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Did You Know...

... that France is missing a world meet in 8-way for the first time?

Mathieu Bernier with Aerodyne Weembi Girls members in DeLand
posted May 17th, 2018 - The situation of the French national 8-way team has been a topic ever since the rumors started that France may not field a team for the FAI World Meet 2018 in Australia.

The NSL News had posted the most recent update on the topic on 20 March 2018. The two French national teams in 4-way Open (Aerodyne Realfly) and 4-way Women (Aerodyne Weembi Girls) were in DeLand for the Shamrock Showdown 2018, together with national coach Mathieu Bernier.

Mathieu Bernier knew at that time that the 8-way participation in Australia was in jeopardy, as the French skydiving federation has recently not been in support of recruiting and supporting an 8-way team. However, he was still hopeful that he might find a way how to send a team to Australia.

It did not turn out well, and he recently informed the NSL News that France will not compete in 8-way Formation Skydiving at the upcoming FAI World Meet. It will be the first time in the modern era of Formation Skydiving competition since 1985 that France will be missing an 8-way event at the FAI World Championship of Formation Skydiving.

Participation and progression of French national 8-way teams at FAI World Championships of Formation Skydiving
French leadership: IPC President Gillian Rayner with current IPC Bureau members
The final word comes with a timing that is difficult to understand. On the athletic side, the French 8-way teams have guaranteed a set of medals for France since 1985.

There has not been a world meet yet where French 8-way teams would not bring home medals for the French delegation, and the performance and scoring level was on its way up after the bronze medals in Prostejov 2014.

In general, 8-way competition has gained momentum since larger wind tunnel chambers became available for training and competition, and France has been a leader in promoting 8-way indoor training and competition.

France has also taken a leading position in the International Parachuting Commission (IPC) of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world's air sports federation. Gillian Rayner from France replaced Rainer Hoenle from Germany in the position of the IPC President earlier this year.

Both countries may now end up in the same situation - without an 8-way team at their organization's most relevant event in the sport. Germany's 8-way team still has to overcome a qualification requirement, as the NSL News reported on 14 May 2018.

FAI World Meet 2008
1234567TotalAvg
Rank8-way Open17,P,4H,13,76,M,19,22,C16,J,8K,F,G,18O,Q,5,12TotalAvg
1MaubeugeFR2318262222241615121.6
2USAUS1818262122191614020.0
3Ex3moIT2016221718181512618.0
4EADSDE2114201516141411416.3
5ConnextionUK151215131413129413.4
6BelgiumBE141116111414129213.1
7South AfricaZA14916121311-7512.5
8SpainES13613101313-6811.3
9AustraliaAU11510997-518.5
Qatar Falcons at the USPA Nationals 2017
The absence of a French 8-way team opens the door for another 8-way team in Australia. Teams from the United States, France and Russia have won all FAI medals since 1985, with only two exceptions. Russia was new to 8-way competition in 1985, and Canada won the first bronze medals.

Russia did not have an 8-way team at the FAI World Meet 2008 in Maubeuge, France, and eX3MO's 8-way lineup won the bronze medals for Italy. The situation this year will mirror the 8-way competition in 2008, where one of the three powerhouses was not present.

There are more similarities, as eX3MO was well prepared for a battle with Russia for bronze medals, and no other team was close to the Italian 8-way team in Maubeuge 2008. The Qatar Falcons are probably ready to copy the way eX3MO used the opportunity ten years ago. The Falcons were hoping to play a serious role as an underdog for the bronze medals - with or without any of the three 8-way powerhouses.

The Qatar 8-way team finished already in 4th place at the FAI Mondial 2016, after a good competition with MicroClim8 (Great Britain) and Airbus M√ľnchen (Germany).

FAI Mondial 2016
12345678910TotalAvg
Rank8-way Open12,A,1618,15,O1,F,E,C17,B,1410,2,2021,11,GJ,5,19L,M,K,7D,8,43,13,QTotalAvg
1Golden KnightsUS3125262220221926242423923.9
2FranceFR2220251816191723192019919.9
3TanayRU2319251714161621201919019.0
4Qatar FalconsQA191620157101316151514614.6
5Microclim8UK1514161411131314131714014.0
6AirbusDE1615171111131214121513613.6
7AustraliaAU131314129131215101412512.5
8DivergenceCA11109118108101111999.9
9BrazilBR11810959911813939.3

The Falcons continued with coach Gary Smith in 2017 and had a strong showing at the USPA Nationals 2017. The team has impressed even more at the two indoor meets this year and will arrive very well prepared in Australia.

Qatar Falcons at the French Indoor Nationals 2018
While the absence of a French 8-way team almost guarantees at least the bronze medals for the Qatar Falcons it is an unfortunate situation for the teams who have placed behind the three powerhouses in the past years.

The national teams from Great Britain, Australia, Netherlands and Germany could possibly be in a battle for the bronze medals without the Qatar Falcons.

However, there is no guarantee for anything, and even the French skydiving federation could still change their mind. Registration deadline is August 6th, and the competition and rankings ultimately depend on the teams that will be present after timely registration.

The outcome of the 8-way competition in Australia could be very similar to the one two years ago at Skydive Chicago, just without France in 2nd place, if the same countries register their national teams before August 6th...

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