October 19, 2006
Come dive with me—Israeli skydivers training in SoCal
You do it ... you can never go back," Israeli Sharon Har-noy said recently of her passion for the sport of skydiving. She and teammate Adi Freid met with a reporter during a break from training at Perris Valley Skydiving, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles. |
Har-noy and Freid make up the only all-female Israeli skydive team in the advanced category, which includes just six teams. They came to Perris to prepare for their nationals, set for April 2007, and hopefully the world competition in Australia to follow. Their U.S. training tour, sponsored by Israeli American Dr. Avraham Kadar and his company, BrainPOP.com, included stops at Skydive Cross Keys in New Jersey, Skydive Arizona Eloy, as well as Perris, before they returned to Israel Oct. 19.
The team's home drop zone, Paradive, at Habonim Beach, between Haifa and Tel Aviv, is only open four days a week, and it lacks the opportunities available in the United States. At Perris, they trained seven days a week on faster planes that could carry more people, and they utilized a wind tunnel that simulated skydiving. The teammates said that during one week of training at Perris, they got in 70 jumps and made progress that would have taken them at least three months in Israel.
In Israel, the pair train on the weekends. During the week, Freid is a senior psychology major at Tel Aviv University and Har-noy produces animated films for BrainPOP.com, an education service.
The pair, both now 24, met about 3 1/2 years ago at Paradive and became quick friends. They had both done diving before -- Har-noy took her first jump at the drop zone after high school and continued on weekend breaks from the army, while Freid's first skydiving experience was in New Zealand, during her post-military travels in 2002.
"Two girls in the drop zone, we had to get together and start jumping," Freid said.
About a year ago, while on a trip to Perris, they met manager Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, a world champion diver who is also Jewish, suggested they team up and start competing.
"To be a good skydiver you have to jump with someone good, and if there is no good people in the drop zone, then nobody can get ahead," Har-noy said.
Among those helping them prepare is coach David Gershfeld.
"They have that finesse that ... drive and energy ... to get better and actively progress," Gershfeld said.
Freid and Har-noy say the sport is safe, more so, they argue, than driving a car. And while Paradive closed for a month during the recent war, both women say they didn't feel threatened.
"Maybe it's easier to skydive in Israel because you are used to being afraid, or used to being in dangerous situations. Skydiving really isn't that dangerous," Freid said.
-- Sara Bakhshian, Contributing Writer