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Catching up with Domi Kiger - The Flying Gypsy

domi portrait

Can I start out this interview with: I think you're incredibly awesome? Is that okay? I think I just did… Domi, hi! We first met in Mexico after hearing your name many times. Suddenly, there you were, leading me to epic jumps with a unique zest and enthusiasm. You bring high energy, good vibes, a lack of ego and really amazing jumps to every boogie, skills camp, or event that you're at.

How do you maintain your passion and sincerity towards each new jumper, group and event when you're traveling and jumping so much?

In such a high speed lifestyle, constantly moving, constantly living in community, I don't think passion and sincerity are emotions you can fake. Of course, there are times where you are tired, or dealing with personal issues, and you might not feel as cheery as you wish you were, but if you love what you do, if sharing this love with others matters to you, then you will always find it in you to simply focus on that.

The fact that there is no routine, no boredom, helps a lot, too. I am always fascinated by the variety of places and people skydiving brings to my life, and every event I go to, every jumper I meet is another window on the world, a potential friend, or someone I can learn from. It’s easy to stay intellectually stimulated in those conditions. I feel lucky every day for the life I live. I think we (the Joyriders) have worked hard for it, it took us years to get there, and there’s so much more we’re dreaming of, but we love it deeply and are grateful for it. I hope it’s contagious!

All smiles!
All smiles!
Le Joy Riders!
Le Joy Riders!

How did the Joyriders come to be?

Joyriders was originally founded a few years ago by Anna Moxnes, Camilla Hagen, Hege Ringard and Kjersti Eide, with the simple idea of spending more time with girlfriends doing what we do. Anna and Camilla were to be a tunnel team, and Hege and Kjersti were the BASE jump and wingsuit side of the team. When D4W started to be developed in 2012, Anna and Camilla started to think about finding 2 other girls to get a team together.

In December 2012, I had just won the Mondial in freefly with Matt Hill and Nico Goutin, and I was pretty worn out. Reaching that goal, after 4 intense years of training, there was both a great joy and a feeling of emptiness. I needed a new project. One evening, in a Dubai hotel room, Anna and I were discussing D4W. Red wine might or might not have been involved, but we got pretty excited, and started brainstorming about a fourth possible member. We called Amy Chmelecki without really thinking about time zones. It was fairly early morning in Arizona, and the party the night before seemed to have been good, but Amy picked up. She said yes straight away, and a few weeks later, the 3 of us were in Voss training. Or actually, trying to learn D4W without killing each other.

We did our first competition in Bedford in April 2013, where we got sponsored by Paraclete XP. Camilla, who had recently become a mother, felt like the direction the team was taking was not compatible with her personal life. For the next few competitions, we had a different 4th member. Ray Kubiac, Kim Winslow, Heither, Zach Mullins. Sharon was supposed to join the team early 2014, but broke her back on our first training camp.

We are a peculiar team. We may not be the best tunnel flyers out there but, along with many, we work hard to create events, to develop new disciplines, to make the sport more attractive, or to make it more accessible to women. And to make it more joyful! To share the sky, the wind, the meals, the parties, the travels, the pain sometimes, the joy always. I think this is what Joyriders is about.

The Joyriders  — by Jason Peters
The Joyriders  — by Jason Peters

Each of you is unique and has her own flying and coaching style. So, who is who in the Joyriders?

Amy Chmelecki has been skydiving for over 20 years now and she has worked relentlessly to have the incredibly successful carreer that she has now. The first woman on the Red Bull Airforce, with years of experience in competition, she has dedicated her life to flying. She is fun, generous and, if she can look like a tomboy sometimes, she's a very caring and gentle person. She wants to do good, she always tries to include everyone.
Anna is one of the team founders. We like to describe her as “the bulldozer”. I’m not sure she likes that name, but it’s true: nothing can stop her! She is outspoken and honest (sometimes brutally) and you can always count on her to set you straight when you need it. She has a gift for creating a feeling of community, and I think it shows in her home, her team or the events she organizes.

Sharon Har-noy could seem more quiet in comparison to our 3 big mouths – but don’t be fooled! Though, she is indeed kind and nice. She’s also super smart, funny as fuck, and very driven. She and I usually share the responsible hat. And by that, I mean it’s usually one of us driving home.

Hege Ringard and Kjersti Eide spend less time with the 4 of us because their playground is slightly different than ours, but it is always a great pleasure to all be in one place. The team is built on friendship. The personalities just click, and made us want to spend more time and do more projects together.

Nice one! Domi gives the signals on a happy jump! — by Matt Cerda
Nice one! Domi gives the signals on a happy jump! — by Matt Cerda

What is the state of females in BASE, skydiving and tunnel, compared to when you all started?

I started skydiving in France in 2001 at a small DZ in the southwest, Soulac-sur-Mer, and I didn’t know much more than that place until 2008 when I made a move to Eloy to kickstart my freefly career. The first 7 years of my skydiving life, it was definitely a man’s world and I didn’t have a lot of women to look up to, but there were a few. Aurelia Neveux was an instructor at my DZ, and my 16-year old self looked up to her like a big sister. There was also the French freestyler Manue Celicout that I could see in the French skydiving magazine, and that I got to meet the year I started competing, or Gi Borgnis, who came to load organize in Soulac one summer and who I was completely fascinated with.

I feel like nowadays there are more and more female bad-ass flyers, but it might just be because now I get to meet most of them than when my horizon was narrower in my early years. Whatever the case, I am always super happy to see cool chicks shredding, and I appreciate the time when we get together. Most of the top flying girls respect each other and constitute a really fun and loving community within the community. And all the newcomers are simply amazing to be around. It really makes me want to help them to go get what they want, to the best of my abilities.

Blowing kisses to Gus — by Gustavo Cabana
Blowing kisses to Gus — by Gustavo Cabana

Do any of you have any pre-jump or pre-fly rituals? Mantras?

I don’t really have a general pre-jump or pre-flight mantra but there are always little things we do, depending on the situation. When I was competing with Kristal, before every jump of the world meet in Dubai, we would press each others forehead with our thumb and say “we are one”. It came up when talking to the head of the French medical delegation, who asked me what I thought could get in the way of a victory. After thinking for a while, I told her I was afraid we could not function as the unit we needed to be to perform our best. She told me to find a mantra that would be the opposite of that fear, and to tell that to one another before boarding. It was a rather mystical experience.

With Joyriders, we have a specific plane handshake and, when I compete or perform for a record, I’m just entirely focusing on what’s about to happen. My breathing slows down and deepens, my thoughts are controlled and aimed on whatever it is I want to achieve. It’s a pretty meditative state.

Landing on the beach at Pachangon — by Javier 'Buzz' Ortiz
Landing on the beach at Pachangon — by Javier 'Buzz' Ortiz

What can we look forward to seeing from the Joyriders in the coming years?

In the coming years, we have a fair amount of projects in store. We’ll keep on working with the women in the sport, through the organization of female nationals, continental and world records or events. We’ll keep traveling together, training in D4W, organizing competitions and generally LO at boogies we love. We have another bigger project in store, but it’s one of those things you don’t want to jinx by talking about before it’s happening for sure, so we’ll leave a little bit of suspense here!

Personally, I am getting more and more involved with the development of Dynamic, and I am also getting involved with the FAI. It’s not always easy, but it’s very interesting to work on that side of things.

by Charles Glez
by Charles Glez

Describe your perfect jump

I love the intensity of a high stake jump, that leads to a perfectly executed routine or the breaking of a record for example. (Actually, I hate the feeling just before, but the flying itself and the feeling afterwards are the most incredible experience!) Other than that, I love unplanned, spontaneous mayhem with people you love. There’s nothing better than clinging to your best friends or love in a stupid funny exit then just flying around like a bunch of kids at recess!

Thanks, Domi! You are all-inspiring through not just through your flying style, your energy or your successes, but you are clearing a path for the newer generations of female jumpers and flyers to push on into our sport with fearlessness, passion and grace. Keep doing what you're doing!

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