ELOY — Skydive Arizona’s reputation as a global destination for the sport has more to stand on after a local diver competed halfway around the globe.

Justin Price was born in Houston but has lived in Eloy and been a part of Skydive Arizona for the past 10 years. A veteran of the sport, Price has competed all around the world representing both Eloy and the USA.

Earlier this month, Price competed at the 2021 International Skydiving Commission World Canopy Piloting Championships in Kemerovo, Russia.

“I wanted to be a little noticeable, rep the USA flag, just try to stand out, and nobody cared. The people there were really nice,” Price said. “There was so much good hospitality, helping with the language barriers, providing us translators and stuff like that.”

Skydiving runs in Price’s blood — his parents competed in the sport, and he would regularly accompany his parents to drop zones to watch them perform.

“I know nothing better. Every weekend my parents would go have fun, doing formation skydives and teaching people. They became my first instructors,” Price said. “From there, after college, I had the chance to become a full-time skydiver and have been at it for the past 16 years. It’s been embedded into my life for quite a while.”

The Eloy skydiver made his first jump when he was 16, and although he had ideas of going into a different career field in college, he quickly realized that university life was not for him, and all he thought about was when he’d get the chance to jump again.

Fast forward to now; Price is one of the top competitors in canopy piloting, the ability to control high-performance parachutes and fly accurately. Price finished fifth overall in the speed portion of the event and finished 15th in the overall individual standings.

While an individual medal eluded him, Price was part of the Team USA group that left Russia with a bronze medal in the national team overall event. For Price, the chance to visit a new country and meet others from around the world with the same interests as him were all part of the experience.

“There is nothing more beautiful than being on the packing mat and you are just hearing multiple languages. There is just something that is beautiful about that,” Price said. “There is a lot of camaraderie in the canopy piloting world, different teams from different nations are helping each other out. It is a very cool vibe to be a part of.”

Although the competition is fierce between the competitors during events, Price mentioned that after awards are given out, it is all about having fun and enjoying the company of all of those in attendance, no matter what country’s flag they represent.

“At the end of the competition, we get awards, you get a medal, you get off stage and you take that medal and put it in your pocket. After the awards are over, we all have team uniforms, and we are all looking around seeing who we can trade with,” Price explained. “I traded my USA jersey for a Russian competitor’s jersey, my USA pants for a pair of Italian pants, and everybody was doing that. People would wear other countries’ jerseys just as proud. The people interaction is what makes competitions great.”

Price is all about having fun, but the dangers of his sport are not lost on the 36-year-old thrill seeker. He understands the risks but argues that there are risks in everything, and skydiving is not different.

“I think it is a common question from the public in general about people who jump out of airplanes, there’s got to be something a little loose. But from what I have seen from the sport, it is all calculated risks,” Price said. “People are successful because they take the appropriate steps and treat it like a marathon. Slowly learning, that way we are as safe as possible.”

Price plans to continue to compete around the world and serves as an instructor at Skydive Arizona in Eloy.

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David Church is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. He can be reached at dchurch@pinalcentral.com.

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