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Rookiefest 2021!

Participants of Rookiefest

Rookiefest 2021!!

Participants of the 2021 Rookiefest

On September 11 and 12, Skydive Chicago was so excited for the opportunity to host Rookiefest again!! The event brought 73 skydivers from over twenty different dropzones to Ottawa, IL to learn with some of the best coaches in the country. Excitement level was high for both participants and coaches, reminding us all how we love this sport so much.

The Rookiefest event is a 3-way scrambles competition with a player-coach on each team. This means that in the first round each competitor was paired with one coach, one other rookie, and one videographer. Everyone did the same set of formations (draw) for round one and received a score for number completed correctly within 50 seconds of leaving the plane. Then for round two, each competitor received a different coach, rookie, and videographer to jump a different set of formations with, receiving another score for round two.This way each competitor received an individual score as they move on to each round, but needs to work well with their teammate and coach for the greatest success.

Competitors exit plane ready to turn points

In order to participate in Rookiefest, each jumper must have less than 200 total jumps OR have been in the sport for less than two years. Due to being unable to hold the event in 2020 and it being a major goal or milestone event for many, this year if participants would have been eligible to participate in 2020 then we allowed them to register for 2021. There were four jumpers who had more experience than 200 jumps and two years, but they were paired with less experienced rookies for their jumps and didn’t have to miss out on the Rookiefest opportunity! We had everyone from newly graduated licensed jumpers with 30 jumps to someone with almost 600 jumps who started jumping just last year!

Rookiefest 2021 the weather was fantastic all weekend with the sun shining and the temperatures a little cool in the morning, but mid 80s by mid-day. With the heat, however brought some midwestern winds that were inconsistent enough to be unsafe to jump in. Saturday included a weather hold midday, providing Steve Lefkowitz the opportunity to give a tracking seminar. Jumping for the event was able to continue as the surface winds calmed a safe speed towards the evening. The winds had however, shifted, from earlier in the day and some canopy pilots did not adjust their patterns accordingly. These winds provided many on-site learning opportunities and hands-on coaching examples of how to handle similar scenarios in the future. In the past Rookiefest has been later in the season in October at SDC, but with a history of weather unsuitable for jumping during the event, it was moved up to September in 2021. This definitely proved to work out better and we hope to continue this in the future.

Steve Lefkowitz hosts seminar on tracking

As mentioned above, the advantage to having less-than-optimal weather during Rookiefest means that participants get the opportunities to learn from so many great coaches on the ground. On Saturday, Steve Lefkowitz from SDC Rhythm XP had the chance to host a seminar on the best methods and body positions for tracking away at the end of a jump. Participants were even lying on the ground demonstrating and practicing for immediate feedback and adjustments from coaches walking around. On Sunday, the weather was unfortunately too windy to jump, even with a 7:30am meet time for the event. JRuss from SDC Core was able to give a seminar on canopy flight and patterns, covering specific examples from things the jumpers had experienced the day before. Participants then took a short break, and Steve gave a different presentation on mental preparedness for skydiving, with specific emphasis on competition settings. Discussing the power of visualization and routine as well as the moment they won the 2019 National Championships provided valuable information and tools for those in attendance.

One of the other cool things about Rookiefest is the winning traveling trophy! The trophy goes home to stay at the dropzone of the first place winner of the competition! This year in third place from Midwest Freefall Skydiving was Kyle Reid with 49 points after two rounds. Peter Harden from Skydive Carolina came in second place with 52 points. The first place winner was Jason Korando from Skydive Indianapolis with 55 points after only two rounds! The coaches also select one rookie to receive an Altitude Award each year, who this year went to Tannen Skriver from Wisconsin Skydiving Center for his big smile, positive friendly demeanor, and stoke to be jumping at a new dropzone out of a plane bigger than a Cessna 182! Congratulations to all of the participants for fun, safe, and educational skydives.

Two participants and a coach turn points in the first round

The Rookiefest experience provides so much value to the participants by being able to try many things for the first time with guidance from experienced coaches. For several participants it was their first time at a different dropzone and for several participants it was their first time out of a Twin Otter. Rookiefest participants were also expected to help find their next teammate before meeting their coaches to walk and brief each jump. This provided lots of opportunities for rookies to walk around and meet each other! Having so many jumpers together around the same skill and experience level was the perfect non-intimidating environment for people to meet each other from other areas around the country. The very low coach to student ratios also provided prime opportunities for asking questions and learning as well as the ability for participants to get to know the coaches each was working with. The smiles and enthusiasm were contagious and it is hard to say if it is the coaches, videographers, or participants that had the best time.

Big thank you to our coaching and video for dedicating their time, skill, and knowledge; to Chris Goller and Josh Reuck for running event media; to Steve Lefkowitz for running the meet, and thank you to our sponsors for providing us with incredible prize packages. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Winners of Rookiefest

1st Place:

  • 1 Free L&B Aries II Altimeter
  • 30% off base price of a mirage
  • 30% off G4 Cookie helmet
  • $100 off a Rhythm Tunnel Workshop at Paraclete XP
  • 1 free reserve pack job from Rock Sky Market
  • Option Gravity Sunglasses and Case
  • Summerfest Hat
  • SDC Gift Gard – 8 Jump Tickets
  • SDC Neck Buff
  • Assorted stickers, flags, and t-shirts

2nd Place:

  • 20% off base price of custom Infinity container
  • $100 off a Rhythm Tunnel Workshop at Paraclete XP
  • 1 free EXO helmet bag from Rock Sky Market
  • SDC Gift Card – 5 Jump Tickets
  • SDC Neck Buff
  • Assorted stickers, flags, and t-shirts

3rd Place:

  • 20% off base price of a custom Infinity container
  • $100 off a Rhythm Tunnel Workshop at Paraclete XP
  • 1 free EXO helmet bag from Rock Sky Market
  • SDC Gift Card – 2 Jump Tickets
  • SDC Neck Buff
  • Assorted stickers, flags, and t-shirts

Attitude Award:

  • Cookie – FREE G4 Helmet