By Holly Jaadla
I love the Australian Open Indoor Skydiving Championships. Now in its fourth year, I’ve had the pleasure of working at two and competing at two. The atmosphere starts building about five days before the event, people from all over the country are meeting up with fellow flying buddies they’ve not seen in a long time, teams are practising their routines and for some it’s the first time they’ve flown with their scratch team mates. For me that’s what it’s all about, giving it a go, it doesn’t matter if you’ve not entered a competition before or you don’t think you are good enough to win. At the other end of the scale are the top teams, incredibly talented and battling for the top spots and the chance to represent their country at an international level.
Day One saw the 4-Way FS Rookie (Blast) and A teams competing, alongside the 2-Way VFS Inter and Open. These are some of the biggest categories and see lots of scratch teams. It’s amazing to see so many mentors flying player/coach in these newbie teams. A particular shout out goes out to LG who competed in all four FS categories, one of those being with Rookie team ‘All My Spoons’ whose goal was to prove indoor skydiving has no boundaries when it comes to disability. Teammate Bek Cramp has mobility restrictions and has only been flying since December. A second ‘All Abilities’ team, quirkily named ‘7 Left Feet’ and featuring right-through-knee amputee Peter Pellegrini, took a silver medal in the same category.
Other comp pig nominations go out to Andrea Boerkamp, Mark “Stretch” Szulmayer and Russell Blackman who all competed in three 4-Way FS teams plus 2-Way VFS Inter (Head up), with Russell and Andrea bagging themselves a silver medal here too. I love the cross-discipline competitors, these guys are super talented all-rounders, Tanya Cale must get a mention here, part of four-time Australian Indoor Skydiving Championship team ‘Rotor Out’ and flying in the 2-Way VFS Inter and Open. Also to Gary Nemirovsky, standing on the podium for both 4-Way FS AAA and 2-Way Dynamic Intermediate. Ultimate comp pig award goes to Sarah Yates for competing in a whopping FIVE categories across three very different disciplines. Love your work, Sarah!
This year we saw a large contingent of WA flyers getting and what’s more impressive is they achieved podium positions in every category they flew in. Chief Judge Peta Holmes was representing the WA crowd for the judges and iFLY Perth General Manager, Dicey Bergic was event MC alongside the banter of Kellie Morrissey and Matt Boag (from Australia) from the Gold Coast. We were also lucky to have some very special international guests join us this year to join the artistic/dynamic panel – FAI AE Judge Ron Miasnikov (Israel) and the Soltyk family (Poland), featuring Andrzej (Team Vipers), Ola, Kasia and Krzysztof. If you missed it, you can catch all the action on the event livestream replays on our Facebook page.
Day One saw lots of high fives, smiles and a few brain farts! The day was a huge success and the perfect warm up for Day Two, which saw 4-Way FS AA and AAA, 4-Way VFS, Dynamic and Freestyle teams competing. The freestyle kids always attract the biggest cheers and this year was no different. We had three kids flying over from Perth, two from the Gold Coast and three home-grown Junior iFLYERS. We had superhero moves, gorilla-style chest beats, carving and beautiful ballet moves. In the Freestyle Open, Amy Watson wowed us with her technical, flowing and incredibly bendy moves, no surprise taking out the Gold. Newcomer Elise Brown has also been working hard over the past year and gave us a spectacular display of tunnel gymnastics. Amy and Elise will also be representing Australia at the 3rd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving in Bahrain later this year. A special shout out to Patrick Sullivan who learned the Freestyle compulsories the day before his comp, enabling him to enter the Junior Freestyle Open category. Awesome work!
The FS teams on Day Two were launching from the door which added extra complexity to their dives and well as having more moves to remember and perform in each round. What always baffles me is the slot swapping, from the start to the finish of the round. It was a close battle between previous AAA champions ‘Rotor Out’ and team ‘Kinetix’, with just three points separating them after Round 10. An even close battle took place in the AA with team ‘Stetchy McStretch Face’ beating team ‘What’s the Point’ onto the podium by just one point. Congratulations to ‘Smokin’ Darts, Breakin’ Hearts’ taking the gold here – we want to see you lads in the AAA next year!
I was pleasantly surprised we had five 4-Way VFS teams this year. Team Focus showing us why they deserve a place on a world stage with a staggering 248 points over 10 rounds in the VFS Open event. They also set a new Australian Indoor record of 32 points in Round. In the VFS Advanced event, it was awesome to see three teams that had really put in some hard work to prepare. Team ‘Block Party’ had been extremely dedicated to their training and it showed. A special shout out to Jacob Mulder from the ‘ADFPA Frothy Dawgs’, who only mastered head down a few months prior.
Dynamic is a category we’ve been trying to grow for the past five years of operation, but it also takes a lot of skill before you can jump in and just give it a go. We had eight 2-Way teams flying over the Inter and Open. It was the battle of the Instructors in the open with Kyle Chick and Jimmy Cooper shredding their way to the top spot, incredible to watch and too fast to photograph! Junior iFLYER’s James Dehombre and Jordan Bassett-Smith winning Gold in the Inter, these guys have been a dedicated and humble team from the start and they deserved to be standing in the top spot. Not only that, but they also gave the 4-way Dynamic a crack and as there was only an open category, they put on a great show. Instructor team ‘Down to Fly’ getting a perfect score here, as well as setting a new Australian record for fastest speed round! These guys are keen to grow this discipline so hit them up for some coaching and we can see you competing here next year.
Thank you to our sponsors: E-Waste Management Solutions; 1300SKYDIVE; Australian Parachute Federation; Red Bull; Up & Go; Direct Accounting; FireSafe ANZ; Energy Action; Penrith Panthers; Cookie Helmets; Atmosphere Gym; LVN; Sydney Prop Specialists; Mabuzi; Gold Coast Skydive; Mercure Penrith; Vertical Suits, Boogieman Suits; Paradise Jet Boats; Hot Air Balloon; and Mantra Legends Gold Coast.
Thank you to everyone who came along, whether you flew or just cheered your mates along; all the iFLY staff who worked long days and endured the behind-the-scenes craziness. We can’t thank enough the expert judges and our ground coaches for the event. And lastly a huge THANK YOU to Michelle for organising the whole thing, please give her a high five (or something Cookies’n’Cream flavour) when you next see her. Until next time!