Atomic Youth


Dec 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Nelson at the Skydive Chicago Skydiving Center, Ottawa, Illinois

Matt Nelson [22]


Ottawa, Lllinois
If you think competitive skydiving involves little more than jumping and dropping, allow Matt Nelson to bring you up to speed. At the second U.S. Freeflying Nationals, held in October 2001 in Chicago, the third-generation parachutist risked multiple skull fractures in a terrifying blind maneuver that involved plunging to earth while whizzing around a pair of teammates back to back and headfirst for 45 seconds. "I like the stick-it-or-go-home-crying moves," Nelson says. So did the judges: The home-brewed routine propelled him and his pals in Team Alchemy—Jon DeVore, 27, and Mike Swanson, 29—to a national championship in a brand of airborne gymnastics that's the hottest thing to hit skydiving since the helmet cam. Talent seems to run in the family. "Nelson's been in the sport for 18 years, and he's only 22," says Omar Alhegelan, 36, a member of Arizona Freeflight, a competing team. "Let's just say Tiger Woods didn't start playing golf when he was 16. It's the same deal." —Eric Hansen

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!