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It was a promising start for challenger Rhythm at the indoor competition. Airspeed copied their meet average (28.7) from the same event a year ago, while Rhythm added a point to their meet average (from 25.6 in 2014 to 26.6 this year) to finish with their lineup's new 10-round meet record. The 21-point overall difference was a lot; however, Rhythm once again moved closer to the Airspeed powerhouse.
Rhythm kept up the momentum a week later in DeLand and posted their next record average (24.5) in team history. It was only a 6-round outdoor bout this time, and the draw was on the easier side. However, the opponent from Arizona was not able to post a new team record average, which would once again speak for the progression of the challenger.
Two 2012 world champions are in the current Airspeed lineup (Thomas Hughes and Niklas Hemlin), and they have successfully introduced the two new members (Thiago Gomes and Chris Farina) to the breath-taking Airspeed pace—indoor or outdoor.
The result of the new powerful Airspeed lineup could be frustrating for any challenger trying to catch up. Rhythm is training hard and making great progress—and they are still no closer to the defending champions, at least not yet. Airspeed is keeping up with the Rhythm progression, at least for now.
|Paraclete XP Indoor 2015||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Rd. 4||Rd. 5||Rd. 6||Rd. 7||Rd. 8||Rd. 9||Rd. 10||Total||Avg|
|2||SDC Rhythm XP||23||30||22||24||26||33||21||34||23||30||266||26.6|
|Paraclete XP Outdoor 2015||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Total||Avg|
|2||SDC Rhythm XP||19||23||20||28||25||32||147||24.5|
Rhythm has to win the USPA Nationals 2015 to take on NMP-PCH Hayabusa and the world's other top teams next year. The USPA Nationals 2015 will be hosted by Skydive Arizona—Airspeed's home turf—which does not make it any easier for Rhythm.
The challenger has seven months left after the Paraclete week to eliminate the 3.3 point difference in outdoor meet average. It seems to be an overwhelming task, and the psychology does not make it any easier. Airspeed left DeLand with a very high confidence level after giving Rhythm more hope a week earlier in Raeford.
Pilcher said Evolution did not even seem close to such a challenging performance level earlier in the world-meet season. The final thrust came at the actual showdown in Prostejov. He counts on a similar progression with Rhythm this year and the major blow at the USPA Nationals 2015.
There was one problem at the end of the Evolution story last year though: Airspeed was still ahead at the end...
It's easier to knock out the opponent in the boxing ring, where the opponents have direct access to each other. Formation-skydiving competition only allows each team to perform on peak performance level without direct access to the opponent. A perfect Rhythm performance with new record averages would still not knock out Airspeed as long as the defending champions keep going on their own end. No knockout is possible at the USPA Nationals 2015, and seven months are left...
P.S.: According to the record books, the winning team at the Paraclete/Shamrock wins the USPA Nationals the same year. It's been like that since 2002 ...