02 Jul 2024

Taming gravity: junior indoor skydiver Máté Feith's rise to success

Clad from top to toe in white, Máté Feith steps into the wind tunnel. He rises, spins, floats and twists, light as a feather caught in a breeze. This fluid display of aerobatic prowess has taken seven months of intense training: fifty hours of meticulous practise, repeating moves over and over, and adjusting the smallest details to reach perfection.

Becoming a champion indoor skydiver like Máté requires a level of physical agility akin to that of a dancer or gymnast. Yet unlike an acrobat, a skydiver is not beholden to gravity, giving a third dimension to each display. Little wonder then, that routines take many weeks of preparation to incorporate transitions which draw attention to ever more challenging tricks.

In the 3rd FAI European Indoor Skydiving Championships in Macau, China this April, Máté became junior champion in the solo freestyle category, a new title to add to his already substantial list. Not bad for someone who doesn’t have a competition training facility in his home country! His achievements representing Hungary in indoor skydiving have been recognised by the National Parachute Association of Hungary: he has twice won their Junior Athlete of the Year Award. 

There are two parts to the FAI solo freestyle competition: a free round, in which the participants perform their choreographed routine, and a compulsory round, where they must perform specific moves. You can see the detailed results on the World Skydiving page, as well as viewing videos of the rounds.

Mate Feith indoor skydiver Hungary
Máté holds his national flag. Image credit: Áron Süveg

As the 17-year-old Hungarian looks towards a future of competing in the senior category, we asked him to share some reflections on his career so far and reveal what he and his instructor are plotting for 2025…

Congratulations on your win at the 3rd FAI European Indoor Skydiving Championships 2024 in China! How did you feel, standing on the podium?
It was a fantastic experience to stand on the top of the podium in Macau, it was a challenging competition with a lot of good competitors. I’m really happy about the European Champion title.

The Indoor Skydiving competitions in Macau, China was a big event with 28 countries present and three different FAI competitions taking place. How was the atmosphere?
The location was fantastic, it is always a good experience to fly and compete in Asia. The GoAirborne tunnel was very unique, it was a little different from other tunnels I have flown in, but I can only say good things about it.

All the competitors prepared well, they created really good routines. The Junior Freestyle competitors have improved a lot since last year’s World Championship, the competition was very close, but I managed to get a pretty good place.

Free routine by Máté Feith at the 3rd FAI European Indoor Skydiving Championships 2024 in Macau, China.
Credit: Alberto Martin Paracuellos

How does a typical week run for you, balancing training and school work?
There isn’t a tunnel in Hungary where I can prepare for a competition, so I need to travel a lot. It is pretty difficult to balance school and sport, but luckily I can manage it.

During the preparation, I have physical training twice on weekdays, and on the weekends I spend 1.5-2 hours training in the tunnel. I also do some stretching exercises.

Talk us through putting together a routine. Do you need to feel a connection with the music, and do you work for a long time to put the moves together?
Putting together and learning a routine takes around seven months and requires 50 hours of intensive training.

I try to put three to four hard new tricks into every routine I do, and I try to improve on my existing tricks. This is what we build on in the routine.

With my coach we pay very close attention to the moves connecting these main tricks and we practice them a lot so that the whole routine comes together perfectly. We analyse the videos we make throughout the week and try to improve the moves over the weekend. Maybe this is the hardest part of putting the routine together.

When we feel like my routine is put together well, we choose a style of music for me to fly to and Bence Brucker writes the song. If the basis of the song is ready, I will fly to the song and make small improvements to the music and the routine so that they work perfectly together.

Of course, my routine is never truly finished, we sometimes change it a week before the competition.

Mate Feith indoor skydiver
Image credit: Marat Daminov

Your coach is Leo Volkov, also a World Champion. How many years have you been working with him, and how has he helped you develop?
I’m very happy to be able to work with Leo. We met for the first time in 2018, and since then he has been my coach, I prepare for shows and competitions with him. Without him, I definitely wouldn't have been able to achieve such results, I wouldn't have been able to develop my flying so quickly.

He has a fantastic feeling for flying, he is a special person, the movements and the music come together in his head and we easily make it a reality.

Over the years we have developed an almost brotherly relationship, but at the same time he is a very hard and strict coach and maximalist. He is constantly working on making a one-to-one movement even more perfect. He analyses every move very meticulously, even paying strict attention to how my little finger is held during a routine (a slight exaggeration!)

Practicing the competition routine is a very monotonous work, sometimes I have to repeat a movement hundreds of times, at which point I can easily reach a low point, but Leo can get me through that too.

We work in harmony, maybe this is the secret of our success, every result achieved is a joint success.

Mate Feith indoor skydiver WISC 2024
Máté performing a routine at the 3rd FAI European Indoor Skydiving Championships. Image credit: Áron Süveg

How did you become interested in indoor skydiving, and how old were you when you started? When was your first competition?
I was introduced to the wind tunnel at a birthday party when I was 10 years old.

After that, I didn't go back to the wind for a year, but when I flew again, I already knew that I wanted to do it competitively. There were no professional coaches in Hungary at the time, so we looked at pictures and videos with the instructors to see what positions there were, and tried to figure out how to do the tricks. Even then, I looked at Leo's website and tried to practice based on his knowledge.

My training became serious when I could start training with Leo in St. Petersburg, and we started preparing for the opening of the Seoul Flystation wind tunnel, where I was able to fly a short show routine.

After the show, we started preparing for my first competition, which was The Wind Games 2020. Here I achieved 3rd place in the Junior Freestyle category.

You are 17 years old, how do you feel about entering the senior category, what will you need to do to reach the podium?
I would like to continue my work with the same intensity as before. We are still practicing two new tricks that I would like to present at the 2025 World Championships. My coach and I are constantly discussing what new moves I can learn, what kind of transitions I should do, we’re looking at what kind of rhythm I need in the routine, and I'm really looking forward to starting the intensive preparation for the competition.

I am trying to come to the competition with a really big show and we will have another surprise together with Leo for the World Championship, which is still a secret for now.

Mate Feith and Leo Volkov
Máté (right) and his coach Leo at the Indoor Skydiving Championships in Macau 2024. Image credit: Marat Daminov

FAI wishes good luck to Máté in his future career, and we are looking forward to seeing what surprises he has in store for the future!

Major achievements to date

  • 1st place Freestyle Junior at the 3rd FAI European Indoor Skydiving Championships 2024
  • 2nd place Freestyle Junior at the 5th FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2024
  • 1st place Solo Freestyle Junior at the 4th FAI World Indoor Skydiving Championships 2023
  • Tyler Baird “Peter Pan” Trophy 2023
  • Junior Athlete of the Year Award 2022 & 2023 - Hungarian Skydiving Association
  • Fair Play Award 2022 - Hungarian Olympic Committee
  • 3rd place Solo Freestyle Junior at The Wind Games 2020

Follow MÁté FEITH

Header image credit: Marat Daminov