SKYDIVING COMPETITION OVER TIME I | Roland Hilfiker looks at what used to be his sport of choice after a longish hiatus – and with valuable insights gained from being involved in promoting several other sports. This is part one of four.
I had been away from skydiving – particularly from competitive skydiving – for well over a decade. The last major competitions that had me in an active role were the parachuting and skydiving events (sic) at The World Games 2001 in Akita, Japan, and the 2002 FAI Skydiving World Cup in Empuriabrava, Spain.
I live only ten minutes away from SKYDIVE EMPURIABRAVA and managed “to stay in touch with the community” over the years. In the pre-SARS-CoV-2 days, I was able to engage in in-person and on-site dialogues with old friends by stopping by the DZ.
However, it was not until early 2019 that I returned to skydiving competition. I very deliberately went to watch the Wind Games, which were conveniently staged in Empuriabrava too, after I learned that Indoor Skydiving was a candidate for inclusion into the sports program of the Paris 2024 Olympics. It was genuine interest that brought me to the WINDOOR wind tunnel, as I had served as chairman of the FAI Olympic Coordinating Committee and as IPC/IOC liaison from 1995 until 2002.
Following the varied and entertaining action over two days, from the early a.m. through the late p.m., I had to concur with the views of the people behind the Olympic bid that Indoor was indeed the ideal discipline to be put forward. Key weaknesses of skydiving competitions outdoors had all but disappeared. The conduct of the Wind Games was exemplary in every respect: adherence to the schedule, presentation, even the emceeing. The atmosphere was vibrant at a venue packed – probably beyond the limits imposed by the fire code – with people from around the globe. As a first impression, Indoor seemed ready for primetime.
That the #FlyIn2024 candidature file, put together by the French Parachuting Federation and state-of-the-art in many ways, was rather unceremoniously dispatched with by the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee had to be expected. It was one of many, close to 20 altogether, and some were submitted by exceptionally strong contenders. That four sports with a very pronounced youth profile ended up making it onto the program of the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad should serve as inspiration for the future bidding by the governing bodies. Breaking, climbing, skateboarding and surfing are excellent role models. Properly groomed and packaged, indoor skydiving could match their appeal to demographics that the International Olympic Committee and the Games organizers consider particularly attractive.
This will require a considerable amount of rethinking on the part of the leadership of the FAI, its member bodies and, above all, the International Skydiving Commission. Despite the tremendous advancements made over the last decades in terms of technology and equipment, the majority of those governing the sport appear stuck in the mind frame that dominated the decision-making process when I was still involved. Maybe this can be changed, eventually.
It was two years ago that I started to thoroughly analyze the status quo of skydiving, a sport that I continue to feel indebted to for many reasons, and to look at options on how to bring improvement to key areas. I launched what I hoped would develop into an ongoing process by organizing the inaugural edition of Indoor Skydiving | Global Summit in Castelló d’Empúries (Empuriabrava). At the same time, I rolled out indoorskydiving.vision as a blog with aspirations of turning it into an online think tank.
SKYDIVING COMPETITION OVER TIME is a series of articles published on this blog. It aims to stir up discussion either here or on the Indoor Skydiving Vision Facebook page. To comment here (at bottom of the page), you have to sign up (upper right hand corner) and be logged in.
Part II will be released on Thursday 21 January.