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Is Skydiving a Sport?

Licensed Skydivers

If the only interaction you’ve had with skydiving has been what you’ve seen in the movies and a vague familiarity with the basics of tandem skydiving, you might be in for a surprise here. Skydiving is indeed a sport–and a big one, with athletes all over the world and a thrumming, multidisciplinary competitive circuit. Precisely as the dictionary discipline stipulates, skydiving is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”–but it’s way more than that. Let’s get into it Q&A style, shall we?

How long have athletes been practicing the sport of skydiving?

Sport skydiving has been around much longer than you might think. The first acknowledged parachutist on record–Andre Garnerin–made his landmark leap all the way back at the end of the 18th century, when he bailed out of a French hot air balloon with homemade equipment. It wasn’t long before skydiving began to rise in military prominence, allowing pilots to get the heck out of downed planes before they became part of the wreckage. During wartime, soldiers used the equipment to get behind enemy lines–and, eventually, for off-the-front-lines recreation.

It was only in the 1980s, with the invention of the tandem skydiving rig by the magnificent-bearded demigod of the sport who will be introducing you to its use in the standard video, that sport skydiving really took off. By its nature, tandem skydiving effectively introduced loads more potential athletes to the feeling of skydiving–and a maybe-not-so-surprising proportion of these folks signed right up for their licenses. That’s the way it’s been ever since.

Is skydiving a competitive sport?

Very much so. Skydiving competitions bequeath medals at high-profile international events with great regularity. These competitions cover multiple highly specialized disciplines, such as landing accuracy, acrobatic routines in freefall, formation-building and super-speedy canopy routines performed close to the ground. If you want to see what a world-champion skydiving routine looks like, check out this freefly routine performed by the Russian team in 2015, or the King of Swoop invitational event sizzle reel from 2014. That’ll give you the flavor.

Does a sport skydiver have to be, like, an athlete?

Yep. Every sport skydiver is an athlete, from the moment s/he starts down the path to getting that solo skydiving license. From the very beginning, each sport skydiver has to learn a lot of theory and lore, and spend–as in every sport–plenty of time in the trenches to get the basics dialed in. After the initial licensing process, the challenge only builds: the new jumper must choose a discipline to pursue, practice very regularly, optimize her/his fitness in order to stay strong, flexible and safe, hone decision-making and judgment and link up with other athletes to optimize everyone’s skill set. Skydiving is a very athletic pursuit–as well as a spiritual one–and an incredibly rewarding one at that.

Are you ready for us to put you in? It’s game time! Reach out to us at the Texas Skydiving Co. and tell us you’re ready to get your skydiving license. We’ll be waiting with the high-five!

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