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It turned out to be a correct evaluation of the situation in 4-way Open, as Arizona Airspeed won the gold medals, and Airspeed Odyssey finished 3rd at Chicagoland Skydiving Center.
The current Arizona Airspeed lineup (Niklas Hemlin, Thiago Gomes, Mikhail Markine, Ari Perelman, David French on camera) won the 12th consecutive title since 2007 for the franchise without any troubles and are now aiming for the top spot at the upcoming FAI World Meet 2018. DeLand Groove, successor of the 2006 world champions DeLand Fire, was the last team that won USPA gold medals before Airspeed took over in 2007.
None of the current Airspeed members were in the lineup that took the U.S. 4-way reigns back to Arizona in 2007. In fact, it was almost the complete Airspeed Odyssey lineup at Chicagoland last week who won the 2007 title, the first one in the running 12-year streak.
USPA Nationals 2018
|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|
The first Odyssey lineup won bronze medals at the USPA Nationals in 2005 and 2006 before the 2007 lineup with Mark Kirkby in the tail slot launched the 12-year winning streak. The same Airspeed Odyssey lineup then won the FAI gold medals a year later and silver in 2010.
Last week's USPA gold and bronze medal positions for Arizona Airspeed was also the first time since 2001 that two Airspeed lineups took two sets of USPA medals back to Arizona. Airspeed Vertical won in 2001 and Airspeed Zulu placed 3rd. Craig Girard was in the Vertical lineup that had won the FAI gold medals the same year (Mark Kirkby, John Eagle, Neal Houston). Airspeed 4-way teams have won USPA 4-way gold and silver twice in 1997 and 1999, each time with Craig Girard leading the second teams (Vortex - Purple).
The current Airspeed lineup plans to do the same in 4-way Open, where NMP PCH HayaBusa is the top favorite for the gold medals. The 4-way competition at the USPA Nationals was supposed to be the last serious test before the trip to Australia, and it turned out be different than expected.
Airspeed is always looking for a competitive situation to get the best out of the team's potential. This year, it was as easy as never before to win the USPA gold medals. The 32-point difference was the largest winning margin in the history of USPA Nationals. SDC Rhythm XP had substitute Rob Radez in the lineup, the Golden Knights were not present, and Airspeed Odyssey were glad to win the bronze medals.
Airspeed can expect all the pressure they want at the world meet and save the best for the last meet this year...