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Up Close & Personal

name: Arianna de Benedetti

email: ariannadebenedetti@hotmail.com

family & marital staus: Single

number of jumps: 3,600

years in Sport: 24

teams: Sinapsi PD, Kewara, Optic Curves, Norgie Girls

slot(s): Outside Center

favorite competition: World Meet in Croatia 2004

funniest moment in skydiving: Well... there were many funny moments in different occasions, but I think I never laughed so much then when I was doing one of our first Tunnel Camps in Orlando. We were doing a 4-way, Livio, Luca and myself with a lawyer from Milano, Antonio. Who met him knows what I'm talking about... It was probably a sequence of three or four very easy random formations, and he was practically not moving at all... His feet were stuck on the glass and he was just changing grips from one formation to the other at a speed that would have given hard work even to Superman! It was just completely out of control, and I was looking at Luca and we started laughing so hard that after a while we were almost crying into the helmets. But the best thing was that, instead of trying to slow him down, everybody of us was trying to accelerate, it was not something we planned to do, it just happened! I remember it was so funny that I could barely breathe! Antonio came to almost every tunnel camp we did, and he was an amazing person. He died last winter in a canopy collusion, but this is the way I like to remember him.

favorite book(s): "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck

favorite music: I really like very different kinds of music. It depends on my mood I guess. Anyway, lately I 'm listening a lot to a band called "Bright Eyes" that I discovered not too long ago, and I really love it. The lyrics from Connor Oberst are just so real to me.

favorite movie(s): “Festen??? by Thomas Vinterberg, “La Haine??? by Mathieu Kassovits, “Magnolia??? by Paul Thomas Anderson

Where will you be ten years from now? No clue... and I don't even want to know, actually!

best kept secret: Hey Lise, do you mind if I borrow yours? I perfectly agree! :-) It's not the boys who...

favorite quote:

"I’m not religious, so I know it’s a little bit strange to quote a prayer. However, I don’t mean it as a prayer to God - I just hope I will be able to find these things inside myself: "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference???."

Arianna de Benedetti Arianna de Benedetti
Arianna de Benedetti is one of the best female 4-way competitors in the history of Formation Skydiving. She belongs in the same category of high-caliber female athletes who have shown the world how female skydivers can keep up with the best male competitors, just as Dawn English, Lise Aune and Eliana Rodriguez have already shown. Arianna is quiet and likes to stay in the background. However, she speaks out loud and clearly what she thinks and what she wants. The NSL Profile offers these insights.

The Beginning

I started skydiving in October 1999 in Rome, my home city. I did the AFF course... it was a period of my life where I was very confused about everything! I just finished the high school and I had no clue about what to do. I didn't know anybody who was skydiving at that time and, to be honest, I didn't even know exactly what the sport was like.

One day I just opened the phone book looking for a "Skydiving School", I called and asked for information and did my course a couple of months later. I was very lucky to find that place because when I was there, doing my AFF course, there was the Italian 8-way team training, so I got the chance to know what Relative Work was like and to get in touch with the team.

That's when I first met Livio, Luca and Marco. From the first jump it was clear to me that skydiving was the best thing I ever did! In between the mess I had in my mind, skydiving became my reason to wake up in the morning.

At that time, I started a relationship with Livio. He was in the "Sinapsi" 4-way team together with Luca, Marco and Francesco, so I started to follow their training camps all around Europe. I was doing one-on-one jumps with the instructors I found in the Drop Zones while they where training...

It is funny to meet some of them now and remember the time when I spend weeks doing so many one-on-one jumps with them. At the end, they didn't really know what to do with me anymore!!! Eroe from the Spanish team knows what I'm talking about! ;-)

Arianna with Kewara at the awards ceremony of the Malevsky World Cup 2004 Arianna with Kewara at the awards ceremony of the Malevsky World Cup 2004
The first 4-way team

The following year I put together the female team "Kewara", which is still the Italian national Team. I was in it together with Eva, Cristina and Alessandra. We did a good season considering that it was the first 4-way experience for all of us and that we were barely stable at the beginning. At the end of the year we did the Nationals and scored in the 10-average area.

At that point, and even before that, it was clear to me that I really wanted to try to live with skydiving, and I wanted to do 4-way more than anything else. During that year I started to do videos, I got the AFF licence, and I started to pack reserves and do everything else that could allow me to jump as much as possible.

Arianna with Sinapsi at SkyQuest 2001 Arianna with Sinapsi at SkyQuest 2001
Sinapsi PD

After the national championship in 2001 I got the chance to become a team member of the Italian national team "Sinapsi". At the beginning, it looked weird to everybody. However, during the year before, I already did a few jumps with them once in a while.

I guess they were just at a point with the team where they felt they could not go any further, and they needed to change something. They told me that they could see there was a lot of good stuff to work on in me, and they had the feeling I could really do well. They were right!

Anyway, that was the chance I wanted, so we started training together in October 2001. The first competition we did together was SkyQuest in November 2001 after 80 team jumps, and we scored a 16.4 meetaverage.

We did a couple of training camps in Deland and some tunnel training at SkyVenture Orlando, and Solly Williams helped us a lot during that winter training. Then we trained in Spain and in Italy from Pilatus Porter, since our goal was the World Meet 2003 and not the World Cup 2002.

We did a few jumps from a Twinotter in Empuriabrava before the World Cup 2002 and then averaged 19.4 at the meet. It was a great competition, and we improved so much during that year that everybody was motivated to go on and do even better.

In the meantime, we also started doing tunnel camps bringing students from Italy to Orlando, so that we could earn enough money and stay in DeLand. We could keep some money for us, and it also gave us free tunnel time for the Team.

Arianna with Sinapsi PD at the Mondial 2003 in Gap Arianna with Sinapsi PD at the Mondial 2003 in Gap
World Meet in Gap 2003

The next year was not easy for a lot of reasons. We still trained in DeLand during the winter and in Italy in the spring and summer time. Our average was still increasing, and we scored the highest team average of 21.1 at the Italian Nationals in July 2003.

Our goal was the bronze medal at the World Meet in Gap, but we knew that Great Britain and Norway would make it a very hard work. It was a tough competition, very close until the end. We ended up with a 20.3 average, two points behind both of them after round nine. So we weren't able to do round 10 because of the cut, and it was pretty sad.

We were not even happy with our competition, made too many mistakes and had bad jumps. Even though none of us had committed to continue after Gap, it looked clear that all of us wanted to have another chance. Since we had to wait only one more year for the next World Meet, we decided to go on with the team.

Arianna with Roy in Moscow during the Malevsky Cup 2005 Arianna with Roy in Moscow during the Malevsky Cup 2005
World Meet in Croatia 2004

The beginning of the 2004 season was not great. Honestly, we were a little bit tired, and the atmosphere was still a little bit nervous for different reasons. More than once, I thought we could not last until the World Meet, but then...

It just got better, we had a very good training camp in Eloy in March, and everybody seemed more relaxed and more focused on the team training. I think that everybody made a great effort to try to understand the differences between us and to accept them instead of struggling with them. We had the same goal, and that was the most important thing. So, no big deal if we don't like to get drunk and party all together.

Croatia 2004 gave me much more than I thought it could have done. Yes, we lost the podium - again - by one point, and it could have been better, no doubt about it. However, we made good jumps, and we had no regrets about it. The Russians are a good team and great athletes, and they gave us a great competition. So it was not too bad to loose that way.

Moreover, we waited for two days to do round 10, we were behind by one point, the weather was awful, and the waiting was terrible. When the weather was good enough at the end, the other teams started jumping. Our jump was the last load, and the weather turned bad again right before. It was even worse than before, if that was possible.

It looked like in a horror movie. It was already late evening, and we had just half an hour before the dark, and that would have been the end of the competition. I'm thankful to each single person on that load who asked to jump and who jumped despite the weather conditions, especially since the meet management didn’t want us to jump. The sky was so red over the clouds, and everything was so perfect that I have no doubt it was my best load ever.

Break time for Arianna in Croatia Break time for Arianna in Croatia
What now?

Well, what now? Everybody asked me what Sinapsi will do next year. Honestly, I don't know. All I know is that I have 3,500 jumps and that I have made more then 2,000 of these jumps with this team. I probably spent more time with the team in the last three years than with my family.

I know both the good and bad sides of each one my team members. I would miss both of them if we didn't continue. I know that everybody is a little bit tired now. I'm tired, too, and sometimes I feel like I need to find out if there is something else in my life besides skydiving.

However, I honestly hope that some months or even one year of stand-by will make us want to jump again. I would like to find once again the enthusiasm I had at the beginning. It is a "team thing" though. If somebody doesn't have it, then it slowly keeps everybody else down.

But, well, at the end... I still need to get on that f... podium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Livio Piccolo and Arianna de Benedetti thinking of new plans for the team Livio Piccolo and Arianna de Benedetti thinking of new plans for the team
New line-up in 2005

Here I am, September 7th 2006, two years later, to update my profile. Two more years have gone by, 1044 more team jumps are in my log book. Yes, it might look crazy, but I still count every single one of my jumps. One more world meet, and finally a medal. But lets start from the beginning!

After the World Meet in Croatia 2004 we met with the team. Actually, it was not very long after the meet that I already thought I would want to keep training. Maybe it would be a light season in 2005 to recover a bit and then focus on the 2006 season and the World Meet. So, that was pretty much my suggestion.

Livio and Luca felt the same way, and we kind of agreed with that plan. Only Marco had different feelings. He was very tired, not about jumping but about the team. He told us that he was not willing to continue with us.

A few weeks of confusion followed that meeting for the three of us. Actually, "panic" is probably a better word to define the mental situation, I guess. We wanted to continue, but we couldn’t think of anybody in Italy that could replace Marco, and we were really not willing to start all over again with a new young member, even if it was a talented guy. We still had some energy, but not enough for such a project.

First meet of the new Sinapsi PD line-up with Pete Allum at the FSL Shamrock Showdown 2005 First meet of the new Sinapsi PD line-up with Pete Allum at the FSL Shamrock Showdown 2005
So, we were thinking and thinking, and I will always remember when the final idea came up. I was talking to Luca on the phone, it was late in the evening, and I was driving my car in Rome. We were still talking about "somebody in Italy", and at a certain point I said, why must he be from Italy???

I mean, we just need somebody who didn’t compete in Croatia! Well, there where the Norgies and the XL members, and the name of Pete Allum came up as the best option for a lot of reasons! Now, I am not the kind of person that sits there to think it over and over if I believe it is good to do it. So I just took the phone, and I called Pete!

I guess it was a very strange phone call for him because I was so exited about the idea, and I talked to him for ten minutes - no stop and with an incredible speed - in Italian of course! I talked about what happened to our team and about the idea we had, about the plans for next two years, about the possibilities we had, and much more.

When I stopped talking for a second to breath, Pete told me: "I am sorry, but I don't really understand what are you asking me!" Then I said: "I am asking you if you want to jump with us, Pete!" His reaction to the whole thing sounded a little bit confused to me, but it was also very positive. He liked the idea a lot, and he just asked me to give him a few days for a definitive answer.

Sinapsi PD 2005/2006 line-up in fill training action Sinapsi PD 2005/2006 line-up in fill training action
It obviously worked out, and we started training in DeLand on January 17th, 2005. It was fun, there were a lot of new things, it was a new feeling with new energy! Many things looked good from the beginning, many others we needed to get used to, especially Pete, I guess. However, he said that he was having a great time and that he liked the jumps with us a lot!

We had a very light season in 2005 since we had to figure out a lot of bureaucratic stuff to have Pete competing for Italy. We didn't want to spend the whole time jumping, so we agreed to do something around 300 jumps and then increase the efforts the year after.

Well, we surely did that. Finally, we had trained for two years, and we improved a lot! We reached a consistent 23.0 average level. I read at the NSL website that we even have the highest season average of a team in 4-way history, that sounds pretty good, too.

When we arrived in Germany for the World Meet 2006 in Gera, we knew that we had fair chances to compete for every step on the podium. USA, Russia and France were there, and all of us were very good teams. We knew that it could be next to nothing between coming in 1st or 4th!!!

Sinapsi PD at the World Meet 2006 Sinapsi PD at the World Meet 2006
World Meet in Germany 2006

We got the bronze medals. Good or not - that was what we had and what we were able to achieve in that competition. I am not complaining about it. It could be better, but it could also be worse. We made mistakes that you can't do if you want to win, so that's fine.

My opinion is that, at the end, how you perform in competition is what you are able to do, because that's what you have trained for. I could say that we have done better in training or at other competitions that didn't count so much. But in the end I trained two years for the World Meet - not for the Shamrock or for the Italian Nationals. Two teams were able to score higher than we did in those few competition jumps in Germany. Well, this means that they deserved the higher places they won.

The only thing that I'm really sad about is the fact that we could do only five jumps. That was really bad because when you train for years, giving everything that you can for THAT competition, I think you deserve at least to do all rounds! I think that you deserve the conditions that guarantee you to finish the meet with all ten rounds. It is really sad that, besides the weather that was really woeful, the organization was not good enough to guarantee a fairer competition.

DeLand Fire's Gary Smith with Arianna de Benedetti in Gera DeLand Fire's Gary Smith with Arianna de Benedetti in Gera
But, anyway, I am happy! I am happy about the bronze medal and the meet experience. I am happy about some beautiful people that I met on my way. I am happy about the training, happy about what we achieved as a team, and I am happy with what I achieved as a person.

I really hope that my team mates feel the same way and that they can appreciate what we did together. We are all different, but I know that all of us gave it 100% in our own ways. Even if it turned out that we didn’t deserve the sword, I think that we can be happy with everything we did.

Once again - what now?

Here we go again, same question at the end: What now? I can only say that I hope there will be reason to update this profile again some day in the future!