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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...