When a competitive skydiver earns a U.S. Parachute Team patch and the opportunity to represent their country at a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world skydiving event, they are bound to have an amazing experience. In late August, nine competitors represented the U.S. at the 3rd FAI World Cup of Performance and Acrobatic Wingsuit Flying hosted by Skydive Pull Out Ravenna in Italy. The drop zone, located south of Venice on Italy’s northeastern coast, provided 60 competitors from 18 countries with tremendous hospitality and an extremely competitive event, as well as a terrific view of the Adriatic Sea on every flight. Starting with the beachfront opening ceremonies and continuing through the awards and closing celebration at the drop zone, Meet Director Marco Pistolesi and the owners and staff of Skydive Pull Out provided an event geared toward the competitors.
In the performance event, which had 50 entrants, the three U.S. competitors placed in the top 10: Chris Geiler earned the bronze medal, Alexey Galda placed sixth and Kristian Szczepitko finished ninth. Dmitry Podoryashy of Russia took gold, and Chris Byrnes of Australia took silver. Adding a new twist for this World Cup, the FAI added a team performance event to what was traditionally an individual competition. In this medal event, each country could name three performance flyers to make up a team. With the strong showing of the U.S. performance competitors, Team USA earned the first gold medal in this new FAI competition.
Two U.S. teams—USA1 (Scott Callantine, Jeff Harrigan and Nick Maieritsch) and USA2 (Matt Gerlins, Derek Kramm and Melissa Tsouhnikas)—competed in acrobatic wingsuit flying. USA1 took the silver medal behind gold medalist Team Switzerland. USA2 engaged in an extremely hard-fought battle with Team Russia for the bronze. Although the Russian team prevailed on the last jump to earn the medal, the back-and-forth exchange between the two teams provided an exciting fight-for-the-podium finish that all attending the event watched closely.
The U.S. Team had a great showing at this World Cup, earning podium positions in all three events. The spirit of camaraderie between competitors from all nations was remarkable. It truly made the FAI Wingsuit World Cup 2019 an event to remember. In the end, the spirit of world competition was the overall winner.
Scott Callantine | D-16437
U.S. Wingsuit Team Manager