Veterans Among Memorial Day Weekend Skydiving Championship Competitors

By Tamas Mondovics

The 2016 U.S. Parachute Association (USPA) National Parachuting Championship, which took place over the annual Memorial Day weekend in Lake Wales, saw a great turnout of aerial athletes from around the state.

According to competition spokesperson and USPA Sports Promotion Director, Nancy Koreen, more than 50 of the nation’s most advanced parachutists – including members of the U.S. armed forces – measured up their skills in multiple events, held at the Florida Skydiving Center.

The non-stop action in Canopy Formation and Style and Accuracy allowed athletes the opportunity to qualify for slots on the prestigious U.S. Parachute Team that will compete at the World Championships this September outside of Chicago.

The event came on the heels of the  2016 USPA National Skydiving Championships of Canopy Piloting held a month prior at Skydive City in Zephyrhills.

Commenting on the difference between the two events, Koreen drew attention to some of the misconceptions of the extreme sport.

“In canopy formation, teams of two and four race to complete a series of formations while holding onto each other’s parachutes,” Koreen said, adding that in freefall style, individuals perform a series of loops and spins while falling to earth in excess of 120 mph. “For classic accuracy, competitors steer their parachutes to land on a dime-sized target on the ground. Canopy Formation and Style and Accuracy requires extreme precision as competitors attempt to land on a dime-sized dot after falling 10,000 feet.”

In contrast, Koreen emphasized that canopy piloting isn’t what people really think of when they think about skydiving.

“Instead of slowing down, in canopy piloting, skydivers will attempt to gain speed as they descend and swoop through narrow slalom-like courses for hundreds of yards, just a few feet above the ground and or water at speeds reaching 90-plus miles per hour,” she said.

USPA is a voluntary non-profit membership organization of individuals who enjoy and support the sport of skydiving. Visit www.uspa.org.