The best skydivers in the world had an epic day in Copenhagen taking part in the first professional freestyle skydiving contest ever held in the heart of a major city. The Swoop Challenge CPH Invitational, took place on the famous Copenhagen Lakes, Friday the 12th June. A total of 19 international athletes from 11 countries participated, 16 of them making it to the final in Copenhagen.
70,000+ spectators created an intense atmosphere at the Peblinge Lake, whilst the live broadcast on national TV , and 200 million reached on Snapchat's 'Copenhagen Story' helped in making the event a huge success, as the city took advantage of the first Danish summer day basking in the sun and warm temperatures throughout the whole event.
The Swoop Finals were the culmination of 5 days of intense parachuting in Denmark as the Swoop Challenge consisted of a Swoop Qualifying at Dropzone Denmark in Herning, the Swoop Night Lights, a spectacular air show in the Copenhagen Harbour on Thursday, and the the climax, The Swoop Finals on Friday.
American superstars led the way
The sunny and warm weather made conditions close to perfect for the spectator, however the wind direction and strength was unpredictable causing problems for the athletes during the warm up and two competition rounds, with many ending up in the water next to the landing platform (6 meters wide/25 meters long).
At the end of a dramatic and close two rounds of competition, it was American superstar Noah Bahnson, one of the top names of the sport, that took home the Swoop Challenge title along with a first price of $7,500. In a close second came Nick Batsch, USA, ($5,000) (both are former swoop world champions) and David 'Junior' Ludvik, USA, ($2,500) rounded up the podium in 3rd.
"I have never swooped in front of this many people before and it's just amazing in this beautiful weather and on a great course here in the middle of Copenhagen. We normally don't get to see this setup in skydiving because swooping competitions are held out on skydiving centers in the middle of nowhere on a small pond, so it's fantastic what the organizers are doing bringing the competition to a major city for the first time. Copenhagen is an amazing city from the sky and it is beautiful so see the city from above and landing on the big lake. We have all had a great stay in Denmark attending this fantastic Swoop Challenge event," the winner Noah Bahnson says and adds:
"My last swoop is up there among my favorite swoops of all time, it was too much fun," Noah Bahson said on live TV while watching his swoop freestyle trick after he was announced as the winner.
World premiere of a difficult and dangerous trick
Another American, Gage Galle, attempted something that has only been attempted once, and never been caught on camera before: The barrel roll swoop, a very difficult inverted manouver, best performed over water, due to the high probability of a crash. Even though this trick has never been successfully completed, Gage chose live TV to make his attempt. He succeeded with the barrel roll, and despite crashing in the water exiting the trick, the judges gave him a high score, and for the first time ever, a barrel roll was caught on camera with the crowds going crazy.
The world tour dream is alive
The idea of Swoop Challenge and the motto 'Swoop to the People' was only formed in 2013, and after a trial event last year, the big test of the setup was Friday's competition. Next step is taking the concept to other major, spectacular cities around the world:
"What a fantastic day. The 70,000+ spectators in Copenhagen had a giant party, and the crowd created a unique atmosphere around the lake. We have been working extremely hard to build this event over the past two years, and it all became a little more complicated due to the weather forecasts, that made us reschedule on short notice, but despite that, Swoop Challenge was a great success and we are thrilled and proud. 70,000 people chose to stop by the lake today, and this makes it clear to us, that it is possible to unite the beauty in extreme sports and the heart of a historical, cultural metropolitan. After today's success we are dedicated to carry Swoop Challenge across the borders and create a world tour, but it is only attainable, if others are willing to support us. Our athletes, whom are the among the best swoopers in the world, have all said, that it was amazing to jump in Copenhagen," says George Blythe, co-founder of Swoop Challenge.
"Swoop Challenge was organized with great success. It opened our eyes and gave us world class parachuters in the skies above Herning and Copenhagen. With this great event, Swoop Challenge has achieved to take event planning the to the next level, and shows us a new way to use spectacular arenas for sporting events. The international athletes tells us, that they have never experienced a more beautiful place to skydive than Copenhagen, and it proves, that the concept of Swoop Challenge is on the right track," says Lars Lundov, CEO of Sport Event Denmark, the national sporting event organization that works to attract major international sporting events to Denmark and that supports Swoop Challenge financially.
Dane Webber close to a sensational podium
The only competitor from Denmark, the Danish swoop champion, Christian Webber, had a great day on home ground, and was sitting at a sensational 2nd place after the first round, after super star Micah Couch, USA. The Dane, who is employed full time and only jumps in weekends and 7 weeks a year on training camps was by far the one with fewest career jumps at 2,800. The Dane followed up with a solid second round to take home an impressive 6th place finish on home ground to the delight of himself and the Danish spectators.
Top-6 - the total number of point attainable were 100 per round (200 total after 2 rounds)
1: Noah Bahnson, USA - 140,80 points (60,60 and 80,20)
2: Nick Batsch, USA - 140,01 points (58,32 and 81,69)
3: David Junior Ludvik, USA - 133,49 points (58,75 and 74,74)
4: Patrick Kaye, USA - 126,28 points (57,00 and 69,28)
5: Curt Bartholomew, USA - 123,53 points (57,68 and 65,85)
6: Christian Webber, Denmark - 112,32 points (63,76 and 48,56)
7: Cornelia Mihai, Romania
8: Billy Sharman, South Africa
9: Gage Galle, USA
10: Petter Mazzetta, Sweden
11: Abdulbari Qubaisi, UAE
12: Martin Reynolds, England
13: Micah Couch, USA
14: Chris Stewart, New Zealand
15: Leigh ‘Macca’ McCormack, Australia
16: Kristian Moxnes, Norway
Tukes Iwamoto from Japan, Kenneth Gajda from Denmark and Jeannie Bartholomew from America were the three athletes not qualifying for Swoop Finals, but they each had a chance to perform at the Swoop Night Lights on Thursday evening in the Copenhagen Harbour.