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A year after the 32-point difference of 2018, the complete Rhythm lineup managed the unthinkable and defeated Airspeed's previous lineup in the jump-off round at Paraclete XP. The difference went up to 12 points last year, between the new Airspeed lineup and SDC Rhythm XP with Christy Frikken.
There was no doubt that Arizona Airspeed would win again this month, as all other U.S. medal contenders have been in the process of installing or re-building their lineups. In fact, the team in 2nd place, Hammertime, was a pickup team with two training jumps in 4-way before Round 1 at Skydive Chicago.
However, three Hammertime members are extremely well trained together, as they are members of the XP8 world champion lineup, and Eliana Rodriguez is the only Formation Skydiving competitor with world championship gold medals in all three categories (4-way Women in 2001, 4-way Open in 2008, 8-way Open in 2004). She will be inducted to USPA's Hall of Fame next month in DeLand. Arizona Airspeed's team videographer of 2020 - 2021, Taylor Buffington, was filming Hammertime to the USPA silver medals.
The NSL News mentioned earlier that SDC Rhythm XP, XPG4 and Skydive Midwest NEXT would be targeting medals at the USPA Nationals. Only a very strong pickup team of the Hammertime quality could potentially interfere with the battle for all medals behind Arizona Airspeed.
This pickup team was so strong that there was eventually an 8-point difference between 2nd and 3rd, and the other three teams had only one set of USPA medals left for one of them. Hammertime did not even launch the first formations of the sequences all the time. They did this only in three rounds, while using standard exits for the others, as they do in 8-way training and competition.
The USPA bronze medal position was the most contested one, where SDC Rhythm XP, XPG4 and Skydive Midwest NEXT exchanged blows round by round. The new SDC Rhythm XP lineup won this battle with the strongest start (1 - 3) and the strongest finish (9 - 10) that created the 7-point advantage over XPG4.
USPA Nationals 2022
|3||SDC Rhythm XP||US||23||24||-1||19||20||15||-1||19||-1||16||-1||17||25||18||196||19.6|
|5||Skydive Midwest NEXT||US||22||23||-1||16||-1||19||-1||15||-1||18||-2||16||16||23||-1||17||185||18.5|
|8||Corn Needs Butter||US||17||-2||15||-1||13||11||-3||10||-2||14||11||14||15||-2||14||134||13.4|
|9||SNE Fly Girls||US||13||10||-3||11||11||10||13||10||11||13||-2||9||111||11.1|
There is still one month left for the final preparations before Round 1 at the world meet in Eloy, and a 20+ average guarantees a medal position in 4-way Women. The reigning world champions from Russia, Bubbles, will not be able to compete at Skydive Arizona, and the current NFTO lineup have a 20.2 average in their outdoor records that they posted in Australia 2018.
The French national team in 4-way Women, Nephtys/Aerodyne Cypres Maubeuge, posted an 18.8 average at their national outdoor championships in August this year. The momentum that XPG4 was showing at Skydive Chicago is lifting the team to the position of a gold medal contender next month.
Eliana Rodriguez will first be inducted to the Hall of Fame before she watches her three Hammertime team mates secure the first set of gold medals for the U.S. delegation in Eloy. SDC Rhythm XP and Skydive Midwest NEXT will continue to push each other to the highest levels in the near future. The NSL News will follow Arizona Airspeed, XPG4 and XP8 to the world meet next.