Catching Up with Axiom XP

Sunday, December 30, 2018

If you’re just getting to know, Axiom XP with Jason Brigmon and Josiah Rich – you know they are our local freestyle team who are incredibly talented and passionate athletes who just got back from the World Meet – placing 3rd in their first ever world level competition. We couldn’t be more proud to call them the home team – but more proud that they are our friends!

Catch up with the beginning Axiom’s story HERE!

What an incredible journey to get to the World Meet! Now that it’s over and looking back, what were the highs and lows during the season of training?

The season was a lot of fun.  We jumped a lot: almost every single weekend during the summer.  With artistic disciplines there’s a lot of creativity that goes into it.  Some of our lows were when things weren’t working after we thought we had engineered them perfectly.  After 20 jumps of something not working, we both get pretty frustrated. But then when we did get something sorted, that feeling was a high!  Overall, the biggest low was USPA Nationals. Because of the way the meet was run, we only got one round of competition completed. It was frustrating to train so hard and not have a chance to show what we’ve got.  But our experience at the World Meet more than made up for it! That was the highlight of the year for Axiom XP.

You both have day jobs – how did you balance time & money to train?

Balance was certainly a challenge, and I think there is room for improvement in that area.  We trained on weekends; that was the only time we had. And we went hard on those training weekends.  The following Monday at work was always exhausting. I think we both ate a lot of beans and rice throughout the season to fund our passion.  We didn’t really take any other vacations or do a lot of other stuff. We definitely couldn’t have done it without help and support from our sponsors, specifically Paraclete XP.

Did you have any coaches or mentors along the way? If so who? And how did they help you?

We are constantly looking at other athletes and competitors in the sport to learn from.  Will Penny, from Flynamik, has been and continues to be our primary coach and mentor. Kirk Verner has also helped us by sharing how he used to train on Airspeed.  BK Kraus has given us insight on team communication. We look up to all the Airspeed guys for how they train and the professional way they approach the sport and competition.  We look outside skydiving at other top athletes for sports psychology and flow mindset. Overall, we are sponges trying to learn as much as we can about competition, especially mentally.

How did you manage to balance the time and money to train, and get the time off to go to Australia where the World Meet was held?

Time off work was a challenge this year.  We trained entirely on weekends… but that meant a LOT of weekends.  And between Nationals (1 week) and Worlds (2 weeks) I think we each used up all of our vacation time for the year.  We were certainly jealous of those who have skydiving as their full time jobs and have a more flexible schedule. But right now that’s not where we are in life.  So we do the best we can to make it work, and so far it has.

This was your first world level competition, what did you think when you first arrived — what stood out to you?

It was super rad to see all the other countries. The national pride was palpable. Australia and the APF did it right: opening ceremony was awesome, the facilities were great, the meet ran smoothly, the accommodations were terrific, and closing ceremony was beautiful.  Seeing all the tents set up for each delegation and the flags hanging gave such a profound sense of patriotism. We were humbled to be representing the USA abroad in a sport we love so much.

What was your expectation going into Round 1? And did you score like you hoped?

Haha, oh our expectations were all over the place.  This was a highly emotional meet. In AE the difficulty score is determined prior to Round 1, and we were disappointed with our score for that part.  But this also meant we had nothing to lose. We were going to go for it and give it our all – hold nothing back. The score for Round 1 sets a lot for competition, and we were in the middle of the pack.  It wasn’t until after Round 2, where we scored the highest of any team, that we got really excited. When we saw that score posted we had the biggest smiles on our faces.

It was a tight competition – can you tell us your mindset into each round and how did you handle the nerves, expectations, etc?

We flew each round like we had trained it. We talked through the routines and walked at the intervals before the jump, just like we had practiced.  Our goal in competition is to not change anything, but just let it be a reflection of how we have trained. Nerves were present, and we each have different ways of dealing with those.  After Round 5 (where we also scored the highest of all the teams) things got a bit more intense because we calculated we had a very real possibility of bringing home a medal for the USA.  But we flew our last routines just as we had trained, and the results worked out!

What story stands out from the competition?

The stories are never ending, haha.  Some of the best memories were from hanging out with the other competitors.  The French teams especially were super fun to get to know. The inflatable puppy, wigs and hotel parties kept the celebration going.  International competition is incredible because of the diversity of cultures and getting to hang out with top flyers you would never otherwise get to encounter.  Huge thanks to the Frenchies for being so helpful, welcoming, and hilarious. In such a small discipline, all the competitors know each other. We are grateful for the friendships we made with competitors from Switzerland, UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Pretty much everyone was awesome!

Did you do as well as you wanted?

For our first world meet, after being a team for only 16 months, I’d say we were very pleased with the outcome.

How did it feel to stand on the podium for the awards ceremony?

It was great.  Holding the USA flag, wearing a medal and seeing the flags raised above the lagoon was emotional and special.

What would you like to tell possible freestyle competitors in how to get started, and how to stay motivated?

You get started by having a passion for flying without grips.  And you stay motivated by watching videos, clips, and other flyers that inspire you.  Artistic events are so open ended so you really can take things whatever direction you want.  It’s awesome all the possibilities. Find mentors in how you want to fly, and pursue it.

In skydiving, when we win big competitions, it’s great for to gain sponsorships, but there is hardly ever a big financial award — so what makes this experience worth it?

The experience is worth it for the friends, the laughs, the opportunities it opens up, and of course, the memories. The medal is nice, but the rest of the trip was way more memorable than the awards ceremony.  You don’t skydive for big financial reward, ever. But these passions take us places and introduce us to new people and experiences and open up all sorts of possibilities.

It is quite an accomplishment for a first year team to do so well at their first World Meet – what’s next from Axiom XP?

We are charging hard ahead.  A medal at our first World Meet is awesome.  But we now have our eyes set on a different one… the gold variety.  It’s going to take work and sacrifice, but we are hungry for it and believe we have the foundation and tools to make it happen.  We can’t wait to show the world what we’ve got planned.

Anything else you would like to add?

Combined, we would like to thank our sponsors: Paraclete XP, Tonfly, Domco Technologies

Individually would like to thank our sponsors:

Jason: Sunpath Technologies, Performance Designs

Josiah: NZAerosports, United Parachute Technologies

This is where I got my start, and roughly 4800 jumps later, I continue to send people there from all over the place...the facilities a great, the people are Fab. and the STAFF...Top Notch!! The Grounds are the best kept in the sport.

Marc Owens