Sexy skydiver Roberta Mancino is more than just a pretty face and unbelievable body. With over 4,000 jumps logged—including four in the buff—she's also the Italian national freestyle champion and the Free Fly Record Holder.
Now, after beating out 15 of the sexiest women in sports in our recent online poll, Roberta can finally add MF's hottest female athlete to her resume. We jumped at the chance to talk to the adrenaline-charged beauty, thick Italian accent and all.
MF: How long have you been skydiving?
RM: I have been skydiving since October 2001. I decided to try it after I saw the movie Point Break. My best friend was a skydiver and I convinced him to take me to the drop zone and try it, even though he said I shouldn't because it was too dangerous.
How did you decide to make it your profession?
I never decided to make it my profession (laughs). After doing lots of jumps and getting experience, people started asking me to give them coaching. I'm still coaching both in the wind tunnel and in the air. I really enjoy it.
How do you train your body for skydiving?
Sometimes I practice yoga or go to the gym. But the best training is at Skyventure XP Paraclete, an indoor skydiving wind tunnel in North Carolina where I train for the International Skydiving competitions. I can train several hours of body flight time in a couple of days. I would have to take several hundred jumps to get the same amount of training. I really feel it in my shoulders and my back. However, I think tunnel flying is a very good overall workout for your body. It is extremely cardio intensive and you need to stay mentally alert and mentally tough. If you lose track of where you are flying in relation to the wall you can get really injured. I am often very sore after flying, especially when training with the team. The freestyle training is hard because you need a lot of stretching.
Skyventure XP Paraclete's indoor wind tunnel. Photo by Michael Wong
Have you ever had any landing scares?
One time I had to land in the city because the wind was too strong and I couldn't make it back to the landing area. I had to land in a little park full of trees surrounded by cables and canals. I never hurt myself but I think I was lucky because it's easy to make a lot of mistakes - especially in the beginning. Landings are only really scary when the wind conditions make it more dangerous. If it is very windy or turbulent your parachute could collapse, which could be fatal if it happens low enough to the ground.
What thoughts went through your head right before you jumped out of a plane for the first time?
What am I doing? Am I crazy?
How many times has the parachute failed to open for you?
My parachute failed five times because the way I packed it was wrong. I had already jumped 28 times before I experienced my first malfunction, but I was really freaked out. I was spinning very fast and this made a cutaway on the main parachute difficult. When your first parachute does not function properly, you have to use your reserve, but first you have to release the malfunctioning parachute from you. This is what we call a cutaway. With the tremendous amount of force on the release system during the spin, it can make for a very hard pull on the cutaway handle. When I had a fewer number of jumps I thought maybe I was going to die, but now I can't live without skydiving because it has become my life.
You've done four dives in the buff? What was that like?
I did a jump for a magazine shoot once and it was very cold. The plane was full of other skydivers and I kept a blanket over me until it was time. I jumped out first so the entire load of skydivers-23 people-got a little show at altitude. It was chilly, but once I jumped it was a nice feeling to have the wind against my body and to not have a jumpsuit or any clothes flapping against me.