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No worries, it's not a biggie and I don't think that I will step on anybody's toes. In fact, I am hoping that my thoughts will be considered productive. First of all, I fully support USPA's advanced class and the extremely difficult effort to separate the pros from the amateurs in the sport. I have to admit that I have given up on that, as it seems impossible to make this distinction. On the other hand, I obviously like to categorize as much and as logically as possible (NSL classes AAA - AA - A - RRR - RR - R).
USPA's intermediate (which is identical to the NSL's AA class) and advanced class (which matches the AAA) are great categories and offer recreational teams the opportunities to compete for their own sets of medals. It is also logical that the winner of the intermediate class should move up to the next category (advanced) since the dive pool is different and more challenging.
Winning teams will naturally be inclined and motivated to go after the missing six blocks and the longer sequences, including memory and slot switchers. I would even go a step further and send all three medal-winning teams up to the advanced class. Silver and bronze medalists are usually close to the winner and have the same or similar skills and experience levels.
I was player coaching a team (Teiwaz) that won advanced class gold medals in 2000. The original Teiwaz members had invested a lot of time and money to get to the top level of the advanced class. They were financially and mentally exhausted after that effort, and did not even think of trying to move up into open-class competition. I am not sure if the team would have been able to maintain the winning performance level without much training at all.
Sad reality was that the motivation to compete in the open class was simply not there. Without eligibility to compete in the advanced class, where the fully recreational team actually belonged, the team members lost interest in the national championships and finally also in any other 4-way competition. Eventually, two of the 2000 winners quit skydiving altogether...
|USPA Nationals 2014||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Rd. 4||Rd. 5||Rd. 6||Rd. 7||Rd. 8||Rd. 9||Rd. 10||Total||Avg|
|1||Dallas 350 (US)||18||17||17||20||14||16||11||12||13||13||151||15.1|
|8||Bodyflight Bonobos (INT)||18||15||14||19||12||16||13||12||12||11||142||14.2|
|3||Dallas Khaos Black (US)||17||14||15||19||11||14||9||13||11||11||134||13.4|
|9||Le Verve XP (INT)||16||16||16||15||13||11||9||14||11||11||132||13.2|
|10||Spaceland Lite (US)||13||14||14||18||13||16||10||10||10||11||129||12.9|
The solution to the problem of leaving exhausted teams and competitors behind is a very simple one: USPA could remove the obligation to move up from the advanced class into the open class from the rules.
Imagine the excitement of the reigning champions trying to defend the title next year. Imagine the excitement of the teams closely behind the winner who can challenge the defending champion next year. I have no doubt the winning team would find a few dollars for a little bit of training and the challengers would train even harder...
|USPA Nationals 2015||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Rd. 4||Rd. 5||Rd. 6||Rd. 7||Rd. 8||Rd. 9||Rd. 10||Total||Avg|
|1||Air Force Smolder||16||14||26||15||17||15||15||14||11||11||154||15.4|
|3||Perris Dauntless Five||11||13||18||10||10||12||12||12||10||8||116||11.6|
Teams who plan to train much more or to go full-time and want to move up into the open class will do that, no matter what. We have good examples of that; nobody could hold JaNette and Steve Lefkowitz down in the advanced class after winning with Rhythm in 2008. The same counts for the Carolina Turbo XP members after winning in 2010. You would not see Mass Defiance come back to compete in the advanced class if it were open for everybody. Even seasoned recreational competitors like Rodney Cruce or James Klinge will not compete in the advanced class unless they are player-coaches with a lower experienced lineup.
On the other hand, there are quite a few 4-way competitors in the open class who could make the race for medals in the advanced class even more exciting, as they are posting scores on the same level anyway - only on a different leaderboard...