... that the US Formation Skydiving delegation celebrates a golden comeback?
posted Sep 24th, 2004 -
It was a good idea to finish as many events as possible on Thursday. The weather does not promise any more skydiving activities, and the locals confirm that the fall has arrived in Croatia. The clouds hang low, rain is in the forecast, the skydiving season is over, and so is the world meet.
However, the 8-way teams are still on a stand-by status Friday morning and had to wait with their celebration, while the 4-way teams smoothly transitioned from competition to party mode last night. In fact, the party at the hotel, where all the teams and competitors have been accommodated, lasted all night.
The event director showed a lot of courage when he sent the teams in the air Thursday afternoon. The teams cooperated although the conditions were really everything but comfortable. The 4-way teams of the female event and the 8-way teams had at least reasonable daylight when they did their last rounds of the meet. The last four teams of the 4-way Open Class jumped at dark skies and clouds. The four best teams in the world had agreed with the meet director to jump under these conditions. It was mainly to give Russia and Italy a chance to finish their competition for the bronze medal, which was close enough to still allow a change of the rankings.
However, nothing changed at all in round ten of the 4-way Open Class, except that the Belgium team Hayabusa showed once again that they will be a team of the future after another outstanding performance in the last round. They managed one more time to stay very close to the scores of the teams competing for the bronze medal position. There were also no changes of the rankings in the Women's Class or in the 8-way event after these jumps under questionable conditions.
As in the 4-way Open Class, round ten was the last chance for the Italian teams to catch up or pass the Russian teams in the bronze medal positions. Sinapsi PD gave it the best effort once again and posted a great score of 22 points. It was once again not enough to get past the Russian Sky Panthers who had held off the Italian team ever since they took the one-point lead with the dream performance and highest score of round seven. Russia ended up this one point ahead of Sinapsi PD after round ten.
Italy's Kewara was in the same situation as Sinapsi PD going into round ten. The Russian Ladybirds had taken the bronze medal position for good in round five. Kewara was close all the time and had reduced the lead to one point after round nine. There was a realistic chance for Italy to catch the Ladybirds at the last moment. However, the Russian team defended the lead with one of the team's best performances in team history and even added one more point to the lead. The much deserved bronze medal goes to Russia after a most successful 2004 season.
Round nine of the 8-way event changed slightly more than in the 4-way events. The distance between the three teams in the medal rankings has become a little bit closer and is now three points between USA and France and two points between France and Russia. However, it is still unlikely that anything could change in the last round. France has never won any of the nine rounds with more than one point over Aispeed. It would take an increased pace and and outstanding performance of the French team or a severe mistake by Airspeed to change this situation.
The situation is exactly the same between France and Russia. The Russian 8-way team has never won any of the nine rounds by more than one point over France. There might be chance that the distance between these three teams could be reduced a little bit more in round ten. The medal rankings will most likely still remain unchanged.
If round ten of the 8-way competition cannot be completed, or if things do not change in round ten, then the triple gold victory for the USA has become reality. It would be an impressive comeback for the US teams. Mondial 2003 was the first world meet in the history of Formation Skydiving where the USA did not win a gold medal. Russia had won the 8-way, France the 4-way Open, and the UK team had taken the first place in the Women's 4-way. Croatia will most likely bring the other extreme for the USA - the triple gold. Congratulations to all medalists and participants for an exciting competition.