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Did You Know...

... that 4-way families seem to go stronger and higher?

Blue Skies Mag: TURNING POINTS in August
posted Aug 16th, 2017 - Sounds like a rosy and hippie-ish headline, doesn't it? Yes, we ARE all close friends and share something very special in an extraordinary environment. But this is not what I mean; I am talking about real family this time.

Most of the regulars at SKYLEAGUE.COM are familiar with the most prominent family members who share 4-way competition with each other. I have been throwing in the names and relationships whenever they came up on random occasions. They always catch my attention, as I find them very special.

It does not seem to be so extraordinary that family members are interested in each other's activities and share them. However, it is something different when you jump from planes, right? I can say that nobody in my first own family (parents, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins) showed any interest in doing such a thing. OK, my lovely mom enjoyed visits at the DZ to watch the colorful parachutes fly around. But then she also loved to just watch the clouds in the sky.

Nobody in my second family (wife, three kids) has shown serious interest, neither indoor or outdoor, except for a few flying sessions and tandem jumps. In fact, my wife stopped jumping after completing several hundred jumps.

Top of the world: Grauwels brothers with NMP PCH HayaBusa

TURNING POINTS: 4-way Families

It does not seem to happen left and right that all members of a family are flocking to the DZ and taking on what they see in their own family. On the other hand, we have those numerous examples where husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and their kids, end up together on 4-way teams.

OK, there is not really a need to find out why it is and what is on either side of the coin. They just do it whenever they feel like they want to, and that is perfectly fine. There is just one aspect of it that catches even more of my attention, and that seems to be really interesting: why is it that the family relations seem to be lifting the sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers and kids so high up to the top performance levels?

No kidding, the reigning 4-way world champions from Belgium, NMP PCH HayaBusa, have brothers David and Andy Grauwels in the lineup. Father Alex is not in the active lineup, even though he visits at each event. It surely does not stop here. SDC Rhythm XP is on the way to taking the top position in the U.S. to become the main challenger for the Belgians.

Married couple: JaNette and Steve Lefkowitz
JaNette and Steve Lefkowitz, a married couple, have been the founders and the heart and soul of the Rhythm project. Weembi Lille's signature lineup from France is arguably the second best 4-way team on the planet, the ones who want to beat HayaBusa at this year's indoor world meet. The lineup includes brothers Mathieu and Guillaume Bernier. The two best indoor teams in the world with two pairs of brothers, possibly followed by a married couple? Do I have to say anything more?

Well, they will not all compete with and against each other, as Rhythm focuses on outdoor competition this year, while Airspeed will try to stop the four brothers in Montreal. And there is the Canadian part of it. Remember the Lemay family who made the Top 10 at all the world meets between 2006 and 2012? That was father Michel with his three sons Martin, Vincent and Benoit (plus Papa Shannon, of course). The three brothers eventually won bronze medals in Prostejov 2014, just four points behind Airspeed.

That's the same event where the Grauwels brothers won their first gold medals. That's not all for Canada. Father Richard Bisson guided his daughter Valerie and his son Yannick with the family team 4'Astrophe to top levels in their future categories. Valerie is now a member of the Canadian 4-way women's team, Parachute Montreal Fuzion, and competes for medals at world meets. Yannick is the reigning world cup champion in the 4-way junior indoor event with the Air Devils.

French Ferre brothers Martial and Marin
The Bisson family still flies together with 4'Astrophe here and there. Back to France. Mathieu and Guillaume Bernier have already won 4-way world meet gold medals together, in Menzelinsk 2010. There they beat Arizona Airspeed's lineup with Eliana Rodriguez and Craig Girard, who were the reigning champions after winning in Maubeuge 2008. So Eliana and Craig are not really married, but it is pretty close to that, right?

More from France. Brothers Marin and Martial Ferre won 4-way gold together in 1999, and both were also in the medaling French 8-way teams for several years. Who else won gold medals? How about Russia's 8-way team in 2001 with the Pavlenko bothers? I am sure that I have forgotten more examples, sorry for that, but I am impressed with just what I can come up with. There IS something special, a driving force, that seems to bring family members to the top level in a positively disproportional amount, compared to "regular" team rosters.

I will just leave it like that for now and save me the additional thoughts for later, which are actually even more interesting. These were only the facts, and the interpretation of them will actually be the interesting part. You can send me feedback and thoughts before we get to that any time, and even more so if you have your own experiences in this area.

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