America’s Largest Skydiving Competition Returns to Arizona’s Valley of the Sun

OMG you guys, did you know about this? We totally didn’t, because we’re not one of two skydiving publications in the United States. I’m so relieved that, for the third year in a row, USPA’s PR company J Walcher sent us a press release to notify us. Whew. Thank God we didn’t miss out on the high-flying drama. I know, I’ve been totally holding out on you guys by not posting this the last couple years. I’m selfish that way.

PD New Beginning

America’s Largest Skydiving Competition Returns to Arizona’s Valley of the Sun

2012 U.S. Parachute Association National Skydiving Championships Set to Launch Outside Phoenix October 25 to November 3

FREDERICKSBURG, VA – August 8, 2012 – America’s most exciting atmospheric action sport returns to Arizona this fall for the largest annual skydiving competition in the world: the 2012 United States Parachute Association (USPA) National Skydiving Championships October 25 to November 3 at Skydive Arizona, which has hosted the event many times in the past.

More than 500 of the country’s finest, fastest, most fearless aerial athletes will flock to Arizona to take the plunge and push their skydiving skills to the limit, competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in five spectacular disciplines: Formation Skydiving (4-way, 8-way, 10-way and 16-way events), Artistic Events (which include stunning Freeflying and Freestyle), Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing (also known as “the classics”), Canopy Formation and Vertical Formation Skydiving. See descriptions of disciplines below.

Skydive Arizona, an expansive skydiving resort located midway between Phoenix and Tucson amid the sprawling and beautiful Sonoran Desert, will host this exhilarating showcase of parachuting proficiency.

Look for high drama this year, as members of the U.S. Parachute Team—the country’s top aerial athletes in each discipline—have their final opportunity to show what they’ve got before heading to Dubai, UAE, at the end of November for the World Parachuting Championships. Also, in the classics event, U.S. Team member Cheryl Stearns, who recently reached 19,000 jumps—a U.S. record for most jumps for a female—looks to hold onto her national champion title. And in vertical formation skydiving, hometown favorite and multiple national champion Arizona Arsenal will try to regain the title after settling for silver the past two years behind the polished SDC Standard team from Chicago.

The championships are free and open to the public. From sunrise to sunset each day, sports fans and spectators can catch the adrenaline-pumping action happening thousands of feet above the drop zone on video monitors, as well as view hundreds of colorful canopies filling the sky and thousands of dramatic landings as competitors swoop swiftly, gracefully back to earth. Between jumps, visitors can experience the rush of competition first-hand and hang with the pros as they train and practice choreographed moves on the ground called “dirt dives.”

The schedule of events/competitions, many of which will be held concurrently during 10 intense days of nonstop action, includes (subject to change based on weather and flying conditions):

October 25-28                         Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing            

October 26-28                         Vertical Formation Skydiving

October 29-November 1         4-Way and 8-Way Formation Skydiving

October 30-November 3         Canopy Formation

November 1-3                         10-Way and 16-Way Formation Skydiving

November 1-3                         Artistic Events (Freeflying and Freestyle)


About USPA

Founded in 1946, the United States Parachute Association is a non-profit association dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving nationwide, establishing strict safety standards, training policies and programs at more than 200 USPA-affiliated skydiving schools and centers throughout the United States. Each year, USPA’s 34,000-plus members and hundreds of thousands of first-time jump students make approximately 3 million jumps in the U.S. USPA represents skydivers before all levels of government, the public and the aviation industry and sanctions national skydiving competitions and records.

For more information on making a first jump or to find a skydiving center near you, visit or call 800-371-USPA.


Skydiving Disciplines

2012 USPA National Skydiving Championships

(Photos and video of each skydiving discipline are available upon request.)


  • Artistic Events:
  • o   Freeflying – A radical, truly three-dimensional competition where three-person teams freefall together in every imaginable orientation, usually upright or upside-down.
  • o   Freestyle – Most akin to aerial ballet, with a jumper performing a graceful dance in freefall.

A large portion of the score in all artistic events is how well the freefall camera flyer, who is part of the team, captures and presents the performance.

  • Canopy Formation: Teams of two and four deploy their parachutes immediately after exiting the plane and are timed as they build formations with their open parachutes, holding onto each other’s canopies.
  • Formation Skydiving: Sometimes referred to as “belly-flying,” teams in the 4-, 8-, 10- and 16-way events race against the clock as they form prescribed geometric formations in freefall before opening their parachutes.
  • Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing: Referred to as “the classics,” style and accuracy are skydiving’s oldest disciplines. In style, an individual jumper performs a pre-determined series of loops and spins in freefall as quickly as possible. For accuracy, a jumper under his parachute tries to land on a dime-sized dot on a landing tuffet. Combining their standings in each category determines the overall winner.
  • Vertical Formation Skydiving: A branch of freeflying that involves four competitors building a series of formations in a mix of upright and head-down vertical body positions.


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Sandy Young

J. Walcher Communications


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