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This year's first outdoor test will be the annual Paraclete XP Summer Classics later this month, as much as Paraclete's indoor championship event in February was a serious meet experience for teams in the middle of the indoor competition season.
The USPA Nationals 2018 had not offered a battle for the top spot on the 4-way Open Class leaderboard, as Arizona Airspeed was too far ahead of SDC Rhythm XP last year. However, the event featured an exciting competition for the USPA bronze medals between Airspeed's Odyssey lineup (Eliana Rodriguez, Craig Girard, Andy Delk, Brian Johnson, Charles Lane on camera) and Defiance.
Two original Mass Defiance members (Ben Liston, Brian Stephens) had invited Nick Grillet and James "Bu" Klinge once again to challenge the former Airspeed world champions for the USPA bronze medals. Patrick Walker was back on camera, as well. The same Defiance lineup will be back again this year, and the team's complete lineup started with outdoor training last week at Skydive Arizona.
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|
Mass Defiance then had a long break (2009 - 2015) before coming back ten years later for a reunion of the original lineup at the USPA Nationals 2016.
Only Pat Walker had replaced Steve "Scuba" Feldman on camera. They finished in the same 5th place and with almost exactly the same meet average (19.2) as in 2007.
Ben Liston, Brian Stephens and new videographer Patrick Walker enjoyed the comeback enough to make new plans for the USPA Nationals 2017. They invited Nick Grillet and James Klinge, and the new Defiance lineup finished once again in 5th place, this time with the team's first 20+ average. The USPA Nationals 2017 was also the first comeback event for Airspeed Odyssey, who finished in 4th place, eight points ahead of Defiance.
All three teams were back for the USPA Nationals 2018 with the same lineups, and on the same leaderboard for the first time. Defiance reduced the distance to 4-way Open Class bronze medalist Airspeed Odyssey from eight to three points, and R2G added more than two average points to the 16.5 average of 2017.
Defiance are now aiming at this year's USPA bronze medals in 4-way Open with the same lineup. They started outdoor training with 25 jumps in Eloy last week and spent two hours in the wind tunnel. Defiance will follow up with two more weekend camps before the USPA Nationals 2019 and then the FAI World Cup.
The road to USPA bronze medals may have Airspeed Odyssey as the same major obstacle, if the team is coming back again, as well. However, the most serious threat may come from behind where Ranch 2nd Generation have been making very impressive progress. All three teams could end up fighting it out, and making the new battle for bronze medals once again the most exciting part of the USPA Nationals 2019 in 4-way Open...