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Did You Know...

... that Airspeed shakes up the 4way world without posting scores?

Latest Blue Skies Mag issue
posted Oct 23rd, 2011 - The NSL News contribution for the latest issue of the Blue Skies Mag (October/November) was mostly another evaluation of the 4way situation on the very top of the world after the results at the World Cup 2011.

The NSL News did this a few times in 2011, as the major 4way events created different scenarios every single time after new scores were posted. It has been a very exciting competition season so far, and it is far from over.

Arizona Airspeed's situation was once again a big part of the story, as the world class team missed the World Cup in Germany and will miss the Dubai Championship 2011. However, Airspeed did not only catch the journalistic attention of the NSL News this time. Blue Skies Mag also published a few letters that took on the critical topic at the same time. The NSL News will follow up with this additional input later.

Focus on 8way: Golden Knights

Turning Points - What's the 4way world without Airspeed?

How does the Formation Skydiving competition world look like after the main international meet this year, the World Cup 2011?

It's a world without the USA, at least in 4way. No US 4way team in the Open Class made the trip to Germany. The female lineup of the Golden Knights represented the USA in IPC's special 4way category, and the US Army's 8way lineup won the gold medals after a tough 1-point fight with the French world champions of 2006, 2008 and 2010. However, what's a 4way Open Class competition without any teams from the USA?

The TGolden Knights made a smart decision by skipping 4way in Germany and focusing only on 8way. The Army's Gold lineup is very strong and might have won the bronze medals in the 4way Open Class where Germany's Paratec-Saar "amateur world champions" took the 3rd place from the Russian Sky Panthers Barkli. It is questionable whether the Golden Knights would have won the tough 8way race had they competed in 4way at the same time.

Arizona Airspeed in Dubai 2010 and 2011
Why was there no US team at the World Cup? The teams answer this question usually the same way: It's a financial issue. There is very little financial support by USPA. In fact, it is next to nothing, and the teams have to come up with all the money if they want to represent the USA at an international competition. "In return" USPA requires the US teams to follow quite a few rules, which can be found in the USPA Competition Manual. No significant financial support and a lot of rules makes not really for a very desireable combination, and the result is no representation of the USA at the World Cup. The financial situation is different for the US Army team, of course...

Arizona Airspeed currently feels and suffers the rules part of this deal. The strongest US team of the 2011 season, proven after attending five competitions, will most likely win the upcoming USPA Nationals, probably quite clearly. Airspeed will still not be sanctioned by USPA to represent the USA at the next high-profile competition, the Dubai Championship. The USPA Competition Manual is once again in the way, and the USPA Competition Committee confirmed the strict application of the rules.

The Dubai Championship has $20,000 cash for the winner of the 4way competition, $15,000 for the 2nd place and $10,000 for the 3rd place. This at least offers the top teams to recover after spending top dollars to get there and pay registration fees. Airspeed had included this event in the 2011 schedule, as the World Cup does not offer prize money and the opportunity to recover financially. The skydiving federations of most other countries support their national teams fully or partially when they compete at FAI/IPC events. It was a sad but understandable Airspeed decision to take the Dubai Championship over the World Cup. However, the 4way Open Class competition in Germany took place without any US teams, and the new world order cannot have Airspeed on the top.

Indoor champions: NMP-PCH Hayabusa
The NSL News has asked the world rankings question several times this year, the first time before the start of the 2011 season, next after the Dubai Championship in January and then again after the Shamrock Showdown 2011 and the World Challenge indoor competition. There was never a clear answer, and this has not changed after the World Cup, especially since Airspeed did not post any numbers. It is still as exciting as can be, better for the sport than ever.

Let's see. It seemed like 4way and 8way world champion France had a slow start with new team member and Center Inside Emmanuel "Manu" Sarrazin in the 4way lineup. NMP-PCH Hayabusa won in Dubai and then again in Bedford. Airspeed beat France at the Valentine's Meet and won the Shamrock Showdown. Then the new lineup from Arizona claimed after the indoor competition in April that you don't win a World Championship of Formation Skydiving in a flying chamber. That was a blow going in the direction of Belgium, winner in Bedford.

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8way world champion in 2006: Emmanuel "Manu" Sarrazin
Airspeed spoke the team's last word with a 25.0 average after seven rounds at the Midway Battle in June, but there was no international field in Ottawa, Illinois. Aerodyne Aerokart from France and Hayabusa from Belgium had the World Cup in Germany on the agenda instead. And that's where France recently delivered very strongly - with or without Airspeed. Emmanuel "Manu" Sarrazin has caught up with Jeremie Rollett, new French national manager, as the driving engine for France. The godfather of the French 8way world champion teams between 2006 and 2010 loves 4way and showed very clearly in Germany that he can go top speed in that event, as well. France outscored Hayabusa by a 6-point margin after ten rounds and has taken back the No. 1 position in the world. At least for now...

Yes, it can change again, no doubt, but only between France and Belgium. Airspeed cannot take the No. 1 spot this year, there is no opportunity, unfortunately. Aerodyne Aerokart and Hayabusa will fight it out again in Dubai, beginning at the end of November. And who knows, maybe the Russian Sky Panthers Barkli train a lot in the meantime and get a few fast rounds in Dubai that the Russian speed experts love so much. However, Airspeed will not be in this game.

4way World Cup champion in 2011: Emmanuel "Manu" Sarrazin
The top US team can post some impressive scores at the USPA Nationals soon, but they will have only an indirect meaning. Perris Fury and SDC Rhythm XP will compete for the USA in Dubai, even if Airspeed wins in Eloy in October. Dubai will be the final showdown of the 2011 season between France and Hayabusa. The Belgians were not perfectly prepared in Germany after coming back from the military CISM World Championships in Brazil. They said that they can and will do better in Dubai. France competed with all four 4way members in 8way too at the World Cup. It took a lot of energy to be on full alert all day long and compete with the Golden Knights in 8way at the same time. There will be only 4way competition in Dubai, and France will be able to focus only on one event. Hayabusa does not only have to do better to win in Dubai, they also have to be ready for an even stronger French 4way team.

It will be interesting to see how Airspeed deals with this situation. France and Hayabusa obviously keep pushing each other to new and higher performance levels meet by meet, while Airspeed has been and will be observing this from a distance only. There will be strong competition at the USPA Nationals, no doubt, where Perris Fury, Paraclete XP4, Golden Knights and SDC Rhythm XP will be waiting to challenge the Arizona home team in Eloy. Are they strong enough to really put up a good fight for Airspeed who need to feel pressure to keep pushing forward?

There will be new numbers on the scoreboards after the USPA Nationals and then after Dubai, and there will be an opportunity to compare them somehow. The NSL News will surely do exactly that in December...

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