There’s a lot happening over at Paraclete XP (PXP) these days. If you didn’t know already, PXP is set to take center stage in the skydiving world later this summer, when we host both the 2019 USPA National Parachuting Championships and the 2019 USPA National Skydiving Championships at our gorgeous dropzone. Yep! From September 1st – 27th, Skydive Paraclete XP will host the nation’s top skydiving athletes as they square off against each other in their quest for gold. Stoked to see it? So are we!
“We are super excited,” enthuses Paraclete DZO Kirk Verner. “It just seemed normal and the right thing for us to go ahead and just jump into it.”
The dropzone isn’t entirely new to the competition beat. Paraclete XP has already very successfully run smaller events in the parachuting nationals (including accuracy landing, canopy formation and canopy piloting) — and the opportunity to do something much, much bigger frankly thrills us.
“Everybody here at XP,” Kirk continues, “Tim [D’Annunzio], the owner — the two brothers, John and Joey…they are all competitors. We know that when you come to a nationals, it is really about the competitor. Our after action reports from the last two that we did were really solid, and it was just a natural progression to go ahead and take on the rest.”
There are several reasons that Paraclete is excited to take the Nationals mantle, but one stands apart: the chance to move the Nationals to a whole new venue. For a good many years, there where there were really just three major drop zones in Nationals rotation: the venerable Perris Valley, Skydive Arizona and Skydive Chicago, with Chicagoland hosting for one (awesome) year in that mix.
“I think it’s good for the meet to move around, and for people to see other places,” Kirk muses. “I hope we get into that rotation; host for a couple of years in a row. I think the competitor likes to get around a little bit.”
Competitors that visit Paraclete XP are, it almost goes without saying, in for a treat. Raeford’s extensive facilities make for a top-shelf skydiving experience: our 170-acre campus includes one of the nation’s last standing swooping ponds, and PXP’s large fleet of turbine aircraft easily accommodates an event of this size.
“[Hosting the Nationals here] will be a nice showcase of the facility,” Kirk says. “When I came here right before the wind tunnel was built, we’d said that we were going to build a place that trained champions. We wanted to build athletes from the very beginnings of their careers, from flying first-time in the tunnel all the way to being a world champion. We have had really good success with that. We’ve taken lots and lots of people that never even considered that it was possible for them to do that and built them up. We take that into our business model every day. I’m really excited for people who haven’t had the opportunity to be here yet to see that: to see how we try to excel every single day and make sure that we have a good mindset.”
Of course, without great facilities a good mindset is just a nice-to-have. One of the truly luxurious things that competitors will enjoy is the ability to have every event at the Nationals in one place — which conveys a really community-forward vibe.
“We’ve been doing quite a bit of preparation — for the last year, really — to get ready.” Kirk adds, “and we have meetings every week about it to make sure that everything is lining up, and I think we’re right on track.”
Kirk himself is excited about the opportunity to play a key role in the goings-on — for the first time in a long time, not as a competitor himself.
“I’m going to be the Meet Director for all the meets except for formation skydiving,” he says. “Once I get in that mode, I run a pretty tight ship. The goal is to be efficient, so we are going to run it efficiently and think about the competitors first. This is their meet. As we go, we will just meet every challenge and put the competitor first.”
Sure, it’s going to be an entire month of Nationals — definitely more of a marathon than a sprint — and it’s going to be a challenge of note to pull it off. That, however, doesn’t worry Kirk in the least.
“We are going to put on a good show,” he grins. “Like I said, we’re really focusing on the competitor and we’re going to let it shine bright. We are planning on having a great meet, and on doing more of these down the road.”
For more on the events, click here, or see the schedule below.