ELOY — The opening ceremony for the 2019 FAI World Cup of Formation Skydiving and Artistic Events on Monday featured all the event’s competitors and judges, the Women’s Skydiving Network Pro team and aerobatic pilot Kirby Chambliss.

Members from WSN Pro dropped into the ceremony displaying different flags while Red Bull Air Force member Miles Daisher spoke about the team.

The Women’s Skydiving Network was founded in 2016 by JaNette Lefkowitz and Christy Frikken in an effort to promote the women’s side of skydiving and get more women involved in the sport.

“It’s a great thing,” Daisher said. “When I started skydiving there were maybe one or two women at the dropzone, and now it’s awesome to see more of our skydiving sisters out here. It’s not just a bunch of dudes hanging out at the dropzone anymore.”

The WSN provides women with training, scholarships, networking and fellowships.

The pro team also partners with non-skydiving organizations to empower women, elevate the conversation of gender equality and advance the message and mission of the WSN.

“I believe it’s a very good thing, and this sport needs it,” Daisher said. “These ladies are pushing what’s going on in the sport and kind of shaping the way things go for us all.”

Five skydivers displayed different flags, including the Arizona flag and the city of Eloy flag, but there was also a “Votes for Women” flag in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Athletes from all 16 competing countries and guests were welcomed by the Santa Cruz Valley Union High School mariachi band before Mayor Joel Belloc and Pinal County Supervisor Steve Miller gave welcoming speeches.

“We really appreciate all the participants coming,” Miller said. “Close to 600 people from around the world that are here this weekend, and that is absolutely fantastic. We’re going to toot this horn loud going forward.”

Belloc recognized the Hill family’s 28 years of hard work in turning a “rural crop dusting landing strip into a world class skydiving center.”

He presented the Hills with a plaque and proclaimed Oct. 7-12 Skydive Arizona Week.

“We picked something we love, and we’ve made a really nice dropzone,” Larry Hill said.

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