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Did You Know...

... that France seems to have the best 8-way cards for the World Cup?

French 8-way team at the Malevsky Cup 2005
posted Oct 20th, 2005 - The NSL News already took a quick look at the 8-way situation prior to the upcoming IPC World Cup of Formation Skydiving at Skydive Arizona in Eloy at an earlier preview of the event. It became clear that the 8-way competition will be one of the most exciting events of the World Cup.

The currently best three 8-way nations in the world, which are also the medal winners at any international 8-way competitions in the past decade at the same time, will challenge each other once again: USA, France and Russia. One of the most interesting aspects of this competition is probably the recent duel between USA and France.

Arizona Airspeed in Croatia 2004
France recruited a new and very young 8-way line-up after a disappointing attempt to win 4-way and 8-way gold medals with all Maubeuge 4-way members both in the 4-way and 8-way line-up at the Mondial 2003 in Gap. The new team trained for one year and impressed the skydiving world already at the World Meet in Croatia 2004 by racing with Arizona Airspeed for the gold medal and winning the silver medal over the 8-way veterans from Russia.

Arizona Airspeed had to make some personnel changes after the lost battle with the Russians in 2003, as well. Kirk Verner, Craig Girard, Dennis Rook, Eliana Rodriguez and Neal Houston continued. Mike Inabinet, Andy Honigbaum and Chris Talbert filled the slots for the world meet in Croatia. This Airspeed 2004 line-up won the 8-way gold medals by three points over the new French team and by five points over Russia with a 19.1 meet average. Germany Remscheid won the fourth place by one point over Italy.

Arizona Airspeed at the Malevsky Cup 2005
France continued with the same line-up in 2005, while Arizona Airspeed had another new 8-way line-up for the 2005 season. Kirk Verner, Craig Girard, Dennis Rook, Eliana Rodriguez, Neal Houston and Andy Honigbaum continued this time. Brian Johnson and Andy Delk were the newcomers this year.

All five top teams of the World Meet in Croatia 2004 attended the Malevsky Cup 2005 in Russia, and things had changed within the time period between Croatia in September 2004 and Russia in July 2005. The French 8-way team had caught up and become very confident. The new Arizona Airspeed 8-way line-up was much improved, as well, since both teams almost scored a 20.0 average. However, France won the first place by one point over Airspeed, and it was the first time that a French 8-way team won a big international competition in 8-way, as far as the NSL News can recall.

Russian 8-way team in Croatia 2004
Russia finished with a significantly lower meet average compared to Croatia 2004, there was now a 30-point distance to France and Airspeed. Italy took over the fourth place from the German 8-way team that could not even give Italy a serious competition.

The World Cup next week will show what has happened in the meantime, the three months between the Malevsky Cup in July and the 8-way competition in Eloy. There is no doubt that the French 8-way team has used the European summer season to train hard and keep up the scoring progression. It was much easier for France to focus only on one event.

Airspeed 4-way teams at work
Arizona Airspeed had to give the 4-way event a lot of attention between July and September. Airspeed Odyssey and Velocity both aimed at the USPA 4-way championship title, as well. The 8-way position seemed to be secured with hardly any serious competition for Airspeed in the USA, while the 4-way competition was wide open.

Airspeed has probably used the six weeks between the USPA Nationals and the World Cup to re-focus on 8-way. The main question is probably whether France has been able to pull away from Airspeed at all, due to the challenging 2005 schedule for the reigning world champions, and if so, how far away? The next questions will come with the results of next week's competition. There will be nine months of time between the World Cup 2005 and the World Meet 2006.

Russian 8-way team at the Malevsky Cup 2005
The whole story of the competition between Airspeed and France has pushed the Russian 8-way team into the background. Russia has become the current underdog in 8-way, no doubt. However, it is a fact that Russia won the 8-way gold medals in 2001 and 2003, and the Russian 8-way team was still very close to the gold medal position in 2004.

The Russian 2005 line-up still has a few of the veteran world champions in the team, however, the personnel changes between 2004 and 2005 had a serious impact on the scoring level, at least temporarily. It will be another interesting aspect to see whether the Russian 8-way team was able to use the remainder of the summer season after the Malevsky Cup to reduce the distance to France and USA.

Italian 8-way team Xtremo
There is also pressure on the Italian 8-way team Xtremo8. The German archrival for the 4th place in the world will not be in Eloy. Germany beat Italy by one point in Croatia 2004 with a 14.0 average - Italy beat Germany by 18 points at the Malevsky Cup 2005. However, Italy's meet average in Russia this year was lower compared to the World Meet in Croatia 2004. Germany had a personnel change between 2004 and 2005, and a better trained 2005/2006 line-up might come back with the same or even a better average as in Croatia 2004. Italy has to get past the 14.0 average level to scare the Germans. The World Cup next week offers an opportunity for such an Italian statement.
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