Catching up with Airwax

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AirWax Freefly by Norman Kent

AirWax, Freefly World Champions and French National team, features Karine Joly and Greg Crozier as performers, with Baptiste Welsch on camera. The stunning images used in this article are by Norman Kent, who had this to say about them:

“One of the most rewarding things in my professional life is that I get to work with amazing and talented individuals who excel above the rest with ease. They inspire me to be like them and help me see what is possible when you dream and persevere. Such is the case with AirWax, an adorable, talented, amazing team (and couple) who graced the sky in front of my cameras with their unique, magical skills and style. What a pleasure to share the sky with them…. I tried capturing their grace in a few jumps and was left wondering what would be possible if we could spend more time together in the air. I am humbled by them and consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to capture their beauty. Thank you AirWax for the opportunity to experience love, creativity, and courage with you as that is what I like putting back in to the world!

Norman Kent
Greg Crozier & Karine Joly, of AirWax – Image by Norman Kent
Greg Crozier & Karine Joly, of AirWax – Image by Norman Kent

Hey guys, hello, what do you do for a living?

Hello 🙂 We are indoor and outdoor freefly coach.

Since when?

We started competition in 2009 and coaching in 2010. At the time we had “regular jobs”: Greg was a skipper and Karine a yacht designer. It was hard to take 8 weeks of training per year so we had a transition where we worked part time in 2013. The end of 2014 we realized it still wasn’t enough so we decided to quit our jobs in 2015 to be able to train as we wanted and be full time in our environment.

How many jumps do you both have, what type, how long in the sport?

Greg:  – 7,600 jumps started in 1997 at St Galmier (France)

Karine:  – 5,800 jumps, almost only freefly, started in 2004 at Skydive El Paso (USA) <3

Nationality, and where you live?

We’re French (mainly for the wine and cheese ;), living between Lyon and Nice when in France (180 days per year) the rest wherever we are: friends, hotels, airbnb…

Skydiving/tunnel achievements, claims to fame

  • 30 Competitions | 30 Podiums
  • FreeFly World Champions
  • 3 World Records
  • Indoor: Bronze D2W Nationals

When, where and how did you meet?

Back in 2004 in a Pilatus at Skydive Lyon Corbas

Was it love at first sight?

Not at all.

AirWax ready to go – Image by Norman Kent

When did the idea first come to fly together in a team, and how much have you done since?

Karine: In 2008 we were discussing about Life… Greg had a big regret of never pushing skydiving to competition. I said that it was not acceptable to have regrets that young so we decided to build a freefly team and started to train for competition in December 2008. We’ve never stopped training since then, and have a total of 2,500 jumps together.

Who flies camera and why did you choose him?

Karine: We had many camera flyers over the years but Baptiste Welsch is the one that followed us the most, we trained 5 years with all three together. He was our most talented student in our tunnel camps. We proposed him the opportunity to join AirWax Team and become our cameraman. With such talent it was obvious that he would be ready for international in 2 years.

Greg: We did our formation on tunnel instructor together early in 2014 and we started to coach together on every Tunnel Camp. He did 100h this first year, and 300 training jumps. The team was ready to fight! Those last 2 years, he became the most efficient flying machine! Now we need to learn from him, how cool is that?!

AirWax – Image by Norman Kent

Greg, Karine, separately tell me your favorite skydiving moment of all time.

Karine: That last jump of the World Championship in Australia, as we successfully managed the hell of pressure out of it and finished the jump with no error, THIS FEELING RIGHT THERE…it was an explosion of Joy, I was so proud of us three for the amazing teamwork we had done in this whole comp, for all the meanings of this victory as we have had some very hard years with our federation preventing us to compete internationally for 5 years… It was pure love for my teammates and All our friends, students, family supporting us… it was Bliss combined with Karma 😉

Greg: Definitely the last 45th second of our last jump in Australia. We made a perfect jump and I was beyond any other feeling I ever had in my life… I knew that we just made the jump of our life. I rushed to land to run into Karine and Baptiste’s arms!

World Champions : Greg, Crozier Karine Joly and Baptiste Welsch
Their Free Round in Australia | Gold Coast in October 2018

Did you always have the goal to be World Champions?

Karine: Not at the very beginning, we wanted to do competition for sure, but had no idea about the career of high-level sportsmen or international competition.

Greg: 2009 was the first year of Airwax Freefly and we managed to win the French Championship in National 2. In 2010 we were silver medalists behind the French Team but this time in National 1 and we became French team “Espoir”.

2011 we were supposed to represent France in our first World Cup but the Federation changed its mind just before the event and it did not happen. This is when our goal took shape… let’s see if we can be World Champions! Year by year it looked possible,

” If you want, you can; if you can, you must”!

AirWax – Image by Norman Kent

Was it more or less difficult than you thought?

Karine: Hell yeah! This thing drives you crazy!

You need to find the Magic Combo: Humans, Skills, Originality, Consistency, Pressure management, Team work, Determination.

Greg: More difficult: The money! Hard to get and even harder to spend it in the best way. You are so scared to waste a single jump so you don’t dare try a lot of new things and you never do fun jumps. 8 years paying for every jump, tunnel time and packing ourselves, every team training like this knows the pressure that comes with it.
Less difficult: The support. Finding money was impossible, but finding help or discount on gear with skydiving partners has been a real support. Whenever we had help, we tried to bring regular proofs that we were working hard, sending pics or news on the way. We are very thankful for the help they provided us, they are part of our success!

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What did you learn on the journey?

Karine: Soooo much to be summed up here, but for most of your dreams in life, if you want something, be prepared to work for it:

“there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”

Zig Ziglar

Greg: I learned to ask advice from World Champions directly, not from people who know them or work with them. Always act strong. Never forget where you come from. Plan your own progression with a solid team.

A solid team is made of passionate members who take care of each other, not individual and selfish people. Then find a way to do 300 jumps a year for at least 5 years so you are armed for international.

AirWax – Image by Norman Kent

How did you develop your own style?  Who does the choreography?

Since we decided to team up a tall skinny girl with a small muscly man, we didn’t choose the easy path to start with… First we had to learn how to stay on level, then when Karine broke her leg in 2009 and stayed with screws that limited her movements for 2 years, we built up flights where Greg was moving around Karine like a humming bird around a flower.

After the leg material had been removed, we started to fly more together, looking for aesthetic moves using our couple bond.

For Australia, we decided to push a step further the artistic side, building a jump and a look around a theme, a tribute to the Aboriginals.

Everyone brings his skill: Karine is the artistic director, Greg is the technical manager and Baptiste is the video director.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given along the way?

Karine: We learned it with experience: don’t expect anyone’s help, do it yourself.
Greg: Never give up! Every time it becomes harder, take time to breathe, analyze and come back with twice more energy!

What advice would you give for anyone wanting the same goal?

The above 😉 + one big piece of advice: Do not try to fly your routine in the tunnel to put it up there, you’ll be lacking references and your wind speed will not match what you had in the tube.

AirWax – Image by Norman Kent

How difficult is it to fly together when you are completely different body shapes, sizes and weight?

Hahaaa, it takes time, lots of jumps together and a continuous boost on personal flying skills. If you want the fast way, I definitely recommend choosing someone who matches your body shape and weight! 😉

You had financial support from the French Federation for the last period of your training before the World Championships 2018, what difference did that make?

It made so much difference! We could finally be more creative as we dared try new moves: before you can fly new things, you need to try them out, see how hard it would be to make it work, estimate how many specific jumps you would need to pass it every time. Sometimes you can spend 40 jumps to achieve it. When you pay each jump, you don’t dare to try that long.
Also, for every competition, even the nationals, it takes away lots of pressure because if you do something wrong, you don’t feel like you lost your year of training.

Too much pressure is the reason we lost the 1st place at nationals 2015: we trained so much this year to beat the French teams that the pressure became unbearable and we did weird mistakes. You need positive pressure only to be able to give the best.

Why are there so many French skydiving World Champions?

Karine: First, French are picky, we like to pay attention to details and that’s why we are such a pain in the #%$*!
Second, with the support of the French Federation, their financial help and rhythm of training makes everything way more easy!
Greg: I also think it is mainly because they can have a big financial support.  But then comes the responsibility to be among the best as we have a big reputation and history in the sport.

AirWax with their aboriginal inspired costumes – Image by Norman Kent

Whom do you admire, who are your mentors and why?

Karine: Omar Alhegelan for his humility and passion of flight, Mikhail Razomazov for his creativity and technique, and Cornelia Mihai for being such a badass swooper! 😉

Greg: Ray Kubiak was the first to give us confidence. He saw our motivation and potential and he told us in 2010: “You will be World Champion”!
Omar Alhegelan for his inspirational videos and speeches. He is the living proof that if you dedicate everything to a goal, the universe will give it to you.
Fred Fugen for his insane demonstration of strength and mastery. He dared doing impossible things for the love of our sport.
Mikhail Razomazov for his insane vision of the body flight.

“We learned a lot from Norman” – Image by Norman Kent

Tell us about your photoshoot with Norman Kent, which produced all the images in this article and more

Norman Kent is a legend! We met him on every World Record and it became a dream project to do a photo shoot with him one day! In February this year, we were going to the Head Up try out at Skydive Sebastian, that was the best opportunity for it!

We were very honored and happy that he accepted! We learned a lot from him, his experience makes him very picky on placement, behavior, details, all those little things we don’t think about that make a big difference. There is also room for improvisation, but always with style 😉 we had a lot of fun, what a great experience!

When you coach freefly, what’s the single piece of wisdom you repeat the most?

Karine: mostly awareness of inertia: “Always keep visual on the group”

“It’s better to add some more than to put too much in at the first place”

Greg: Be at 100% during the whole jump. Every jump is always too short, so always improve your exits, be at level and maintain it with the leader. Know where everybody is at the break!

“Flying my Leia is absolute happiness” – Greg Crozier – Image by Norman Kent

What’s more fun for you, tunnel or sky?

Karine: Both are fun, but my heart definitely belongs to the Sky

Greg: I love flying full speed in the tunnel as much as flying huge lines in the sky. Also flying my Leia is absolute happiness. Both are my playground!

What’s the biggest problem in the sport, and what can we do about it?

Karine: I would say that thanks to the tunnels, we gain years of skydiving and built up skills very fast. The side-effect is that those very high level freeflyers end up with a big canopy that flies slow and looks not cool so most of them want to downsize way too fast and we see more and more accidents. I personally think that it requires to be a very good and experienced pilot to be under a Leia, Valkyrie, or equivalent; not everyone is meant to be under those canopies.

Greg: I think we lose many skydivers because of 2 things: the cost of the sport as a beginner and the lack of assistance for their canopy progression. A beginner needs to jump a lot, but it’s too expensive, we have to find a way to motivate them. Each club could maybe cover them winning their 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th jump for free in their first year of jumping. Under canopy we have to accompany them more so they can have a better control and awareness.

” Don’t expect anyone’s help, do it yourself” – AirWax – Image by Norman Kent

What’s next?

After 10 years of competition and such a magnificent time in Australia, we decided to retire from sky competition. It was a tough decision to make as we finally had a rhythm of training that would open more and more doors to creativity and technique, but we have to focus on our personal lives. All this time training and going to competition is a time where you are not earning money. Also 2018 was so intense we didn’t have any more time to load organize as we like to.

Coming up:

  • Different load organizing aiming at boosting women for Project 19: the next special Women’s World Record in 2020.
  • July: tunnel camp in Montreal
  • August: Atmosphair Boogie (Quebec), tunnel camp in Toronto.
  • September: Vertical camps in Nancy and Le Luc (France)
  • October: Tunnel camps in Perth, Special Cay Boogie (Australia)
  • November: Brave Heart skills camp (Brazil), LO in Namibia.
  • December: Tunnel camps in Empuria (Spain).
Happy smiles from Greg and Karine – Image by Norman Kent

Anything you would like to add?

Follow us on Instagram: karinejoly.airwax, gregcrozier.airwax and airwaxfreefly

and Facebook pages: Karine Joly, Greg Crozier, AirWax FreeFly

AirWax routine for the French Cup in 2018
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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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