Catching up with Inka Cagnasso

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World champion, Fly4Life team member, athletic background and a new mom – why we love Inka Cagnasso

Inka Cagnasso – Photo by Anna Whipple

For anyone looking for inspiration in our sport, how about Inka Cagnasso. Inka earned the freestyle world champion title, won a world cup, took herself out of coaching in order to learn more about flying and leading, joined one of the most loved freefly teams and has truly been helping to push the idea of athleticism in our sport. On many levels, Inka has charged in her own way and become an example of how focus and taking care of your body can impact your flying…

I am so stoked to interview you, Inka. Maybe you can tell us a bit about the history of your flying up until this point?

I started skydiving in 2009 and got in the tunnel in 2011 with 200 jumps under my belt. I started at a small skydiving club in Finland, static line. It was tricky to get jumps in and progress, so the tunnel was really the thing that made me fall in love with flying. As an athlete I saw the potential to learn and get better and was instantly hooked. 

I don’t come from a lot of money so obviously I had to figure something out to be able to fly. As most tunnels back in those days were not overly excited about hiring small women to work as instructors, after a few rejected job applications I decided to just start freelance coaching. All the money I made went straight back into flying. As I started building up the skills and showing potential both in the sky and in the tunnel I was invited to be one of the new members of team Turbolenza which was a huge stepping stone for me. After a few years of going hard with the tunnel I became the first Indoor Skydiving Freestyle World Champion in 2015, and then won the World Cup in 2016. Since then I have had the opportunity to work in lots of cool projects such as filming a music video for Sia and Pink, taking part in America’s Got Talent, shooting a commercial for Apple, doing some movie stunts etc, flying in the Virgin Galactic space suits for their release, and creating artistic performances with Atmodance Academy, as well as being able to coach aspiring tunnel flyers around the world. 

In the sky the story is a bit different. I started coaching and load organizing with very low jump numbers. After a few years of doing a ton of boogies, skills camps and other skydiving events (and to be honest not enjoying it all that much as I was on the edge of my comfort zone all the time) I felt like I needed a break from working in the sky and some time to focus on my own flying. For five years I just took part in events and focused on becoming a better skydiver, until a few years ago I felt like I was actually ready to fill in the boots of a load organizer again. Now I truly enjoy my job and I feel like I have so much more to give! 

Inka in her domain
Photo by Anna Whipple

What is your background in sports? 

I started dancing when I was three years old and ended up dancing professionally until my mid twenties. I also played Finnish baseball for about ten years, finishing with a few seasons in the main league. Yoga might not be a sport, but as a physical activity it’s something I was introduced to at the age of twelve and it has been with me ever since.

How much and how has having an athletic background influenced your flying?

I was never the super-talented one in any of the sports BUT I was a really hard worker and super motivated, so I got pretty good at everything I did. I definitely brought the mindset of working my butt off to flying when I started. 

Inka’s yoga practice builds strength and body awareness
Photo by Jennifer Jupiter

What’s a typical day like for you in terms of movement and healthy processes

My routines change a lot based on where in the world we are. Right now I am in Venezuela, where my typical days consist of a morning of tunnel coaching (2-4 hours most of the days), a HIIT workout or a hot yoga class (or sometimes both) and the rest of the day is usually family time. In DeLand, which is home most of the time, I skydive a lot, practice yoga, run, go to the gym and cycle, but every location is a bit different. What is important for me is to be able to move and sweat, even during big events and busy weeks. When it comes to taking care of my health otherwise, I try to eat well but I am not too strict about it. The older I get the more important sleep is for my well being, so I make sure I have time to get a good rest. Especially now with a baby it’s not always a given that I get to sleep well through the night, so if I need to I’ll just go to bed at 8pm to make sure I won’t have to wake up exhausted. 

I always travel with running shoes and a yoga mat – that’s two ways of moving my body that I can do pretty much anywhere so there are no excuses.

What are some of the unique ways in which flexibility becomes a hindrance to flying?

So first of all, flexibility will only be a hindrance if you are not strong enough to control it. During the times when I have been training for freestyle competitions I am more flexible than usual, and it always affects my general flying as suddenly hip and shoulder joints have such a crazy range of motion. 

Probably the wildest example though are my hypermobile elbows though that can bend so much back that when I am bellytracking they definitely slow me down if I am not thinking of straightening them (which actually feels like bending the joint).

Photo by Arturo Baldasano

What has it been like in your first year of motherhood while running loads of tunnel camps, joining the FLy4Life team and just generally staying as busy as ever?

During my pregnancy I was mentally preparing myself for things potentially feeling very different both mentally and physically. I considered the possibility that maybe I don’t really wanna jump all that much once I have a little human to take care of, and I was ready for the changes, but honestly getting back into jumping felt really good and it’s been surprisingly smooth with Camila. Most of the skydiving events I did so far have been at home in DeLand so it’s been easy – I just have to run home to breastfeed in between the loads.  My teammates have also been extremely supportive in me doing things my way, taking days off mid events when needed and so on.

My husband and teammate Claudio injured himself pretty badly in December when Camila was just over two months old, and he spent the next three months on crutches. During that period I did a ton of tunnel coaching (we were in Venezuela) and I have to say I did feel like a bit of a superwoman some of the days (and just absolutely exhausted on the others). But all in all it’s been awesome. I learned pretty quickly what kinda days work for me and Camila, and how to make being back at the office as stress free and enjoyable as possible despite having a little baby. The biggest challenge has been to learn to be present while I am working and not feel guilty for doing my thing. I know I am taking good care of my daughter, and I firmly believe it’s important that I am taking care of myself and doing the things that feed my soul in order to be able to be a good mom.

A lot of women in the sport have actually approached me after I had Camila, asking how it is to combine motherhood and the skydiving lifestyle. So far everything has been possible, some stuff just takes a bit more planning and organizing, and at least in our family it’s been super important that mom and dad are a good team in creating time and space for each other. 

I was super active through my pregnancy and bounced back very fast after giving birth so physically everything has also felt super easy.

What is it about flying and this lifestyle that brings you the most enjoyment? What is it about it that has pulled you in and made you create a life out of it?

When I was younger I had a bottomless desire to travel, so one of the things I love about this lifestyle is that I get to go around and see so many places. I really enjoy teaching – I think I would be a teacher no matter what, even if I was not flying. Another thing is the community – we get to meet and share with some extraordinary people and bond in a way that is very unique. I also really enjoy the freedom – being my own boss, choosing when, where and how much to work, and being able to be flexible with so many things. And obviously on top of everything, I get to fly.

Do you find any challenges unique to women bodies or approach to flying in terms of flying?

The answer to this could be a whole interview itself! But to summarize, YES. Female and male bodies are different. To start with, most women need unique advice regarding center of gravity, muscle engagement and controlling their mobility. This in combination with most coaches being men unfortunately often leads to a situation where female flyers are a bit stuck with their “bad habits” and issues their coaches cannot relate to.

Crushing the role as mother
Photo by Heidi Miguel Perez

How do you keep pushing yourself in the sport? 

At this point of my skydiving career I try not to force anything, so I create the time and space for training when I genuinely feel motivated to, and work on the things that actually interest me. Recently the Fly4Life team training camps have been an amazing platform for me to work on my weaknesses but also to get creative within skydiving. In the tunnel I recently did some training with Rafael Schwaiger, and I am always very inspired to fly with him. The next thing I wanna put more attention into is my canopy flying.

Are you interested in competing again at some point

Yes, but not in a solo discipline. I would love to have a teammate(s) to train with. D4W in the tunnel would be fun!

How do you feel about joining the Fly4Life team?

I was very honored to be asked to join the team. I have looked up to this team for a long time. Now that we have been with the new team for a year, I am just simply very grateful. I have deep respect for all of my teammates and Fly4Life feels like a family. It’s such a safe environment to grow in the sport, with the support and push of some amazing flyers and human beings.

Inka and husband Claudio Cagnasso, as Team Fly4Life
Photo by Argy Alvarez

Who makes the best arepas on the team?

Hahaha! You should know that in addition to the arepas we definitely have a strong culture of sharing in the kitchen within the team. I sometimes feel like we are an italian family that always spends most of the time cooking when they get together. Claudio makes the best pasta, so I give the arepas to Luis!

What advice would you like to give newer skydivers in the sport? 

Don’t rush. Safety before progression. Enjoy the ride, otherwise what’s the point?

What do you think is still overlooked in terms of flying / progressing

Thankfully the ‘just send it’ attitude exists way less these days than it did when I started jumping, but I think it is still easy to forget how dangerous this sport can be if practiced without awareness. I wish more people would spend time on self-observation to truly understand their own limits. Self-awareness is also super important for learning and growth.

Where can people fly with you in the tunnel or sky this year?

This summer I am mainly coaching at Fööni in Helsinki, Finland, which is one of the cheapest tunnels in Europe at the moment. I’m also organizing some small skydiving skills camps at Skydive Karjala in Finland in August. In September I am coaching at the tunnel in Caracas, and from the end of October on I am busy with the Fly4Life camp season at Skydive Deland in Florida.

Who are your sponsors?

Tonfly, Deem, Cypres, Performance Designs, UPT and Skydive Deland.

Photo by Argy Alvarez


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Meet: Alethia Austin

Alethia is a passionate full time international angle and freefly coach. As the creator of LSD Bigway Camps and LSD Angle Camps, she's been running skills camps in skydiving for over 8 years around the world. Some of her coaching and LSD camps have taken her to Botswana, Egypt, Central America, North America, Europe and more. Alethia brings her years of yoga teaching, love of good health and healthy living into the way she coaches angle flying and vertical flying. Alethia was a regional captain for the Women's Vertical World Record and has two world records. Her sponsors include UPT, Tonfly, PD, Cypres and LB Altimeters.

You can find her on Instagram at

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