The sport of skydiving, already adventurous in its own right, boasts several parachute games and competitions that test the skill and expertise of pros and daredevils alike.
Skydiving may not be traditional Olympic sport, but participants interested in parachute games can find contests and competitions held annually in various parts of the world. The International World Games Association, which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, sponsors skydiving competitions.
The 2005 World Games, which were held in Duisburg, Germany, included many parachuting events. Participants competed in canopy piloting, formation skydiving, freeflying, freestyle stunts, and accuracy landing events. Just as in the traditional Olympic games, gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to the individuals or teams placing first, second, and third in these skydiving games. Skydiving has also been included in the x-games, which hosts competitions for “extreme sports.”
Speed skydiving is one type of “extreme” parachute games in which jumpers exit an aircraft at 13,000 feet and then accelerate in a vertical, head-first position into a measuring zone, which begins at 8,850 feet and extends to 5,570 feet. Altimeters attached to the racing skydivers measure average speeds across the measuring zone.
Skysurfing and BASE jumping are two skydiving games that are gaining in popularity. Skysurfing, which can be extremely dangerous – especially for inexperienced skydivers – involves the use of a small board (similar to a snowboard) attached to the jumper’s feet. With this board, skysurfers can try radical maneuvers not otherwise possible. Participants can kick the board loose just prior to landing; some experienced skysurfers are able to land with the board still attached to their feet and glide to a stop. Only very experienced skydivers should choose to participate in skysurfing and should only do so after speaking with people who have tried skysurfing. Classes and instructional videos are available from some skysurfers and from board manufacturers.
“BASE” stands for Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), and Earth (cliffs) – fixed objects that skydivers jump from rather than from aircraft. BASE jumping is one parachute game that relatively inexperienced skydivers may try; however, there are some limitations. First, finding a place where BASE jumping is legal can be difficult. Second, although extensive skydiving experience is not necessary, BASE jumpers must ensure that they are skilled in parachute packing and canopy control and should have sharp reflexes and good body-position awareness.