The story of the Canadian Teams in 4-way Open and VFS is the story of one man’s “passion” and started in the late 1970’s. Michel Lemay made his first jump and became a “skydiving addict” – becoming a World Cup champion in 4-way in 1983. After a while he started his own drop-zone and a family.
In 2008 the “family” became the Canadian 4-way open team – Evolution: representing their country at the World Championships in Maubeuge, France that year and in Menzelinsk, Russia in 2010 and Dubai, U.A.E. this year.
Michel is joined on the team by his three sons, Martin (27), Vincent (24) and Benoit (21). All three boys made their first skydives (AFF) just before their 15th birthdays, having made several tandem jumps and spent time in the tunnel making training and coaching visits to Orlando and Skydive Arizona.
In 2006 Michel and his two oldest sons represented Canada in the FS 4-way Open event at the World Championships in Gera, Germany and on their return to Canada the team was completed by Benoit.
After his arrival the family project really took off. After only 100 training jumps the family team posted an 18.7 average at their first Canadian Nationals. During the following winter the family moved to DeLand, Florida and trained full-time with Shannon Pilcher. Since 2007 the family team have represented Canada at the 2008 and 2010 World Championships, the 2009 World Games, and the Dubai International Parachuting Championships 2010, as well as the Canadian Nationals.
In April 2009, thanks to the hard work of Michel and his partners, Sky Venture built a wind tunnel 10 minutes from the family home. A close friend asked the three brothers if they were interested in forming a VFS team – Yes was the reply from all three, and the intense work began on their individual “head down” flying skills – it worked and at the Canadian Nationals 2011 the team competed and won both the 4-way Open and the VFS events.
Evolution – the name of the team – goes to Dubai with the determination to do better than average in both events – they have evolved and are now looking to achieve their best performance on the huge world stage of the Mondial.
France’s Delegation cannot boast quite such an amazing story, but they too have their family affairs. France’s 4-way open team have two brothers Mathieu and Guillaume Bernier and their cousin Brice Bernier is on the Canopy Piloting team; Virginie and Cathy Bouette, Artistic Events, Freefly are sisters, whilst Oliver Henaff videographer for the 4-way Open’s brother, Ronan Henaff is on the Accuracy Landings and Freefall Style team.
Skydiving must be in the genes. In Switzerland mother and daughter compete together, Erica and Christina Franz are on the Accuracy Landings and Para-Ski team.
I’m sure there are more “family” stories amongst the other delegations – let me know them and we can publish them here.
Meanwhile the World Skydiving family continues to send me their stories – and here are those from the Delegations that I have received so far:
Aero Sports Federation of China (ASFC) will have a 44-person delegation in Dubai, UAE. This is the first time, in China’s parachuting history that ASFC has organizing such a large skydive group. And what it is so special is that this event is going to be happening in Asia.
China’s delegation will compete in Accuracy Landings & Freefall Style event –Male, Female and Junior; 4-way Formation Skydiving event – Open and Female; Canopy Formation events—2-way Sequential and 4-way Rotations.
Our Head of Delegation is Madam Li Zhengmei, Executive Vice President of ASFC and Vice President of the FAI, is very keep to promote air sports in China. Under her leadership, ASFC not only strengthened its position and the function of air sports all over China, but, in the past 5 years, has conducted many influential China International Airsports Festivals (CIAF) which combined many events together. Many airports friends from other countries were invited to CIAFs, demonstrated their best skills to China Air Sports People and spectators. What is special and worth mentioning is that, under Madam Li’s great effort and the support of the China Sports Ministry, ASFC has obtained a 700 million RMB (about 110 million US dollars) budget no-refundable from the China Ministry of Finance to purchase 35 aeroplanes for the Sport of parachuting. These 35 aeroplanes will cover PC-6, Cessna 208, Yun-12 (similar to a Twin Otter) and some helicopters. This project will be done over 5 year to replace all the An-2s currently used for parachuting in China. At the same time, ASFC is cooperating with provincial sports bureaus and air sports federations to developed many general aviation airports which are mostly used for parachuting now. With the new aeroplanes purchased, ASFC is exploring more potential DZ’s in China. So, you can imagine what the skydiving situation will be in China in the future with all the efforts being made by ASFC.
Our Accuracy Landings and Freefall Style: The Female Team is one of the strongest teams in the world. At many FAI 1st Category Events the China Female team has won the individual medals and the team first place. Our Male Team is a mixture of experienced and young jumpers. The competitors come from different Air Sports Schools all over China and aim to get the very best possible results at the Mondial. Our Accuracy Landings Junior competitors all have over 1500 jumps; this is their first time competing at a World Championships.
Formation Skydiving 4-Way Open team all come from the Hubei provincial Air Sports School and this is their third World Championships. Their goal is to improve their performance, obtain the best results possible and learn from the other teams. 4-way Female team is entering their first Category 1 event and they hope to learn from the best teams and make progress.
Canopy Formations Both the 4-way Rotations and 2-way Sequential teams are from the Hunan Provincial Air Sports School. They have spent 2 months over the past two years training in the USA under Chris Gay and achieved great progress. They are very young CF jumpers and this is their first time at a 1st Category event. They, like all the other athletes on China’s delegation hope to achieve their best possible results and learn as much as they can from the best in the world.
China’s parachuting delegation wishes the Mondial 2012 a great success.
Brazil – With the largest ever delegation from this country, and the largest of their continent here is what Brazil has to say about themselves:
Canopy Piloting (by Fabio Pelayo)
Brazil has always had the athlete Marat Leiras as the principal representative of the sport of Canopy Piloting, but in recent years other Brazilian athletes have also participated in world events: Kalay Marques, Manoel Neto and Edson Pacheco. Lately the sport has grown in Brazil not only with the number of athletes but also technical quality. At the 3rd DIPC in Dubai December 2011 Brazil competed for the first time with a full team of 8 athletes.
2012 has been a successful year for Brazilian competitors, 1st and 2nd place in the Test Event for the World Games, Cali, Columbia: Kalay Marques and Marat Leiras. And in October at the Latin American Championships in Chile, 1st and 2nd again: Marat Leiras and Manoel Neto. Brazil is competing in Dubai, for the first time at a 1st Category Event, with a complete team of 8 competitors and is hoping for good results.
Artistic Events (by Paulo Perini)
The modality of Freefly in Brazil has always been a big challenge for Brazilian skydivers. Between 1998 and 2003 we had a few teams competing internationally, but this meant a lot of world travel for team training, information and to improve their skills. After the World Cup 2004 in Brazil the discipline died. Without support or sponsors more and more athletes decided to invest in individual training. The cost of travel and ability of competitors to train in a “tunnel” Brazilian skydivers lost their competitive motivation.
In the last couple of years however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Freefly amongst Brazilian jumpers, prepared to spend time and money to travel, enter competition, train and improve their skills without exterior support or sponsorship (other than equipment provided by UPT Vector and L&B) and in Dubai there will be 2 Freefly teams, Flyfactory Team and Test Dummies (Team 1 and Team 2) for the first time in 8 years there will be Brazilian Freefly teams at an FAI/IPC 1st Category event. They hope they can learn a lot and bring back to Brazil information and motivation for future freeflyers.
Formation Skydiving 4-Way Open (by Fabio Pelayo)
For 10 years team Optimum-CTR, with changing line-ups, has won the Brazil National Championships (the last two with the existing line-up): Andre Ferraz, Fabio Diniz, Guillermo Gorg and Kalley Clementino cameraflyer. In preparation for the National Championships and Dubai the team entered other competitions, starting in DeLand, one on their home DZ and then the Nationals and have increased their average at each event. They are looking to achieve 17.5 to 18.0 in Dubai. This will be the 3rd World Championships for the team, having entered Gera, Germany 2006 and Maubeuge, France 2008.
United States of America
Their delegation consists of 60+ of the best skydivers in all disciplines in the USA.
Formation Skydiving – 4-way Female
The team from the Golden Knights has been together for 2 years and recently won the Bronze Medal in the National Championships (late October) being the first time in the US Nationals 50+ year history that an all female team has earned a medal in the 4-way Open event. The theme of the “family affair” continues - Angela Nichols started jumping 18 years ago on her 18th birthday with her father and now has almost 10,000 jumps. Her team members are: Dannielle Woosley (3,000+ jumps), married with two small children; Jen Schaben, engaged to one of the Golden Knights on the 8-way team (Matt Davidson) and Laura Dickmeyer (3,200+ jumps) who started skydiving as an extra credit assignment in her high school physics class!
Vertical Formation Skydiving:
Team SDC Standard is representing the U.S. having just won the National Championships for the 3rd consecutive time. Rook Nelson, Mickey Nuttall, Will Pesek, Jason Peters and cameraflyer Dalton Samuelson make up the team. At the 2012 National Championships the guest team Dubai Nexus were tough competition, beating them by a single point. However as a guest team Dubai Nexus could not receive a medal. After the medal ceremony SDC Standard called Dubai Nexus up to the podium and handed them their Gold Medals with the comment “We weren’t the best team here today”. Who will win in Dubai?
Artistic Events – Freeflying
Based in Southern California the team SoCal Converge has just won the US National Championships for a record 4th time and includes Travis Feinhage (10,000+ jumps); Matt Lewis (5,000 + jumps) and Andy Mclchiodi (9,000 + jumps) all work as professional skydivers.
Accuracy Landings & Freefall Style
The legendary Cheryl Stearns is part of the U.S. women’s team. She recently set the U.S. national record for the most jumps (female) with 19,000 skydives.
The US Canopy Piloting team includes Nick Batsch, currently the World Performance record holder for Distance, set in 2011, of 222.45 meters, and the new Competition World Distance record set at the US Nationals 2012 of 151.95 meters.
The world skydiving family is expanding and this must be due to the hard work and enthusiasm of individuals who have formed continental associations to encourage neighbouring countries to join the FAI and participate in First Category Events; ASIANA has been with us some time and so we have entries from China, Singapore, Thailand as well as Australia and New Zealand, and the Gulf States; COLPAR brings Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and the following article tells the African (AAF) story:
“Let me introduce myself : My name is Yousry Elshamaa ,I was an officer in Egyptian army (paratrooper) from 1965. and the President of the Egyptian Sports Parachuting & Aeronautic Federation (E S P A F) from 2004 to 2010 .
This federation, established in Mars 1981 in Egypt (N A C). During this period me and my board of directors established the African Air Sports Federation (A F F) April 2006 in Egypt. I am the president of this federation, we have 8 African members which are Egypt, Kenya, Singal, Morocco, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Sudan , all of them are F A I members but some of them did not pay the fee but they will do soon, Singal and Sudan only is not F A I member and I will do my best to make them F A I members as soon as possible but you know the situation is not easy in their countries .
About the Mondial- as you know there were 4 of AAF members who want to attend with their teams, especially Algerian which had the Gold Medal in the last championship but unfortunately they did not pay the last 4 years fees, we try to make them attend but we can’t and Libya which sent all what you need from them and pay the fees but the organize committee cannot accept them because they are not F A I member. I know that statutes is not sent but I will help them. By the way I told the African Federation Presidents to attend this event, I hope they can.
By the way you must know that our teams which attend this event are Egypt and Morocco- they attend many championships and they get many medals in Dubai ,K S A, Malaysia .and China .”
Even the established heartland of skydiving, Europe (no I’m not forgetting America) is changing and new countries emerging from the break-up of the old USSR expand the family further. Estonia have sent me their story –
“Writing on behalf of the Estonian delegation, I am the wife of the 'tail' of our FS team. Let me first say that we are extremely excited and happy to participate in this magnificent event and cannot wait to get to Dubai!
Our 4-way FS team LupusEST is the only team from Estonia to participate at the Mondial. Skydiving as a sport is still pretty much in its infancy in Estonia, and we could really call our team the pioneers in the sport, as it is the first time ever Estonian NAC has sent a competitor to the World Championships. We will try to do out best to make it worth their while :) The team has been together for two years and this will be their second bigger-scale competition after last year's European Championships/World Cup in Germany. As I am writing this, the they are busy training in yet another tunnel camp in Bedford. It can be seen (especially in our family budget :) that the team is really motivated and working hard on improving their average. By the way, one of the main goals at the Mondial will also be to establish a new national record.
Due to the weather in Estonia, which is very skydiver-hostile, and serious financial issues (they pay for all their jumps and tunnel camps themselves), the team really isn't able to jump as much as they would like to. Adding to that, the tail now moved to Belgium, making the training process even more challenging. However, the guys are really motivated and love what they do, so they have made long-term plans to stick with it and try to improve their ranking and average.
The team is comprised of Peeter-Paul 'Wolli' Mõtsküla (cameraman) – the establisher and first president of the first modern skydiving club in Estonia (established in 1998); Anton Sigal (point) – the current president of same club; Kristiina 'Kiku' Kasemets (outside center) – the first (and so far the only) female tandem-master (and AFF instructor) in Estonia; Kaido 'Kaic' Raudvere – first AFF instructor in Estonian Defence Forces and leader of military skydiving; and Marko Rink (inside center) – the first AFF instructor in Estonia. Thus – true skydiving pioneers, as I said :
Our delegation also includes probably the youngest delegate of the Mondial – our daughter, who is travelling with us, will be 6 weeks old when the competition starts. Hopefully the atmosphere at the dropzone will instil the love for skydiving in her from the very beginning. Then one day maybe we can have our own FS4 team. That is, if for some reason I decide to give up on freefly and become a belly-flyer as well :
You can find out more about us on our web-site: www.lupusest.net
Please keep the stories coming, I will add them to this site to personalise this stupendous competition – I really am beginning to get the feeling that all roads lead to DUBAI. See you in a couple of weeks!