Digging deep into competition history you’ll find that Russia is the “Mother” of competitive parachuting. As early as 1930, jumpers in Russia were competing to see who could land their parachutes closest to a target- known today as Classic Accuracy. The first sanctioned World Parachuting Championships took place in Yugoslavia in 1951, USA was not present. It wasn’t until the 1956 World Parachuting Championships that the USA would field a team.
The US Army Parachute Team “Golden Knights” began in 1959 as the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) Sport Parachute Team. At that time they focused on one thing- beating the Soviets who dominated the sport of competitive skydiving. As you can imagine, in the Cold War Era, it wasn’t just about winning Gold Medals. With the Space Race also underway, parachuting carried even more weight as astronauts and scientists considered possible alternatives for re-entry to earth.
The 50+ year history of parachuting competition between USA and Russia will continue in March at the Shamrock Showdown as the Russian 8-Way team will travel to Florida to once again go head-to-head with the Golden Knights. Since the Golden Knights re-formed the 8-Way team (GK8) in 2009, they have competed against the Russians in 3 different competitions. One could argue that the competition between USA and Russia is more “friendly” these days, as members of both teams feel ample respect for each other. Nevertheless, Competitors from both sides will give 100% as they gear up to represent their respective Nations in a Competition which carries the weight of history.