Skydivers come from all walks of life, and can complete in amatueur or professional competitions. Amatueur competitions are held nearly every weekend at various skydiving centers around the country. Professional level competitions are held annually and include the US National Championships (which also has amatuer level classes), the World Cup of Skydiving, and the Skydiving World Championships. The above mentioned competitions offer no purses for winning athletes or teams, akin to the Olympic Games. Professional level competitions also exist around the globe that do offer purses for winning athletes or teams.
A multitude of disciplines exist for competition, and athletes can compete in multiple disciplines much like the Olympics.
Formation skydiving is the discipline most known to the public, and involves teams of 4, 8, and 16 jumpers race against the clock to complete as many predesignated geometric formations as possible in a set time period after exit from the aircraft. One other formation skydiving discipline involves 10 person teams trying to complete one predesignated formation in as little time as possible after exit from the aircraft.
Vertical formation skydiving involves 4 person teams performing acrobatic maneuvers on upright and upside-down axes to complete as many predesignated formations as possible in 50 seconds.
Freeflying is a radical and truly 3-dimensional competition where 3 person teams freefall together in every imaginable orientation, carefully choreographed for speed and excitement.
Freestyle is a discipline where one jumper combines the dynamics of gymnastics witht he elegance of dance in a aerial performance.
Style and Accuracy is a competition where competitors perform a series of loops and turns in freefall as quickly as possible. Then on separate jumps they try to land precisely on a target the size of a quarter.
Canopy Formation involves teams of 2, 4, or 8 jumpers building geometric formations with their parachutes as quickly as possible.
High Performance Canopy Competitions are the most spectator friendly competition. Skydiving's most advanced athletes fly their high-performance parachutes through narrow courses over ground or water at speeds approaching those of freefall. Events include speed, distance, and accuracy. Other high-performance canopy competitions exist where competitors perform tricks while skimming across the ground (called Freestyle).