World Indoor Skydiving Championships
How did indoor skydiving become accepted by the World Airsports Federation?
The dedicated team at iFLY Va Beach worked tirelessly to deliver a seamlessly organized and top-notch quality event, raising the standard for what is possible in tunnel competitions. With this meet being the US Nationals, teams came from across the country hoping to win a bid to the World Championships, as well as from all over the world as practice for the October event.
2way VFS & FS kicked off the meet right away Saturday morning, with 17 2way VFS teams: 1 in Rookie, 3 Intermediate, 4 Advanced, and 9 in the Open category as well as 2 teams in the 2way FS Advanced category. Several teams were family: sisters, mother-son, married while others like Collective have been a competitive team together for years. Running the rounds back to back, we found ourselves 90 minutes ahead of schedule. The judges upstairs worked relentlessly, with so many teams and fast moving rounds, it took time before all scores were posted. Bad Apple Babes, as the only team in their category, nabbed 1st in Rookie, Thing 1 & Thing 2 easily got gold in Intermediate with a 40point lead, Zoonan edged into 1st in Advanced, and Collective took the undisputed gold in Open with an 18point lead.The teams in 2way FS were juniors from the iFLY Baltimore Kids Club competing in their first meet. Wind Walkers 1 took first over Wind Walkers 2, and all had a great time.
While on a break between events, Amy and Jeff from the Red Bull Air Force, flew in the tunnel wearing Snapchat Spectacles. The 1st POV videos were uploaded to the global Red Bull Snapchat story for tens of thousands to see.
The Advanced category went first, putting on a fantastic show, as all 6 teams stayed close with one another, bouncing the lead back and forth. Local team Fly Scouts, made up of junior flyer Severin Lavarias and Instructor Cam McMahan, nabbed the gold, while Davi & Eric took 2nd, and the only all-female Dynamic team, Kylie & Jen won third. Right into the Open category, 14 teams went head to head flying 4 Speed rounds and 2 Free to find out will get to go to October’s World Championships. The top 3 teams were obvious from the start and stayed that way through the rest of the meet. Team iFLY Aspire won all but 2 rounds, when Toronto Dynamic won the 4th round and the home team Va Beach Boys won the 6th. While Aspire placed 1st, only a 1.4 points separated Toronto Dynamic in 2nd and Va Beach Boys in 3rd. Tex Appeal came in 4th, giving them the 2nd D2W invitation to represent the US at the World Championships, as iFLY Aspire do not meet the age requirements to attend Worlds.
4 classes of Freestyle were featured at the meet, to remain inclusive of all competitors.Freestyle Junior Intermediate consisted of 4 lovely young ladies, from Denver, Austin, Virginia Beach, and Houston. After 3 amazing rounds, Sydney Kennett won gold, followed by Hannah Lewis only 0.4 behind, and local flyer Isabell Concepcion.In Freestyle Intermediate, after 2 competitors dropped from the meet last minute, only 1 remained. Nick Sortino wowed in his Spiderman costume, and of course, won first. Freestyle Junior Open had 5 amazing flyers, giving the crowd both the ‘ohs’ and the ‘ahs’ as these young’uns showed off outstanding routines. The first two rounds were Free, and the third was Compulsory, where flyers had to perform specific skills within their 60 second routines. In the end, Amy Watson from Australia grabbed the gold, Kayleigh Wittenburg of Chicago placed 2nd, earning her a spot to go to the World Championships, and Regina Rueda of Mexico won the bronze. Talk about an international podium! Freestyle Open was similarly international and awe-inspiring. World-famous Maja Kuczynska from Poland won first, Reese Willson from Utah took second as well as the nod to go to Worlds, and Noah Wittenburg took third.
The 4way FS competitors had a challenge of a schedule, with 5 rounds on Saturday afternoon and 5 Sunday morning. But they stepped up to the plate and did not let the hours affect them. With one exception, a young flyer on the Air Devils had a slip Saturday evening, breaking his ankle, and was unable to compete Sunday morning. The team’s coach, Richard Bisson, was given the nod to step into his place for the remaining rounds on Sunday. Thus, the current junior World Champions, the Air Devils took 1st in Intermediate with 217 points, followed by VB Laminar. In Open, Arizona Airspeed won by an amazing 74 points, including a 46pointer in round 4, and will be the team to represent the US at 2017 Worlds. Ranch 2nd generation placed 2nd, X-Defy got the bronze, and all-ladies team Texas Crush placed 4th, earning them a spot at Worlds for 4way FS Female.
Luckily, the competition remained an hour ahead of schedule throughout the day on Saturday. The 4way VFS competitors did their speed checks and first 2 rounds Saturday evening, rested 9 hours, and were back again Sunday morning to complete their remaining 8 rounds. This gave the judges time to begin scoring all 12 teams on Saturday, and have enough time on Sunday to conclude only minutes into the awards ceremony at 4pm. Current outdoor and indoor world champions, SDC Core, were behind after a bad round 1, but immediately clawed back by round 4, to hold the lead and win both gold and the US team selection, by 22 points over the US Army Golden Knights. Arizona Arsenal placed third. Does anyone know if 12 4way VFS teams have ever showed up to a non-World meet? What a way for the discipline to remain strong!
The final event! D4W was fast and awesome. A special treat was the judges getting together to form an 8th team, “iFLY Honolulu”, and doing just an awful job, until in the last round they added the Roane brothers to become 6, and flew better! Taking first was a team of Portland Instructors wearing wetsuits and rocking mohawks, Prana Vayu. You will see them at Worlds, hopefully with a wetsuit sponsorship! In second came Collective Pitch and missing second by only 0.13, local team RCDC. Missing a Worlds invite by such a small margin, ouch.
With the competition over it was time to have some fun! 90 minutes of Kids Sequentials and Huck Jams flew while the staff worked to move the awards ceremony from the outdoor venue to inside the tunnel, thanks to inclement weather all weekend. With the step-n-repeat and podium in place, the awards ceremony started off right on time, and competitors were awarded their ‘endless summer’ themed medals and customized Yeti cups. Celebrations continued to the restaurant across the street as we all rejoiced on a job well done.
A huge thank you goes to the entire staff of iFLY Virginia Beach, all of the Sponsors of the event, RGB imaging, Video1 broadcast, announand the amazing judges. Plans are already in the works for next year’s meet, we hope to see you there!
We wish all the US Competitors the best of luck at the World Championships.