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Public Affairs : Parachute Team earns 13 medals at national championships

West Point Parachute Team cadets and coaches gather for a team photo following the awards ceremony Jan. 2. Courtesy Photo 

Parachute Team brings home 13 medals,

sets records at championships

By Class of 2015 Cadet Amy Saxton
West Point Parachute Team

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 15, 2013) -- In addition to performing numerous skydiving demonstrations during the year, from jumping the game ball into Michie Stadium for a football game to executing an astonishing stack in the sky with colorful smoke and flags following a parade, the West Point Parachute Team has continued to train hard during the winter season.

This year, four members of the team from each class were selected to compete in the United States Parachute Association National Collegiate Parachuting Championships held in Eloy, Ariz.

Overall, the team completed 697 jumps without injury or malfunction, and brought home 13 medals in addition to setting several USPA National and Arizona State Records. The competition began on Dec. 28 and concluded with an awards banquet on Jan. 2.

Following Term End Exams, the team flew to Arizona and began training immediately, spending the entire week logging training jumps at the drop zone and preparing for the competition. In addition to West Point, 13 other schools from across the nation participated at Nationals, including the Air Force Academy, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and the University of South Carolina.

Throughout the competition, the West Point Parachute Team dominated in the classic accuracy events, both in Team Classic Accuracy and various levels of Individual Classic Accuracy. In these events, competitors are scored based on their landing distance from a given target. In Classic Accuracy, the goal is to land as close as possible to a 2 centimeter target, roughly the size of a quarter, after exiting an aircraft at 3,500 feet. Competitors’ scores are totaled over four rounds, with the smallest cumulative score earning the gold.

Class of 2013 Cadet Kurt Yeager took gold in the Masters division of Individual Classic Accuracy, setting the USPA National and Arizona State record for overall performance in classic accuracy on a 2 centimeter pad with a cumulative score of .10 m over four rounds, breaking his own record from last year of 0.17 m.

Class of 2013 Cadet Ben Garlick, team captain, took home the silver with a cumulative score of .12 m, and Class of 2013 Cadet Christian Beckler took the Bronze with a .21 m total. Garlick also set a new collegiate national record for consecutive jump total with .02 m. In Intermediate Individual Classic Accuracy, Class of 2014 Cadet Sam Strader won the Gold medal with a cumulative score of .32 m.

In Team Classic Accuracy, Yeager, Garlick, Beckler and Class of 2013 Cadet Andrew Lopez brought home the gold medal with a cumulative score of 0.43 m. This event is judged on a combined accuracy score for a four-person team.

West Point sent two teams, a senior team and a junior team, who took the Gold and Bronze, respectively. The senior team also set a new collegiate national record en route to their Gold, registering a .43 m total and breaking the record USAFA set last year of .65 m.

The youngest members of the team, the four sophomores, gained valuable training during this trip and most importantly were able to complete the USPA requirements for their B-license. They performed extremely well in the Novice Individual Sport Accuracy competition, especially given that they only had about thirty jumps from the fall season. Class of 2015 Cadet Sara Vagie won the Bronze medal in this category.

Overall, the trip provided the team with the opportunity to train in a competitive setting and enhance precision accuracy and freefall skills. The team is excited for another great season of demonstrations and will be training hard to bring back even more medals at next year’s competition.

Class of 2013 Cadet Ben Garlick, team captain, lands on the drop zone. To learn more about the West Point Parachute Team, visit the Directorate of Cadet Activities website at