"A Mondial" : What on earth is that?

 Well not so much "on earth" really – but of the sky.



It is a huge Skydiving Event – an opportunity for the world wide skydiving community to showcase all our top athletes in an event which combines every element of Skydiving competition disciplines in multiple World Championships.

Conceived as an idea in the early 2000's by the then President of the International Parachuting Commission (IPC) of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), Patrice Girardin from France; the first Mondial was held in Gap, Haute Alpes, France in 2003. Over 700 skydivers from 26 different countries took part in the 5 different World Championships. The opportunity for athletes to meet other competitors across disciplines is a rare and enlightening experience adding to the joy of taking part.

Logo Mondial 2012 newThe second Mondial will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, commencing the 28th November 2012. This time there will be 6 different World Championships, a Test event of a new element to a discipline; an Exhibition event of the 7th parachuting competitive discipline and a Demonstration event of a "new" discipline.


1. & 2.   Freefall Style and Accuracy Landings - Senior and Junior World Championships

The first World Championships in Accuracy Landing took place in 1951 in Bled, Yugoslavia and is considered one of the "classic" parachuting disciplines coupled with Freefall Style. Accuracy measures the canopy (parachute) handling capabilities of the competitor, testing their skill in controling their parachute making it possible for them to land on the 2cm disc in the center of the electronic measuring device to score 0 points – at the end of 10 rounds (competition) the person with the lowest score is the winner.

The first point of contact with the earth is measured from this given point. Even though this point has varied in size over the years; from a 15cm  before 1969 to a 10cm disc, down to 5cm, then 3cm and today's 2cm the top competitors still manage to score 0’s over multiple rounds.


 The competitors jump as a team of 5, leaving the aircraft 1000 mts foot placementabove the target area, allowing time between each exit to give a clear approach for landing. The target area is marked by a 20m radius from the centre of the target and the team captain is responsible for deciding the actual point of exit. He needs to take into account the wind speed and direction over the target area including any changes in either speed or direction during the 1000 mts of descent. The score of each competitor is recorded for the individual competition, but for the team event, the best four count.  

Today’s competitors jump with special shoes, where the heel of the leading foot is shaved to form a small wedge so as not to overstep the 2cm disc. All scores are electronically recorded in concentric circles of 1cm to a maximum of 16cm by use of an electronically sensitive landing pad, set on a larger soft “tuffet” landing area.

Freefall Style is the discipline where a competitor’s individual freefall skill is tested. In this event each athlete competes individually – it  really is  the skydiving equivalent of the loneliness of the long distance runner.

A demanding freefall exercise of specified turns and loops executed very precisely at speed, and under tight control. Each competitor is timed from the start of the “series” to the end and time points are added for penalties such as a turn completed off heading or a loop deviating from the axis. The competitor with the lowest total time at the end of the 5 rounds of competition is the winner. The performance is recorded using a very high powered camera on the ground, the competitor leaving the aircraft at 2200 mts and after a few seconds to build up speed commence their sequence. The world record time is currently 5.18 sec (Male) and 6.10 sec (Female). The panel of judges judge from the recording media.TJ 1

When an athlete’s individual accuracy result and style result are combined together this gives an overall score and position in relation to other competitors, and so an Overall Champion can be declared - an athlete that shows mastery of both Freefall and Canopy Handling. And when a team’s individual scores are combined for both events, a winning Overall Nation can be declared.

Men and Women have always competed separately in these two events; and since 1988 there has been a Junior event when the first Junior competition was held in Nykoping, Sweden as part of the main world championships that year. The first seperate Junior championships was held in 1999 in Austria -  Junior Freefall Style and Accuracy Landings World Championships   there has been a Junior event since for both genders.

The greatest number of World Champions of all the skydiving disciplines occur in this event with 16 being decided in Dubai this year.


Bruno Brokken-70903.    Formation Skydiving

The next Skydiving Competitive event to appear in the calendar was a team event, wholly relating to freefall and the display of team flying skills. Formation Skydiving has developed since it first appeared in the competitions calendar in 1975 in Warendorf, Germany. Today it consists of 4 different elements; 8-way, 4-way, 4-way Female and Vertical Formation Skydiving.

The first three concern teams of either 8 or 4 plus their camera flyer performing a series of pre-determined patterns (formations) in a repetitive sequence whilst flying in a face to earth configuration. Each event has a “working time” within which to repeat the sequence as many times as possible. They are judged on the number of correctly completed figures they make, and the team with the highest number at the end of 10 rounds of competition will be declared the winner.  All of their work is recorded by the camera-flyer, and the panel of judges sit in front of a screen and make their individual decisions.

In 2009 the “new” event of Vertical Formation Skydiving (team of 4 + camera-flyer) joined the discipline. This tests the skills of the freefalling team in preforming pre-determined patterns (formations) in a repetitive sequence whilst flying either head to earth or feet to earth as the formation demands. Whilst the 8-way, 4-way and Vertical Formation Skydiving have always been open events, to encourage more female participation in 2001 the first World Championships for Formation Skydiving 4-Way Female was held, and has remained in the calendar since proving to be a very popular event, and certainly achieved its objective of encouraging more female participation.

In Dubai there will be 4 new World Championships declared.


 CF2008 34.   Canopy Formations

Whilst the freefallers were happy with their new competition the canopy flyers in the skydiving community developed their skills beyond just the ability to land with pinpoint accuracy: and with the advent of the then new “square” canopies, which flew, as opposed to descend, the opportunity to develop a new discipline; Canopy Formations was born. So, in 1986 Toogoolawah, Australia hosted the 1st World Championships in Canopy Formations. Today we have three events in the Canopy Formations competitive calendar. 2-way and 4-way Formations, and 4-way Rotations.

All involve canopy flyers linking their parachutes together to form a predetermined sequence. With 2-way and 4-way Formations, these take the form of different patterns (formations) in much the same way that the freefallers in Formation Skydiving do, only these are Canopy Formations. Again the performance is recorded by a camera-flyer and submitted, once the team has landed, to the judges for their evaluation. 4-way Rotations involve the team in forming a “stack” i.e. one parachute on top of the other, and then the top parachutist coming off the stack and rejoining it at the bottom, i.e. rotating the stack. This is done as many times as possible within the working time.    

One of the big plus points for this discipline is that it is visible from the ground, and so the viewing public can enjoy the excitement of the competition and see it for themselves.   This discipline lends itself well as a demonstration event taking place at showgrounds and fairs during the summer months, and is practiced by many of the military “display” teams, who then compete at World Championships for their countries. In Dubai 3 World Champions will be decided.


5.  Para Ski

Meanwhile, in the Alpine region of Europe, a sport which appeared to be a “summer” sport took on a very different complexion when combined with the winter sport ofParaski landing skiing. Developing out of the alpine rescue service the discipline of Para Ski arrived. This combination discipline brings together an athlete's ability to ski a grand slalom course (twice) and handle their parachute to accurately land on an “accuracy” target, only in this event that target is laid out on a slope.

The first world championships was held in 1987 in Sarajevo (then in Yugoslavia). In Dubai Para Ski will be a Demonstration Event, allowing all skydiving competitive disciplines to take place together. However, the ski-slope in Dubai cannot replicate the length of a Giant Slalom course. Competitors will actually make 4 runs of the ski slope, the first two being combined to form Run 1 and the next two to form Run 2.

Winners will be declared for both Male and Female as Individuals, Teams either mixed gender or female for both senior and junior competitors, Junior (born after 1988) individual both Male and Female, and Master (born before 1962) individual both Male and Female.


6.  Artistic Events

With such a young sport in the context of a world time-frame there is constant development, new ideas, new skills, and with the speed of today’s technological development, new equipment.   In the 1990’s young, artistically inclined athletes pushed the limits of the individual freefall envelope presented by the “classic” Freefall Style discipline. With the increasing ability of cameraflyers to capture and add to the performance of an individual freefall performer, Freestyle developed and along with Skysurfing (no longer a competitive element) the Artistic Events Competitive Disciplines were formalised. The first World Championships was held in 1997 hosted by Turkey in Efes.

Today Artistic Events consist of two elements, Freestyle (where men and women compete in an open competition) and the team consists of the performer and cameraflyer. The result is judged not only on the skills of both athletes, but also on the artistic presentation of the visual image. It is impossible to quantify the supreme skills presented by both athletes – try to imagine a combination of ballet, high diving, gymnastic floor skills, trampolining put together in an ice dance style complete planned performance, whilst descending from 3960 m. with a working time of 45 seconds.  

Yet further development came with a team event; now two performers using all the flying freefall skills, along with their cameraflyer, present a programme of artistic manoeuvers during their 45 seconds working time. This event is entitled Freefly and forms the second of the Artistic Events. Dubai will be the 9th World Championships in Artistic Events and World Champions will be declared in each event and neither is gender specific.


 7.   Canopy Piloting

The newest competitive discipline to enter the skydiving family is Canopy Piloting, often called “Swooping”. Again this grew out of technological development, in this case, of smaller, faster, canopies. These enabled athletes to preform flying “tricks” with their canopies other than simply controlling the descent onto a target. Swooping into a ditch and lifting the canopy to fly out again. This is the Formula 1 of skydiving, a fast and furiously exciting discipline. Consisting of three skill elements, Speed, Distance and Accuracy a World Champion will be declared in each with the combination score giving us an Overall World Champion. Again this modern discipline is not gender specific, although it has to be said that currently there are not many female competitors. Dubai will be the 4th World Championship, the first being held in first being held in Vienna Austria in 2006.

Performed over water, the largest “Swoop” pond in the world has been built in Dubai to showcase this crowd pleasing competition. Although the large screens in the arena will enable the public to see and watch the freefall elements of all the different competitions, it is Canopy Piloting which is the most visually “in your face” attraction. In addition to the three skill elements there will a Competition Test Event of Freestyle Canopy Piloting where each athlete will perform a combination of canopy flying “tricks” while flying down the length of the pond. They will be judged on the skills and complexity of performance, giving an artistic element to a canopy flying discipline.


8.  Speed Skydiving

And as if all this was not enough Dubai will host the first demonstration of Speed Skydiving at an FAI/IPC event. This event measures the speed of a skydiver over a vertical kilometre – competitors exit the aircraft at 4,000 metres and their speed of descent between 2,700 m and 1,700 m is recorded electronically on a special device mounted on the competitor. The current records for the fastest speeds recorded are held by Christian Labhart, Switzerland of 526.93 km/h and Clare Murphy, Great Britain of 442.73 km/h.

The story of Skydiving as a competitive sport continues and the story of the Mondial in Dubai can only get more exciting as the clock winds down towards such a tremendous event in the calendar of the sky.

On the 15th April 2012 the Dubai Mondial Web Site was launched along with the Logo.

Susan Dixon
IPC Media Liaison Officer
17th April 2012