Sometimes I go through my boxes of old skydiving T-shirts and I find some that bring me back special memories. Like that one, which is exactly 20 years old and that same event is happening right now. "U.S. Nationals Championships 1997 at Skydive Perris”: the first competition I shot outside Latin America, where lots of things started for me. I got a bronze medal for competing with the local 10-way speed star team and I was given it by the one and only Bj Worth (I was able to join his amazing "World Team" and be part of their multiple records and events two years later).
Since I was a very dedicated camera flyer, who wanted to practice as much as I could, the nationals were the best place to be. They set up a group of videographers to form a pool, and teams could compete without having a camera flyer of their own. It was perfect for the teams, and also for us, so we would have a chance to shoot all kinds of FS teams in 4,8,10&16 ways during the whole week long.
After Perris, I did the ’98 Nationals at SKYDIVE ARIZONA, and the pool was organized by Brent Finley, a very cool guy from whom I have learned a lot. I also had the chance to shoot one of the US Army Golden Knights 4-way team. The next one was in ’99, held at Skydive Sebastian. I had to deal with lens fogging issues and stand byes but had my first opportunity to do outside camera for the Arizona Airspeed team, an incredible honor for me.
Interestingly enough, the year 2000, back in Perris, brought some changes regarding the rules, and from then on, the camera flyer was a part of the team, and as a foreigner, I couldn’t join US teams. But, after been at 3 Nationals, and going through 3 different video dubbing rooms (where the cameramen downloaded their videos to the judges), I had the chance to run my first one. A room in a trailer, with a couple of tables and white tubes light, means zero ambiance...
After that, the Videolounge came up at the massive 2001 World Championships in Granada, transforming it into a room with a cool atmosphere: music, incense, and low lights, to offer the flyers a better experience (thanks Ripi Ripani for helping me to get that started). Later on, came the World Cups 2002 in SD Empuriabrava Sport Flyers and Croatia '04, before computers took over and they needed IT guys instead of VHS/DVD tapes managers :-)
I retired from FS competitions after shooting the Spanish 4-way team at the 2003 World Champs in France, an amazingly well-run event, by the way. But I do not miss competitions, I prefer to compete with myself, trying to get my next shot to be better than my last one, and shoot events where people play together and not against each other, such as big way records and fly camps.
I feel very grateful for having had the opportunity to experience all that during those years... Thank you all the people who have helped me along the way !!!