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Sweden and Finland completed their national championships this week, as well, and teams from both countries have very interesting and exciting information to offer.
In Sweden, national indoor and outdoor team Echochamber won and defended the 4-way outdoor title successfully that they won for the first time last year. Echochamber have attended four indoor meets ever since and won bronze medals for Sweden at the average in May and then FAI European Indoor Championship 2018 with a 28.3 switched the focus to outdoor training and competition.
Result of the Swedish combination of indoor and outdoor training is a new record average in Swedish 4-way history where no team had passed the 20-average benchmark before Echochamber this week. Echochamber had posted a 20.0 average at the end of last year's six rounds at the national championships. This week's 21.1 average after ten rounds is a completely different dimension.
Swedish Nationals 2018
Echochamber's team speaker Ulf Liljenbäck said that Round 1 was a good start into the meet for his team. However, the following three rounds did not go that well:
"We rushed directly after exit into a pace that was too fast for us to handle, which caused glitches and we never reached our full potential. A bad exit in Round 2 didn't help much either."
Echochamber sat down with player-coach Mattias Nord after the long day with four rounds and discussed the strategy for the second meet day. Coach Mattias Nord has been stepping in for Martin Bäcklin who is not able to take enough vacation time from work. Results of evaluation and planning included a different approach for the next rounds with more confidence and less mistakes and penalties. Ulf Liljenbäck: "With that in mind we were off for a good night sleep..."
Swedish Nationals 2018
Echochamber was back with full batteries next day for Round 5, stuck to the plan after a good exit and started with a 24-pointer. Ulf Liljenbäck said that his team repeated the same routine throughout the following four rounds, and it worked well.
Team mate Martin Bäcklin followed the competition from somewhere roughly 400 km away from Gryttjom, and he thought that a 21-point average was no longer in reach. He was not alone, as even the other Echochamber members had their doubts that they could easily finish up with 25 points for the sequence in Round 10 (3-7-F).
Ulf Liljenbäck said that player-coach Matthias Nord took his team aside half an hour before the take-off for the last round and encouraged Echochamber to go for it: "After two pages, as Block 3 is giving the front piece a slot-swicher, we need to actively set a higher pace till we reach our max and then follow through the whole 35 seconds." His team mates were glad to hear that: "It was like listening to Post Malones latest album, like fine music to our ears..."
It turned out that there were still a few obstacles to overcome before Echochamber eventually posted a 26-pointer to close down on the 21+ average, as the exit formation (Block 3 - Side Flake Opal) caused some unexpected trouble.
FAI Mondial 2012
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Tail Ulf Liljenbäck took his grip on inside center Mattias Nord when he was climbing out and then positioned himself with his head up against the bar to reach for his second grip on outside center Rikard Rodensjö. This turned out to be harder than expected with a limited reach of the arm. He tried a few times without success until his outside center eventually noticed the trouble and tried to help.
The result of the last-second improvisations was successful, and Ulf Liljenbäck recalled the action of the last round: "Ready, set, go and off we went with a real good exit. The first page went well, as did the second, and everybody was on their toes when Mattias picked up the pace. After another page the pace was as fast as we could go - it was like we were in a wind tunnel and not in freefall. The feeling was fantastic! Tracking off and flying our parachutes knowing that you just performed at the max of your collective ability was just the best feeling ever. Watching the judges score and see that we passed 20 points with quite a lot of time left and then see both 24, 25 and finally 26 points on the screen quickly confirmed was great - 21.1 average, fantastic!"
Now it's time for Echochamber to focus on the earned trip to Australia, together with Team X who finished 2nd and will represent Sweden in 4-way Women at the upcoming world meet. Echochamber will soon be training again at home and then travel to Belgium the week before the Belgian Nationals for more training and the next competition.
Sweden did not have a team at the FAI Mondial 2016, and Echochamber members Johan Edvall and Rikard Rodensjö had finished 10th with a 19.1 average for Sweden (Bardagi) at the FAI Mondial 2012 in Dubai, Mattias Nord with Phenix and a 16.8 average in 2003. A 21+ average would have been enough for 6th or 7th in 2012 and 2016...