PD athlete Mario Fattoruso ended 2019 happy and in style, as officially the fastest swooper on the planet. The 33-year-old Italian became a World Record holder with a staggering score of 1.943 seconds. Mario honestly says that he’s living the dream….
Mario did his first jump in 2002 and he has over 6,600 jumps now. His home dropzone is Skydive Team Cremona in Italy where he spends a lot of his time working and training. He is an AFF instructor, coach and tunnel coach, besides being a PD Factory Team member and a Flight-1 instructor.
Mario is no stranger to success, being 10-times National Champion, across two disciplines, FS and CP. In Canopy Piloting he won the Italian Swoop Tour two years in a row, and has a gold and two silver medals from the 2015 World Cup / European Championships. In 2019 Team Italy took home the Bronze from the World Cup Canopy Piloting in Pretoria.
We are very happy to have had the chance to talk to Mario…
The recent 10th FAI World Cup of Canopy Piloting in South Africa was crazy… more than 20 records were broken during the event, why was this?
1,400 meters above sea level with a humidity of 40% and downwind – these are the ingredients that we swoopers like. From the ground I could hear the sound made by the canopies during the recovery arc that sounded like a Jet. Incredible…
You established a new World Record for Speed with an incredible 1.943 seconds to cover 70m. How did you do it? How did it feel?
It was the last round of speed and the last of the World Cup. I remember seeing the standings and I was on the 10th position. Before going to boarding I took my G3 and took off the GoPro just to be as aerodynamic as possible. The wind had finally stabilized in one direction, the same for everyone, downwind around 5-6 m/s. Before jumping out of the plane I said to myself: “Go big or go home”… My teammates told me: “Go, Mario, you have nothing to lose”. When they left I remember having a problem with the left toggle, a bit of excess that could have caused a knot in the unlocking. On the ride to altitude I was concentrating on my Mutant and my PI67. I took a look at the advent sleeve and it was still ok. I approached quickly the point of maneuver…. and the rest…. I could not believe it… 1.943 seconds :-)… I’m still not believing it.
How long did it take you to learn to fly your canopy with the Mutant? How different is it?
Today I have about 150 jumps with the Mutant. The first 20 jumps I looked like a student with a big canopy trying to figure out how to make a correct landing pattern… a real disaster. It was very difficult, but like with everything else in the world you have to practice a lot, methodically. I had two great teachers, my friends and teammates Pablo Hernandez and Ian Bobo. Also this summer, during training with my teammates Justin, Travis and Armando we tried to share our techniques and sensations and to actually understand how to best use this harness in a speed round.
How successful has the Mutant been for you?
This year I took part in 6 swoop competitions using the Mutant harness for the Speed events, starting from the first with only 30 jumps. I almost always reached the podium or in any case I was in the Top 5. The feeling was immediately powerful, I’m really happy for that… next year we will also start working more on Distance.
You had great results in FS with the Italian eX3MO 4-way team? How did the transition to canopy piloting happen?
I was part of the eX3MO team from 2011 to 2013 and for me it was a real leap in quality because thanks to them and to coach Pete Allum I grew a lot. I took part in my first international competitions with them. I still remember my first World Championship in 2012 in Dubai… fantastic … It was an experience that I managed to convert into canopy piloting. In fact, every year I had the uninterrupted desire to do both FS and canopy piloting. And the FS high-level training technique is also very useful for the CP.
You’re in the current 4-way Italian National team Amnesya. Tell us about the team. What sort of challenge is it to excel in two disciplines?
In January 2018, after about 5 years of not competing in the FS, I accepted a friend’s proposal to put me back in the race with the FS and become part of the new Amnesya team (a very young team, with little experience in the international field but with a great desire to evolve). One year, as many races as possible and so many victories… 2018 was a very intense year for me. I did about 15 competitions including 8 FS (indoor and outdoor) and 7 of canopy piloting. With the Amnesya team we won two Italian championships (indoor and outdoor), placed 6th at the World Championship in Australia and we took the bronze medal at the Indoor World Cup in Bahrain. I feel I have achieved the goal… The training system I use for the FS also helps me a lot in canopy piloting. The visualization, the training, the team spirit is the same also for CP. At the beginning of 2019 I pulled myself out of the Amnesya Team to focus more on PDFT and Canopy Piloting.
How and when did you get into the PD Factory Team and how do you find the experience?
In February 2018 I received an e-mail from Pablo Hernandez (then captain of PDFT). I will never forget it… the subject was: We INVITE YOU to become a member of the PD Factory team… Given that my English is very basic I remember that I copied and pasted all the text 5 times on Google Translate to make sure I understood correctly, then I immediately called my brother Armando (who was also in CCd in the mail) and from there screams of joy started. I still believe that it’s all a dream and in fact I’m living my dream. Since I started skydiving in 2002, I still have the DVD of the PDFT that was released in 2003 at home. It’s spectacular, every night I went home and I watched it on a loop and I never got tired of it. Now every photo I see of myself with the PDFT jersey on is moving me deeply… because now I’m one of them, I’m part of the Dream Team.
Your brother Armando is also in the team, tell us about that dynamic… Is there some friendly competition between you?
Between us there is a lot of feeling when we practice swooping. We are very different in everything; in character, in way of thinking, and in lifestyle we really are opposites. But when we practice swooping we are the same, we share a lot in training, the techniques, we compare a lot. And in a competition, it will seem strange but we still do a lot with the team, even if everyone competes on his own. We lived together until he was 18, then he went to study and now we live in different cities, but the canopy piloting makes us meet again and be together for the joy of our parents.
Whom do you admire, who are your mentors and why?
My mentor since the beginning of my sporting career is Jay Moledzki. I grew up watching all his videos, I followed every single competition … He won so much he was several times world champion and I tried to do what he did. Today he is my coach. Once per year with PDFT we organize a training camp with him were besides giving us advice on canopy piloting he also coaches us for the mental part of the job. He’s really a mentor in every way.
What advice do you have for canopy piloting ‘babies’?
Guys, the journey of a swooper is very long and full of sacrifices. We don’t have to run but rather learn to walk first. Don’t give up if the results don’t come, slowly they’ll come. Lots of training, practice, method and dedication are the keys to success. To get speed with the sail, you need time and to have time you need altitude.
The path of the athlete is impervious, long and arduous, no one gives you anything, and all you earn is the result of sacrifices, sweat and time that you dedicate to the sport you love. The dream of a medal is never as far away as it seems if you engage with method and perseverance and above all if you believe in your dream to the end. The important thing is that when you arrive at the end you must have nothing to regret.
What’s the biggest single thing we could do to improve safety?
Our experiences must be shared. Teaching wisely, in the right way, supporting skydivers in difficulty… such as a parent who teaches his child to ride a bike.
Speed involves movement of reflection, thought, attention, gesture. It generates advantages, lust, a bit of risk, an exclusive pleasure.
What’s the future of canopy piloting, where do you think it is going?
The world of canopy piloting has grown considerably. With the help of modern high-performance “sails”, truly paranormal results are being achieved. I did my first swoop race at only 18 with a 90 Velocity… and today I am 33 years old and I will never get tired of doing it. It gives me emotions, joy, pure adrenaline, anxiety, fear… all this makes me want to continue and never stop. Ours is a very risky but equally beautiful discipline, therefore we need more and more courses and lessons for young aspiring swoopers to prevent them from hurting themselves.
What’s your favorite skydiving moment of all time?
Proclamation of my World Record by the speaker (Peter Irish Sutton) on the last World Cup in Skydive Pretoria.
Describe Mario in 5 words or less
5 are too many…. charismatic, glutton, solar = ITALIAN STALLION 😀
Do you have a motto, or favorite quotation?
GO BIG OR GO HOME
What’s next for you, and what are you most excited about?
Continue to live my dream. Doing so many new things with PDFT, in addition of doing swoop competitions I would like to continue to improve in the flying team and, why not, make expeditions around the world with them.
Who are your sponsors?
Performance Designs, Flight-1, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie Composites, Alti-2, Liquid Sky, UPT, Salice Occhiali
What equipment do you use?
- Main Canopy: PD Valkyrie 79, Peregrine 64/67/71/75/79
- Container: Javelin Odyssey – Mutant harness
- Reserve Canopy: PD Optimum 126
- AAD: Speed Cypres 2
- Helmet: Cookie G3, Cookie Fuel, G4
- Jumpsuit: Liquid Sky Suits
- Altimeter: Alti-2 N3 Audible and Visual
- Eyewear: Salice Occhiali
Anything you would like to add?
Mum, I LOVE you…
Editor’s note: The Speed course describes a carve of 75° and is 70 metres long. The time is started by breaking an electronic beam across the entry gate of the course. The competitor’s time is stopped as they break a second beam across the exit gate and their time is measured to thousandth of a second.
- Catching up with… Lonnie Bissonnette - 17th March 2020
- Catching up with… Johannes Bergfors - 18th February 2020
- Catching up with… Mario Fattoruso - 9th January 2020