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He was dreaming of world class 4-way competition in the Czech Republic, a country that was hardly recognized at all in Formation Skydiving competition. He started off in 2005 by joining the European counterpart of the National Skydiving League, the European Skydiving League, which followed the original NSL example. NSL and ESL events have been coordinated and synchronized ever since.
There was no indoor competition at that time, and Jan Klapka was just as much a passionate outdoor competitor with his Bad Boys 4-way team. I had already connected with him, as our dreams and visions of the sport matched very well. Now we were dreaming together, and we also discussed what else we could do for the advancement of 4-way competition.
Almost 15 years later, the Czech Republic has a well-structured support system for 4-way teams and competitors and 4-way world champions in the Junior event. Jan Klapka has opened his own skydiving center in Most, and his son Jakub Klapka is a member of the well-known national 4-way Open Class team, HF Flying Circus. His wife Jirina Klapkova is still jumping (almost) as much as Jan is.
Jan Klapka extended his activities as soon as the Hurricane Factory in Prague opened its doors for indoor training and competition. He was an early visitor at the original SkyVenture Orlando wind tunnel and knew about the benefits of the new 4-way training tool.
The National Skydiving League had launched indoor 4-way training camps at SkyVenture Orlando, and it did not take too long until I followed up with the Indoor Cloud League, which was only a duel with Deb and Dave Correia's team at iFLY Seattle. They were (and are) just as passionate about 4-way competition as Jan Klapka and myself.
It was only a duel between July 2012 and February 2013 before the Indoor Cloud League began to grow almost the same way as the National Skydiving League in its early days. Of course, Jan Klapka joined as soon as the Hurricane Factory offered the opportunity to become a part of the new 4-way league, and the Czech ICL team posted their first scores in May 2013.
Then he was ready for the next step on the way to make his dream come true. He began to work with flying Czech kids and slowly and carefully turned them into 4-way competitors. The first Czech 4-way junior teams posted their scores on a World Tunnel League leaderboard in January 2016, and an increasing number of Czech juniors learned 4-way competition at the Indoor Cloud League events.
Three years later, the HF Cubs won the first 4-way world championship title for the Czech Republic in April this year, and Jan Klapka's dream has come true. All of the team members came out of his 4-way junior training program at the Hurricane Factory. They started their scoring progression coming from significantly behind the French and Canadian junior teams before winning FAI gold medals at Weembi Lille.
Jan Klapka's first part of his dream may have come true by now. However, he has a vision and a plan that goes beyond just winning gold medals. He is using the great success of the HF Cubs to attract more participating juniors and more support for his program. It is not only the athletic part of 4-way team training and competition that is in his mind. He saw the benefits of the team and group dynamics, combined with physical activities, as an educational tool for the development of everybody's personality structure.
Anyhow, the story is far from over. The HF Cubs, who are four young ladies, by the way, are the first Czech 4-way world champions, and Jan Klapka has every reason in the world to claim the success for his efforts. However, I can almost guarantee that the Czech Republic will produce another world champion team in another event very soon, at least a medal winner.
The HF Cubs continue in 4-way Women. They will have to move up into the AAA Class world, which they have already begun to do last year. Their latest 10-round AAA Class meet average of 23.3 at the World Tunnel League event in April was not far behind the medal level in 4-way Women. They have two years until the next indoor world meet, and I would put my money on the HF Cubs for at least a medal position.
Let's just assume that they win the next title in 2021. Even this would not be the end of this specific team career. All team members told me that they want to become skydivers and exit with their team from jump planes. In fact, at least one team member is already in outdoor training, while three team members are actually still eligible for 4-way junior competition.
In the meantime, Jan Klapka keeps advancing his 4-way junior indoor program, of course, and prepares new generations of kids for 4-way training and competition. The more successful the program works, the more support he will probably be able to get. It could become a self-perpetuating upward spiral in a great direction.
Jan Klapka's vision may not have included becoming a Formation Skydiving powerhouse. However, It's not only United States, France and Russia any longer producing Formation Skydiving world champions.
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