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Much Beyond Olympia

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

SESSION V | Sunday 2 February 2020 | 15:15 – 16:15 | Santa Clara | Panel Discussion |

Indoor skydiving was put forward by the World Air Sports Federation (FAI), the FAI Parachuting Commission and the French Parachuting Federation as their candidate for inclusion into the Paris 2024 Olympics. It had the full support of the skydiving community and the entire air sports family as the strongest of all disciplines complying with the basic Olympic Charter requirements.

When the Paris 2024 organizers selected four other sports – breaking, climbing, skateboarding and surfing – they made a clear statement about their preferences and about the demographics they are after. It is explicitly not with a view to a possible candidacy for Los Angeles 2028 that an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of competitions in indoor skydiving should be performed. The creation of an optimized and fully sustainable concept for proprietary contests and competitive events is far more important in the short to mid term.

As established in Session IV, the number of indoor skydiving competitions currently held by the different sanctioning bodies and tunnel operators appears, at first glance, adequate and well in line with that of competitions organized in skydiving outdoors. If compared to the number of competitions in any one of the four sports added to the program of Paris 2024, it is dwarfed by a significant margin.

Around 20 competitions were on the calendar for 2019, approximately 20% less than for the previous year. They ranged from the informal local contest to the elite World Championship and comprised about ten competitive events falling into these categories: Dynamic, Formation, Freestyle, Relay, Speed, Vertical Formation. A distinction can be made between events that exist in a nearly identical format in skydiving outdoors and those that are indoor native.

The engineering of new competitive formats is generally left to creative people with a huge expertise in indoor skydiving. What would happen if they were joined by experts in other fields – marketing, media, and event management – to refine the products further? Could they come up with challenges that would work across different segments and skill levels, from the higher-level grassroots all the way to the top of the pyramid. Only if it proves possible to broaden engagement beyond the elementary age grades will a concept become sustainable.

Obviously a series or professional tour – i.e. a determined number of competitions staged at different locations over a period of time – would be beneficial to indoor skydiving overall. It is also the format most likely to secure wide media exposure and generate sponsor interest. But as a stand-alone it will not do much other than perpetuate itself.

The panel of Session V is made up of indoor skydiving champions, competition organizers and experts from the world of sports and media. Between them, they will try to define the requirements for a more coherent competition concept capable of maximizing the resources currently available between the different stakeholders in the sport.

Recommended Reading

One of the new sports on the program of Tokyo 2020 (and quite possibly of Paris 2024) is climbing. A relatively young organization, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), launched a World Cup Series in the 1990s and has improved it ever since. It is based on a varying number of legs held in a varying number of different competitive events over the period of one year. All competitions are staged as per a number of basic standards destablished in the IFSC Event Organizer Handbook. Over the years, the IFSC World Cup (in Bouldering, Lead and Speed) has developed into a prominent window for the sport and was certainly one of the cornerstones in the IFSC efforts to campaign for Olympic inclusion.

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