Karin Anzures is a seasoned skydiver, athlete, and instructor based out of Skydive Cuautla in Cuautla, Mexico – a large DZ outside of Mexico City with a name that translates roughly to, "where the eagles roam."
With two world records and over 8,000 jumps under her belt, Karin also recently completed the largest double formation in history and the largest all-female sequential formation in skydiving.
A Skydive University coach through and through, Karin's a multi-rated instructor and AFF examiner, and now she's set to become an evaluator (under SDU's certification course).
As one of the highest rated skydivers in her country, Karin's gained a lot of press (Google her!) and made a name for herself as incredible athlete, instructor and overall mentor in the sport.
We sat down with Karin for a fascinating interview that not only touched on the future of her skydiving career as an examiner and evaluator––but the future of skydiving in general in her country.
Her mission is to encourage the growth of professional skydiving in Mexico while focusing on building safety, skills and success: The SDU credo.
Let's start with your goals going into being certified as an examiner. What do you see for yourself as you complete this rating?
"Well, my major goal is to grow skydiving in Mexico and to make it a lot safer - it's just that we're growing so, so fast, and we need instructors and coaches to keep up and train people beyond AFF. Right now I'm doing girl camps in Mexico to get them to stick with it, be better and stay in the sport."
Explain the challenges of the sudden growth of skydiving in your country.
"For example, we had one AFF student every two months before––now we have about 8 every week at least. We grew so fast all of a sudden, that we needed a lot of instructors and courses. And one problem is that once you finish your AFF, there's no one to take care of you anymore, you're left hanging with just the basics...maybe an experienced skydiver would come forward and say 'do this, use this canopy,' and that sort of thing. But other than that there was no further training. Now we're changing that, and the safety is really important."
You also work with federal officials in Mexico, is that right?
"Yes, instructing the federal police in Mexico. It's not what I'm used to, but it's very good to do something for my country. Before they had no concept of freefall. No toggles to flair. And they were experiencing really hard landings, so we work with them to improve that and make it safer."
Other than safety, what would you like to grow in the industry over there? Any competitive events yet, teams or big ways forming?
"We are growing so much, before we didn't even know about freefly. Just 7 years ago, nobody did freefly; but now we're going to have a freefly Mexican record. Maybe there will be like only like 8 people, but it doesn't matter! People are going to see that and be like, 'I want to learn how to freefly!' And that's a good thing."
What other steps are you taking to further professional skydiving down there?
"We are doing big things, like taking Rob to the DZ so he can certify us as instructors, so the world can see skydiving in Mexico as more serious and more professional. Me being an evaluator is going to be so good for Mexico because people are going to know that we're taking this sport and this business seriously. So it's pretty nice for me to take that step."
So, will you be one of the highest rated people at your dropzone when you return?
"Yes. I'm super-happy about that too. I want to show my daughter that you can do whatever you want if you really do it and you really want it. She's only 13, but she wants so badly to be a skydiver. She's going to go to school and do whatever she needs to do, but after that I'm sure she'll be able to accomplish whatever she wants in skydiving because she has the opportunity to jump whenever she wants."
So the regulations in Mexico are very different for children compared to the U.S., right?
"Yea. They don't have any limits. She jumped when she was 3 1/2 years old. She begged to go! ...I didn't do tandems at that time, so she went with her father, and I was with them. I thought she was going to be afraid at the door–and I told her on the plane, 'if you are scared and you don't want to jump anymore, let us know.' I was telling her this not because I was afraid anything would happen, but because I thought she might be too scared and that it would be a traumatizing experience at 3 1/2 years old...but she wasn't scared and when it came time to go, she was so ready."
So, you've done your tandem rating and coached in a number of disciplines: What's your favorite aspect of being a skydiving instructor?
"I like to do AFF work, but as we are growing so much in Mexico - I'm doing camps now. Big way camps, rookie camps, girl camps, too. I want people to be more prepared. As I told you, they finish AFF and nobody takes care of them. If they don't know anything, they'll learn it from an inexperienced skydiver, which is not good.
...I tell my students, you're really lucky we have these camps, because I can explain to you what all these terms are. Back when we first heard 'dirt dive' at other dropzones, we were like, '...dirt dive? What's that? What's a creeper?' We didn't know any of it!"
So big ways are something pretty new for Mexico?
"Oh yea. We have about 7 Mexicans going to big ways now – but before it was only me and my ex-husband."
Name a personality trait you think an AFF instructor really needs to have to be successful.
"Well, you have to be very empathetic with people, and you have to like people. When I first meet my students in ground school on the first day, I make friends with them because they need that. Sometimes they're going through a bad time in their lives and they come to skydive because they think it's going to be something really new and different for them.
I always ask them, 'Why do you want to be a skydiver?' in doing so they end up telling me their real problems, and I become a friend for them and they grow to really trust in me a lot––not only for their secrets or their personal life, but their lives really. ...They know that I'll be there for them, they know that if they fail to do something or fall into a bad position or whatever, I'm going to be there. That's really nice for me, because they trust me. So, yea, you absolutely have to be empathetic and genuinely like people."
What else does an AFF instructor need to embody?
"You have to be super professional, make them feel and know that you know what you're doing. You also have to transmit confidence at all times."
Do you always start out every course or session with asking your students why they want to skydive?
"Yes, I ask always start with asking them, 'Why do you want to be a skydiver?,' and that opens them up to telling me about their lives. Maybe that's one of the reasons they are so close to me. Both girls and boys will text me with really nice compliments like, 'thank you for listening, your so nice - I was depressed and you made me feel so much better.' That's why I don't like finishing the course and thinking I left them - I like to keep growing that friendship. That's why I continue to do courses and camps with people."
What about the Skydive University program stands out from others?
"I've never been involved with other schools, but I've been on other dropzones and heard that––well...one of our students that works at another dropzone, he was saying none of the AFF students at his dropzone– when they finish–they don't enough about what they should've been taught. So he was happy to relearn through this. Now a lot of people that come to Mexico and see us at our dropzone, how we work, they are really surprised. They don't know that we're so professional and so into our jobs as instructors and coaches. And that's nice for me because it's people from all over the world that come and see us work––see our students and our instructors, and congratulate us on how well we work."
What's another passion of yours other than skydiving?
"I love psychology. I didn’t go to school for it but I love it - that's something that has a lot to do with my job because I think that certain people are drawn to it just like they are to sex or orgasms or using drugs. These things are like skydiving because they force you to be present with that moment. That's why people that skydive don't want to leave skydiving because it feels like those things; you have to be there, be present–forget about everything and be present–not thinking about anything but the present moment."
Thanks to Karin for participating in this Q & A after a few very long, tiring days of AFF coaching and evaluating with Rob Laidlaw at Skydive University in DeLand, FL. She's finished her Examiner course, and is back in Mexico contributing to the life and growth of the sport there. We can't wait to see what she does next!