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Did You Know...

... that 4-way history is in jeopardy?

posted Aug 11th, 2014 - Round 1 of the FAI World Championship of Formation Skydiving 2014 is less than two weeks away, and the teams are in the phase of final preparations.

The Sun Path Products NSL News will be at the competition site for the usual live coverage of the event. It is much easier to be up-to-date with the daily news stories at SKYLEAGUE.COM compared to a monthly magazine. Blue Skies Mag recently published the next TURNING POINTS column, which was the last opportunity for an update before the event. The next story can only be aftermath of the world meet.

This year's event will be very special, as there is realistic potential for serious trouble. USA and France, the world's 4-way and 8-way powerhouses, are facing more opposition than ever before. It has been unthinkable in the past, and it is possible now: USA or France could end up without a medal. Really...?

World champions in Futbol: Germany

TURNING POINTS - 4way History in Jeopardy

It is only the beginning of July as I write this — still almost two months until the national teams will travel to the Czech Republic for the next World Championship of Formation Skydiving. However, it is the last TURNING POINTS opportunity to reflect publicly about the situation before the sport's biggest event.

As the editor of the daily Sun Path Products NSL News articles, I am always trying to be as neutral and matter-of-fact as possible. This column offers me one of the very few chances to take off the journalistic hat and express my personal views. Other than that, it usually happens only after the jumping days or flying hours at the DZ bars or near the flying chambers...

So, here I am, less than two months away from the biggest event in my life, which occurs every other year. The futbol teams are in the middle of their World Cup in Brazil right now, and I am watching every single game with my German futbol roots.

World champions in 4-way: Arizona Airspeed
However, I am still more excited about our upcoming world meet in the Czech Republic compared to whatever Belgium, France, Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, Colombia, Costa Rica or Argentina achieve after the quarterfinals in Brazil. I have NMP-PCH Hayabusa (BE), Volt'R, (FR) Paratec-Saar (DE), CTR Optimum (BR) and Cool Runnings (NL) in my head, and I cannot imagine that the U.S. team (Arizona Airspeed) will be eliminated at the first cut. I don't think that Colombia, Costa Rica or Argentina will have teams in Prostejov.

Believe it or not, I am sitting at the TV screen watching the futbol games in Brazil, and I am thinking of 4-way competition at the world meet in the Czech Republic. I am either addicted to Formation Skydiving competition, especially to 4-way, or I am really odd. Maybe it's both...

This year is special, and once again I have to go back to the futbol tournament to explain myself. This year's World Cup in Brazil seems to be as open as never before. Imagine: Costa Rica made it to the quarterfinals, while the U.S. was eliminated. Costa Rica ...!!!

Currently registered 4-way Open teams: Australia (Rotor Out), Austria, Belgium (NMP-PCH Hayabusa), Canada (Evolution), Denmark (VAF Warriors), Estonia, Finland (Tigers), France (Volt'R Maubeuge), Germany (Paratec-Saar), Great Britain (Vision 99), Hungary, Italy (Ex3mo), Lithuania (Magic 4), Netherlands (Cool Runnings), Russia (Barkli), Slovenia, South Africa (Savolo), Sweden (eXact), United Arab Emirates (Dubai Asaar Black), Ukraine, USA (Arizona Airspeed)
World Championship of Formation Skydiving 2014 - 4way Open

Who will win the gold medals?

USA (Arizona Airspeed)
Belgium (NMP-PCH Hayabusa)
France (Volt'R Maubeuge)
Canada (Evolution)
4-way underdog: Cool Runnings (NL)
And then there is Belgium, perhaps this year's main underdog in futbol. They just kicked out the U.S in the first elimination round. It was more a surprise in futbol than it might be in 4-way competition, where NMP-PCH Hayabusa has become a very big name over the years. All right, finally I can disconnect myself from futbol and focus on Formation Skydiving competition, on the 4-way event in particular.

This year's world meet is just as special as the futbol tournament, because it offers the potential for results that we may have never seen before. Depending on the competition draw, the winning average could break all previous records.

Beating the 10-average benchmark was a very special deal in 1985, while the 20-average scoring level seemed to be impossible for a very long time. Who doubts now that there will be a 30-point average on the top of the leaderboard one day?

Top challenger: NMP-PCH Hayabusa
The progression of the athletic performance is a normal part of all sports, and I have to admit that I have thrown all reservations and doubts in 4-way Formation Skydiving competition out the window — even though I witnessed the world meet in 1985 and the first 10-average performance. I see no limits any longer.

However, it is a fact that no other country in the world has ever won 4-way or 8-way gold medals at a World Championship of Formation Skydiving in the modern history of the sport (since 1985) but France and the U.S. In fact, the national teams of those two countries haven't left a world meet without a set of 4-way medals since 1985. They have won all gold and silver medals in the same time period, except in 1989 (Russia second) and 2012 (Belgium second).

Not winning the gold or silver medals would already be a disaster in 4-way Formation Skydiving Competition for USA or France, even though France recently had to settle for bronze medals at the Mondial Dubai 2012, as the USA had to in Spain 1989, after a jump-off for bronze medals with China.

Top challenger: Evolution (CA)
Can you imagine in your wildest dreams that Arizona Airspeed, with two reigning 4-way world champions (Mark Kirkby, Thomas Hughes) or Volt'R, with two 4-way world champions of 2010 (Mathieu Bernier, Julien Degen), would not even win a medal this year? Well, it's similar to thinking about the 30-average level. I had to throw my restrictions out the window. Yes, it is possible that either USA or France might end up without a medal and a spot on the 4-way podium.

It still feels very strange to consider this wild situation — that NMP-PCH Hayabusa and Evolution from Canada could receive their 4-way medals while Airspeed or Volt'R go back home empty-handed. Now you know why this year's world meet is unique and very special, and why I am thinking of Prostejov while Belgium and France play for Futbol medals in Brazil.

It could also be business as usual in both events. Brazil, Germany or Argentina may win in Futbol, as they have done before, and Arizona Airspeed or Volt'R could take the top spots in 4-way Formation Skydiving competition this year. However, at least there is the possibility that Costa Rica wins in Brazil — and Canada or Belgium in Prostejov...

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