Lake Elsinore’s Sean Jones leads winning team in canopy formation events

— At the 2022 United States Parachute Association Nationals, there was tight competition for who would take home gold in the canopy formation skydiving events. This year’s canopy formation competition brought a completely different experience as the previous USA Team champs chose not to participate. Rather, each team member chose to captain a group of skydivers newer to the sport. This resulted in tight competition for podium spots.

Nationals took place at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, from Sept. 2-21, with top skydivers from across the world coming together to compete in various disciplines. At the forefront was local Lake Elsinore elite skydiver Sean Jones, who led his team ‘Elsinore Too Wrapped Up’ to victory in canopy formation. In that specific event, skydivers intentionally build formations in the sky by positioning two or more open parachute canopies together during flight.

Lake Elsinore elite skydiver Sean Jones, third from the right, led his team to victory in canopy formation at the 2022 United States Parachute Association Nationals at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Jones is no stranger to winning, having competed at the national level since 2008 and has won 13 gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals throughout his career. He has been named the combined canopy formation champion previously in 2017, 2019 and most recently, 2021, but this year was a special opportunity to develop the next generation of world-class skydivers.

“I would not be where I am today without my teammates,” Jones said. “The thrill of competition and pushing what is possible is rewarding beyond words. Bringing in new talent to the discipline has been the highlight of this year’s Nationals and sharing my knowledge and leading the team to earn gold has been a huge honor.”

Born and raised in Indio, Jones calls Lake Elsinore home, and works as a project manager at a leading manufacturer of cryogenic plants. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California, Riverside. After taking his first skydive in 2004 at Skydive Elsinore, Jones hasn’t looked back, completing over 4,000 jumps to date. Skydive Perris was also a hot spot for Jones, who encourages everyone to take a jump at some point in their lives.

When asked about the financial aspect, Jones admits, “While it is costly in the beginning, people would be surprised to learn that the more you jump, the cheaper it gets.”

Sponsors have made the jump to being a professional a slight bit easier on the pocketbook for Jones and his crew, who love to perform demonstrations as part of Canopy Formations Specialists using a combination of smoke, streamers and flags. Jones won a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships in canopy formation 4-way rotations and had fourth place finishes at the 2012 and 2016 World Championships. He also participated in the largest sequential canopy formation world record, broken in 2019 with a 43-way.

The United States Parachute Association Nationals took place at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, from Sept. 2-21, with top skydivers from across the world coming together to compete in various disciplines. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Founded in 1946, the United States Parachute Association is a voluntary nonprofit association dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving nationwide, establishing strict safety standards, training policies and programs at more than 200 USPA-affiliated skydiving schools and centers throughout the United States. Each year, USPA’s 40,000 members and hundreds of thousands of first-timers make roughly 3.3 million jumps in the U.S. USPA represents skydivers before all levels of government, the public and the aviation industry and sanctions national skydiving competitions and records.

For more information on making a first jump or to find a skydiving center near you, visit www.uspa.org or call 800-371-USPA. Results from the USPA Nationals can also be found online on the home page of the USPA website.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.