By Michael Mastarciyan
It's becoming a yearly ritual for the Canadian Cowboys - the day they shake off their earthly shackles for a little flight time in New Zealand skydiving.
Last year's skydiving crew was mostly speed team members.
This year it was the tech team's turn.
"The speed team went last season and urged us that it's something we should do while we're here," said Trevor White, who's been in the Queenstown area training for most of August.
"We jumped from 15,000 ft, with a minute (or 10,000 ft) of free fall hitting 200km/hr. The mood of the athletes was pure excitement, a few nerves here and there," he added.
For tech team leader and first-time jumper Mike Janyk, the decision to throw his body out of a plane at 15,000 ft was a no-brainer, nerves or no nerves.
"I was pretty nervous for the hour leading up to the jump, but from the time we started walking to the plane I was like, ‘well, there's no backing out now so there's no need to panic.' And, as our coach Dusan (Grasic) said on the van ride over to the plane, ‘normally if you put Cousi (Julien Cousineau), Mike and JP (Jean-Philippe Roy) in a van together you can't shut them up, but now, all silence!' But like I said as soon as I got in the plane, I was saying, "this is way less nerves than racing the Olympics!'"
For White, one of the Canadian Cowboys up and coming slalom stars, the jumping part was simple because it was done with a tandem skydiving professional.
"Unlike Bungee jumping, where you are responsible for jumping, here you are going out of the plane ready or not. It all happens very fast, the door opens and all of the sudden you're free falling and spiraling at 200km/hr. You definitely have the falling feeling in your gut, and it's incredibly loud. After the stabilizer chute opens, you level out; it's then that you get the sensation of flying."
While flying through the air at high speeds is not part of White and Janyk's usual alpine routine like their speed team brethren - both admit they love the rush you get when taking air at high velocity.
"When you land, the adrenaline that is rushing through your body is indescribable. Pure enjoyment - almost surreal - much like crossing the line in front of 50 000 fans after a wild run," White said.
"I enjoy pushing the limits if I'm feeling confidence in myself and the safety. I don't think I'm an adrenaline junkie at all. Robbie Dixon on the other hand, I think he's an adrenaline junkie," Janyk added.
And would they do it again?
For White this is a definite "yes."
For Janyk, it's a little bit more complicated.
"I would definitely go again, but the next time I hope I don't feel like passing out when the parachute opens. This time I think I got all the circulation cut off once the chute opened and I was very close to blacking out. That part of the jump was no fun."