The Russian parachute masters have recently dominated at the European Free Fall and Accurate Landing Championships in Serbia.
Ascending to a cruising altitude of 1,000 meters in this sport is followed by a swift freefall back down with virtually no margin for error. The competitors were expected to land on a dime with the “dead center” sweet-spot only two centimeters in diameter. While such consistent precision landings may seem far-fetched to the uninitiated, they are considered to be the fundamentals of the sport.
“Every athlete must always learn the basics of their sport before going any further. Calculating your jump is the most fundamental aspect of parachute sports and safety. That’s why I believe all youngsters should start with the classic parachuting discipline. We’ve got kids coming in at 16 years old, some of whom go on to become Junior World Champions by 20,” explains team Russia head coach Sergey Razomanov.
The individual acrobatics program, meanwhile, requires one to twist and turn in the air at an alarming rate. And simply executing flashy and crisp movements is not enough either.
The judges got the opposite of bird’s-eye view for this event to see if participants can keep as straight of a trajectory as possible while they perform the flips. And like in every sport, being a successful high-flying daredevil requires a specific skill set and personality.
“Besides being brave, I believe anyone participating in the sport must be physically developed and have co-ordination. Volleyball and football definitely help for endurance, while playing billiards will help one make more precise landing calculations,” says Razomanov.
Russian women proved to be the bravest in Serbia, taking the overall honors in dominating fashion. The Czechs showed just a little bit more savvy than the Russians in the men’s event to win gold.
Frenchwoman Deborah Plat-Ferraud, meanwhile, set the world record for her landing precision. Six consecutive landings just one centimeter off put her exactly where she wanted to be every time.
A total of 17 countries took to the skies this time with Russia dominating the event. However, Russia’s main parachuting man hopes for more local support in getting high.
“Humans have always had dreams of reaching for the skies and flying. We created planes and rockets and the sport that we have today is another manifestation of that desire to fly. Hopefully our government will notice and help our efforts, allowing us to raise our level of performance,” says Razomanov.
And while the more grounded sports seem to get more exposure, these daredevils are hoping this competition continues to take off in Russia and worldwide.