VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Already the home for the U.S. Indoor Skydiving Open National Championship, iFLY Virginia Beach is now recognized as the nation's first training center for indoor skydiving athletes.
The Virginia Beach facility is the home of United States Indoor Skydiving, the national governing body for the sport. Director Robert Pizzini said the national training center designation will create a hub for the sport in Virginia Beach, building its reputation and benefiting the local economy.
"We identified that the sport is real, the sport is international, the sport has Olympic potential, and if we want to win gold medals we need to establish a development model that looks like the other development models that are already out there," Pizzini said.
Pizzini said athletes will train at iFLY Virginia Beach for international competitions and, potentially, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
"If this becomes an Olympic event in 2024, then we had future Olympians in this building last weekend when we held the national championship," he said.
France, a worldwide leader in the sport, applied for indoor skydiving to become an exhibition sport at the Paris Olympics in the summer of 2018. A decision from the International Olympic Committee is expected later in 2019. Pizzini believes it's likely the sport could debut at the Olympics on an exhibition basis in 2024.
"It's highly likely to mean that we have future Olympians who live in the city of Virginia Beach," he said.
The USIS Open National Championship has been held in Virginia Beach for the last three years. City of Virginia Beach Sports Marketing Director Nancy Helman said the sport's impact on the area is already evident, citing tourism numbers.
"It's been such a huge opportunity and it's really taken something that was just an attraction to the whole next level," Helman said.
Pizzini said indoor skydiving is a sport which develops athleticism, agility, balance, and coordination. He said the sport will continue to grow both domestically and internationally in the years to come, and noted how indoor skydiving facilities continue to expand across the United States.
"The potential for Virginia Beach to become an internationally-recognized location for the sport is huge, it's significant," he said.