Speed Skydiving with Marco Hepp

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

After the last World Championships in Siberia, I realised that I could hopefully benefit from altering my training program. Previously I had been doing five training jumps per day, and I was making more mistakes on the final two jumps than the ones at the beginning. I was not as consistent or as fast. This season I changed my training system to having fewer training jumps in a day, but with more days of training overall. Three jumps are not a lot compared to other disciplines, but I would try to focus all of my energy and only make perfect jumps. If I repeat over and over only the correct things, I get really great progress. A big part of speed skydiving is concentration. If I am tired then I become unfocused and lose the position in the last few seconds of the jump, so although a three-jump training program only takes a few hours to complete – I find it to be the best way for me. A big part of my focus is on how the jump feels. I do physical work also, but spend a lot of time on the mental training element – and a huge difference for me this year was feeling that my mind was stronger. 

Photo: Joel Strickland

My first jump on a training day is a ‘normal’ one. Not aggressive, but clear and focused. Then the second and third jumps are to push more. The second one is where I aim to change things with my body position to find more speed – small changes that can make big differences. Then the third jump is about repeating the positive changes of the previous one. The second jump is different from the first, but the third is the same as the second. This is my way to build consistency. If I have something right, then I can repeat it – in different conditions or under pressure in a competitive environment.

Photo: Robert Trögel

The first part of being good at speed skydiving is to be a good skydiver. I began speed with eighty jumps, which is not a lot of experience – then I learned step by step and year after year. I could be fast, my I realised my technique was not good enough to be consistent. If I was too aggressive I could not hold the speed properly and would make more mistakes. I had to get more experience and body awareness, so I went to the tunnel and started flying low-speed dynamic lines – which turned out the be a great way to progress. It teaches you that if you can fly without wind, then you can fly with a lot. After training in the tunnel, when I go on a speed jump it feels different – I feel the pressure of the air earlier and in more areas of the body.

The German speed skydiving team. Photo: George Hargis

In Arizona, I realised early that I was fast. I had an interesting start with two rejumps, but this showed me that I could make 526kph and repeat it. Behind me was a huge battle for positions two through five, but I was safe at the top. I was not aiming to do riskier jumps and make mistakes, so I just kept going. My fastest jump was 529 and my slowest was 522, which was actually faster than Nick Daniel’s fastest in second place at 520. All I had to do was stay focused and I believe my training method really helped with this. I wanted to reach 530 but it was not possible this time, and I hope there are more opportunities in the future. It took a while for me to properly realise that I am the world champion, but I tried hard to do it right – train properly, eat well, sleep well, and don’t land on any rattlesnakes in the desert. I reached four world records and pushed my limits way further than I expected to.

Photos: Benjamin Fordesign Phreshair

My expectations for next year are to be able to repeat my average speeds, but setting a new world record might be difficult where the conditions are perhaps not as good as in the hot, dry air of Arizona. I have been working with a university in Germany to analyse the aerodynamics of a speed skydiver, and we can see lots of potential to reach higher speeds. There is more to be found in both the technology we use and the way we fly, and I think the 550 will be possible for me in a few years. We will see if we can do it.







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