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Deland FL 32724
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Up Close & Personal
name: Kirk Verner
education: Two years at college with a major in accounting.
family & marital staus: Divorced with three children, Alex (26), Jadyn (19), Trey (14). Happily in a relationship with Jeana Billings.
number of jumps: 30,000
years in Sport: 36
teams: Magnet Man, Perris Air Moves, DeLand Vertical Speed, Arizona Airspeed, Paraclete XP
slot(s): Inside Center with Vertical Speed, Outside Center with Airspeed
favorite competition: First 4-way gold medals at FAI World Meet 1995.
funniest moment in skydiving: Training jump at FAI World Meet 2001 in 8-way. Jack Jefferies brainlocks at a mirror-imaging sequence and repeats the wrong grip on me over and over.
skydiving mentor(s): Tom Piras, who knew early that I would be next becoming a world champion.
hobbies: Drawing with charcoal that he got for Christmas, Sailing
favorite book(s): Last Lecture by Randy Pouch
favorite music: All kinds of music, except country, rock-n roll, hiphop
favorite movie(s): Life is Beautiful
favorite place: Australia, Italy, with welcoming, friendly, and accommodating people
Where will you be ten years from now? Hoping to be on a boat with Jeana sailing around the world.
best kept secret: You have to be a maniac if you want to get everything out of you.
"Beatles: All you need is Love"
There is also no featured NSL Profile skydiver whose story was told while totaling a number of over 30,000 jumps. And there is surely nobody on the list who was still competing at a world championship almost 35 years later.
Kirk Verner would have deserved to get his NSL Profile published when he was still a member of Arizona Airspeed, together with Mark Kirkby and Dan BC, who are also still active in 4-way and 8-way training and competition.
Their stories are identical between 1993 and 1999. However, Kirk Verner started a completely new career when he moved back to the east coast and became a part of the Paraclete XP wind tunnel business in 2006. He has added an uncountable number of wind tunnel hours to his over 30,000 jumps.
Both the Arizona Airspeed story and the Paraclete XP career alone would have been more than enough for a new NSL Profile, and it will be difficult to cover it all together.
He also met U.S. champions Mark Harrington and Jack Jefferies in DeLand, who eventually joined the lineup just for the USPA Nationals 1991. It was the time when DeLand teams battled with Dan BC's west coast team Air Moves. DeLand Vertical Speed had won another one of these east/west-coast battles when Kirk Verner's mentor and DeLand coach Tom Piras told him that he will become a 4-way world champion soon - if he takes the whole road there.
Kirk Verner, Jack Jefferies and Dan BC invited several highly talented 4-way competitors for the open slot, including Dawn English, Craig Buxton, DeLand videographer Howy Nordstrom, and also Pete Allum, who had already committed to the new Sebastian XL team project though. Finally there was a try-out in DeLand in December 1993, where Mark Kirkby was selected for the first and original Airspeed lineup. Kirk Verner remembered that it was too obvious that Mark Kirkby would be the choice: "It was an easy pick."
He told the NSL News that the first Airspeed lineup then tried to find sponsorship from a drop zone. They were asking for 750 training jumps in the two years leading up to the next world meet in 1995 where they were hoping to finally beat the French 4-way world champions of 1987, 1989, 1991 and 1993.
The original Arizona Airspeed 4-way team accomplished the goal and won 4-way gold in 1995, then defended the world championship title successfully two years later.
The Eloy offer was literally unlimited. Kirk Verner remembers that he made over 2,000 training jumps in 1998 alone, and then the same number again in 1999. It was the time when Craig Girard had moved to Eloy, as well, and the 8-way project was added to Arizona Airspeed's agenda. Kirk Verner made 1,300 jumps in 8-way and the rest in 4-way. His original Airspeed lineup won 8-way gold medals in 1999 and missed the 4-way title for double-gold by six points.
The 8-way gold medal in 2004 was also the last one for Kirk Verner at Skydive Arizona. He staid for one more year before accepting a job offer at Paraclete XP, where the new career story began.
Tim and John D'Annunzio were building and operating the only wind tunnel in the United States with a 16-foot flying chamber, and Kirk Verner became their prominent and popular signature coach. It did not take very long until Kirk Verner's passion for 4-way and 8-way competition and his wealth of knowledge and competition experiences materialized with overwhelming success in business and athletics for Paraclete XP.
However, Paraclete XP's 4-way and 8-way lineups were never able to claim the top spot in the Unites States, and Kirk Verner explained what it takes to get to the very top: "Skydiving ruins you for everything else. It transcends people from one point to another. You have to be a maniac if you want to get everything out of you, gotta be a fanatic, live the extreme, the full life, and you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get the prince..."
Things have changed, and resources are better compared to the early Airspeed days. Paraclete XP owners Tim and John D'Annunzio have been supporting the athletic part of the business, and they have finally added Skydive Paraclete XP, the drop zone in Raeford, to their portfolio.
Kirk Verner and John D'Annunzio put together a new 8-way lineup and won the USPA gold medals last year. It was not only a team for the meet. XP8 continued with indoor training and won the first set of FAI 8-way gold medals at the FAI Indoor World Meet.
They are still not done. XP8 is planning to win the USPA Nationals again this year and qualify for the FAI World Meet 2020 in Tanay. That's where Kirk Verner would have the opportunity to add another FAI gold medal to his collection - 27 years after his first 4-way gold medal in 1995...