By Brian Giboney
Jen Domenico, D-22977, is a women’s world record holder and has been a member of USPA for 21 years. As a big-way skydiver, she coordinated many P3 events with Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld at Skydive Perris in California. She’s also an active 4- and 8-way formation skydiving competitor.
Birthplace: K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan near Marquette. The base no longer exists.
Marital Status: Divorced
Children: Two boys: Tristan, 8; and Tanner, 5
Occupation: I’ve been a few things from feature-film finance manager to big-way event coordinator, but these days I’m a mother of two “enthusiastic” boys, a freelance graphic designer and website developer.
Education: MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Business
Life Philosophy: Love like it will never hurt; live like your turn on this planet is numbered in days; be grateful for everything.
Jump Philosophy: Only do it if you can do it with a reasonable probability of safety. But then, so long as it’s probably safe, go big!
Team Names: Perris Kiss (2016, 4-way open), Perris Kisses (2016, 8-way advanced)
Sponsors: Square One and Kiss Helmets
Container: Sun Path Javelin Odyssey
Main Canopy: NZ Aerosports Icarus Crossfire 2 109
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 113
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: 4-way, 8-way and big-way formation skydiving
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Perris in California
Year of First Jump: Tandem in 1996
Licenses: A-30630, C-29952, D-22977
Records: 181-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Women’s World Record for Largest Formation Skydive in 2009
Total Number of Jumps: 2,550 FS: 2,000-plus
Camera: 450-500 Freefly: 20 Tandems: Three (as passenger) Balloon: Two BASE: Two
Largest Completed Formation: 200-way, and what a fantastic experience that was!
Total Number of Cutaways: Four, all were line twists on high-performance canopies.
Of all of your skydives, does one stand out most?
The women’s world record jump in 2009, where I had the privilege of docking on one of my heroes, Eliana Rodriguez, is one. But recently, I’d have to say jump seven at the 2016 Nationals. I was competing in the 4-way open division for the first time, sharing the plane with such icons as Arizona Airspeed and SDC Rhythm XP. Round seven was an all-random dive. The energy on the ride to altitude was much like a school of sharks encircling their prey, awaiting a feeding frenzy. Our skydive, while not flawless, was the fastest 4-way jump I’d ever done. We scored a clean 30 in time, a personal record and a score I honestly never thought I’d hit in competition. It was my first training season back after a five-year hiatus from jumping.
What do you like most about the sport?
That’s easy, the people. My involvement in P3 and big-way skydiving has fostered so many friendships with so many people of different cultures, experience and occupational backgrounds. Skydiving has never been an individual sport for me, and it’s certainly the glue that keeps me around the DZ year after year, whether I’m actually jumping or not.
What do you like least about the sport?
The danger of the sport is the toughest psychological pill to swallow. But, skydiving has given me so many of the most cherished people in my life, including a better, stronger, more confident version of myself, while it has taken few away.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld. His story, his career accolades and his coaching are only a small part of what makes him a mentor and hero of mine. He is also one of my dearest friends and has pulled me through more tough times in my life than he has tough skydives. I sincerely value his presence in my life and am grateful to the sport for allowing our paths to cross.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
The majority of incidents I’ve seen in my 20 years in skydiving were caused by pilot error. Our minds are affected by so many things on any given day, in any given hour: exhaustion, stress, heat, cold, dehydration, hunger, pain, whatever. Yet, there is not a lot of attention paid to determining if someone is in safe condition to fly. Skydivers don’t regularly check themselves as often as they check their gear.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
My best friend from childhood, Carla, who left this world too soon but who was there when I made my first tandem. She was an adventure seeker and loved the idea of skydiving, but the limitations of her lungs prevented her from being able to make a jump. I would give anything to see the joy on her face in freefall over her home state of Texas. Hell, I would give anything just to see her again at all.
What kind of skydiving student were you?
Well, I hit my face on the step of the Cessna 182 on AFF level 1 and landed with blood dripping from my mouth, covering my face and goggles like something out of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” I performed as required in freefall, but I wouldn’t exactly say I was a natural.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
My children, Tristan and Tanner. I couldn’t even keep a plant alive in my studio apartment before starting a family. I’m extremely proud of the kind, healthy, inquisitive and adventure-thirsty little beings they’ve become.
What do you love about coordinating big-way events?
Meeting people from all over the world and all walks of life. Then watching them come together to become better skydivers. Whether I was actually jumping or not, it’s the people and friendships I’ve made that make this the most fun and fulfilling job I’ve ever had.
How did you become interested big-ways?
I was kind of thrown into it by Tony Domenico, who asked me to help check people in for a big-way camp. In return, I was offered discounted organized jumps by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld and Kate Cooper. How could I say no? Within seven days, I completed my first 50-way and was hooked. I was previously so far removed from that discipline, and the thought of it honestly freaked me out. But I made about 100 new friends from 30 different countries that week and committed to being the P3 registrar from that point forward.
Do you have any advice for skydivers interested in big-ways?
Stay coachable, no matter what jump number is in your logbook, no matter how many records are published with your name on them, no matter how many medals you have on your wall.
Do you have advice for women getting into the sport of skydiving and perhaps world-record jumps?
Keep fit and flexible. From jump number one, I see women battling bruising, aching, muscle strain and fatigue to a greater degree than men. Prepare your body for the demands that will be placed on it and try not to let the adrenaline overcome your discomfort. Many times, just changing the way you’re sitting, hydrating more between jumps or moving your body a couple of inches to one side in the door will save pain and injury. And don’t be intimidated! By anything! Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! And if you have a large-formation goal in mind, speak up to big-way organizers. They will help you define the path to success.
Explain Jen Domenico in five words or fewer:
Mother, adventurer, passionate, tomboy (is that even a PC word anymore?), geek.