Catching up with Laurie Lubbe

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French Freestyle Champion on a lifelong passion of flying

Laurie in her grace
Photo by Elena Barsottelli and Alessandra Cirillikus 

Two time French indoor freestyle champion Laurie Lubbe has an incredible grace in what is already such an elegant form of body flying. Having had a vision of working in the sport at a young age, she set out on a focused and determined path to make her mark in skydiving and tunnel. I had a chat with Laurie to learn a bit more about the woman behind the beautiful flying.

Where are you from?

I’m from Gap in the south of France. This is where I’m currently living. 

When and how did you get started in tunnel flying?

My dad was a skydiver so it’s a world I’ve always been in. He was an athlete and then the national coach of accuracy/style. Because of his influence, I did my PAC (French AFF) when I was 17 years old. I was still studying at the time but knew skydiving and tunnel flying would be an important part of my life. I just didn’t know that it would become my whole life at some point. 

At 17, I didn’t have much money to jump. I made enough money to pay for 15 minutes of tunnel and some jumps by cleaning the hotel rooms next to the DZ. 

I knew I wanted to be a tunnel instructor when I was 19. Nobody could change my mind about that. At that time in 2015 there weren’t many women instructors in tunnels. I moved to Ireland to learn English for a few months and then I left to Dubai to start my first job as a tunnel instructor. 

What came first, skydiving or tunnel flying?

I want to say both but I’ve always been around drop zones, even as a baby. I did my tandem when I was 15. I loved it but I didn’t think it would take such a big part in my life. That came later when I did my first solo jump. I instantly knew that skydiving was what I really wanted to do. I quickly fell in love with indoor freestyle and really wanted to start getting better at it so I could compete eventually. 

What has your progression been like?

I flew around 2-3 hours of tunnel between France and Empuriabrava before moving to Dubai for my first job as an instructor. I worked in a tiny tunnel where I learned everything. I competed in my first competition a year and a half later in Bahrain.

I’ve learned from all the instructors I’ve worked with but I also learned a lot myself for freestyle. I would try things I saw from other flyers. I’d hit the walls until I learned the move. I had the privilege to train 5 hours with Toms Ivans and 5 hours with Rafael Schwaiger. That was a big help in my progression. 

Competing at the French Nationals where Laurie won the gold medal in 2022 at ZerOGravity
Picture by Julian Gillier

Who have been some of your inspirations in flying?

I got to witness the first world championships in Prague in 2015 so obviously Inka Tiitto-Cagnasso was a huge inspiration when I started. You know, like, “I wanna do that when I grow up!”. I’ve always admired her. Maja Kuczynska is also a huge inspiration of technique, grace, and strength. I just love her flying. 

What got you interested in competing?

I was amazed when music started to be part of a freestyle routine. It was just so great to be able to create a 3-dimensional dance to music. I’ve always competed in the sports I practiced when I was younger so I wanted to push myself in this sport, too. There was no limit of creativity and I absolutely loved that. I would listen to a song and imagine some freestyle move to go with it and that’s how I started creating a routine. 

What does competition day feel like for you? How do you prepare the days before and the day of competition?

It used to be torture. I wouldn’t sleep the night before. I was suffering throughout the whole competition. The scores impacted me so much, whether they were good or bad. 

Last year changed when I competed at French Nationals. I had a completely new mindset. I started meditating the day before to help me sleep and in the seconds before entering the tunnel. It changed everything. I wouldn’t check the scores anymore until I finished flying the last round. I’ve never enjoyed competing as much as I did at the French Nationals and the world cup last year. I was just trying to fly my best, that’s it. I loved flying my routine. 

You won two championships for French indoor – congratulations! What did it take to train and be winning those two years?

Thank you! I’ve really tried to focus on creating a routine I liked flying. Before I was trying to create something which would please the judges and score points even if the routine wouldn’t make much sense. When we train we repeat the same thing hundreds of time, so for me it made sense to love flying it! 

I really focused on making something I loved. Some nice lines that I enjoyed flying. I guess it paid off and was showing in my flying. 

Laurie flying with Luca Micalizzi above Eolie Islands volcano for a documentary
Photo by Raffaele Maresca

What’s coming up for you in the coming year/next chapter for you in the sport?

I don’t have my tunnel sponsors anymore due to the electricity crisis in Europe so I can’t train as much as I used to. That means I won’t compete for now but I am still flying. I’m really into coaching here where I live. I also organise tunnel camps across Europe. That’s really the part I love the most, sharing and meeting new people. 

I also really want to get myself back into skydiving. I’ve invested all my time and money in tunnel flying the past 7 years so I couldn’t manage to jump much but now I really wanna get back to it. I’m getting my coach ratings to be able to coach both in the sky and the tunnel which I’m super happy about! 

What things outside of flying do you do that help you in flying?

I try to be outside as much as I can. I spent a long time indoors while I was working full time at the tunnel so now I really enjoy being outdoors. 

I got into yoga a few years back. I know I should do it more often because it definitely helps a lot when I stretch before flying. Meditation also helped a lot to get over the stress of competitions. I guess it can also be used for any situation. 

What do you do outside of flying?

I love exploring new places, I think traveling has a really important part in my life. I love being outdoors. The Alps are the perfect place for that. Nature has so much to offer. 

What advice would you give to someone just getting started in tunnel flying who wants to compete at some point?

I want to tell them to never lose the passion and to keep in mind the reason why they started in the first place. I found myself lost sometimes and what really helped me move forward was the love I have for the sport. Be patient and kind with yourself. It’s not always easy but keep training. Keep learning. There’s always new skills around the corner. This sport is just endless and that’s why we love it. 

And remember to always have fun and be safe. 

Laurie flying over her home DZ of Gap-Tallard
Photo by Alexandre Gillard

Any final words for our readers? 

I’ve been in skydiving for 10 years now. I am so amazed to see how the sport has been progressing. Seeing so many amazing events across the world. Above all, I’m so happy to see more and more women in the sport who are making the sport grow considerably.
So yeah, I can’t wait to meet new people, fly and jump with them!

Thank you Alethia for taking this time for me, and for your dedication to the sport. Hope to meet you for real someday. 

Check out Laurie’s routines on her Instagram page.

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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 Instagram.com/alethiaja

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