Not Going Unnoticed
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
It is August and we are living through a pandemic. One would expect the news cycles to adjust accordingly. The sports press looking to the "other" sports in order to fill column space would be a perfectly normal occurrence in the peak of summer – and with many competitions in the "top" sports either canceled or postponed due to anti-COVID-19 measures.
But these are not normal times: the two final rounds of the UEFA Champions League are contested this week in Portugal. Two French teams are involved: Paris Saint Germain and Olympique Lyonnais. Nevertheless, L'ÉQUIPE, France's #1 sports paper and the football bible 'par excellence,' publishes a four-part series of articles on two skydivers the week starting 17 August.
Frenchmen Fred Fugen and Vincent Reffet, the Soul Flyers, have been at it for 20 years. Their first jump together dates back to 4 June 2000. L'ÉQUIPE Part I
A few years later they made their first BASE jump – even prior to winning the first World Championship in freeflying. L'ÉQUIPE Part II
Between 2004 and 2009, Fred and Vince remained undefeated, winning two editions of The World Games, three World Championships and one World Cup. L'ÉQUIPE Part III
I had the good fortune to follow the two exceptional skydivers during some of their quests for excellence, when they were among the most admired athletes competing in The World 2005 Duisburg and 2009 Kaohsiung.
Watch parachuting and skydiving at The World Games 2005 Duisburg between the time codes 31:23 and 35:00.
There is no doubt in my mind that Fred and Vince are the highest-profile skydivers of our times. Through their exploits, they have shaped public perception of the sport more than anybody since Patrick 'Deug' de Gayardon† (1960 - 1998). What this implies for them as well as for the air sport I will try to address in another article (together with the link to Part IV of the L'ÉQUIPE series).