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Going Digital

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Competitions play an important role in (indoor) skydiving for many reasons. One seems to be of particular importance. Without the coverage on the (competitive) events, and without the spectacular imagery that they generate, the sport stands to lose some of its relevance for the community – and, something that is just as bad, the visibility to the public at large. No international competitions have been held since February 2020, when The Wind Games took place in Empuriabrava.

Even holding national championships in skydiving indoors and outdoors was a struggle in the few countries where it was possible at all. SARS-CoV-2 had imposed a set of new rules calling for lockdowns, restricted travel, social distancing and other drastic measures almost everywhere.

I had brought up the possibility of hosting skydiving competitions in alternative formats with two articles published back in March: Crossing Borders and Digital Power. I wrote them drawing on my experiences as Communications Director of the World DanceSport Federation.

More than six months later, I asked our two indoor skydiving experts about the viability of holding serious competitions by simply recording the competitive performances for their (live/posterior) assessment (online/offline) by a panel of judges. The ensuing conversations seemed to pit the purist (perfectionist) against a generalist who is convinced that if it works in one sport, it should work in another too. Ivars Beitans was first to make his points.

While the Skydiving Commission of the World Air Sport Federation | FAI does not appear to currently consider the sanction of any digital competitions, two independent organizers have adopted the concept and run events at this time.

Kurt Gaebel, who had launched the National Skydiving League back in 1997, is maintaining his organization as innovative and leading-edge as it was then. He runs a Cloud Mondial and an Indoor Cloud League for formation skydiving teams with great success over several months already.

Stefania Martinengo, a former FAI World, World Games and World Air Games Champion in Freestyle, launches her online competition with altogether five artistic events outdoors. Sky on Stage is described perfectly in an interview that Skydive Mag's Lesley Gale conducted with Stefania in August.

I am currently in conversations with Stefania about the possible inclusion of an indoor skydiving event one that is artistic, individual and set to music – to her lineup. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days and weeks.

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