Jake Jensen, D-30450, is a two-time Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Champion and five-time USPA National Champion in vertical formation skydiving with team SDC Core. He’s also set nine world records in head-up and head-down large-formation skydiving. Recently, Jensen retired from Core to take on a new competitive challenge: canopy piloting. Stay tuned for more achievements from this epic athlete, whom former teammate Jason Russell called, “Dedicated and hardworking, able to balance the fun side of skydiving with the professional side and a great flyer.”
Marital status: Engaged to be married this summer
Children: A son, Mavrick (age 13) and a stepdaughter, Kyleigh (age 12)
Pet: A beautiful pit bull named Chuck
Job: Professional skydiver and coach
Pre-Jump Superstitions: I do an excessive number of handle touches in the plane.
Life Philosophy: Chase your dreams. Treat everyone with respect.
Sponsors: Airtec, Cookie Helmets, iFLY Utah, Liquid Sky Sports, Performance Designs, Skydive Chicago, United Parachute Technologies
Container: United Parachute Technologies Vector Micron V303
Canopy: Performance Designs Hybrid VK 75
Reserve: Performance Designs Optimum 113
AAD: Airtec Speed CYPRES 2
Discipline: Vertical formation skydiving
Home DZ: Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois
First jump: A tandem, then AFF in 2006
License and Ratings: D-30450, Tandem and AFF Instructor, Coach, PRO
Championships and Records: Two FAI World Championships, one FAI World Cup, Five USPA National Championships and nine FAI World Records
Jumps: coming up on 10,000
Freefly: 5,800 Camera: 1,600 Demos: 55 Helicopter: 20 Tandems: 2,200 FS: 150 Balloon: 40 Wingsuit: Eight BASE: 12
Largest Formation: We built to 195 people on the last 200-way head-down world record attempts
Cutaways: Nine: two tandem and seven sport
Most people don’t know this about me:
I was on a professional snowmobile team called the Alpine Assassins that traveled, chasing snow, to make backcountry snowmobile films.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
I’ll skydive until I can’t walk anymore.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
I have a few, but I looked up to Arizona Arsenal, in particular Ty Losey. I made a few jumps with him when I was first learning to freefly, and he blew my mind with his flying. He was so humble, and we have become good friends over the years. Also my teammates on SDC Core—J. Russ [Jason Russell], Steph [Stephanie Strange], Dusty [Hanks], Rook [Nelson], Kai Kai [Kyle Buchholz], Ryan Risberg and my best friend who I started skydiving with, Chris Argyle. Sam Lendle, as well.
What are your future skydiving goals?
I just retired from SDC Core and I applied with Flight-1 and I hope to be working with them soon. I would like to start competing in the swooping world.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
I really can’t believe that I see so many people not doing personal gear checks. It’s so easy and gets neglected so often.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I landed from my first tandem and said, “I want to be a skydiver.” I was certified a few weeks later and haven’t looked back since.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was always kinda shy, but now as a coach I see the people who aren’t afraid to ask questions progress the fastest. The more knowledge you have, the more safe you will be and the longer you will skydive.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Shoot VFS video. It is harder than it looks.
I skydive because:
It makes me happy. I don’t think that I have ever seen myself in a video skydiving without a big smile on my face.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
I would love to go for a rip around the sky with my old teammate, Ryan Risberg. He was truly a legend.
If you could make everyone do something to make earth better, what would it be?
I believe if we all could look past our differences and not judge, the world would be a much better place.
Is there one jump you would like to do again?
During the last upright world record attempts (which happens to be my favorite kind of flying), I screwed up and rushed my grip, and I got cut for it. I wish I could have that jump back.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
On the podium at the world championships in Australia, talking Ashleigh Hartman into marrying me.
What has been your strangest thought during a skydive?
There have been a few times in freefall when I have had gear fear … just that weird feeling you get sometimes.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Hands down, it would be to support the top teams in the sport. To compete at a world level, you have to pretty much be a full-time skydiver. So many other federations give support to their teams.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Under canopy after the last round of my first world championships, I was screaming in excitement at the top of my lungs. Also, my first upright record, the 56-way. You could just feel when we got the record; the formation just felt smooth, like time stood still.
What is your perfect day like?
My perfect day is being in the backcountry snowmobiling. It is so peaceful and a beauty that so few people get to see. I explain it like being in freefall for an entire day.
What does the future hold for SDC Core?
SDC Core is staying together for another four years. As much as I’m going to miss it—the teammates, competing, all the things that go along with team stuff—I am ready to move on to other opportunities for me and my family.
What is the future of VFS competition?
I think it will continue to progress. J. Russ and Steph do so much to help the sport and push it. With Core still competing, I believe it will keep pushing VFS forward in the U.S. and, hopefully, the world.
What’s the best thing about competing at the world level?
The friendships you make, as well as being in the plane and hearing other languages. Mostly, I was surprised by the camaraderie there is at the world level. At the last world championships in Australia, my bags got lost and I had to do the first four jumps in borrowed gear from head to toe. I couldn’t believe how many competitors of ours wanted to help and loaned me gear. It says so much about the sport of skydiving.