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Did You Know...

... that the Golden Knights 4-way team is currently training in Florida?

Golden Knights 4-way lineup: Mitch Stockenberg, Jeshua Stahler, Skyler Romberg, Nick Birkner, Mike Connors
posted Jan 28th, 2024 - The Golden Knights 4-way and 8-way teams have traditionally conducted their outdoor winter camps in Florida, sometimes in South Florida, sometimes in Central Florida. The current agenda of the U.S. Army's Competition Team, now supported again by command and management, resumed the tradition, and the 4-way team traveled to Skydive City, where they are in the middle of their winter camp.

They brought their coach, Arizona Airspeed's Niklas Hemlin, to Florida to continue the work that he has started with the new lineup. It was coincidence that GKXP8 members Jeana Billings and Kirk Verner happened to be at the same place and at the same time last weekend, as they were coaching and organizing an event with larger formations.

Jeana Billings and Kirk Verner are 8-way team mates with all four Golden Knights members in front of the camera. Jeshua Stahler and Mike Connors are in the active GKXP8 lineup, Nick Birkner and Mitch Stockenberg are the 8-way alternates. Together they won the 8-way competition at the 23rd FAI World Cup of Formation Skydiving in Norway last year.

Jeana Billings and Kirk Verner are reigning 8-way world champions of Eloy 2022, the four Golden Knights are aiming at their first world championship title together at the 26th FAI World Formation Skydiving Championships 2024, while Jesse Stahler already has three gold medals in his own collection (2014, 2016, 2018). At Skydive City, Jeana Billings and Kirk Verner and the Golden Knights went their own ways with different chores.

NSL Live Talk with Golden Knights and Niklas Hemlin at Skydive City on 27 January 2024 - NSL-TV Unfiltered
Coaching consistency with Niklas Hamlin
Niklas Hemlin has been coaching the new Golden Knights lineup since it was selected for the U.S. Army Competition Team in 2022. Jeshua Stahler, Mike Connors and Mitch Stockenberg started with David Flynn in the lineup who did not continue. Andrew Starr stepped in for him for the Paraclete XP Indoor Championship 2023, where Mitch Stockenberg could not compete due to injury. Nick Birkner had his debut competition at the indoor event in February last year.

The current lineup (Jeshua Stahler, Mike Connors, Nick Birkner, Mitch Stockenberg) competed for the first time with the complete team at Paraclete XP's Summer Classic 2023, with Andy Sippl on camera. They finished the first competition together with a 16.3 average, which sprang up to the 20-average level (21.6) within two months at the USPA Nationals 2023.

XPG4, with their 8-way team mate Jeana Billings in the lineup, were still ahead of the Golden Knights at both events, while the new U.S. Army team battled with SDC Rhythm XP for the USPA bronze medals and reduced the distance to the U.S. national team in 4-way Women significantly. The consistency of the training with the complete lineup after Mitch Stockenberg's recovery and the coaching by Niklas Hemlin is showing more results, even though Jeshua Stahler and Mike Connors have to switch back and forth between 4-way and 8-way training. Mike Connors is newer to double duties than Jesse Stahler, and he explained during the NSL Live Talk conversation how he is dealing with it.

Pre-Nationals/Summer Classic 2023
RankAAA Class5,2,J20,15,FH,21,3Q,1,1011,K,69,P,B,G16,N,1419,12,OM,18,C,722,D,13TotalAvg
1XPG418-317-319-218-119 28-118-118 21 17 19319.3
2GK419 15-119 10 16 23-314-213 19 15 16316.3
3Spaceland Saboteurs11-215 16 14-114-121 13 13 17 12 14614.6
4Accidentally Competent10 11 8-211 11 14-19-19 13 6-110210.2

Golden Knights 4-way Team at the Paraclete XP Summer Classic
4-way and 8-way double with GKXP8: Jesse Stahler and Mike Connors (right)
The Golden Knights 4-way teams were a major factor long ago and even won world championship medals for the U.S. delegation, silver in Brazil 1987 (Andy Gerber) and in Gap 2003 (Eric Heinsheimer, John Hoover, Kurt Isenbarger, Chris Talbert, Tal Hunter on camera).

Arizona Airspeed began to dominate 4-way competition in the United States in 1995 and allowed other U.S. teams to represent the country only in 2003 (Golden Knights), 2004 (DeLand Majik) and 2006 (DeLand Fire). It was almost exactly the opposite situation in 8-way, where the Golden Knights lineups dominated on the domestic and the international 8-way leaderboards.

However, even without much training, the 4-way lineups of the Golden Knights usually finished in medal positions at the USPA Nationals, whenever they decided to compete in their second event, as well. The U.S. Army's 8-way team did not continue after finishing 2nd behind Paraclete XP8 at the USPA Nationals 2019, and only a 4-way team, with current member Jeshua Stahler in the lineup, at least continued to represent the Golden Knights in the sport. Jeshua Stahler and Drew Starr then began to create a new and competitive 4-way lineup for the near future, and the 4-way training at Skydive City featured the new team in action, now with Skyler Romberg on camera. They will compete together at their third meet, the national indoor championship at Paraclete XP, followed by the Shamrock Showdown at Skydive DeLand. This year's USPA Nationals will most likely include once again a Golden Knights 4-way team in medal contention.

USPA Nationals 2023
Rank4-way OpenO,E,C,Q,H20,M,J,110,12,B4,18,L11,17,58,9,22A,19,K,13G,3,221,14,15D,F,7,NTotalAvg
1Arizona Airspeed43-8292223-1282126232033-226826.8
3SDC Rhythm XP48-419171620172217-11625-121721.7
4Golden Knights39-3231817-12117-12415-2142821621.6
5Pour Decisions35-1181516181620151423-119019.0
6RhEvolution XP27-4191315161516-116132317317.3
7Skydive Midwest NEXT26-418-112-21517141715132317017.0
8Spaceland Apex22-511-111-2141513-21914132215415.4
9Alti-2 Technologies24-112-110131311-114111118-113713.7
10Rhetirement Party2112-21110-18121312101712612.6
11Rippin Flatties10-443-354-34-163510-3545.4

SDC Rhythm XP - Golden Knights 4-way Team at the USPA Nationals 2024, Video Footage Courtesy of USPA/InTime
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