Sky on Stage is an artistic skydiving Event that happens online. This year was its first edition, hosting skydiving games, both indoor and outdoor, with solo flyers, 2-ways, 3-ways, 5-ways and skysurfing.
We wanted to offer an opportunity to share and review some inspirational flying in these difficult times when we cannot go to competitions.
There were 3 separate events:
- Event 1 – Sky on Stage 2020 was open to artistic skydiving choreographies recorded in year 2020
- Event 2 – Sky on Stage Indoor Freestyle (solo with music) was open to indoor freestyle routines created between 15th November 2020 and 31st January 2021.
- Event 3 – Sky on Stage “Throwback” was open to outdoor and indoor artistic skydiving choreographies, created in any previous year. This Event was added to the Sky on Stage platform when we realized most wind-tunnels as well as skydiving centers were in continuous lock-down.
I started brainstorming about Sky on Stage a few years ago. I thought it would be good to offer a contest format that allowed skydivers around the world to participate without having to travel. The idea was to offer a stage to show some creative flying. I saw the games as a motivational tool to inspire skydivers to make up teams, explore their creative side, no matter what skills they had. Have fun while working to a goal, learn in the process. Basically, an online air show, spiced up by the playing of a game. Something alternative with the main focus on the the creative side of flying.
With the wish to connect our sport/art with other sports/arts, I involved two different panel of assessors, from inside and outside skydiving:
Expert – E-Panel
One panel, the E-panel, consisted of experts in the disciplines they were assessing (mainly ex competitors plus few FAI rated judges).
Artistic – A-Panel
A second panel consisting professional in other sports or arts, the A-panel of non skydivers.
Assessors had about six days to watch all the choreographies, as many times as they wanted, then finalize their rankings, from favorite to less favorite. No notes. Separate rankings, the one from the E-panel and the Overall, which is the E and A panel rankings combined, were honored as separate results.
Unfortunately, last year, when I was about to launch Sky on Stage, as you know, the world suddenly entered in lockdown. I am happy we kept going, although it made the organization harder, as this experience was more needed than ever, to show some inspirational flying.
Anyone who is interested in reviewing the team’s routines, they are all published on Sky on Stage Youtube Channel playlists.
Event 1 – Sky on Stage 2020
Teams had from 15th June till 31st December 2020 to send to Sky on Stage one non-edited video of a free routine of their choice.
First place: Team Coralie & Greg
Performer Coralie Boudreault, cameraflyer Greg Crozier, both from France. Greg is well known in the skydiving community as he is also part of the World Champion Freefly Team: AirWax. Coralie is a really talented young flyer training freestyle both in the sky as well as in the wind-tunnel. She is as graceful as powerful. This Team convinced both the experts as well as the artist/athletes’ panels.
Second place: E-panel and 3rd Overall – Team Max Martin & Will Penny
Max and Will presented a very different flying-style compared to Coralie and Greg. Their routine showed a beautiful line flown extremely smoothly and cleanly. Technically outstanding, yet harmonious. Max is an amazing flyer both in the wind-tunnel as well as in the sky and Will’s filming work need’s no introduction.
Third place: E-panel and 2nd Overall – Team Leonid Shtivel & Nikita Panov
Leonid only started skydiving in 2019 and has under 200 jumps in total. He is an accomplished Indoor Freestyler who recently placed third at Wind Games 2020 and just now, won 1st place at Sky on Stage Indoor freestyle and 3rd Place in Indoor Throwback. He is the lucky winner of the Peter Pan Award, a special prize offered to the flyer who took part in most of the games and placed best Overall.
Nikita and Leonid recently started an Indoor Dynamic 2-way team as well; creating a Freestyle team together was the natural step for them. Nikita is new to cameraflying, she showed a nice steady and clear framing that encountered appreciation from most of the assessors.
4th Place: E-Panel – Giovannini & Tondelli
Unfortunately, lockdowns did not allow this team to keep jumping together, they submitted a fun jump with smooth flying at fast speeds, that did not pass unobserved by the expert assessors. Luca Tondelli has been for years in the national freefly Italian team competing at world championships, Luca Giovannini is a professional skydiving coach as well as wind-tunnel instructor. We are longing to see what they will create with more training.
4th place: Overall – Team Cricket Freestyle
Team Cricket Freestyle with Ena Rickert filmed by Anthony Maliè. This is a newly-created team that hoped to compete at French nationals this year. With very little jumping together, Ena and Anthony created a nice choreography; balanced and well-presented. Ena, besides skydiving, trains in the wind-tunnel and has background in several different sports.
Many of the other teams stood out. Team Spit Fire from Italy were in 5th place with a nice performance by Michela Chiusano and cameraflyer David Cusanelly. This team has lots of potential for the future and we hope they will continue training.
Team Troy & Johannes, performer Troy Rodway, cameraflyer Johannes Bergfors. Troy and Johannes decided to do some training jumps together last summer, as they say, for the sake of self-development. Both are extremely expert skydivers indoor and outdoor. This team explored an artistic way of filming in zoom mode to create an emotional, dramatic effect.
Team Lazy Bird, with Yulia Voronova filmed by Mahle Mühling and Team Duo Cazzuto, Patricia Düttingler filmed by Francisco Otero, were much less experienced than the other teams, but both created a fun routine that many appreciated and enjoyed, especially in the A-panel of assessors.
Skysurfing kind of disappeared from the skydiving scenery since many years. There are only very few skydivers in the world flying a surf-board these days. With Sky on Stage I wanted to create a place to show skysurfing again. I never skysurfed myself, though I always enjoyed very much watching it. I feel so honored and happy we had 3 entries and had the chance to revive this spectacular discipline!!
1st place: Team American Skydiver – Skysurfer Kēbe San, cameraflyer Darryl Dubiel
Kēbe is a skysurfer with high level of experience. His repertoire of moves is at the very top. He chose to perform one the aces in his pocket: an incredibly fast helicopter. Helicopters generate a lot of G-Force; it’s easy to get out of control when your vision field closes and your blood is pushed to your extremities. When I asked Kèbe why this choice he revealed to me that in spirituality spirals are symbol of healing energy. With this jump his intention was to send healing energy to Earth in this time of pandemic. Thank you Kèbe and Darryl.
2nd place: Team Berlin Standard – Skysurfer Björn Rantzsch, cameraflyer Jocke Melin
Jocke is an experienced skydiver who used to skysurf and freestyle in the good old times ☺, Bjorn started skysurfing in 2017 and has now about 500 skysurf jumps. They met at their local DZ and easily connected. A lovely element in the jump is a nicely flown curve with Jocke.
3rd place: Team Mr Squiggles – Skysurfer James Connelly, cameraflyer Matt Anderson
Both are from Australia; James just recently started skysurfing. He has a background in other sports including big-wave surfing and snowboarding.
1st place: Team Fly Like Brick – Performers Jarno Cordia and Jenna Gygi, cameraflyer René Terstegen
They totaled about 800 acro specific training jumps over the past 3 years and about 60 hours of dedicated wind-tunnel training time. They are the current wingsuit acro champions and recently won, as invited team, at the first French Nationals. Jenna and Jarno fly harmoniously and precisely together and René’s filming skills are outstanding.
2nd place: Pteam Pterodactyl – Performers Laurel Hargis and Andrew Velasquez, cameraflyer Alex Swindle.
This team, based in Arizona , started only recently training together and have a bit more than 100 training jumps as a team. They were supposed to show this same free routine at the US nationals this past year, but the competition got cancelled. So they saw in Sky on Stage an opportunity to make their first official competition together ☺
Event 2 – Sky on Stage “Indoor” Freestyle on music
1st place: Leonid Shtivel
Leonid got inspired to start Indoor Freestyle after seeing by chance one of Leonid Volkov’s performances.
I asked him: what are the emotions in competing live?
“Competition for me is, it’s a challenge to my fears, doubts, emotions. This is an examination of life, and it’s a joy and a pleasant thrill of excitement. At competitions I get a boost of energy and a push for improvement. I chose freestyle, because it’s the most spectacular and artistic. Flying in the tunnel and in the sky both are fantastic, it’s great fun!”
2nd Place E-Panel: a tie between Sam Stenzel and Chloe Dony.
Sam is from Minneapolis and recently turned 16. He is a competitive gymnast training 20 hours a week in between school work. He discovered indoor skydiving in 2014 and has now about 20 hours wind tunnel time. He tells us:
“I love learning new skills, the feeling of being almost weightless when doing flips, and just the fun of moving fast. I also love the supportive community – everyone is there cheering you on and encouraging you while you learn. “
Chloe is originally from Belgium, she is 9. Her father is a tunnel instructor. She did her first flight aged 4 but she didn’t particularly enjoy it, she even cried a little bit. Only couple of years later she felled in love with it. In 2017 as a spectator at Wind Games, Chloe saw Freestyle and told her father she would love to be there one day – and so she is! The routine she presented at Sky on Stage is really nice, her flying fun and entertaining from start to end, even though she revealed she found out about this contest only at the last moment so did not have time to train and had to improvise. Beautiful flying Chloe!
Event 3 – Sky on Stage “Throwback”
Throwback Indoor Freestyle
There was a really high level in this game! Assessors admitted it was not easy to come up with a ranking as they liked all choreographies in a different way, making it difficult to decide which one they enjoyed most.
1st place: Sydney Kennett
Sydney presented her beautiful routine from Wind Games 2020. It was a pleasure enjoying this outstanding performance once more. You can watch it many times and never get bored. Top class, inspirational performance!!
2nd place: Malachi DeAth
Malachi’s choreography style, movements, speed and interpretation matched nicely the music choice.
He kept us hooked from start to finish and left us with a feeling of fun and enthusiasm.
3rd place: Leonid Shtivel
Leonid performance was quite different in style compared to Sydney and Malachi. Equally nice in its composition and elements though in a completely different way.
4th place: Olga Bakulina
Olga presented her performance “5th Element”. She created this routine for the Russian nationals this year. Nice performance by Olga, well done!
Throwback Freefly 3-Way
1st place: Team Good Vibes 2018 – Yohann Aby, Vincente Cotte, Jimbo Gares
This amazing routine performed beautifully and flawlessly by Good Vibes, had the consensus among all assessors, no matter if experts or non-skydivers. All the elements are present in this choreography; creativity, rhythm, technical flying, synchronicity among the flyers, clean presentation, surprise, excitement, fun. Both Vince and Yohann, besides being among the top freefly and freestyle skydivers in the world, have backgrounds in gymnastics and are true acrobats in the air as well as on the ground.
2nd place E-Panel, 3rd Overall: Team Babylon 2012 – Cathy Bouette, Virginie Bouette, Will Penny
A technical routine, nicely choreographed with a combination of interesting, creative and challenging moves like the blind trace to just mention one. It’s just a pleasure to see Cathy and Ninie flying together! I personally loved this routine very much; it has a special touch and energy.
3rd place E-Panel, 2nd Overall: Team Spaceland Anomaly 2007 – Trent Alkek, Jed Lloyd, Stephen Boyd
Spaceland Anomaly are known for their inspirational routines and creative moves, such as the “gooch to gooch” where they fly in mixed orientations using the burble to help regulate speeds. With this same routine they won US nationals back in 2007. They say that one of the secrets to have a successful routine is to always include at least one crowdpleaser move.
4th place E-Panel: Team Freefly Italy 2006 – Luca Tondelli, Paul Seccomandi, Manuel Basso
I personally enjoyed this routine a lot, clean flowing with technical elements which didn’t lack in creativity. Honesty they showed a flying quite advanced for the time. With this same routine the Team won 3nd place at freefly world championships in 2006
4th place Overall: Team Jérem & Cyrill – Jèrèm Saint Jean, Cryll Padieu, Robert Raavk
Jèrèmy is an awesome flyer from France known as part of Team Los Gringos, training and organizing skills camps and workshops both in the wind-tunnel and the sky. Early last spring I had the chance to explain Jèrèm the sky on stage concept, he really liked it and has been very supportive since then.
They submitted a nice balanced routine with cool visual and nice variety. We are longing forward to see how this Team will evolve in time! Good job!!
Throwback Freefly/style 2 way
1st place E-Panel, 2nd Overall: Team Freestyle Italy 2004 – Olav Zipser, Manuel Basso
Olav Zipser is considered the father of Freefly, he started competing in Freetyle in 1991. Became Freestyle world champion in 1993, Freefly Champion at SSI pro-tour in 1996, Freefly World Champion in 2001. His list of achievements is very long in all the artistic skydiving disciplines both in the position as cameraflyer and performer. This I believe was Olav’s last world championship competition. I remember he didn’t train much for it at all, but Olav loved competing and was ready to enter any competition no matter what amount of training.
2nd place E-Panel, 3rd Overall: Team Freestyle Circus – Stefania Martinengo, Manuel Basso
This was the routine presented at freestyle World Cup in 2005, my last freestyle competition. I was supposed to compete with Olav Zipser as my teammate cameraflyer, but Olav broke his wrist the day before the competition. Manuel and I improvised a team at the last moment. We ended up third place with a routine slightly changed and simplified from the original, as Manuel and I never trained freestyle together.
3rd Place: Team Kasia & Jèrèm – Jèrèmy Saint Jean, Kasia Bereska
Again, as many of the other participants, they had not a chance to train and prepare a real routine, though decided to submit a video recorded last year just for spirit of participation!
1st Place: Our Eyes on a Skysurfer – Kēbe San, Greg Gasson
Kēbe’s skill level with the surf-board is truly at the top. So many cool moves perfectly executed. Insane helicopter, carving, half eagles, grabs. Greg Gasson is former Freestyle world champion cameraflyer (in team with Dale Stewart) is one of the best cameraflyers in the world. The match could have only been a winning one ☺
2nd Place: Team Pulse – Oliver Furrer, Tim Porter
Oliver Furrer is a former skysurf world champion. He submitted this jump, which was a fun jump done years ago with Tim Porter. Incredible skysurfing nevertheless he defines it just a “fun” jump ☺.
He wished to submit to Sky on Stage one of his previous winning routines, but most of his video footages were recorded in a different format and not digitalized.
3rd Place: Team Blaster – James Connelly, Dave Hyndman
Nice attitude by James and Dave, both from Australia. James is aware he is only a beginner skysurfer though he showed a lot of passion and enthusiasm in taking part in these games. As he told us in a message, he believes, as we do, that this competition was not about winning but about showing what a beautiful artistic form skydiving is. Good on ya mate!
Throwback Indoor Dynamic 2-way
In Dynamic 2-way we were honestly hoping for more teams to share some of their memorable routines.
Team Sevenfour, performers Ena Rickert and Yohann Aby were the only team who entered. I am happy to see Yohann exploring Indoor competition as well, I think this team has amazing potential and we are all thrilled to know they might continue in their journey as team.
Throwback Indoor Freestyle – with cameraflyer!
For the Throwback games, Coralie submitted an amazing choreography where she is filmed interactively in-flight by cameraflyer Greg Crozier. The inside perspective it’s so fascinating, making it definitively visually entertaining and somehow more similar to its cousin discipline skydiving freefly/style 2 way. Sure there are some safety concerns that do not allow at the moment making this a true category of its own, though as skill levels improve, we hope it can develop into a nice show opportunity.
Without assessors these games would not be possible. Often competitors forget about this. It takes somehow courage and passion to offer oneself as assessors. It’s not easy, there are so many elements to take in consideration when assessing a choreography in its overall. You don’t want to upset anyone but you still have to come up with a ranking. I asked all assessors to pay particular attention to the feelings and emotions received when looking at a choreography and asked them just to be honest in their heart. For the A-panel I invited a variety of professional artists and athletes coming from different background, so they would look at the choreography from slightly different perspectives. Most of the A-Panel assessors were also chosen because of their multi-talents in more than one sport or art.
- Freeflying and Freestyle: Sharon Har-noy, Nils Predstrup, Martin Kristensen, Gigliola Borgnis, Mikhail Razomanov, Gustavo Cabana, Tamara Koyn, Bryce Witcher, Ron Myasnikov.
- Skysurf: Viviane Wegrath, Troy Hartman, Gau Martinengo, Tamara Koyn.
- Wingsuit: James Boole, Mike Pennock, Rob Heron, Maurizio di Palma
Artists and Athletes panel
- Giulia Paris and Giada Rossi, prima ballerinas at Companhia Nacional de Dança in Madrid, both studied dance choreography in some of the most renowned dance schools in the world.
- Giorgia Potter, professional hip hop and street dancer.
- Hugo Noel, Internationally recognized circus artist founder of The Catwall Acrobats
- Niccolo Porcella, multi-sport athlete, gymnast, professional surfer, kite surfer, high cliff diver and wingsuit terrain pilot
- Eleonora Farina, mountain bike downhill champion, 4th at World championship last year. Multi-sport athlete
- Franco Ceccon, freestyle ski jumper in the Next-Step Pirates team.
- Omar Zaiter, speedriding champion, professional paraglider.
- Oliviero Cerrini, professional musician and classic guitar player in live bands
- Graziano Galvagni, outdoor action sport photographer and snowboarder
- Monica Salvarani, creative artist, make-up artist, yoga teacher
I hope Sky on Stage will evolve and develop into a nice contest in the next years. I am thankful to all who believed in this project, all the friends who helped me on the way, all the assessors without whom the games would not even be possible, the supporters who offered prizes to the winning teams, and Roland Hilficker from Indoor Skydiving Vision, for helping me organizing all this.
More about Sky on Stage
You can find all the routines submitted to the 2020 competition on Sky on Stage Youtube Channel
General info: www.skyonstage.com