Matt and Jennifer Davidson, members of U.S. Army Parachute Team, recently won the gold medal at the World Parachuting Cup and European Championships in Saarlouis, Germany.
Matt, who has been in the Army for nearly a quarter century, has been on the parachuting team for 22 years.
The squad, known as the Golden Knights, represented the U.S. in the eight-way formation skydiving category. They were one of eight American teams competing in five air sports disciplines. The 41 members of the team won fifteen gold, eight silver and five bronze medals in four events.
According to Matt, “I love looking across a formation and seeing seven other teammates firing on all cylinders; knees dropping, pieces turning, faces contorting with focus and determination. I love the feeling I get when breaking off from a jump that we’ve performed our best on, exchanging a nod of approval with a teammate as we track away.
“More than the awesome feeling that I get from jumping, over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the immense satisfaction of coming together as a team to meet or exceed our goals and expectations. I love the ebbs and flows of the journey, learning and growing together as a team. Being around people on a daily basis that have such a high level of dedication and commitment to excellence is something that I value greatly and am honored to be a part of.
“One of the things I love most is experiencing a moment when the tables turn; a teammate that I’ve taught different aspects of the discipline to over the years becomes the teacher, the coach becomes the student and I learn something new. That, for me is one of the most satisfying.”
This is Matt’s tenth world competition. He won eight gold and two silver medals.
Jennifer also won the World Cup, and is the first woman to participate in the eight-way formation since the team began competing 45 years ago.
Jennifer has been a member of the Golden Knights for nine years and has earned gold medals in three world competitions. Previously, she was a member of the Golden Knight’s four-way formation skydiving team, which won the 2015 World Air Games in Dubai, UAE, and the 2016 World Championships in Chicago, IL.
“I’m impressed everyday by her level of focus and dedication and am always proud of her. My proudest moment was when she and her team won the bronze medal at the US Nationals in the Open Category in 2012, becoming the first all-female 4-way team to do so,” Matt said. “I’m extremely fortunate to be able to share the experience of being a Golden Knight competitor with her, to see her on the plane every day and to share the wealth of experiences we’ve had.”
Matt and Jennifer, who married in 2013 at the Alpine Lodge in Westcliffe, participate in 700 training and competition dives each year.
“I love training and preparing for competition, being a part of this team and experiencing the process. For me, the prize is truly in the process and in the friendships that are formed along the way, both on the team and with all of the fellow competitors I’ve met around the world. I’m so incredibly fortunate to have been doing this for the majority of my career and I’m still loving every minute of it,” Matt said.