A skydiver who trains in Lake Elsinore took gold last week while representing the U.S. at the 2011 World Cup of Canopy Piloting in Klatovy, Czech Republic.
Jonathan Tagle of Murrieta went up against 100 competitors from 24 countries to win one gold and two silver medals. He earned the gold in the accuracy event, as well as the overall silver medal and silver in the speed event, according to Nancy Koreen, spokesperson for the United States Parachute Association.
Tagle was among 10 of the country’s top skydivers competing for the title of World Cup Champion as part of the U.S. Canopy Piloting Team, Koreen said in a news release.
Often called “swooping,” Koreen explained that in canopy piloting, skydivers fly high-performance parachutes that can generate high vertical and horizontal speeds.
"By performing speed-inducing maneuvers, these very experienced skydivers can glide inches above the ground for hundreds of yards at speeds approaching 75 mph," Koreen said.
The canopy piloting championships include competitions in three categories.
In the speed category, pilots fly as quickly as possible through a course. In distance, they attempt to fly as far as possible across the ground. In accuracy, canopy pilots must stop on an exact spot for maximum points.
Competitors can place in each category, and individual scores are combined to award overall medals, Koreen said.
Tagle, 43, trains at and has made an "astounding" 8,000 skydives, Koreen said.
Before finding his niche in skydiving, Tagle earned his private pilot's license. He also spent time as an outrigger canoer in Hawaii.
Tagle, who has lived in Murrieta since 2001, is set to return to the U.S. to compete at the 2011 USPA National Skydiving Championships of Canopy Piloting Sept. 15-17 at Skydive Spaceland, south of Houston, Texas.
USPA is a 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 U.S., according to Koreen.