This past month Skyventure Montreal hosted the 2nd FAI World Championship of Indoor Skydiving. Teams from all over the world were battling it out for glory.
While this competition is the top tier of flying, there are a lot of local competitions in which anyone can participate. Here I will outline how competitions usually work and what you can expect when watching or competing.
Formation Skydiving (FS) & Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS)
Although they’re very different disciplines, I grouped these two together since they follow the same structure. Before any of the rounds start, every team has to do a speed check. This is a rotation in the tunnel in which the team flies together to agree on a wind speed, they cannot change it after the competition rounds have started. For 2 way VFS only there are two speeds taken, one for belly/back and one for head up/head down. By this time the draw has usually been made. A draw is a set of formations (3-6) that have been drawn randomly from a pool of formations. These formations are outlined in the rules before the competition starts and are specific to each discipline and level.
Next, the competition rounds are flown. There are usually 6 or more draws and these are all flown without the teams being able to practice before. Usually, each team gets 35 seconds of working time, which means they will be scored only on points made within those 35 seconds. Judges score watching the video replay of each team. If the formations weren’t done correctly points are either nulled or deducted from the final score depending on the infraction.
Dynamic competitions consist of two types of rounds: speed and free routine. Speed rounds are basically a race and are very complicated, but I’ll try my best to explain them. There is a certain set of moves that must be made within set parameters inside the tunnel. These parameters include two sets of vertical lights that go from the net to the top of the glass and two sets of rings. In some moves, the rings are used to judge whether fliers went high enough or low enough in the tunnel. The lights are used to see whether the fliers crossed all the way to the other side of the tunnel with every move as outlined in the rules. Free routines are judged the same way as Freestyle but coordination is taken into account.
Three judges usually score Dynamic. During speed rounds one judge is making sure that the moves are done correctly, another is watching the lines, and another is watching the rings. If a flier busts (makes a mistake in any part of the move) five seconds are added to their final time.
This is the most audience engaging discipline. Freestyle is the only competition where there are no teams, just single performers. Basically, they show off their best moves in the cleanest and most flowing fashion possible.
However, not everyone has the same style, which makes the judges’ job very very hard. It would be like having a dance competition but you had to judge ballet and breakdancing under the same category; sure, both of them are amazing in their own way and require a supreme amount of skill, but they are hardly similar.
This article was written by Nico Gonzalez, instructor & coach at iFly Westchester and indoor skydiving ninja extraordinaire. Nico has been an indoor skydiving coach and instructor since 2014. He placed first in open freestyle at the Woodlands IBA Competition in 2016 and competes year round. He also runs an amazing podcast dedicated to indoor skydiving: ostrichflight.com