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Did You Know...

... that the 4-way Open Class competition could be much tighter at the FAI Mondial 2020?

Awards 4-way Open at the FAI Outdoor World Meet 2018
posted May 6th, 2020 - The impact of the corona virus crisis on Formation Skydiving competition goes well beyond the cancellations and rescheduling of world and national championships across the planet. The NSL News has been trying to cover each level of the implications step by step, from the executive top level (FAI/ISC) to the national federations, and finally to the teams and competitors.

This coverage will surely continue for a while, as the pandemic situation is still very fluid, and the implications of it can still not be clearly defined, neither in the medical and health area nor related to the sports world.

The NSL Live Talk in the Coaches Corner, with Gary Smith and Joey Jones on April 29th, covered all areas and levels in Formation Skydiving competition. The two highly experienced coaches looked at the situation from several different angles. Both are directly involved on the highest level, where the best national indoor and outdoor teams in the world compete for the three respective sets of medals at world meets and world cups.

Gary Smith has been coaching NMP PCH HayaBusa for several years and is also in charge for the performance of the Qatar Tigers. Joey Jones has been working with the Weembi High Rollers, who were the only team challenging the Belgian indoor and outdoor world champions at wind tunnel competitions. The conversation took place shortly after the USPA decision to send the reigning U.S. champion teams to the FAI Mondial 2020 next year in Tanay, Russia. The NSL News now follows up with an overview of the situation of the potential medal contenders at the next indoor and outdoor world meets in 2021. One of the major challenges for the top teams is the "double-door" situation, as Joey Jones named the combination of indoor and outdoor world meets within a time period of four months in 2021. The overview begins with the situation in 4-way Open at outdoor competition.


FAI Outdoor World Meet 2018
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total Avg
Rank 4-way Open Top 5 21,L,B,G 22,18,17 19,7,O J,16,12 10,A,D,15 Q,M,F,C,N H,20,P,13 6,14,11 E,2,5 4,1,3 Total Avg
1 NMP-PCH Hayabusa  BE  32    21    27 -2 24    22 -3 62 -2 22 -2 20 -1 27 -1 22     279 27.9
2 Arizona Airspeed  US  26 -5 21    27 -1 24    24 -1 60 -1 26    22    27    20     277 27.7
3 Aerodyne Realfly  FR  29 -1 19    24 -2 23    24    52 -3 20 -3 17 -3 24    19     251 25.1
4 Qatar Tigers  QA  24 -2 14 -1 24 -1 21    22    53 -4 21 -1 18    20    17     234 23.4
5 Echochamber  SE  25 -1 16    21 -1 17 -2 20 -1 48 -4 14 -3 18    21 -1 15 -1  215 21.5

NMP PCH HayaBusa (Belgium)

Belgium


NMP PCH HayaBusa are the reigning indoor and outdoor world champions. They don't have any serious competition in Belgium, and there is no qualification issue, neither for indoor nor for outdoor events. HayaBusa have represented Belgium since 2004 at world meets and world cups.

Despite the undisputed top position in the 4-way world, it could still become very challenging for the Belgians in 2021. They are used to compete at indoor and outdoor events, while they had already begun to focus more on outdoor training and competition to defend their title successfully in August 2020.

However, the "double-door" situation may offer the HayaBusa opponents an opportunity to get really close at either event in 2021. HayaBusa will have to prepare for three title defenses next year: indoor, outdoor and CISM, all within seven months. In addition, the world champions are dealing with a change in the lineup. New team member Michele Silvi has to fill some very big shoes that David Grauwels with his "lizzard eyes" leaves behind in the driver's seat. Also, the new lineup cannot structure their indoor and outdoor schedule as clearly as it would have been without the corona virus crisis. The pressure on the new team member will be much higher than expected.

The Belgian world champions are still in a fortunate situation after the recent decision by the U.S. delegation, which usually includes the toughest opponent at any international events. Most likely, SDC Rhythm XP need a replacement for Andrew Starr, and NMP PCH HayaBusa is far ahead of Rhythm with the selection of the new team member.


SDC Rhythm XP (United States)

United States


Arizona Airspeed cannot challenge NMP PCH HayaBusa, as they did very seriously at the FAI World Meet in Australia. Despite a significant head start of the Belgians in their 4th year together, Airspeed ended up two points behind in Australia and could have won the gold medals with a better Round 1. Airspeed have had their new lineup in training and competition action months before NMP PCH HayaBusa decided to continue with Michele Silvi this year. The new Airspeed lineup was much closer to HayaBusa than expected at the Wind Games.

Neither the SDC Rhythm XP lineup at the Wind Games (Andrew Starr) nor the one at the Paraclete XP Indoor Championship (JaNette Lefkowitz) will be opposing NMP PCH HayaBusa at the FAI Mondial 2020 next year. Rhythm have to find a new inside center as quickly as possible, unless Andrew Starr will get U.S. Army permission for more training with the civilian team, or invest enough of his personal extra time. Even the extra time would probably not be enough to get the team to the HayaBusa level, as Andrew Starr also has to guide the Golden Knights 8-way team to a new U.S. title next year.

SDC Rhythm XP will have the advantage to focus mainly on outdoor competition. Arizona Airspeed won the indoor qualification at Paraclete XP in February and will compete for the U.S. delegation at the indoor world meet in April 2021. The separation of both events works in favor of the U.S. teams. NMP PCH HayaBusa and SDC Rhythm XP have roughly the same starting point for the time-line until the world meet in August 2021.


Aerodyne Cypres Lille-Bondues (France)

France


French national coach Mathieu Bernier had dedicated 2019 and 2020 to 8-way competition with the new young and highly talented lineup. He was on track to the two sets of gold medals in Tanay 2020 with his extraordinary plan that included double-duties for the 4-way Women lineup. His plans were probably hit much worse compared to the other top opponents.

He was ready to accept once again 4-way Open Class bronze medals as a trade-off for two sets of gold medals, while the current situation has now become much more difficult.

Laurence Herve, Damien Gouriou, Kevin Mansion, Charles Rommel and David Ricard (Camera) won the French 4-way Open Class bronze medals in Australia 2018. Only Damien Gouriou and Kevin Mansion are back in the new lineup (Aurélien Lemaire, Alban Rumolo), and the scoring level is significantly lower, due to the lack of 4-way training. It would have been difficult enough for France to win any set of 4-way Open Class medals in August 2020. The new lineup finished just one single point ahead of Echochamber in 5th place at the FAI Outdoor World Cup 2019, and France left without a medal in 4-way Open.

A 19+ scoring level will be far away from a medal position in 2020 or 2021, and Mathieu Bernier has to revisit his plan for several reasons.


Tigers (Qatar)

Qatar


Realistically, Qatar's Formation Skydiving delegation had no serious gold medal ambitions for Tanay 2020 this August. However, the additional year could be highly valuable for the Tigers (4-way Open) and the Falcons (8-way). The teams have unlimited resources and highly experienced coaches in both events.

Jeremie Rollett won two 8-way gold medals in 2006 and 2008 and has been coaching Qatar's 8-way team since last year. Gary Smith has guided NMP PCH HayaBusa to the world championship titles and is now working more with the Qatar Tigers than with the Belgians.

The Qatar Falcons might be too far behind the Russian 8-way team from Tanay, France and Airspeed XP8. However, there is an additional year now to catch up, and the Falcons could move to an underdog position. The Qatar Tigers were considered a medal contender for Tanay 2020 in August this year without the rescheduling of the event, and the situation can only get better with so much more time.

The Qatar Tigers are looking back at an incredible history of this lineup that the NSL News covered on 23 December 2019. It seems like the first set of 4-way Open Class bronze medals for a team from Qatar is very much in reach. The interesting question is if the team will even be able to challenge NMP PCH HayaBusa and SDC Rhythm XP for the two top spots. The additional year of training and more competition experiences on the highest level will help the Tigers just as much as it helps the Falcons. The Tigers are not facing any personnel changes, while they also compete for Qatar at indoor and outdoor events both.


Echochamber (Sweden)

Sweden


Echochamber finished 5th in Australia 2018 and have never left a doubt that they are aiming for medals at the next world meet, after the same lineup committed for two more years.

The two years of more training and competition practice have now turned into three years, and it will also be the first world meet cycle with the same lineup at all training and competition events. Echochamber consolidated the lineup at the end of the last indoor winter season when original member Martin Bäcklin stepped back from his indoor slot. He and Mattias Nord used to take turns between indoor and outdoor events. The current lineup will have three years together when Round 1 of the FAI Mondial 2020 in August 2021 is up.

The recent update from Sweden, with Echochamber members Mattias Nord and Ulf Liljenbäck joining the online NSL Live Talk, pointed out that the Swedish team will focus primarily on outdoor competition and the 4-way Open Class medals in August 2021. The consolidation of the lineup and the focus on outdoor training and competition could turn the goal of FAI medals at the FAI Mondial 2020 into a realistic option.

Most likely, the world meet in August this year would have come too early for Echochamber, and the additional year with the same lineup increases the Swedish chances for a medal position. Coach Niklas Hemlin will not be an opponent for Echochamber, as Arizona Airspeed will sit out the next world meet. He will still be in Tanay to compete in 8-way with Airspeed XP8 and be fully available when the 4-way teams are in action. There will just be no rest for the coach, and very long days...

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