with having to give praise to the many who helped make it happen:
    Mike Bohn from Colorado came out to assist in the camp as a coach
    Camera: Norman Kent, Jim Harris, Brandon Chouinard
    (To view or orders from Summerfest, please check out Norman Kent’s gallery here:
    BASE BOYS: James Garnant, Ben Roane, Paul Jones, BJ Miclaeli, Pat Collins, Dennis Cowhey, Ryan Risberg, and Doug Legally
    WVWR Camp Participanats:

    Melissa Nelson – Utah

    Hermine Baker – Sweden

    Julie Wittenburg - Dubai

    Amberly Brown – Hawaii

    Cate Allington – New York

    Stacy Powers – Pennsylvania

    Helen D’Astous – Canada

    Katie Blue – Texas

    Logan Donovan – New York

    Noelle Mason – Florida

    Stephanie Eggum - Illinois

    Kelly Isenhoff - Tennessee

    Valentina Solis – Mexico

    Natalie Pitts – Colorado

    Tyfani Detki – Florida

    Emily Royal – Missouri

    Amy Cowhey – Illinois

    Paula Rodrigues – Mexico

    Jen Sensenbaugh – Texas

    Jen Frayer - Indiana

    Alyssa Manny – Colorado

    Stephanie Beeguer - Switzerland

    Lauren Piscatelli – North Carolina

    By MissMelissa, in Events,

    Women's Vertical World Record Camp

    Lately, my mantra has been, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” It reminds me that I miss the best things when I’m in a hurry. It reminds me to feel the wind on my face and enjoy the company I’m surrounded in. The destination is just a bonus, because when you get there, a new journey begins.
    In 2003, Amy Chmelecki and I set out to gather the best women freefliers to set a Women’s Vertical World Record (WVWR) at Skydive Arizona. We spent a few months putting together our first big-way camps, and taught ourselves all the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work to put on such a feat.
    In those days, there weren’t very many lady freefliers. We had no idea what outcome to expect, but we walked away breaking several records during that event, ending up with a 16-way.
    Now, ten years later, October 24-26, 2013, Chemeleki and Sara Curtis hosted the last official WVWR camp before the official attempts on November 27th – December 1st – again at Skydive Arizona. Thirty girls in total came out from all over the country to sharpen their skills, build their endurance, and train for a goal.

    Chmelecki and Curtis lead the team beginning with 2-plane shots from the get-go. The plan was to launch a 6-way base with 2 breaking in. I helped as plane captain in the trail plane and we worked out our exit order, sight picture, dive and break off. It was a beautiful day and the nerves were setting in.
    The large base proved to be a challenge, but once it built it was solid and the formation would grow. A few jumps later the base peaked and had a hard time holding. At the end of the day, Chmelecki and Curtis were at the drawing board reengineering the dive.
    The second day had better hopes. The girls were riding the wave of energy, being happy for success on one jump, and not on another. The reengineered skydive wasn’t working as best thought. Some dives were clean, others were not. Slots were being switched around. New plane, new exit, new sight picture. The stress and fatigue was settling in.

    Not every dive goes to plan, so being able to cope with the base turning, planes not being tight enough in formation, over floating or breaking off too early, was a great platform of learning. It provided a real perspective on how world record jumps flow. The 138-way co-ed Vertical World Record took 3 days and 15 jumps to achieve. No matter what happened on the last dive, you still had to do your best on the next one.
    The organizers decided to go with a 6-way base on the last day, and use the same formation as the current 41-way WVWR. This seemed to work out a few kinks and the group improved. The last 3 jumps we went to 16,500’ and used oxygen – another great experience prior the record attempts.

    The group consistently built several successful 20+ ways throughout the camp. As I think back about the journey, although we didn’t build 30+ ways, in 2007 the current WVWR record was only 20! We’ve come such a long way and are still growing!

    The desert was turning cool as the sun met the horizon. We went up for our last jump right before sunset. The lead plane was silhouetted as they flew in formation up to altitude. In the trail plane, we put our hands into the center and I said, “this is the last camp before the record. You should be really proud of how far you’ve come to get here. Keep it simple: level, slot, dock. And be safe!” The energy lifted and we went out and had the best jump of the camp!
    It’s been a year and a half of training women getting ready for the upcoming record. It takes a lot of time and money to get to this point in your skydiving career, and the journey isn’t always easy. In August we lost a comrade, Stephanie Eggum, and I think of her often. I think about our journey that has gotten us all together for this common goal. Skydiving has taken away so much from me, but it has also given me so much. Meeting new women in skydiving has inspired me to keep progressing in the sport, the World Record is just a bonus.

    By admin, in Events,