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UConn skydivers take home the gold at Florida competition

By Domenica Ghanem
On January 23, 2014

A group of UConn students set a Florida collegiate skydiving record by building a formation in 8.65 seconds last month.
The team, Mo' Budget Mo' Problems, competed against 75 skydivers, in a six-way formation event where they won gold medals.
"The six of us are some of the most dedicated members of the UConn Skydiving Club," said team member Douglas Hendrix, a sixth-semester materials science and engineering major. "We are also some of the most experienced."
The team included Kevin Duignan, William Harris, Douglas Hendrix, Andrew Stipicevic, Jon Szylobryt and Andrew Usher.
Skydivers were challenged to leap from more than two miles above ground and make geometric formations in freefall before opening their parachutes.
The UConn team said they were surprised to have won gold. "Traditionally, the Air Force teams are the best and beat the rest of the competition handily," Hendrix said. This year, Mo' Budget Mo' Problems took first place.
The team is coached by former member of the Golden Knights, Brian Smith. The Golden Knights are one of the most competitive skydiving teams in the world and Army's top rival.
Hendrix said his biggest challenge was maintaining a positive mindset during the jump. "I visualize every turn, movement, and grip in the way they should happen," said Hendrix. He said it is important to visualize the jump and the formation before they happen so that everything goes smoothly.
The team trains at an indoor wind tunnel in Nashua, N.H. so they can practice free falling without weather concerns.
The skydivers recommend everyone try skydiving at least once. Andrew Usher, an eighth-semester horticulture major, said, "I've never met anyone who got to the ground and hated it."

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