Profile - Mikhail Markine | D-29696
by Brian Giboney
Mikhail Markine is a very talented and determined skydiving and wind-tunnel competitor, coach and organizer. He is so talented that 4-way formation skydiving team SDC Rhythm XP recruited him to fly tail even before he got U.S. residency and could qualify for U.S. medals. Following a few years of flying with Rhythm and earning a chest full of medals, he joined the Arizona Airspeed 4-way team after competing (and winning gold) on the Airspeed 16-way team at the 2015 USPA Nationals.
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Nationality: Russian and Canadian
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Professional 4-way FS competitor and coach, software engineer
Education: Bachelor of Applied Science in electrical engineering, University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada
Pet Peeves: People fixing others’ gear without permission
Life Philosophy: I seek growth in everything I do.
Did you start as an AFF, static-line or tandem student? Static line to PFF [progressive freefall, similar to AFF] in Canada. I’ve never done a tandem.
Jump Philosophy: More better.
Team Name: Arizona Airspeed
Sponsors: Advanced Aerospace Designs, Cookie Composites, Larsen & Brusgaard, Para-Gear Equipment Co., Performance Designs, Skydive Arizona, SkyVenture Arizona, Sun Path Products and Tony Suits
Container: Javelin Odyssey X
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 79
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil II+
Disciplines: Formation skydiving, swooping, freeflying
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Arizona in Eloy
Year of First Jump: 2006
Licenses: C-36912, D-29696
Arizona Airspeed: gold in open 16-way FS at USPA Nationals 2015
SDC Rhythm XP: silver in open 4-way FS at USPA Nationals 2015, 2014 and 2013; bronze in open 4-way FS at the Dubai International Parachuting Championships 2014 and 2013
Vibe: gold in advanced 4-way FS at USPA Nationals 2012
Perris Quattro: bronze in advanced 4-way FS at USPA Nationals 2010
Total Number of Jumps: 5,200
Hop and Pop: 100
Balloon Jumps: One
Largest Completed Formation: 75-way
Total Number of Cutaways: Six
What was your canopy progression?
Random rental and borrowed gear for the first 100 jumps. Performance Designs Sabre 2 170, 150, 135, 120 and 107—about 400 jumps on each size. Performance Designs Velocity 90—about 2,000 jumps. Performance Designs Valkyrie 79—about 1,000 jumps.
What are your future skydiving goals?
Become a world champion and break a 30-point average in the sky.
What safety item do you think is most important?
Please, please, please jump with an automatic activation device and a SkyHook/MARD [main-activated reserve deployment] system. There are very few valid exceptions.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
It was completely random for me—an engineering society trip got me out for the first jump. I loved it so much I came back to work on my license later that summer.
I skydive because …
It makes me feel alive; it gives me goals and opportunities for growth.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Take your time to learn to fly, learn how your equipment works, learn to be safe. Get coaching.
What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Compete for the world title in 4-way.
What is your favorite jump plane and why?
Twin Otter, hands-down. Fast ride up, comfortable jump-run speed and door.
If you could make everyone do something to make earth a better place, what would it be?
Treat others better, especially strangers and people who aren’t like you.
What has been your most embarrassing moment at a drop zone?
Losing my temper.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Be patient enough to let the learning happen.
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural?
I pour endless energy into my skydiving, and I’ve never stopped being a student. We deflect air; there’s nothing natural about that.
Of your thousands of skydives, is there one jump you would like to do over?
No. Repeating a great experience would take away from the magic of the original. Meanwhile, the mistakes I’ve made have given me valuable lessons.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Being able to persevere through setbacks, break through barriers and reach my goals.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Make sure USPA prioritizes skydiver interests over business interests.
What drives your competitive spirit?
I want to be the best at what I do. I want to do better than I did last time.
What was it like to have SDC Rhythm XP recruit you to fly its tail slot before you received U.S. residency?
USPA rules state that a competitor must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident to qualify for medals at the USPA Nationals. I’m very grateful to my Rhythm teammates and sponsors for challenging me, building and believing in our plan to resolve the residency issue and personally foregoing medals at the 2013 USPA Nationals to have me on the team.
Was moving from SDC Rhythm XP to Arizona Airspeed an emotional decision?
Leaving a great organization is never easy. That Rhythm lineup spent three years competing, training, coaching and even living together for months on end. We became great friends. We had an awesome time together, and it was hard to handle the fact that it was over.
How did you become interested in FS competitions?
By the time I had 150-200 jumps, I felt like I wasn’t learning fast enough doing regular organized jumps at the DZ. A few of my peers felt the same way, and we decided to learn 4-way together. We wound up at a Southern California Skydiving League meet [at Skydive Elsinore in California], and I was totally hooked.
Out of all of your skydives, does one jump stand out most?
Two [jumps do]. Doing a 3-way wingsuit flyby of a 10-way CF [canopy formation] diamond with Team Ill Vision. We sent wake turbulence ripples through the canopy formation. And breaking off from a two-plane formation skydive with fellow competitors directly over skyscrapers in the Dubai Marina.
Are you excited to compete at the World Parachuting Championships Mondial, which is coming to U.S. soil this year for the first time?
Of course. Joining the active Arizona Airspeed lineup in January meant that I was going to the world meet in just eight months. New team, new slot, higher pace. Working hard!
What do you see for FS in the future?
1. I want to see more outdoor meets. Skydiving competitions are too infrequent.
2. I want to see gear that is lighter and less restrictive without compromising the size of the reserve parachute. We’ll be able to move faster in the sky.
3. The explosion of tunnels being built is an opportunity to expose more people to FS and excite the next generation of competitors, masters of all angles of flight seeking the technical intricacy of 4-way FS.
Explain Mikhail Markine in five words or fewer:
Ambitious. Optimistic. Reserved. Thoughtful. Original.