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NSL Cloud Mondial 2020


Did You Know...

... that Airspeed XP8 had a colorful year so far?

Complete current Airspeed XP8 lineup in training
posted Jul 30th, 2020 - This week's NSL Live Talk conversation with Golden Knights team captain Andrew Starr included the discussion of how to maintain a healthy and available team squad throughout the year. Even the currently five best 8-way teams in the world were all facing their own difficulties in the past year. The logistics of an 8-way team are at least twice as challenging compared to a 4-way team.

Both U.S. top teams in 8-way, Airspeed XP8 and Golden Knights, were dealing with the same challenge. Andrew Starr explained that his 8-way team simply could not train when all team members were not available. He switched to 4-way and skills training whenever the situation required an adjustment.

It was not much easier for Airspeed XP8. However, the U.S. national 8-way team continued with training whenever one of the team members was not available. Team leaders Kirk Verner and John D'Annunzio are used to changes in the lineup, and they know how to find adequate substitutes quickly.

In fact, the XP8 lineup has changed frequently this year, even more than before and since Paraclete XP8 began with the preparations for the USPA Nationals 2019.



Airspeed XP8 with the complete lineup and with Andrew Happick for Matt Davidson
Paraclete XP8 at the USPA Nationals 2018
Jeana Billings, Michelle Karamon, Kirk Verner and John D'Annunzio won the USPA Nationals 2018 with Josh Hall, Thomas Hughes, JaNette and Steve Lefkowitz in the lineup, and Elliot Byrd already on camera. Andrew Happick and Brian Krause then replaced Josh Hall and Thomas Hughes for the lineup that won the indoor world championship title in April 2019.

Ranch 2nd Generation member Christopher Kuhlmann then replaced JaNette Lefkowitz for the USPA Nationals 2019, where XP8 won the USPA 8-way title and the qualification for the FAI Mondial Tanay 2020, once again with Elliot Byrd on camera. The same lineup placed 3rd behind Russia and France a month later at the FAI Outdoor World Cup 2019.

The current lineup of the U.S. national team for the FAI Mondial next year was put together after the world cup in October 2019. Arizona Airspeed members Niklas Hemlin, Mikhail Markine and Matt Davidson joined the team, while Steve Lefkowitz and Andrew Happick stepped back to focus only on 4-way training and competition with SDC Rhythm XP.

Christopher Kuhlmann helped to make room for the three Arizona Airspeed team members in the 8-way lineup before he became their 4-way team mate soon after.



Airspeed XP8 with Craig Girard for Matt Davidson and with Joey Marshall for Michelle Karamon
Paraclete XP8 at the USPA Nationals 2019
Original 2018 members Jeana Billings, Michelle Karamon, Kirk Verner and John D'Annunzio now had their current lineup together, with Brian Krause, Matt Davidson, Niklas Hemlin, Mikhail Markine and Elliot Byrd still on camera. Training began after the world cup, and Andrew Happick was the official alternate.

The complete lineup competed at the Paraclete XP Indoor Championship 2020 and did not slow down too much with the regular and intensive indoor and outdoor training schedule, even when the corona virus crisis became a major obstacle. The FAI Mondial Tanay 2020 was canceled and rescheduled, and Airspeed XP8 committed to an additional year of training with the same lineup.

Matt Davidson's hip surgery was not a new obstacle, as it was planned even without the rescheduling of the world meet. Alternate Andrew Happick was filling in for a lot of indoor and outdoor training this year. Last week though, he had 4-way training scheduled with SDC Rhythm XP. Kirk Verner and John D'Annunzio invited Craig Girard to train with the 8-way team for a few days, who had an opportunity to compare the U.S. performance level with the Russian Tanay 8-way team that he has been coaching.

Eventually, another U.S. top competitor had his 8-way debut with Airspeed XP8. Michelle Karamon had to step back at the end of the last training day due to an ear infection, and her former Ranch 2nd Generation team mate Joey Marshall, now Airspeed 4-way member, stepped in for two jumps.

It's been a colorful 8-way year for XP8, and the complete R2G lineup all had their own 8-way opportunities by now. The complete XP8 lineup will resume training as soon as Matt Davidson has fully recovered.

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