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One of the previews before this year's world meet was published on July 18th, and it covered the run-up to the 8-way competition in Tanay. Airspeed XP8 were in training at Skydive Paraclete and at the Paraclete XP windtunnel, right after the completion of an Arizona Airspeed 4-way camp.
At that point in time, in July this year, Airspeed 4-way members Niklas Hemlin and Mikhail Markine were in the 8-way lineup, together with XPG4 members Michelle Karamon and Jeana Billings. Matt Davidson was still waiting for his hip surgery, and SDC Rhythm XP member Andrew Happick was filling the slot as the official alternate.
John D'Annunzio, Kirk Verner and Brian Krause were training only in 8-way. Kirk Verner and Brian Krause, the oldest and most experienced Formation Skydiving competitors in the lineup, also 8-way world champions at previous events, took the time to talk about 8-way competition from all angles at the end of a training day.
The situation in July was not the same as it turned out in Tanay. There was a significant change when Matt Davidson had to withdraw just a few weeks before the world meet, due to complications in his recovery process after the hip surgery.
It was the third Airspeed 4-way member, Chris Kuhlmann, who stepped in on a very short call, as the NSL News reported in the final 8-way preview on August 6th. Matt Davidson became the second alternate, while Andrew Happick competed in 4-way with his own team.
It was a challenging situation for Airspeed XP8, and Chris Kuhlmann had to catch up to the world's 8-way top level in a very short time period. He obviously did so, and he won his first FAI gold medal in 8-way, even though he is mostly aiming at the top spot in 4-way.
FAI Tanay Mondial 2020
|2||France National 8-way||FR||20||23||25||24||26||-1||25||-1||22||-1||165||23.6|
Only Kirk Verner and Brian Krause had 8-way experiences and won 8-way gold medals before, as Matt Davidson could not be in the active lineup in Tanay. Their previous battle experiences must have been very valuable in Tanay, as the competition was the expected thriller, with a 1-point difference at the end after Round 7.
The gold medal in Tanay is another milestone in Kirk Verner's incredible Formation Skydiving competition career. He won hist first FAI gold medals with the original Arizona Airspeed 4-way lineup in 1995 and 1997. Then he added 8-way gold in 1999 and 2004. Now he won a new FAI gold medal, 26 years after his first one in 4-way and 17 years after his last 8-way gold medal in 2004.
Brian Krause had won 8-way gold with the Golden Knights in Dubai 2012 and was back on the top of the podium nine years later. Together, Kirk Verner and Brian Krause evened out their open account with Mathieu Bernier, while Matt Davidson could not complete his own "Golden 8-way Decade" with five FAI gold medals between 2012 and 2021 as an active competitor. All three together could have a tie-breaker with Mathieu Bernier next year in Eloy 2022...