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Did You Know...

... that Perris AirKix' Block 1 technique brings back memories of previous world meets?

England' soccer star Beckham in action
posted Jun 12th, 2006 - The first scores of this weekend's competition in the United Kingdom were already posted yesterday, and Perris AirKix, UK's national team in the female category, was leading the AAA/Open Class field after three rounds with a 16.3 average. It must have been difficult for the UK teams to focus on the competition, while England's soccer team played its first game of the World Cup Soccer on Saturday. Soccer is very popular in the United Kingdom, and England's team is expected to play a serious role in the race for the championship. England beat Paraguy 1 - 0 in Saturday's game.

Perris AirKix has already moved on to the team's next competition in Great Britain, while the NSL-TV still features the AirKix jumps of the SSL May meet in Perris. The NSL-TV audience includes the top competitors in the world, and reigning 4-way world champion and current DeLand Fire member Gary Smith had interesting feedback for the NSL News.

Gary Smith and family
All his team mates have now moved to Europe where DeLand Fire will complete the remaining training jumps before the World Cup 2006 in Germany. However, NSL-TV can be viewed from any place in the world that has a connection to the internet, and Gary Smith surely has great interest in any 4-way events prior to the world meet.

There are many good reasons for observing competition jumps leading into the major events. Critical situations can already be spotted, trained and discussed ahead of time. Teams have the opportunity to prepare for any critical situations before the competition actually begins.

Rule discussion in Gap 2003, Judy Celaya, Dan BC, John Hoover
There was one example for great confusion when teams and judges arrived at the competition site of the World Meet 2003 in Gap, France. Two NSL News stories on September 7, 2003 (Archives > 2004 > Leagues > International > Mondial 2003) explained in detail what happened in Gap when the teams presented their official training jumps to the judges:

"While the teams were preparing for the meet at the competition site and many of them went straight to the creepers after the draw, some of the top contenders were working on a different topic at the same time. The Golden Knights encountered a surprising situation when they presented their training jumps to the judges. Two of their block techniques, Stardian - Stardian (Block 6) and Zipper - Star (Block 12), were not accepted by the judges."

FAI Chief Judge Klaus Wellens
The Golden Knights changed their technique for some blocks overnight, between the end of the official training jumps and the start of the competition, while the incident stirred up an intense discussion between team captains, coaches and judges. The NSL News interviewed Chief Judge Klaus Wellens the same day in Gap and posted the interview on September 7, as well.

One of the conclusions Klaus Wellens came up with in the NSL News interview was the fact that the communication of rule interpretation needed to be improved: "We must find a way to communicate the information to the teams, the coaches, and the international judges directly and also up-to-date. We will think more about how to do this."

Troublemaker in Croatia: Block 12
The NSL News has brought up judging issues whenever they occured at any meets ever since, and the NSL-TV meet videos offer the opportunity for the whole audience to study competition jumps on a regular basis. However, it is questionable how much the necessary official communication of rule interpretation has improved in the meantime.

The next World Meet in Croatia 2004 brought the next surprise and controversial discussion. Once again, vertical block techniques were the reason for confusion and conflicts. Two NSL stories on September 20, 2004 (Archives > 2004 > Leagues > International > World Meet 2004) explained the problems surrounding the former Block 12 (Zipper - Star).

Jerome David in Croatia 2004
The conflict in Croatia was very intense, as the first NSL News story on September 20 reported: "The emotions were very high at the end of the day and after the viewing and scoring of France Maubeuge and DeLand Majik. The NSL News decided to walk away, turn off the computer and let everybody have a good night sleep before taking on a new round of Block 12 (Zipper - Star) discussion."

The discussion went on the next day, and the NSL News spoke with French national coach Jerome David who had tried to resolve the problem before it would come up at the world meet: "David explained to the NSL News that he had made his own effort to fix the Block 12 issue ahead of time. Approximately two months ago he suggested to the IPC's Formation Skydiving committee that this block should not be in the dive pool for the upcoming world championship, due to the obvious problems in the past. The FS committee did not agree with the suggested solution."

World champion DeLand Majik in Croatia 2004
DeLand Fire member Gary Smith was not competing in Gap 2003. However, he witnessed the confusion and controversy as a coach live on competition site. Then he competed with DeLand Majik in Croatia 2004 and experienced the emotional rollercoaster around round five of the event and the bumpy way to win the 4-way gold medals with his team.

His experiences in Gap and Croatia have probably made him become even more observant of rule interpretation by the judges. The teams are so close together these days that each judging call could make the difference between a gold and a silver medal.

Gary Smith watched UK's Perris AirKix on NSL-TV after the team had attended the SSL May meet in Perris. The currently featured round two caught his attention: "I have just watched the Airkix sequence in round 2 of the SSL May meet, M-16-1. The first and third block 1's are definite busts. Center point crossing. And number 2 is too close for comfort, even though that was just after one viewing."

The SSL May meet was judged by one of the most experienced 4-way judges in the world, Judy Celaya. Gary Smith and Judy Celaya have been on the two ends of 4-way competition at many national and international competitions in the past and know each other well. Gary Smith would now like to know if the AirKix technique in Perris is generally acceptable or not.

Perris AirKix' Block 1 in round two at the May meet of the Southwest Skydiving League 2006 - see video
It will be important for his team and all competitors to know what rule interpretation can be expected at the upcoming world meet. Gary Smith has taken action early enough and has brought up the vertical technique of Block 1 not only to the attention of the NSL News. He has also asked Judy Celaya for more feedback. The NSL News will follow up with more information later.
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