Surviving the ProBASE Competition Season
We did it. We survived the ProBASE World Cup competition season. In the current climate, with a high number of recent fatalities, that feels like a great achievement.
I wrote recently about my strategy to survive my wingsuit BASE jumps and preventing death with the attitude that we adopt. But the ProBASE World Cup events have had a strong safety record. I understand that there was not even one injury – that’s a great statistic.
Even in skydiving competitions, which are often perceived as being much safer, they are unlikely to finish the competition season without some sort of incident.
Lots of work went into the safety of the events. The rules ensured safety was a priority and competitors debated for hours in the best way to both ensure safety and to promote such a culture to the up-and-coming jumpers that would view their behaviours. Of course, there were areas where opinions differed and technical aspects that required more work before the rules can be modified appropriately.
With a film crew following the every move of some the top BASE jumping athletes in the World it was critical that we portrayed ourselves in professional manner. I’m looking forward to seeing the edit; I know we weren’t absolutely perfect, but who is?
As a whole, I feel the competitors did themselves justice and we were able to present the sport to the public in a positive light. Public perception often fails to understand what our sport, either traditional BASE jumping or wingsuit human flight, is all about. Their lack of understanding can often present barriers and I hope that, as professional athletes, we have now taken steps to further address this issue and present it appropriately.
While it’s been a tough year for the sport, the highest number of fatalities on record, none of this was in our competition series. Most of the athletes competing at this level have worked hard to get to where they are, they understand the risks and have mitigated them to an acceptable level. I hope the future athletes in our sport are seeing this and adopting the same mitigation – there is no rush.
For the incidents that have happened, outside of the competition circuit, we must put these into perspective too. There are many more sports that have a higher incident rate – just ask the medical staff in the Lauterbrunnen Valley about the number of climbers they attend to or pronounce dead.
Accidents, incidents and death are all part of being alive. They happen and we must accept that, but let’s work hard to promote a culture that still permits our freedoms while we minimise such incidents to an acceptable level.
Until next season…