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While continuing work on Part III of SKYDIVING COMPETITION OVER TIME – due for release in the course of next week – I take advantage of current events to advance some of the thoughts that are contained therein. About the only skydiving that will reach a massive global audience these days these days is what is circulated by Red Bull Content Pool.
In Europe at least, there is not much skydiving going on these days. Another wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections has much of the continent in different stages of lockdown and subject to severe restrictions. From today through Sunday, 24 January, the world’s best skiers contest a series of races in a bubble that the International Ski Federation has established in Kitzbühel, Austria. A small group of skydivers joined them there to produce a preview of what these skiers face as they hurl themselves down the mountain on an incredibly steep slope known as the Streif. The Red Bull Skydiving Team gets the message across – very visually, indeed – with low-level flying in wingsuits and beneath high-speed canopies. Millions will end up watching the spectacular images online or in TV broadcasts. That is positive for the energy drink brand, for the race organizers, and – to the extent that the message can be harnessed in a positive way – to skydiving too.
Red Bull has been involved in air sports and particularly in skydiving since the 1990s. Some of the most visible exploits by skydivers would never have happened without the brand that has taken its sports sponsorships to an entirely new level by being hands-on in every aspect of shaping the image and the message that an athlete or an event conveys to the world at large.
PART III of the series SKYDIVING COMPETITION OVER TIME looks at shortfalls in the rule-making and event design that kept official competitions from being sufficiently attractive for sponsors to enter into a long-term relationship with events held under the auspices of the governing bodies.
Here is a 2020 article on the Soul Flyers, Fred Fugen and Vincent Reffet †, two athletes belonging to Red Bull’s stable of around 10 skydivers: Not Going Unnoticed