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Did You Know...

... that France is in trouble - Or not??

posted Dec 16th, 2013 - The Sun Path Products NSL News evaluated the situation of the French national teams in Formation Skydiving competition for the Blues Skies Mag December column.

It has happened only once in 2004 that France left the competition site of a World Championship of Formation Skydiving without a set of gold medals, and the French delegation recovered quickly. The new efforts succeeded with the first 4-event sweep in Menzelinsk 2010. Then things changed again.

The article was written after the conclusion of the World Cup 2013 where the Golden Knights had caught up with the French national team in 4way Women, Aerodyne French Girls, and Dubai Nexus defeated the French VFS 4way team, Team4speed, for the first time. NMP-PCH Hayabusa was dominating in 4way Open, and the Golden Knights are far ahead in 8way. The results of the 4th DIPC 2013 in Dubai brought another new picture - which will be discussed at a later time.

US 3-event sweep in 2004: Arizona Airspeed

Turning Points - France in Trouble?

The World Meet 2010 in Menzelinsk, Russia, was the first time that a country's delegation swept all four formation skydiving events (4way Open, 4way Women, 4way VFS and 8way). Nobody could have done it before, as it was also the first time that VFS 4way was a part of the World Championship of Formation Skydiving.

The U.S. delegation had swept the 2-event meets (4way Open and 8way) in 1985, 1995 and 1997 and followed up with a 3-event sweep in 2004 (4way Open, 4way Women and 8way) after 4way Women was added in 2001. Then came France, under head coach Jerome David, with the first 4-event sweep in 2010.

Only the U.S. delegation of 1997 was able to defend the 1995 sweep successfully. Arizona Airspeed and the Golden Knights continued with the same lineups and have this unique title defense in the books for the U.S. delegation.

French 4-event sweep in 2010
Both achievements may never happen again, as it has become so much more difficult, exactly twice as much, to win all formation skydiving events at the same World Championship. France had to give away two of the 2010 titles at the Mondial Dubai 2012 where the U.S. delegation won back the two most traditional events (4way Open and 8way).

After the Mondial 2012 it even looked like the U.S. delegation might be on the way to a complete FS sweep in 2014 — which is still not out of question. The Golden Knights are far ahead of any other 8way team, and Arizona Airspeed always has a lineup that could win gold medals. The female lineup of the Golden Knights was in contention for gold in Dubai and would continue with the same lineup, while SDC Standard XP was close enough to the top of the VFS leaderboard and could have won gold next time.

It looked even better for the U.S. at halftime between Dubai 2012 and Prostejov 2014, which was the World Cup 2013 in Banja Luka. The Golden Knights had caught up with France in 4way Women and lost only after jump-off and tie-breaker.

French delegation at the World Cup 2013 in Banja Luka
Is France in serious trouble?

It will be extremely difficult for France to beat NMP-PCH Hayabusa in 4way Open, and Arizona Airspeed's new lineup is a better matching target with two new members. It seems also impossible for France to catch up with the Golden Knights in 8way any time soon.

Team4speed is down to second place behind Dubai Nexus in VFS 4way's world rankings, and the Golden Knights are eager and ready to take the top spot in 4way Women. France could end up without any gold medals in 2014.

Yes, France is in serious trouble. Really ... ?

French FS head coach Jeremie Rollett, here with Mathieu Bernier
Not so fast. There is a reason why France is one of the world's formation-skydiving powerhouses and has won 14 of the 39 sets of formation skydiving gold medals (U.S.: 20) since 1985. It's difficult to imagine that 4-time world champion Philippe "Professeur" Schorno, now France's VFS head coach, will end up in second place with his team after winning in 2010 and 2012 and with only one change in the lineup. It is also hard to believe that French FS head coach Jeremie Rollett, former 4-and 8way world champion, and his 4way expert coach Marin Ferre, another former French world champion, will not find a way to add another gold medal to the French collection next year.

The French national teams enjoy the support of the government, even though their logistics are not the same as they are for the Golden Knights. However, a far reaching and efficient recruiting system has been successful in selecting the best French talent, generation after generation. The 2013 season was a building year for the new French national teams after Dubai 2012, and the first results will be seen at the Paraclete XP Outdoor Championship 2014 in March at Skydive DeLand.

French delegation at the 4th DIPC 2013
The best bets for French gold medals in Prostejov 2014 are probably still in VFS 4way and 4way Women, while the 8way gold medals will most likely be out of reach for any other team in the world. The new French 8way team plans to go after the gold in 2016. Catching up with Belgium's unchanged Hayabusa lineup will also be very difficult. However, the new French 4way Open Class lineup will present completely different scores to the world at the Paraclete XP Outdoor in DeLand after a year of training.

France is not in trouble, head coach Jeremie Rollett just seems to prepare his formation skydiving delegation for a new sweep attempt in 2016. In the meantime, he will try to win a set of gold medals here or there next year. It was in 2004 when France left Croatia without a gold medal. The count is 8 - 4 over the U.S. delegation ever since. It is hard to imagine that France will end up empty gold handed in Prostejov...

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