Freefalling: Laurel Springs Student Jill Knutson Punches Ticket to World Cup of Indoor Skydiving

4/4/22

Gravity: An opponent we humans are not technically meant to go up against, but that doesn’t stop some of us from trying! While some people are perfectly comfortable with their two feet on the ground, a select few—like Laurel Springs School student Jill Knutson—relish in the excitement of free-falling space between themselves and the earth’s surface.

Jill is 100 percent all-in for the sport of indoor skydiving and is just days away from representing the United States at the 2022 World Cup of Indoor Skydiving in Belgium on April 6–10. 

Jill Knutson Punches Ticket to World Cup of Indoor Skydiving

Jill, who won second place with her all-female Team Volare at the 2021 U.S. Indoor Skydiving National Tournament in November 2021 to qualify for the World Cup, will be competing with 400+ others from all over the world.

Now 16 years old, Jill got into the extreme sport at 10 after her parents went indoor skydiving to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Jill was fascinated by her parents’ adventure through the air and yearned to experience the sensation herself. Just 5-years-old at the time, she waited five years to finally experience her first jump—indoors—at 10, and another two before she found a facility to allow true indoor skydiving for 12-year-olds.

By November of 2018, just months after her first jump, Jill was skydiving competitively through iFly, an indoor skydiving facility where 130 mph winds shoot through a tube. Jill artfully swoops and dives through those hurricane-force gales, of course!

Shortly after she began competing, Jill was discovered by world-renowned professional indoor skydiving coach Mike Wittenburg. From there, Jill’s path toward qualifying for the World Cup was set.

“Jill is lucky to have found a sport she’s talented in at such a young age,” says Giselle Knutson, Jill’s mother.

Jill is one of four divers on Team Volare, the Dynamic 4-Way diving group that brought home the silver in the national championships. The Laurel Springs scholar didn’t stop there; she and another diver secured the bronze in the Dynamic 2-Way competition on Team Rosewater at the same tournament.

Both of Jill’s teams are composed of all females from across the United States— the first-ever all-female team to do so!. In Belgium, members of Team Volare will compete against other international groups of all ages.

Jill, who’s been with Laurel Springs since her eighth-grade year, excels both in the air and in the (virtual) classroom.

We are fortunate we found Laurel Springs School for Jill to attend while training,” Giselle said. “Without their flexible schedule, Jill wouldn’t be able to train as needed to pursue her dreams. It’s a rewarding feeling as a parent to watch your child have a passion for something, work hard and meet goals, and know you’re not sacrificing anything.”

The skydiver is a pupil of The Academy at Laurel Springs School, a rigorous academic program for distinguished scholars in grades 6–12, where she maintains a 4.0 grade point average and juggles a rigorous training and competition schedule at the same time.

“Jill is a wonderful student who strives for excellence in everything that she does,” said Dasha Bindler, M.S., Academy counselor at Laurel Springs back in 2019. “We are proud to allow Jill to train hard for her sport and to excel, yet to still continue her studies. She is an excellent, determined and responsible student.”

What more can this scholar-skydiver do? In her free time, she practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, and snowboarding, and hones her skills in painting and drawing.

Jill says everyone should skydive “at least once” to experience the “amazing” rush of wind on our faces during freefalling. In 2019, Jill, a native to Rye, New York, and now a resident of Stamford, Connecticut, told us that indoor skydiving “[isn’t] scary at all.”

We'll take your word for it, Jill ;)