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Sometimes my camera and I end up in pretty cool situations. Situations that some skydivers dream about. You see, there are eight beautiful, badass girls from all over the world on one skydiving/wind tunnel/BASE/wingsuit team, and a few months ago I had the opportunity to take pictures of four of those girls in a makeshift photo studio in a hotel room on 6th Street in Austin, Texas. There were lots of smiles, laughs and a healthy amount of whiskey that evening. In case you were wondering, that night didn’t suck.
A short time after the shoot, the ladies were kind enough to fill out a short email interview for me to share with all of you folks out there in Blue Skies Magazine Land. So here you go, the first 4-person and email-driven photo interview of Domi, Amy, Anna and Sharon from the JoyRiders.
Mini Lightning Round
Hometown? Mamaroneck, New York.
Current city? Right now I am in Bex, Switzerland, then a small town in Italy, last week was Voss, Norway. Home is everywhere these days.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Snacks all day long.
Gym or beach? Gym on the beach.
Sweet or savory? Chocolate, then chips, then chocolate then chips.
Beer or shots? Red wine.
Sporty or girly? Both—duh!
Hometown? Swansea, Wales.
Current city? Voss, Norway .
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Dinner.
Gym or beach? Gym.
Sweet or savory? Savory.
Beer or shots? Both.
Sporty or girly? Both.
Hometown? Paris, France.
Current city? Constantly on the road, usually no longer than a week anywhere. Last year’s record was 3 weeks in a row in Voss, Norway! Right now I’m in Helsinki, Finland.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? All of the above. As long as the ingredients are fresh, amazing and well prepared!
Gym or beach? Beach. To play for hours in the waves and party all night.
Sweet or savory? Savory.
Beer or shots? Shots, but I prefer Cocktails. I don’t drink beer, which proves inconvenient when you’re a professional skydiver.
Sporty or girly? Sporty in public, girly in private.
Hometown? Reut, Israel.
Current city? DeLand, Florida.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Yes please.
Gym or beach? Beach.
Sweet or savory? Savory and then sweet.
Beer or shots? Depending on the time of day.
Sporty or girly? The kind of sporty that prefers hanging out on the beach over the gym.
Zach Lewis: If you couldn’t do any skydiving or wind tunnel related activities for one year, what would you do for fun?
Amy Chmelecki: I would do ceramics, and lots of it. I used to do it all the time and I miss it; skydiving just keeps me too busy. I would also do lots of yoga and I would have Anna teach me how to sing. Maybe I would learn how to hang glide. Yup, I would definitely learn how to hang glide.
Anna Moxnes: Music. I would like to spend more time recording and playing with my friends; maybe renovate an old farm too so we would have a place to do cool gigs.
Domi Kiger: I would read even more—from social science to science fiction, heroic fantasy, graphic novel, photography and much more. I would horse ride and scuba dive, two passions that had to give way to skydiving. I would play video games; I would spend hours cooking, and I would take my backpack out of storage to travel, non-skydiving related. And more than anything, I would spend more time with my loved ones.
Sharon Har-noy: I really miss the hiking I used to do before I started jumping. Being out in nature and connecting to the greatness of it. There are also a bunch of things I would love to learn like surfing and acro yoga.
What accomplishment in your life are you the most proud of?
Amy: Being asked to be part of the Red Bull Air Force is a huge deal for me. It is a dream come true for sure. Overall I am happy to live the life I dream.
Anna: Great friendships, I am always surrounded by awesome people! Working my ass off to be my own boss, and having the opportunity to travel the world for work.
Domi: Winning the Mondial in 2012 with Matt and Nico in team Kristal is one specific achievement that I am proud of, but I guess I’m prouder of the path that has led to it, with what it meant of determination and sacrifices. I’m proud (and feeling fortunate) to be living the life I chose, and I’m proud of the people I’m living it with, especially the amazing and inspirational ladies of Joyriders.
Sharon: Leaving my job and my home to pursue my passion. I still have a long road in front of me but I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished so far.
Do you have any advice for people who are interested in dynamic, but don’t live near a wind tunnel?
Amy: Not living near a wind tunnel is no longer an excuse for people. Well, maybe a little. Tunnels are popping up all over the place, so I would tell people to not make an excuse. If you want to do something you have to just do it.
Anna: Somehow get close to a tunnel and just keep flying, hang around as much as you can, help out in any way you can, always be positive. Don’t think about how much you will need to fly to get where you want to be, just enjoy every moment you get to fly and more will come!
Domi: Is there still such a thing as not living near a tunnel anymore ? If you are interested in dynamic, get in touch with one of the many talented coaches out there and get your groove on. I would also tell them that low speed makes smoother, better flyer in dynamic, even if it doesn’t transfer in the sky quite quickly. I lacked it at the beginning of my progression and I wish I had done more of it earlier.
Sharon: Save up and fly out to train in a wind tunnel. Another option is trying to get work in a tunnel and moving there. If those are not options for you, angle flying in freefall will be the closest thing you can do that eventually will allow you to fly dynamic lines in the sky.
Can you tell us either the best or the worst thing about being on a team with people living all over the world?
Amy: The best thing is we get to travel all over the place. We get to meet up in badass places all the time. If we go to France we stay at Domi’s place, if we go to Norway we stay at Anna’s place, Sharon has a place for us in Israel, and I host the team when we call Eloy, Arizona our home. We are all nomadic girls; we travel to where the work is, so it works out really well.
Anna: Best thing, we get to travel all the time to play with each other, worst thing … umm … there is no bad thing about being on the JoyRiders.
Domi: It makes scheduling complicated sometimes, but other than that, it’s amazing. We all share the same lifestyle and passion but we come from pretty different cultures which makes it an interesting experience (and a good opportunity for shit talking. Especially toward my Frenchness.).
Sharon: The best thing for me is the different cultures and backgrounds we all bring to the team. It’s very versatile and keeps things interesting. I also feel it creates more opportunities and therefore increases our potential as a team. Not living close to each other does present challenges as far as communication goes but in today’s world that’s not too hard to overcome.
You ladies are all pretty well traveled. What is your favorite place on Earth, and where would you go if your goal was to be somewhere even better than that location?
Amy: I lived in Alaska for a little while in my early 20s. I have not been back there since, but I dream of it all the time. I am not talking about daydreams, I have night dreams that I am there and I am so happy! I need to go back there.
Anna: My favorite place is my home in Voss, Norway. Other than here I am a huge fan of Chamonix, France.
Domi: I have a few favorite spots. I love the southwest of France, where I started skydiving, the ocean, the wine. I am in love with my hometown, Paris, who is the most magnificent city in my eyes. I love Voss, Norway, for its beauty and the people who make it so special. Eloy is an important place for me, since it has been a turning point in my personal life and my skydiving career. I love Australia, and especially The Farm. I lived in Rajastan, India for half a year, in Gabon, Africa for 5 months, and have seen many countries. Those places are special for many different reasons, and I’m not looking to find “better,” but I am always curious and eager to discover more. I’ve never been to South America. I want to see New York (the JoyRiders will have a team reunion there in October after WWXP). I’d like to see New Zealand and Japan, and wherever my path will take me. The world is endlessly beautiful.
Sharon: That’s a tough one. There are a few places that come to mind. But if I have to pick one—there is a beach back home, close to where I started skydiving, which is very therapeutic for me and always makes me smile inside. There are many places in the world I would like to explore. Africa, for example, has always intrigued me, and Thailand has been on my radar for a long time as well.
What is your favorite dessert?
Amy: Double cream from Switzerland, with meringue and strawberries.
Domi: I’m French. Don’t get me started on food.
Sharon: Anything chocolaty.
What’s the most badass thing you can do?
Amy: That is a huge secret, insert red wine and I may tell you.
Anna: 100 things at once and keep smiling.
Domi: I make really badass “oeuf-cocotte” [eggs in pots].
Sharon: I love teaching and coaching. Especially when it’s a long-term thing, when I really get a chance to connect to people and understand how they think and what they need. I’m not sure that’s considered badass but it’s what I do best.
Will one of you guys marry me? Best movie of all time?
Maybe you should ask one of us on a date first? My favorite everything changes all the time.
Anna: (Enter something intelligent here.)
I’m in no rush to re-marry, thanks.
Sharon: “Finding Nemo.” Mostly because I feel the character of Dory was based on me.
What is your next goal, and when do you plan to accomplish it?
Amy: I plan on focusing on my job with Red Bull. Continue to get better at wingsuit flying and tunnel flying.
Anna: 2015 is the year of the JoyRider; we have some super nice projects coming up and I’m really excited to get the chance to play along!
Domi: As far as my flying life is concerned, my next goal is to keep flying and work on super awesome events and video projects with the JoyRiders. I was also recently handed over the development of D4W.net, the dynamic concept originally develop by Havard Flaat and Alex Aimard. My goal is to organize competitions and keep developing and establishing the discipline. I am also becoming a partner in a new wind tunnel in Bordeaux, France; that should be running by the end of 2015.
Sharon: I have a few goals for the next couple of years, but more than anything I want to improve my flying and continue sharing my passion for it. As a team we have a few projects we are working on that I’m excited about.
Injury with the best story?
Amy: Just 8 hours before a month-long trip to New York, Belgium and Texas I was cutting open a box. The knife slipped and cut open my thumb. (It was a total dumbass move.) I had to go to the emergency room and get stiches. I was there for hours. I was there so long that I was nervous I would miss my flight and I still needed to pack. Finally I got stitched up. Managed to pack and get the airport. The first part of that trip involved some of the most difficult jumps of my life. I had to perform with a throbbing thumb. I never knew a cut on your thumb could be such a pain in the butt. With the help of my Red Bull Air Force teammates, I was able to get my job done. I love those guys.
Anna: Umm … I seem to like to knock myself out in the tunnel … Top tip: Don’t fly full speed head first out of the door and in to the wall OUTSIDE the tunnel. It hurts!
Domi: I’ve only been injured once, a broken back due to a midair collision two weeks before I was supposed to fly to Russia for my first World Championship in 2010. It ended up being a good experience. We would have gotten our asses kicked by SoCal converge anyway, and I got to spend the summer with my family and friends, reading, chilling, playing video games, eating (a lot of) oysters. I also got to spend a month in a sport-rehab center by the ocean, where France sends its national athletes, so I got to hang with REAL sports persons and learn tons about physical education. Four months exactly after my accident, I was back in the sky for the WVWR!
Sharon: Just recently a tunnel wall attacked me and injured my back. I swear I did nothing to antagonize it.
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