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Did You Know...

... that Arizona Airspeed is still the USPA top contender in 4way?

Golden Knights at the World Cup 2011
posted Oct 12th, 2011 - The NSL News has recently given the World Cup 2011 a lot of attention, and there were more than enough reasons for that. The coverage is not over yet, especially as the videos of Round 10 in the 4way Open Class are still to come.

Unfortunately, the coverage did not include much of the US 4way competition at all since no team competed in the 4way Open Class. This leaves out a big part of the 4way world where US teams are always in contention for top positions. Only the Golden Knights competed for the USA in 8way and in the female 4way category in Germany.

One of the best US 4way teams was at the World Cup but did not compete in 4way. The Golden Knights Gold are a part of the 8way lineup and one of the best 4way teams in the world. The NSL News explained earlier why the Golden Knights focused only on the 8way competition. The German 4way team Paratec-Saar was probably glad to see the Gold team skipping 4way...

Awards at the Paraclete Indoor Championships 2011
It is time now to focus on the USPA Nationals 2011 where the Formation Skydiving world will have the opportunity to see more than enough of the US teams, as the NSL News will be live at the competition site in Eloy. There are five top contenders that the NSL News has introduced earlier and who have all posted scores this year.

One of the main question is whether any of the other four top teams will be able to make Arizona Airspeed's life at least challenging in Eloy. It seems to be very difficult this year to make a well qualified guess since those five teams have only met once at the same time and at the same place, and this occasion was an indoor meet, the Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving Championships 2011.

However, the NSL News tried to put all the pieces of this year's 4way puzzle together and reviewed all leaderboards where at least two of the five top teams posted scores. The Paraclete meet was the first one of those events and the only one with all five teams. It was also the only meet for Perris Fury this year, and even the Paraclete indoor scores don't say much at all since Fury did not have the complete lineup available. John Hamilton filled in for Uli Steuwe who had a late start into the 2011 season due to shoulder surgeries.

Paraclete Indoor 2011Rd. 1Rd. 2Rd. 3Rd. 4Rd. 5Rd. 6Rd. 7Rd. 8Rd. 9Rd. 10TotalAvg
RankAAA ClassA,20,186,5,1412,2,CF,21,3G,17,O,H8,4,13P,K,16,BE,L,22,157,Q,91,19,JTotalAvg
1Arizona Airspeed 24 25 23 27 39 20 38 27 40 2528828.8
2Paraclete XP4 24 24 21 23 36 19 33 26 36 2226426.4
3Golden Knights Gold 21 24 19 24 37 20 34 26 34 2426326.3
4SDC Rhythm XP 22 20 20 24 32 17 33 24 31 2224524.5
5Perris Fury 24 21 18 23 34 17 27 20 31 1923423.4
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Awards at the Shamrock Showdown 2011
Airspeed won at the home turf of the Paraclete tunnel experts before defeating Aerodyne Aerokart a week later on their own home turf in Eloy. Airspeed was far ahead of Paraclete XP4 and the Golden Knights Gold lineup who showed at the first meet of the 2011 season in the USA how sharp they are in the 4way event. SDC Rhythm XP outscored Perris Fury but was still far away from XP4 and Golden Knights.

Three of the five teams were back at the Shamrock Showdown 2011, and the order between them was exactly the same. Airspeed won and beat Aerodyne Aerokart once again and NMP-PCH Hayabusa at the same time. Paraclete XP4 and SDC Rhythm XP were even farther behind than at the indoor competition.

An interesting aspect at the Shamrock Showdown was the fact that Rhythm had caught up with XP4 at the outdoor meet and performed on the same scoring level.

Shamrock Showdown 2011Rd. 1Rd. 2Rd. 3Rd. 4Rd. 5Rd. 6Rd. 7Rd. 8Rd. 9Rd. 10TotalAvg
RankAAA ClassN,H,3,1J,4,C,137,17,19B,20,1512,22,MF,18,2E,16,9G,8,21P,A,11,1410,Q,D,LTotalAvg
1Arizona Airspeed 25 25 25 24 20 25 30 22 24 2924924.9
4Paraclete XP4 18 21 20 19 16 20 24 18 23 2019919.9
5SDC Rhythm XP 18 19 20 21 15 18 24 19 20 2319719.7
Only Arizona Airspeed and SDC Rhythm XP traveled to Bedford for the World Challenge 2011, and the indoor distance between the two teams was almost exactly the same as a month earlier in Raeford (43 - 41). However, Rhyhtm was there to witness the one and only time that the new Airspeed lineup was defeated so far. NMP-PCH Hayabusa was responsible for this upset.

World ChallengeRd. 1Rd. 2Rd. 3Rd. 4Rd. 5Rd. 6Rd. 7Rd. 8Rd. 9Rd. 10TotalAvg
RankAAA Class10,C,520,P,2H,M,Q,K,AL,J,16,12E,7,15O,11,2214,B,176,13,94,3,211,G,8TotalAvg
2Arizona Airspeed 26 24 60 27 34 24 27 28 23 2529829.8
5SDC Rhythm XP 22 23 56 23 27 20 24 21 19 2225725.7
This year's Midway Battle also featured only two of the five US top teams. This time, it was an outdoor duel between Arizona Airspeed and SDC Rhythm XP, and the outdoor distance went from 5.2 at the Shamrock Showdown to 4.0 at the Midway Battle.

Midway Battle 2011Round 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6Round 7TotalAvg
RankAAA Class18,A,313,20,Q11,M,D,25,G,21K,O,1,1017,P,C,14B,9,6TotalAvg
1Arizona Airspeed 24 21 27 24 23 28 2817525.0
2SDC Rhythm XP 20 18 21 22 18 23 2514721.0
Paraclete XP4 then attended one of the Carolina Skydiving League meets and posted a 22.0 average after six rounds in July. That was significantly better compared to the Shamrock Showdown, even though a 6-round meet doesn't tell the whole story. It seems like the CASL July meet had an average draw though.

Carolina July 2011Round 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6TotalAvg
RankAAA ClassH,7,19C,J,17,11K,P,12,GM,8,15L,F,16,69,18,10TotalAvg
1Paraclete XP4 24 23 23 19 23 2013222.0
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The Golden Knights Gold lineup followed Paraclete XP4 at the CASL September meet and posted the same 22.0 average as XP4 had done in July. Both teams were expected to be close in the battle for the USPA medals, and it seems as if they will be. Perris Furty has been training a lot since Uli Steuwe has come back into action, and SDC Rhythm XP's 2011 scores have shown the expected upswing. There is a good chance that all four teams will be much closer to each other at the end of this month than they were in February.

Carolina September 2011Round 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6TotalAvg
RankAAA Class17,5,16L,A,9,2120,15,219,M,1Q,22,E,FB,P,13,GTotalAvg
1Golden Knights Gold 27 23 17 22 24 1913222.0
4way winning experiences: Kirk Verner and John Eagle with Paraclete XP4
Will this 4-pack be able to threaten the Airspeed position? That's the big question. It is a fact that tight competition pushes the contenders forward to stronger performances. All four teams are most likely expecting very tight competition at the USPA Nationals and will do everything they can do be well prepared and get to the peak performance level at the right time.

Perris Fury, Paraclete XP4, Golden Knights and SDC Rhythm XP will be pushing each other, and they will be hunting Arizona Airspeed at the same time. Mark Kirkby is the only Airspeed member who knows how to win a national championship in 4way. Paraclete XP4 has two members (John Eagle, Kirk Verner) who have done that before, and Golden Knight Kurt Isenbarger won the 4way event at the USPA Nationals in 2002. At least those two teams have the same experience level that Airspeed has.

USPA Nationals 2011 - 4way Open

Who will win this year?

Arizona Airspeed
Perris Fury
Paraclete XP4
Golden Knights
SDC Rhythm XP
 Current Results
Arizona Airspeed - Outdoor advantage?
Airspeed may have one advantage that could be very important in the upcoming race. The new lineup is undefeated at the outdoor meets so far and had probably more outdoor training than the other top contenders. Paraclete XP4 has unlimited indoor training opportunities but has not trained that much from jump planes this year.

SDC Rhythm XP has tried to balance indoor and outdoor training carefully but has to deal with with the Midwest weather while Airspeed trains in Arizona. The Golden Knights have mostly practiced 8way exits this year and had very limited 4way training at all. Perris Fury had the late start and literally no competition experience with the new lineup. After all, it still seems as if Arizona Airspeed is the top contender in 4way.

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