Coping with Competition
Using competition butterflies to make your performance better, not worse...
“When people act together, the unthinkable becomes possible and only the sky is the limit.“
Claudia Breidbach from Koblenz, Germany was born with a dysmelia at her left hand which basically means that her left hand was missing since birth. She learned right from the start of her life to master everything only with her remaining natural right hand.
Based on all experiences she learned to overcome obstacles and to handle all the setbacks that came along the way. For sure this was a tough school. But a big supporting source always were her parents who taught her to pick up herself by herself and to keep going on no matter what.
In 2008 she suddenly was infected by the 'skydive virus' after she performed a tandem skydive jump at the dropzone in Lützelinden in Germany. Since this very intense experience she wanted to become a full licenced skydiver by herself.
In the beginning she was told that it would be impossible to become a skydiver with only one natural hand and a prosthesis because of safety reasons regarding handling of canopy and pulling the reserve if necessary. But, as she remembered her mantra not to give up on her dreams and keep going, she found an instructor who supported her to make her dream come true to become the worldwide first one-handed skydiver.
During the training for the licence Claudia was working hard to train her left arm to perform to flare the canopy. Regarding the reserve, an SOS System was used to perform the cutaway and to pull the reserve with the right hand. She was also supported by Boris Nebe from Indoor Skydive Bottrop who gave Claudia the chance to perform tests with her prothesis in the air stream. After landing the first level in AFF the dropzone in Soest/Germany gave her a standing ovation! The first one-handed person performing a skydive on her own.
After receiving the German skydive licence and several jumps Claudia was getting better and then wanted to become a member of a 4-way team. But of course it was not easy to find a team who will face this challenge to compete with only 7 natural hands in 4 way competitions. The most common prejudice was that Claudia could not fit into a 4-way because she can’t take grips with her left hand and the exits became nearly impossible. So it would be too difficult for the whole team to score points.
In 2012 Claudia went to the german nationals as a spectator and kept presenting herself in the hope that there would be chance to get a slot in a team after the nationals. It was hard to watch all the teams competing, sharing tears and success together. It didn’t look good. To become a member of a 4-way team was out of sight…
But suddenly things changed. A team split up after the nationals and one of the former members Michael Sigl was convinced that a 4-way team with Claudia would work successfully. Team Karma was born, completed by Michael Mackowiack (center outside) and Sergey Tatulicz (tail).
The mission was clear: Showing within and without the skydiving community, that a team could be highly competitive despite that one team member is handicapped.
Of course the team had to pay attention to certain flying skills more than 'normal' teams:
But the team saw these challenges as an advantage because every member of the team has to learn right from the start to fly even more accurately, said Michael. Taking grips and flying pieces with only one natural hand is a special challenge that team Karma have proudly taken on.
At the German nationals 2013 it was 'show time' for team KARMA. Judged under official rules team KARMA's goal was to win the A-Class. Of course this was very ambitious target. At the end team KARMA ranked 5th with an average of 6.8 points among 7 teams, and scored 11 points in one random jump. The team proved its potential. Regardless of missing the target to win, Karma had been a serious competitor, still a success in itself.
Despite of the disapointment of 5th place the team will keep on chasing the target to win the A-Class in the German Nationals 2014 in Eisenach/Germany. The team hopes also during their participation in the German nationals to be an ambassador for our wonderful sport, which has always been a driver of innovation and an open-minded attitude.
“This will be more than hard for us and there will be nothing for free. But the high standard will get the best out of us. We will do our homework and then it will work.“ team captain Michael Sigl said.