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Up Close & Personal
name: Sven Ibens
education: Bachelor Banking and Insurance Sciences
family & marital staus: Married (Annelies) with two children (Yana, Siem)
number of jumps: 9,000
years in Sport: 37
teams: SWIM, Compal/De Roeiers, Hayabusa, Thunder ISR, Thund8erbirds
slot(s): Point, Inside Center
favorite competition: ESL Championship 2006, World Cup 2012, ESL Championship 2012
funniest moment in skydiving: Exit troubles in Round 9 at the World Cup 2012 in Prostejov (see story below).
skydiving mentor(s): My father, Louis van de Weygaert, Marc Lossie, Willy Bogaert, Ludo Havelaerts, Luc Maisin, David Grauwels, Andy Grauwels, Roy Janssen, Bruno van den Eede, Doug Park, Thomas Hughes, Craig Girard.
hobbies: Skydiving – Squash - Cycling - Family
favorite book(s): Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
favorite music: Foo Fighters, Muse, John Legend
favorite movie(s): Top Gun
favorite place: With my family. Under my canopy, after a great 4-way skydive, flying back to the DZ in formation with my team.
Where will you be ten years from now? Still skydiving and trying to learn from my son, who hopefully will be willing to skydive with me every now and then.
best kept secret: I don't know why, but I sincerely believe that I will reach the age of 100
"Talent wins games, but team work and intelligence wins championships"
- Michael Jordan
Sven Ibens from Belgium could have been a 4-way world champion if he had continued with Hayabusa. Two of the current members, 4-way indoor and outdoor world champions Andy and David Grauwels, were his team mates in the original HayaBusa lineup, together with Roy Janssen. He had to make a decision at the end of the 2006 season, which was probably one of the hardest in his life.
Sven Ibens had his second baby on the way in 2006, which was born during the World Meet 2006 in Germany. He decided eventually to continue as a recreational competitor, while he never lost his amazing passion for 4-way and the competitive drive of a world champion.
"The competition was held at our home drop zone, Skydive Center Spa. Everyone present knew that this would be the last jump of the original HayaBusa lineup."
"When walking back to the packing area, we received a standing ovation and lots of people, including ourselves were in tears..."
Sven Ibens did not slow down with his efforts in Formation Skydiving competition and put his energy into supporting the sport after leaving HayaBusa.
He could neither stay away from active 4-way and helped to build a HayaBusa farm team, HayaBusa Beta. Team member Waedong So eventually became the new HayaBusa point in 2010.
Finally he had wanted more again than only helping HayaBusa and sharing his knowledge and experiences with the Formation Skydiving community. He formed Thunder ISR in 2009, together with his long-time friend Paul Hofstee, and the new team has become the best "amateur team" in the world, still training and competing with the original lineup of 2009 (Wesley Claessens, Jacco van Eerden, Grim Swinnen on camera).
Thunder was allowed to compete as a guest team at the World Cup 2012 and finished in 2nd place behind NMP PCH HayaBusa after a great performance.
It became even more exciting for Thunder ISR shortly after the World Cup in Prostejov 2012. His new team kept up with his former team, and Thunder forced HayaBusa with alternate Jeroen "Bob" Nollet into a jump-off round at the ESL Championship 2012. Sven Ibens still remembers the details of the extra round:
"The skydive went great, but the walk to the plane, the ride to altitude, landing, cheering from spectators and the friendship that I felt at that moment between the two teams were just perfect. Before the jump, I did not feel nervous at all, just happy and thankful to be there."
Sven Ibens' recent career since forming Thunder ISR has been well documented by the Sun Path Products NSL News.
The career story for his NSL Profile will now rather pick up one of the Up Close & Personal topics that cannot be found anywhere in the news updates: "Funniest Moment in Skydiving".
Sven Ibens has plenty of funny stories, which 29 years in the sport easily provide.
However, there is one story that sticks out, and it shows how humble this perfect team mate with a quiet authority really is, as Sven Ibens himself is in the center of the mishap...
"The jump plane is a Turbolet, flying fast. We are in the plane with HayaBusa and the Norwegian girls. We're first out and we had to launch Block 12 (Bundy - Bundy)."
Nothing unusual happened on the ride to altitude, and the Thunder members were preparing themselves for this meet round as for any other one, completely focused. Then the real story begins:
"Red light - door open. Final visualization before the jump. Green light..."
Thunder climbs out, and the team members take their positions in the door. Sven Ibens is the last one to take his place as the Inside Center, and things begin to get out of control soon:
The Turbolet has a slightly higher door compared to a Twin Otter or a Cessna Caravan, which makes head-jamming and reaching grips more difficult for the Outside Center:
"He has a hard time getting my grip and I decide to help him by lifting my leg. As I do, I feel that I am completely out of balance, but I cannot put my foot back on the floor, because Wesley already has my grip..."
Sven Ibens finally loses balance completely, and disaster strikes Thunder: "Before I can give the count, I am falling back into the plane, and I am literally lying on the ground."
Four members of the team were safe by then, however, when Jacco Van Eerden looked back to check on videographer Grim Swinnen he saw him floating on one hand, no feet on the step anymore, with a large smile on his face:
"Jacco starts signaling us that we really need to go before we lose our video. In the meantime I see HayaBusa and the girls looking at us with eyes wide open, trying to figure out what we are trying to prove..."
The story still came to a happy end with a perfect Thunder exit: "We all realized very quickly that we couldn't go around, took our positions and launched a perfect 12. It surely was not funny at the very moment, but afterwards we had some good laughs about it..."
The Thund8rbirds 8-way lineup has created a reunion with two of his original Hayabusa team mates and adds even more fun to the project.
Sven Ibens is not planning to give up any of this great fun any time soon, and he has plenty of time to spend with his skydiving family:
"I don't know why, but I sincerely believe that I will reach the age of 100..."