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NSL News reporter Kurt Gaebel shared the office in Stupino with the editor of a Russian skydiving magazine, Yulya Lysenko. The work was a pleasure, and Gaebel and Lysenko exchanged a lot of information and experiences. Finally, Lysenko became interested in feedback about the event from the perspective of a visiting journalist and invited Gaebel to answer her questions for a publication in the Russian magazine. The interview explains the reasons why the Malevsky Cup has become such an extraordinary international skydiving competition.
Kurt Gaebel: Primarily I am here for the NSL News. It is my goal to make the on-line coverage of the IPC Anton Malevsky Memorial World Cup 2004 the best one ever in the history of Formation Skydiving competition. It seems as if this will be possible with the extraordinary support by the host. The NSL News will try to offer a comprehensive combination of up-to-date scores, videos, pictures and stories. I am very happy so far with the results of the combined efforts. However, at the same time, I am still a passionate 4-way fan and competitor. So I am also here to get excited and enjoy the world class competition itself.
Kurt Gaebel: It has actually become my job to visit, organize and attend skydiving competitions. I have competed at several World Cups and World Championships with the German national 4-way and 8-way teams between 1985 and 1994 before I moved to Florida. Then I attended each USPA National Championship with US 4-way and 8-way teams ever since I moved. I founded the Florida Skydiving League in 1997 and the National Skydiving League in 1999. These organisations have been growing and are all about 4-way competition. I organise many of them and still compete myself.
Kurt Gaebel: The idea of the NSL came up long ago. In fact, when I began skydiving and quit my soccer career, I realized that this was the sport and passion I had been looking for. However, there was not much competition in skydiving. Coming from soccer, where you have a game each weekend, it was hard to train for "nothing". After a few years in the sport, I began making plans for a skydiving league with plenty of competition. The idea did not materialize early enough in my home country Germany. After moving to Florida, it did not take very long until I began preparations for the same project. The German "Fussball Bundesliga" and the U.S. NBA, NFL, NHL were the role models for a skydiving league, and I simply tried to copy that.
Kurt Gaebel: Omniskore is a computerized judging and DZ-TV system that helped the progression of the sport tremendously. The judging program synchronizes the judges panel during the evaluation of the jumps and made the good old stop watch become obsolete. The judges do not have to time the jumps any longer, they can just focus on the correct execution of the jump sequences and simply push buttons for scoring formations or infringements. Omniskore's DZ-TV offers a screening that is easier to follow and understand. It distributes the jumps by TV monitors all over the competition site, and ideally the internet.
Kurt Gaebel: The teams follow the traces of quality. The athletic performance and training methods have been consistently progressing. Our athletes are now high-performance sportsmen who make huge efforts to improve their skills and become great competitors. It seems to be only natural that they look more and more for well organized and high-profile events, which offer them an adequate platform according to their input. Mondial 2003 and the Malevsky Cup 2004 were such events. The teams learn and find out who offers the right stage and platform with a great event. Of course, the unique cash jackpot of the Malevsky Cup helps even more to attract teams and is new in the sport, as well. However, many teams still attend just for the fun and quality of the event.
Kurt Gaebel: Weather, poor judging and unreliable management.
Yulya Lysenko: They say Sinapsi is a very strong team that was considered to compete for gold, What is the reason of their weak performance?
Kurt Gaebel: If I only knew. It is a very nice group of people, and I would love to be able to help them. We are all stunned and surprised. We know the great potential and talent the team has. Fact is that they just make too many mistakes to be a top contender at this point. It also looks in Stupino this year as if they were sometimes lacking a certain confidence level a top team really needs. They have shown a much better scoring level at other minor events. Maybe it is the high pressure of the major events that gives them a hard time. Who knows? I still hope they will show everything in September and be a more serious challenger of the two top teams.
Kurt Gaebel: I personally like the Olympic idea, which is the mixture of top athletes and newcomers. It allows the newcomers to experience the excitement and fun of a high-profile event and motivates them to move on. They will go back home and spread the word with a lot of motivation and energy. It also reminds the top teams on the grass root level that supports the whole sport. It is also good for spectators to see how different the performances are. They will give the top teams more credit when they learn the difficulty of the maneuvers by watching teams on a lower skills level. There is nothing in the way, as long as the logistics are in place. If the number of teams makes it difficult to run the event, then there needs to be a cut or a qualification. I have not experienced such a situation yet. By the way: the teams on the last places always enjoy special attention anyway. There has been a lot of cheering for successful jumps of the newcomers from Ukaine and Slovenia.
Kurt Gaebel: I have no doubt. I have to say that the Mondial 2003 was a great event, as well. However, Stupino is surely ready to host a World Championship of Formation Skydiving. I am very impressed not only with the actual competition and the logistics of the event. The host has also set up a great show for the participants and the visitors. This is very important for the future of the sport. We need more than only skydivers jumping from planes at our top events.
Yulya Lysenko: What is the difference between the IPC Malevsky Memorial Cup and other international event?
Kurt Gaebel: Well, this is very difficult to define since the quality of the other international events is not always the same and seems to be inconsistent. If I compare the skydiving part of the Malevsky Cup with the best international events I have attended yet, then there is not too much of a difference. However, the Malevsky Cup surely offers the best show I have seen, plus the unique cash prizes. That alone makes it very special. The combination of a perfect skydiving event for the participants and a great show for the public and the participants is a recipe for lasting success.
Kurt Gaebel: As the founder of the National Skydiving League, I would love to see the Malevsky Cup as the championship event of a future Russian Skydiving League, also as one of the top events of the European Skydiving League and the future World Skydiving League. The more people can experience this new style of running events, the better for the sport.
Yulya Lysenko: Would you comment the situation of modern skydiving in the world?
Kurt Gaebel: I still believe that we are moving closer to mainstream sports. The so-called action and extreme sports have become so popular and attractive that it seems to be hard to ignore skydiving as a part of this scenario. Skydiving is moving along and progressing, unfortunately never as fast as we would like to see it. However, more and better organized competition, wind tunnels, better equipment, more scientific approaches to training and competition, use of modern technology are evidence for progression. We make it better for ourselves within the sport all the time. It is about time to be discovered by the public and the media, we are almost presentable.
Kurt Gaebel: This will be very difficult, and I cannot see this happening at all. The difficulty is the fact that millions of people can swing a racket or a golf club, but they do not jump from perfectly functioning planes every day. It is the lack of identification with the action itself that creates a wall between athletes and observers in skydiving, while the crowds understandingly cheer for tennis players and golfers. This does not mean that we will never attract the crowds. Regular Air Shows have tens of thousands of spectators. We just have to learn our own way how to present our events to the public. This requires marketing researches and campaigns that we have not done yet. However, the Malevsky Cup has already found a way to bring the large crowds out to the event site. That's a good start. Now we need this on a regular basis, which means more high-profile events for the big meets and consistent presence on a lower level.
Kurt Gaebel: Congratulations for running a wonderful event. Thank you for the great support the NSL News received in Stupino. I wish the organizers good luck and great motivation to keep the Malevsky Cup going and even improve it year by year, which will be challenging due to the already high level of quality. I would love to come back to Stupino one day for a World Championship. I hope that the participants will spread the word back home and come back next year. I wish the teams and competitors a great remainder of the 2004 season.