Maja Kuczynska – Bigger than the Sky
Stunning routine by Maja Kuczyńska
Amy Chmelecki has won 3 Freestyle National Championships, 4 VFS Nationals and is a 3-times World Champion. She has organised 4 Women's World Records and been on countless records herself. She is now in Joy Riders, an international Dynamic 4-way tunnel team that she describes as 'my very favorite thing I have done in this sport'.
Professional Body pilot with a side gig as a landlady
Rigging Innovations rig called the Curve, Icarus Canopy called the Neos, Jumpsuits by Ouragan Suits and Boogie Man, Cookie Composite Helmets, L and B products, G Form pads, 16 foot wide XP wind tunnel, V5 wing suit, CYPRES, Cry Persition Pants
Skydive Arizona, cause you can fly there more then anywhere else in the world.
Paraclete XP, cause it is the biggest and fastest tunnel out there with a professional, friendly and inviting vibe.
I have been jumping for 18 years, with 13,000 skydives. For the most part all my skydives are freefly jumps. With some belly jumps, camera and wing suit. To be honest, these days I am confused by what to call the type of flying I do and have done. The sport is changing, becoming more dynamic; the lines between disciplines are blurred to me.
Arsenal was formed in 2006. We are 3 times World Cup Champions, four times National Champions and we have stood on the podium for every single tunnel and sky competition we took part in. I think our biggest achievement has been staying together as team for so long.
At first I was drawn to VFS cause it was a means to keep me in the air, keep me training and further develop my skill set as a professional body pilot. VFS started to get big in the US cause people were sick of the Artistic nature of Judging. I did not really care about that, I just wanted to fly, learn and have fun. After doing VFS for a while I fell in love with turning points fast. Nailing vertical transitions and landing on grips is a great feeling to me.
VFS is definitely easier to learn if you can already fly vertical in the air and tunnel. However there is not much I find easy to learn. I was the slow learning bird on the team. Generally, I need to try things a lot before I get them.
VFS dirt diving is super trippy!!!! It is hard to walk and visualize things because sometimes you are on your feet and sometimes on your head. The tunnel is a very important training tool for VFS, the tunnel is like a creeper for VFS flyers.
Winning goal at the 2003 USA Nationals in free style was a great feeling. That was my first win at that level. It was really fun to fly the routines, super fun to train travel and compete with my camera flyer, Steve Curtis. Going into the competition I had no idea where we were compared to the other teams. We were surprised when we won.
I am still the alternate for Arsenal. But my two main gigs these days are being part of the Red Bull Air Force and my Dynamic 4-way team, Joy Riders XP
Besides my good looks, charming personality, natural talent and humble attitude ;-) is the relationships I have had with the Red Bull team. I have been jumping and working with most of the guys on the team since 1999. I know them all, I know their families and we all know we can work together. However, sometimes I think people should call me Amy Chemaluck, cause I really feel that way.
During our demos we do lots of different things. Most demos involve a few wingsuiters and a few fast canopy landings. For the most part we show the crowd what we do. Then we interact with them, let them get to know us.
My dream team is made up of Anna Howerski from England, Domitila Kiger from France, Kim Winslow from USA and myself. Anna and Domi drunk Skyped me from Dubai (my morning, their night) and asked me to be part of the team. I said yes instantly. After we formed a working relationship with Paraclete XP we asked Kim Winslow to be on the team. We were honored that bad ass said yes to us!
I am traveling international more then ever. Being on an international team of bad ass ladies has been a dream of mine since I was a child. I can hardly believe it is happening now.
We have competed in two different competitions. We are all relatively new to this type of flying and we have lots to learn. It is a fun time because you can see our learning curve, it is steep right now. Our next competition is the Nights of Prague in December.
To answer, I first have to tell you more about the Joy Riders… The team was formed a few years ago by three Norwegian ladies and one Brit, the founding ladies are Camilla Hagen, Hege Ringard and Kjersti Eide and Anna Howerski. Thy set out with the goal to motivate and inspire women in the sports of skydiving, base and tunnel flying. To spread the Joy Rider Joy. After a few years of being AWESOME Anna and Camilla decided to put together a Dynamic team. The Dynamic part of our team is called Joy Riders XP. That is when me, Kim and Domi stepped into the picture. We also brought on board an AMAZING camera women from Russia named Lika Borzova. As a unit we have endless opportunities to make Epic projects happen. Our community is going to see a lot from us over the next two years.
I think Dynamic tunnel flying is going to explode. I just got finished with a competition in Voss Norway. In that competition I got smoked by a team of kids that were born the year I started skydiving. Depending on how you look at that situation is could be demotivating. But I think it is totally exciting. Kids are finally super involved in what we do. This will give our sport more attention. If the outside world get interested in what we do, they will give us money to do more of it. I have two big dreams right now. One is to have a HUGE tunnel in Las Vegas. At that tunnel we will do shows and races. While the show is on, people will sip yummy wine in fancy dresses as they are awed by what we do. During the races people will be betting on us, the numbers we wear on our back, they will place money on who will be the fastest. My second dream is to take a bad ass tunnel on the road. Take it to shows, concerts, festivals, sporting events. During these events we will preform shows and/or competitions. I am dreaming big here, but I am sure it will happen.
Not just me, I have worked with many different ladies to make these records happen. The first Women’s Vertical World Record was in 2003. Since then we have built 4 records. Our next record attempt is during the end of November 2013. Melissa Nelson has worked with me on all of them. Sara Curtis is my current and most recent right hand man on the project, Jen Key was a big part of the first few records, Kim Winslow and Melanie Curtis worked with me on the last one. Domitilla Kiger and Anna Howerski are helping me with the next one. Steve Curtis has been a huge contributing factor to the success of all the records. He coaches the bench team, keeps them learning, keeps them motivated and keeps them ready for when we have to move them into the attempts. In the end, none of the records would have happened with out the amazing ladies in our sport. They all work so hard for this goal. It is a beautiful thing to watch and be part of.
The next record attempts are at the end of November, 2013 at Skydive Arizona. I would like to build at least a 65-way, but I think an 80-way is possible. We have been doing many training camps around the world for the last few years getting ladies ready for the next attempts. It is going to be epic for sure!
I was first inspired watching the boys organize the first Vertical World Record. I really love getting together with all my friends to break records, I also love to build something that pushes the sports evolution forward. The all female thing is a selfish way for me to be surround by women for a change. I love the dudes in my life, but it is nice to get the ladies together once in a while.
For the most part women listen really well, ask lots of questions, are organized and do not get big egos to compensate for being afraid of feeling fear or insecure. Women speak a slightly different language than men. Do not get me wrong, I love working with men and women. In my opinion, there are pros and cons to both.
Crying is okay at funerals and the grand canyon but don’t cry 'cause you have to practice something more before you nail it
Boys tend to be more aggressive then women. Being super aggressive can be both good and bad. I find it easier to communicate with women. However women cry. Men cry when they are wasted, but women cry when they feel like they have failed. I do not think emotions should be repressed, but I think they should be dealt with more logically. Crying is okay at funerals and the grand canyon only – okay, this is sarcasm, but for real, don’t cry cause you have to practice something more before you nail it. That is such a fun part of life, enjoy and appreciate those moments.
The biggest thing I love is giving the ladies a platform to build on, a goal to reach, an excuse to train, to motivate them and inspire them, to give them a non-threatening environment to push themselves in, to give them something they can put on their resumes. Organizing the records is also something that helps me stay well rounded in the sport. It keeps my sponsors happy, it gives me something to work on, get creative with, and focus on.
My prediction is that Dynamic Flying is about to take over. At least in the tunnel. Flying dynamic is more fun then I ever dreamed. I would live on the floor and eat corn from a can to give me money to train. Okay that is a lie… I do live on the floor and eat corn from a can to save money for training!
I think I was born with it? I do not know how it happened. My Mom thinks a few debilitating events that happened to me as a baby and child shaped my free spirit, but I am not sure. All I know is that I am super excited about the life I live. I feel totally blessed.
When I was born my hip was dislocated. While my mom was changing my dipper she saw that one of my legs was sorter and fatter then the other. She asked the doctor about it and diagnosed the dislocation. I was put in a hard cast from under my arm pits to my feet for 6 weeks. I had a small opening in the back where my poo and pee came out. My poor mother had to hold me like that. It must have been very difficult for her. If she did not do it and commit to me healing, then one of my legs would be sorter then the other. I would need special shoes and it would be more difficult for me to be a professional athlete. I am so thankful for my Mom and the choices she made while raising me.
Surely readers must be bored by now?! ;-) I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all the people involved in our sport from the DZOs, the Tunnels, the Manifesters, the packers, the gear companies, the fun jumpers, the tandems – everyone!! It is so cool what we do. It is so cool that we all come together to make this awesome sport happen, thrive and evolve. Lets keep it up!