Catching up with… Emma Mattacola

The 3rd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving starts in a few days at Gravity Indoor Skydiving, Bahrain. We asked presenter Emma Mattacola to share her thoughts…

Emma Mattacola — by Gravity Indoor Skydiving
Emma Mattacola — by Gravity Indoor Skydiving

What are you most looking forward to about the World Cup?

I’m most looking forward to seeing friends and watching some World Class flying!

What do you think of Gravity as a wind tunnel facility and host?

I came to Gravity last year for Flight Fighters 2017. Gravity is a truly impressive place! As well as having a friendly and hardworking staff, it’s also just a super cool tunnel! It has a huge viewing area, which helps to create an incredible atmosphere during the competition.

What team are you most looking forward to watching?

I’m really excited to see all of the British teams. I love watching how proud every country is of it’s own competitors!

What do you think is going to be the closest competition?

Looking at the list of registered teams there are some very fast Dynamic 2 Way teams; Aerogravity, Airspace Unleashed, FireFly Singapore… I think that will be really exciting to watch.

"We'll see some surprises watching some of the junior freestylers"
"We'll see some surprises watching some of the junior freestylers"

Where do you think we could have some surprises?

I think we will have some surprises watching some of the Junior freestylers. They seem to be progressing so much and I’m looking forward to see what they come up with.

How should we present Indoor Skydiving to the world if it becomes recognized as an Olympic sport?

I think that by presenting viewers with live graphics, both on the livestream and for a live audience would help people to engage more when watching. Side by side comparisons of time, live graphics displayed on screens, video explanations of what is happening and will happen. I think it would be good to look to other similar sports to see how they are presented.

"Catching up with friends from around the world is the best part of competition"
"Catching up with friends from around the world is the best part of competition"

What is the most fun part of a competition for you?

For me, as well getting to watch and talk about the flying, competitions are also a great time to catch up with friends who are usually scattered around the world. It’s a very intense few days; kind of like being in a surreal bubble, then when you go home you get that sad, post-festival feeling!

How much do you get drawn into the excitement of the battles?

For anybody who has ever watched me commentate, I think it’s safe to say that I get very excited. For me the sport is so immersive and so mesmerising that I almost forget where I am. Sometimes I have to be told by the camera crew to sit back down as staying in my seat is very difficult when there is a tense battle going on.

What difference do you think it makes that it is an FAI competition?

Every competition seems to step up a notch and we’ve seen some seriously amazing ones up to this point. With it being a World Cup, I think the competitors will be feeling that pride and maybe pressure when representing their country.

What advice would you have for competitors to deal with that pressure?

I think for me, in stressful or nerve-wracking situations, what helps is having the support of my friends and family. So whether they’re right there with you or a million miles away on the end of a Skype call, talk to people who make you feel good! And remember that there is no point in me competing if it isn’t fun!

"I like to surround myself with people who make me laugh and feel good"
"I like to surround myself with people who make me laugh and feel good"

Do you prefer commentating or competing?

I love both. Competing challenged me in ways that I didn’t expect. I loved it so much and I felt so proud of myself. When I’m commentating I get to watch my favourite sport, talk about it and hang out with my friends… what’s not to love!?

As a Dynamic competitor, what is the biggest challenge?

I was always involved in competitions because they were fun, but that didn’t stop me from being incredibly nervous. I laughed a lot and loved seeing friends from around the world, but I found the anticipation both delicious and unbearable! The adrenaline rush was huge and I would try to focus all my energy on visualising what would come next.

How do you see others cope with the pressure?

Everybody has their own motivation for competing and deals with it in their own way. Sometimes athletes are representing their country or have set themselves a personal challenge; sometimes they’re competing in a player-coach situation or are taking part in an extra discipline, just for fun. I see people listening to music, doing yoga, sitting alone and visualising; everybody is just doing what it takes to mentally prepare for a stressful situation I suppose.

Who are your favourite competitors to watch?

Hmm… I’ve met some really amazing competitors; all for different reasons. I love watching Leo and Gyzmo fly. The D4W team; Prana Vayu; not only do I adore their routines, but they’re also really great guys. I really enjoy watching freestyle competitors with their own quirky style or music choice; Elena Dorofeeva, Jamie Arnold, Toms Ivans and Fred Fernandez.

Has indoor skydiving changed the face of outdoor skydiving?

Wind tunnels are an amazing tool to help train precision and fine-tune skills in the sky, but it’s also great that tunnel flying is a sport in its own right. I think for first time flyers and first time tandem passengers it can be a great link to get them to consider joining the sport by training in either or both.

Do you have a favourite commentary moment?

A couple of years ago at The Wind Games I interviewed Omar Sanda. I asked him how he thought the round went and he just looked at me blankly and said, “I’m Omar,”

“I know,” I replied and we just sort of laughed awkwardly and moved on. We’ve watched it back and laughed so many times; I was even sent an awesome hoodie all the way from Sonic in Spain with #iamomar on the back!

Anything you would like to add, Emma?

I’m really looking forward to the 3rd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2018. It’s going to be an awesome meet with crazy-amazing flying by World Class athletes!

This article was originally published on skydivemag