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The absence of the Golden Knights was caused by Hurricane Florence threatening the U.S. Army's headquarters in North Carolina. The Golden Knights, 8-way world champions of 2012, 2014 and 2016, would have won the USPA gold medals without any chance for other 8-way teams to get anywhere close. However, the new situation at the national championships allowed three teams to go after the 1st place in the 8-way competition this year, and two of them were eligible for USPA medals.
The Qatar Falcons visited Chicagoland Skydiving Center for a competition test before traveling to Australia for the FAI World Meet 2018, where they will pursue the first set of FAI medals for their country in the history of the sport.
It is not new in USPA 8-way history that two teams would battle for the national top spot, as Golden Knights and Arizona Airspeed have taken turns as 8-way champions since the 90's. It is the first time though that neither won the USPA gold medals in 8-way Open. Paraclete XP8 claimed the title for the first time.
USPA Nationals 2018
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Even the Golden Knights would not have changed this Paraclete success, as the silver medals would still be the best finishing since Paraclete began sending an 8-way lineup to the USPA Nationals. Golden Knights and Arizona Airspeed have always taken the first two places on the 8-way leaderboards.
It was a new and very strong lineup that matched the highest 8-way average that Paraclete XP8 has ever posted, the 16.9 at the USPA Nationals 2013. John D’Annunzio, Andy Delk, Josh Hall, Eric Heinsheimer, Brian Johnson, Brian Krause, Kirk Verner, Solly Williams were in the 2013 lineup, with Matt McLean on camera.
John D’Annunzio, Josh Hall and Kirk Verner were back this year, together with five new members: Jeana Billings, Michelle Karamon, JaNette Lefkowitz, Thomas Hughes, Steve Lefkowitz and Elliot Byrd on camera.
FAI World Meet 2018
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Arizona Airspeed had their own very colorful lineup at Chicagoland and offered very strong opposition with the untrained team. Ben Liston (Mass Defiance) and Christy Frikken (Perris Fury - Perris Force) had their Airspeed 8-way debut, and Niklas Hemlin and videographer David French were the only current members of the national 4-way team.
Three Airspeed Odyssey members (Eliana Rodriguez, Craig Girard, Andy Delk) were the backbone of the Airspeedish 8-way team. Original member Dan BC, former 4-way and 8-way world champion, and Nick Grillet completed the lineup. Airspeedish finished only four points behind XP8 at the end of this 10-round battle.
The Qatar Falcons will meet the Golden Knights soon in Australia, while the U.S. 8-way teams will have to wait for the defending world champions until next year...