Aerial All Stars
Red Bull's Top Five Aerial Athletes
Rook Nelson, CEO of Skydive Chicago, Stunt man, World Champion, Head-down Record organizer, DJ, Base jumper, competition canopy pilot, has changed the face of freefly… is there anything he can't do? Apparently not… and he doesn't even take himself too seriously…
20,000+ All types but mostly freefly
29 years .. made my first jump when I was 4
Tandem Master, AFF and Static Line Instructor, Pro Demo rating. Won a medal in every event except CRW, S&A, CP. This includes 3 World Championships and 12 National Championships. Organized the 18, 24, 42, 53, 69, 108, 138 vertical World Records. Pilot, BASE jumper, Stunt work for motion pictures, pretty much everything.
I was always around the DZ but it was no doubt a life-changing moment when my father passed away. He died on a Saturday and I was sitting at his desk on Monday. I still sometimes find it weird to say that I own Skydive Chicago.
First I tried to not go bankrupt. It was a huge learning curve…not to mention I was 23 years old. When I was able to buy my first aircraft that was a big accomplishment for me. Not only did I survive running the business I was able to make enough money to buy a plane! Ever since then I haven’t looked back. I don’t believe in the current model of how DZs are run. I want to improve the customer experience, whether that be a first time jumper or a long time client. I sometimes think it’s a curse that I can’t ever settle for how something is done. There is always a better way.
I try to surround myself with dedicated people. There is no way that I can do this alone.
One thing that I don’t do very well is play politics. I want people to chose me & Skydive Chicago because they believe I can produce a well run event. I don’t try to bullshit people or make promises that I won’t deliver.
I was the only Mondial bid. Russia had a bid in for some of the events and I think Bulgaria. [A Mondial runs every discipline of the World Championships in the one location, they are more usually split into FS and Artistic Events; Classics (style and accuracy) and Canopy Formation; and the Canopy Piloting separately, for reasons of logistics and facilities)
Because I never liked the way some of them were run. Our sport is very small and it sometimes suffers because of that. I want to produce an event that gives everyone a fair chance at winning a medal for their country. Plus I want the best skydivers in the world to visit my DZ.
We have hosted the ’02, 07, ’10, ’13… and the 2014 US Nationals, is just round the corner. [10-28 September, in all disciplines, at Skydive Chicago, SDC].
This will be our first IPC event.
I wasn’t even born then. You’ll have to ask Jim Hayhurst that one.
From what I can gather it will be about the same number of competitors but there will be more attendance in each event. For example there are around 70 4-way teams that enter the FS Nationals and only 25 Accuracy jumpers. At a Mondial we may see forty 4-way teams and 200 Accuracy jumpers.
I hope to see my 4-way team SDC Rhythm make their way to the meet. They have much training to do but I’m supporting their efforts.
Working with all the different languages.
Anything that is worth doing takes work. This will no doubt be the most challenging event that we have ever done. When it’s over my team and I will be proud!
The city of Chicago is a tough one; however the city of Ottawa (where the DZ is) has been very supportive. They know how much money this will bring into the city.
Yes its good to see that so many people are cheering for us. It really gives us drive to make the event awesome.
It’s the best boogie out there. We bring it back to the roots of skydiving all day and partying all night. Mix in some great aircraft, organizers, food, facility and the result is a kick-ass boogie. Summerfest 2015 will host the Vertical World Record. During record years we will see over 1000 people attend the event. It’s one of the only boogies that you get withdrawal from.
When I jump I like to skydive a lot. I normally just like jumping on loads with people that are not expecting it. It’s cool to see newer jumpers light up when they take their first head-down dock. It’s all fun and I try to mix it up to not get burned out.