Who is Amy Chmelecki?
Amy was born on November 3th, 1976 in Westchester County, New York, USA. She is the first skydiver female to be sponsored by RedBull, and is on the Redbull skydiving team. She started to skydive in 1995 and she has many world records and world titles to her name.
Why did you decide to jump for the first time?
From the moment I first heard about freefall I wanted to try it. When I was 18, I went for my first jump. I have never looked back since that day.
Who got you into the sport?
I started with Jeff Provenzano. We went through AFF together. We both worked three jobs during our summer breaks from college to pay for AFF and get our first set of gear. I would say that I was the one that got me into the sport, but I often wonder if my life would look like now if Jeff was not part of it back in the day.
Where did you start and who are the most important people that you will never forget (from the time you started)?
I started at The Ranch in NY. Kim Emerson was my instructor, and I feel so lucky to have had him set the foundation for me. I still think about the things he taught me and apply them to the jumps I do today. Kim and I always keep in touch. He still jumps. I just adore him.
The other person that has been extremely important to me is Jeffro. As I mentioned before, Jeff and I started jumping together. We have been jumping together since then. We are on the Red Bull Air Force together. He has been with me through it all!
What do you do when you are not jumping?
I hang out with my Grandma. She is sitting outside with me now enjoying this sunny, NY afternoon.
How did the partnership with Red Bull start?
About eight years I called the team captain and said, “Jon, you guys need a girl on the team.” He said, “yeah, we do!” Then he started hiring me part-time. After two years of being part-time, they offered me a contract | Red Bull – Shop.
How many jumps do you have?
How long have you been with Red Bull?
I am in my 6th year.
What are the most important things that a skydiver should keep in mind?
What kind of jump do you like the most?
A demo into a cityscape for kids!
Who is your best skydiver partner?
I have a few! Sara Curtis is my partner in crime on all the world records I have organized. She and I own a business together called Broken Records. I absolutely love organizing projects with her. She is a reliable person through and through! Anna Moxnes is one of my favorite people to jump with. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I am in freefall with her. Melissa Nelson Lowe is my OG! Her kind and loving energy inspires me in skydiving and life. And of course Jeff Provenzano, I can’t get enough of that big goofy smile in freefall.
What motivated you to start participating in records?
I enjoy evolution. In skydiving, I see the records as events that mark the growth of the sport. I really love being part of that. Also, the visuals are fantastic!
Which one was your first record attempt? Did you get it?
I was on the first official Vertical World Record. We were attempting a 30-way to start. I was cut and then put back on at the end. We ended up with a 24-way since then.
How many records do you have?
I am not sure how many national records I have. I think I have around 18 world records. The reason it is hard to keep track is that sometimes during one event we get multiple records. All my records are large formation records.
Do you remember how you felt during the first time you were in the middle of a record attempt? How did you use this feeling as an advantage towards your goals?
My first record motivated me to organize my own records. After that first record-breaking experience, Melissa Nelson Lowe and I decided to start organizing records for women.
What are the most important things during a record week? Why?
Preparation: As a record event planner and organizer, the more work you put into the event leading up to it, the better the event will be. As a record participant, the more training you do, the better the record will be. The best flyers are the ones that can handle any slot, compensate for weakness around them, handle the pressure, handle the long calls and handle any stress that pops up along the way. Accuracy and training is the best way to be prepared.
Weather: Sometimes mother nature just ain’t having it!
Dedication: There are so many things that go into making a record event successful. The DZ staff, pilots, grounds people, record organizers, camera people, each participant, judges, packers and event things like the families of the people involved with the record. Each person involved needs to be dedicated.
What was your last record?
The last record I did was a 2 point women’s sequential. We had terrible weather at the location we were at. We moved the entire operation across the state of Florida to find some good weather. In the end, we were successful, but we had to fight for it! During another record, we landed from a jump and had 15 minutes to all pack and get on the last possible load of the weekend. Terrible weather was moving in, and this was our last chance. People were packing fast, everyone on the DZ was helping, everyone stayed focused and calm. We ended up with a 72 way head up World Record. That was a fantastic event!
Nowadays you are organizing records. Which characteristics would you look for when selecting people for the next Vertical World Record attempt?
The more well rounded you are, the more useful you are on record attempts. During most records I have been part of there are people that can dock fast, fly any position, handle any slot and compensate for any weaker flyers around them. These people are on the inside of the formation. Then you have the people that are a little slower on approaches, limited on the positions they are good at flying, can take a dock but it would be difficult to put someone on them docking and if there is a problem happening around them they can not recognize it and can not help the situation. Usually, these are the people that are getting rotated in and out of the base. It comes down to experience and flying time. This stuff is hard! It takes a lot of practice.
The way people fly their parachutes is also something we take into consideration. We can not risk having people on these large formations that are hazards under the canopy. An individual’s attitude and situational awareness also play a part. Good vibes, focus, listening skills and respect for people around you are super important during intense and dangerous endeavors. Also, break off! You have to be able to break off safely and efficiently. If you can not break off safe, you can not be in a big way!
Amy, what is the best way to get invited for a skydiving world record?
Train for it! Be current at flying your body in a vertical orientation with burbles all around you. Doing VFS in the tunnel is used for training that. Then get in big ways. The more experience you have on flying in big ways, the better. Just like anything else in life, you need to practice.
How much does it participating in a world record event cost?
A record event usually costs around $1000. Then there is travel logistics which will vary depending on your needs and where you are coming from. Training cost will vary depending on how much training each person personally needs. Hmm….. I would say that every penny I have spent in skydiving has lead to the success of each record I have been part of. From equipment to training, to travel, it all is part of the overall cost. It is expensive but well worth it, in my opinion.
When you make a mistake, how do you clean your mind for the next jump?
Mistakes are going to happen; there is no avoiding it! It is how you recover from your mistakes that really count. Keeping your emotions in check is essential. Do not let them get the best of you. Being in the zone is where you want to be. If you are too excited or not excited enough, it can affect your performance. When you make a mistake, move on both physically and mentally. This is something that comes with practice for most people. Recently, I had some trouble recovering from a few mistakes during a tunnel competition. I let the stress get the best of me. I think with better preparation I could have avoided this. But is happens sometimes!
What is a way to keep your head up if the organizers cut you from the record?
I understand how difficult this can be. I have been there! It is important to remember that if you are at a point where you are at a skydiving world record event, you already have lots of amazing things going for you. Skydiving is terrific, but it is just skydiving. Health, friendship and family are all – WAY – more important than being on a world record skydive.
Sometimes during record skydives, you can get cut simply because of logistics. Nothing else! Behind the scenes of a record event, things are happening fast and a lot needs to happen. Record organizers do the best they can to make the best decisions to safely build the most prominent record possible and sometimes that means you just have to cut people quickly and get up on the next attempt.
During the last vertical world record, there were these really difficult slots on the outside of pods, in between other pods. They were getting crowded in some sections and not in others. In the parts where they were getting crowded, it was impossible to fly. Everyone in those sections was cut and we went up for another jump. There were some AMAZING flyers in those sections. There were flyers in those sections that were much better than other flyers in more natural slots. It was just how the cards fell.
I remember speaking with a girl from Finland who had been cut because of this. She was an excellent flyer. Her attitude was amazing. She said to me “Hey, that is how it goes on records, I know that. The organizers had to do what they had to do. It is not about me, it is about the record.” What a badass that girl is!
What do you do on the ground that helps you to prepare for the record?
I do work! So, most of the time I am the record organizer so my time is filled with making the event happen. However the few times I have not been involved in the organizing of the event I do things like answer emails, brainstorm projects, stuff like that.
When the record week is done and you got that record, can you explain the feeling?
The post-record party is always the cherry on top, we dance, have fun, watch videos, get silly, and then I sleep for a day! After that, I make sure the event is closed out properly. This involves paperwork, cleaning things, stuff like that.
Amy, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us. I really appreciated getting to know you better and also understand a different perspective on how a record is organized. Your job is a very dedicated one and having a female with such a great personality and principals is the way to take skydiving further and further.
I hope you enjoy your travels and jumps all over the world. Blue skies!
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