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There was no doubt that Arizona Airspeed would defend their U.S. title successfully. SDC Rhythm XP had former member Rob Radez for injured Doug Barron in the lineup, as the NSL News had reported on 26 May 2018. The runner-up was still strong enough to leave all other Open Class teams far behind.
Defiance was challenging Airspeed Odyssey once again and came slightly closer than a year ago. The second Odyssey reunion after the 2017 comeback even produced a set of USPA medals this time. The Golden Knights have won the silver or bronze medals every year since 2010, and Odyssey finished in 4th place behind the U.S. Army's 4-way team in 2017.
This year, the Golden Knights decided to skip the 4-way competition and focus only on the 8-way event in preparation for the expected Russian Tanay challenge at the FAI World Meet 2018. Result was an open bronze medal slot that Airspeed Odyssey and Defiance battled for. Airspeed Odyssey won the duel for the 3rd place at Chicagoland, and Airspeed collected two sets of 4-way Open Class medals at this year's national championships.
The Golden Knights did not only lose the medal position in 4-way due to the focus on 8-way. The USPA Nationals 2018 will also be the first time since 2010 that the Golden Knights will not win the 8-way title. The new NSL-TV video is showing the Golden Knights in training action at Chicagoland; however, the 8-way world champions never made it to this year's leaderboard.
The U.S. Army headquarters ordered the team back to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina when it became clear that Hurricane Florence was targeting the Carolinas. In fact, several other competitors decided to head home and try to protect and secure assets and families in the threatened areas.
It has probably never happened in the history of the USPA Nationals that the Golden Knights did not post any scores on the traditional Formation Skydiving competition leaderboards. The U.S. Army delegation still won at least one set of medals, as the 4-way VFS team placed 3rd after five rounds at the end of last week...
USPA Nationals 2018
|Rank||4-way Open Class||J,19,K,22||P,13,A,E||H,G,Q,B,21||9,2,L||C,14,4||O,16,3||1,15,10||M,20,11||F,D,18,6||5,12,17||Total||Avg|
|2||SDC Rhythm XP||20||25||33||26||20||18||17||21||23||20||223||22.3|
|5||Ranch 2nd Generation||17||22||20||22||17||18||15||17||21||19||188||18.8|
|9||Spaceland Dallas 350||17||0||17||17||13||16||13||14||20||16||143||14.3|
|11||SNE Fly Girls||8||8||10||12||9||11||9||9||8||8||92||9.2|
Spaceland Lite added another average-point to the team's best previous scoring numbers and finished higher than ever on the Open Class leaderboard.
Phoenix XP, the U.S. national team in 4-way Women, was also competing with a substitute. Morgan Womble suffered an injury earlier this year and has been on the sideline ever since. She could not recover early enough to be ready for the coming world meet, and former SDMW NEXT member Megan George has been filling the slot in training and competition.
Spaceland Dallas 350 suffered a different injury that was probably very painful, too. A total video failure of both helmet cameras in Round 2 produced a zero on the scoreboard, and 350 could not be a part of the Spaceland Lite/Phoenix XP competition for the 6th place.
The competition in the AAA/Advanced Class behind the dominating winner Savage XP was more exciting than the one in the AAA/Open Class, and the NSL News will follow up soon.