Wayne's World

3 November 2017

Written by: Nick Wake - Marketing Director, iFLY UK

Wayne Loxton is Director of the International Bodyflight Association, the trade body for Indoor Skydving. The premier event of the year in Wayne's world is the World Championships which have just taken place in Montreal, Canada. Here's what Wayne had to say about them:

What was the highlight of the event?
There were many memorable performances including the France 4 Way Vertical Formation Skydiving Team beating the 3 times world Champions, Team USA; Leo Volkov’s (Russia) inspirational musical Freestyle routine that was then mimicked superbly by the UK’s Jamie Arnold (6th); the UK Female 4 Way Formation Skydiving team taking Silver; and the drama of the tie-break review decision that saw the French 4 Way Dynamic Team beat The Mad Ravens from The Czech Republic in the final. However, the highlight for me was the number of Junior Flyers and their exceptional level of skill.

Kyra PoKyrah Poh from Singapore was as brilliant as ever and took first place in the Junior Freestyle event, but she did not have it all her own way and was outscored twice by 13-year-old Kaleigh Wittenburg from the USA, who took second. Poland’s Andrzej Soltyk was in third, but he also paired up with his coach Josh Ruiz-Velasco (from iFLY Seattle) to take the Gold medal in the 2 Way Dynamic Open event. I would say that he was probably the athlete of the Championships and another example of a Junior Flyer beating the seniors on the world stage.

What was the biggest surprise?
France 4 Way Vertical Formation Skydiving beating the USA, even though the USA beat the world record score of 56 points in round 7. Unfortunately, the USA started the event with two disastrous rounds early on, losing 14 points over France, and never really recovered.

Anything not go to plan?
The meet was perfectly organised by Melanie L'Guerin and her team at the Skyventure tunnel in Montreal. The Judging of some of the events was difficult at times, but that is to be expected as the sport is still finding its place and is evolving with exceptional advancements in performance. There was a great post-event review with some positive actions to progress this area.

What does the event say about the health of Indoor Skydiving? Does it take us any closer to Indoor Skydiving being recognised as an Olympic Sport?
250 plus competitors is very healthy and the number of Junior flyers continues to grow. It is however, unsurprisingly largely dominated by a small elite of outdoor skydivers and the challenge is how to bridge the gap and make it affordable for Juniors to progress to make the sport of Indoor Skydiving, or “Bodyflight” as many prefer to call l it, their sport of choice.

The Olympic dream is still accessible, but there is a long way to go to meet the criteria, not least the mumber of nations that the sport is accessible to. The French Parachuting Federation is lobbying heavily with the Paris Olympic Organising Committee for inclusion in the 2024 games and we would love to see Indoor Skydiving there as a demo sport. 

Where to next from a competition viewpoint?
The overall number of competitions is increasing every year. The next big event will be in Lyon, France in January 18, closely followed by The Wind Games in Spain. The next challenge is to unite these events under a single organisation that better supports the growth of the sport. The IBA and iFLY is committed to this and we are already talking to competition organisers, judges and athletes to see how we might move this concept forward.

For those new to the sport:

Indoor Skydiving competitions comprise 4 main disciplines. Formation Skydiving requires teams of 4 to fly in a horizontal position relative to the wind and join up to complete as many different formations as possible within 35 seconds. The required formations change each time and the top teams will score between 28 and 45 points. Vertical Formation Skydiving follows the same format, but the teams are required to fly in a vertical position relative to the wind, in either a head-up or head- down position; the top teams complete between 25 and 45 formations although a world record of 56 was set at this event. Freestyle is one of the Artistic events and solo flyers will perform routines that will include technical compulsory moves and free routines that are often flown to music - in this way it’s like gymnastics. The final discipline of Dynamic Flying is unique to the wind tunnel environment and it requires teams of either 2 or 4 to fly set patterns of flight moves as fast as they can – in effect it is a race and that they can be penalised for taking short cuts. In addition, they also complete free routines with complex tricks that can also be set to music, and the winner is the team that combines these 2 aspects the best.