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Round nine of the NSL Championship 2004 challenged the AAA and AA Class teams with Block 18 and three random formations. All of the AAA and AA Class teams except one applied the same vertical technique where Point and Tail cross each other first. Only Arizona Blade was more familiar with the vertical technique where Center Inside and Outside go vertically first.
Hughes had good reasons to apply a technique, which is theoretically slower compared to the technique used by the top teams in the world: "We did this technique because of the experience level of the team when we first started, we were thinking of changing the technique but now our times are almost as fast as the faster technique but the catch is a lot more guaranteed. Above a 19 avg though I think it needs to be changed, we will see what happens next year!!"
Blade passed the 19 average level in November 2004 when the team posted its winning 19.9 average at the NSL Championship 2004. Hughes thought in July 2004 that it needs to be changed then. The new year brought a new team and the other Block 18 technique for Hughes. His new team, DeLand Fire, with former DeLand Majik member Gary Smith and former PD Blue members Shannon Pilcher and Ian Bobo, plus Natasha Montgomery, did not even consider using the slower technique. However, in round nine of the NSL Championship 2004, now on NSL-TV, Hughes and Arizona Blade demonstrate the advantages of the slower technique for the last time. The Blade score was 23 points for this round.
The lead in the A Class had gone back and forth between GTA and FSC throughout the first eight rounds. GT Airlock of the Georgia Skydiving League came from a devastating round eight with a score of zero points, which had given FSC JAMMM of the Florida Skydiving League the opportunity to take back the lead by one single point.
Both teams were highly foucused and concentrated going into round nine. The result was another close round. In fact, it was only the second time that the teams posted the same scores for a round. It is well worth watching these two jumps and see how FSC JAMMM works hard to defend the lead, and how GTA tries to find back the rhythm and put some great scores on the board. Both teams succeeded with their scores of ten points for the round, and FSC JAMMM carried the one-point lead into round ten. Enjoy the show, and give these two teams some credit for their great performances at the NSL Forum.
The whole round can be viewed on the NSL-TV 2004 page. Navigate to the "Archives" > "2004", and then go to "Images" > "NSL-TV". The scoring table of the NSL Championship 2004 offers the links to all jumps, as well.