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Did You Know...

... that more Block 1 feedback comes along with a brandnew Airkix meet video?

posted Jun 14th, 2006 - The NSL News story on June 12 reported that there were doubts whether Perris Airkix' vertical technique for Block 1 (Snowflake - Offset) at the SSL May meet would be acceptable for international judging or not. The NSL News promised to get more information and follow up on the topic.

In the meantime, Airkix videographer Andy Wright provided the NSL News with brandnew footage of last weekend's UK Grand Prix competition in Langar, Great Britain. The meet video features Perris Airkix with the team's third round of the meet. The 19-pointer (B-Q-6-11) was the highest score of the meet that had a relatively slow competition draw.

Perris Airkix's round three at the first Grand Prix competition last weekend in Great Britain - see video
The discussion between DeLand Fire's Gary Smith and Judy Celaya continued, as well, after the FAI judge kindly provided feedback from her position at the SSL meet in May. Judy Celaya will be judging at the World Meet 2006 in Germany and also at the Malevsky Cup 2006 in Russia. Thus, her feedback was even more important for teams and competitors who will compete at these international events.
Judy Celaya and Dan BC discuss judging issues at the World Meet 2003 in Gap
Judy Celaya commented the Perris Airkix techniques for Block 1 after reviewing them on NSL-TV: "I really looked at the inters, especially the first two times through the block, and they really are on the edge. I think we would most likely see a 2-3 split on a 5-judge panel, and it could go either way. Definitely a judgment call."

She mentioned that she discussed the Block 1 technique with Airkix coach Dan BC during the meet, as well, and told him that "...they are pushing it, and could easily be busted on it." The NSL News also received feedback from Dan BC, which included additional information on other topics.

Judy Celaya added that she will save this meet video for training purposes: "It is a really good training dive for judges, and I've saved it for that purpose." She looks for additional footage to prepare her judges well for this year's USPA Nationals where she will be the Chief Judge for the Formation Skydiving events.

She plans to put together a panel of judges that is better then any of the panels she has seen in a long time: "I don't think I have anyone who is merely a 'point counter' and can't see a bust you could drive a truck through. Should be a good time!"

Perris Airkix's round two, including the controversial Block 1 technique, at the SSL May meet - see video
She encouraged Gary Smith and the NSL News to find more critical competition jumps that could be used for judgong training: "If either of you see a dive in any of the NSL meets that are good for judge training, please send them to me. The more challenging dive examples I have, the stronger the judges will be."

DeLand Fire's Gary Smith was not completely satisfied with Judy Celaya's evaluation after the review. First of all, he appreciated her feedback and her passion for the sport: "Good to hear from you and also once again to see your enthusiasm for judging in the sport."

Gary Smith visits the NSL News office at the Malevsky Cup 2005
However, Gary Smith thought that the judging call for the Airkix example should not be in doubt: "Without watching the jump for the second time, I would say 100% that the first and third inters of the block are busts. After watching the first inter the second time, the centers do not only cross but instead seem to pass on the wrong side, which is even worse. It is more disguised, as it seems as though they are not crossing. They need to stay on the left of the center point of the formation to show the required rotation."

Gary Smith and his evaluation was confirmed by other feedback from the NSL News audience who judged the meet jump from home or office computers. Finally, Dan BC, Perris Airkix coach, commented his team's block technique and also provided insights of the Airkix history and progression. He just returned from a coaching trip to Russia and took the time to answer the NSL News questions.

Dan BC explains vertical block techniques to judges at the World Meet 2003...
The Block 1 technique at the SSL May meet was the first topic: "In my eyes, on the particular Block 1 in question, the centerpoints of the cats crossed too deep. This is not the technique we have trained. When we debriefed the jump during the meet I told them they might get popped on it. As you know, there is fine line between the ideal technique for the fastest block and the illegal technique."

Dan BC explained how difficult it can be for an event judge to detect and judge this fine line: "When you have one judge judging twelve teams at an SSL Meet and trying to do it in one viewing, you are going to slip one by sometimes. We've seen it at every World Meet when there are a dozen judges. That's just part of the game we play and the rules we play by. Judging is never going to be perfect, and we don't want to change the judging rules so that it requires perfection. We wouldn't get the scores for weeks after the meet."

... and dicusses them with Jerome David and Davide Moy
He continued with tips for teams: "This centerpoint crossing issue is a common problem. It only requires a small error in the execution of the block to go from the perfect technique to the illegal technique. This is not limited to only Block 1. This happens when the centers don't, or aren't able to, make a strong move through the center at the start of the block. To be sure this doesn't happen, the centers should make a strong move to start the block and look long enough at each other to see they've made enough space. The outside flyers need to focus on the centers' initial move and allow them, or even assist them, to make it. If the outside flyers begin their own move too early, there will be a tendency to go around the center flyers and cross too deep."

The technical discussion with coach Dan BC was a good lead to learn more about the British national team in the female category, and Dan BC explained where the team comes from and what it aims for:

Perris Airkix
"Airkix is one of the best skydiving teams I've ever seen or worked with. They started off in February 2005 at an 11-point average. They stated two very clear goals right from the beginning of the year. 1) To win the women's division at the UK Nationals. Should be a fairly simple task. There weren't going to be any well trained women's teams going up against them. 2) To average a 15.1 at the World Cup, the necessary average to receive funding from the BPA. A much more ambitious goal seeing that they would be doing less than 250 jumps in 2005.

Having a point average goal hanging over your head like that can work against you in training, so we put that goal on the shelf and focused on the plan to achieve it, instead of the end result itself. We set specific goals for each stage of the training and each camp. All five members of the team put 100% off their efforts and energy into every part of the training, even in the time off. I was very impressed with their dedication. Lots of teams talk the talk but don't really do the work required to meet the goals they set. Airkix did. And the result was a 15.2 average at the World Cup 2005, finishing in round 10 with a 19-pointer, only one point behind France.

Russian 8-way team at the World Cup 2005
This year, they have done three camps with me here in Perris. They will come back for two more weeks in July. They have been every bit as committed to their goals this year as last year, and I am confident that they will reach them. As far as if Airkix can win the World Meet 2006, you just never know what will happen. But I am sure of this: any team that wants to beat them is going to have to do some incredible skydiving at the meet."

Since Dan BC just returned from a coaching trip to Russia, the NSL News asked for an update, as well. He has worked with the Russian 8-way team this year and expects Russia to challenge USA and France in Germany:

Russian team Black Cat at the World Cup 2005
"The Russian 8-way team has made terrific progress this year. The team did four camps in Perris since January and has definitely stepped it up significantly. At the World Cup 2005, USA and France were all alone in the fight for the Gold. The Russian team was much further down trying to hold off the Italians and keep the 3rd place seating. I expect them to be in the race with the top teams at the World Meet 2006. The split in Germany will be between 3rd and 4th place, not 2nd and 3rd."

He had studied the French 8-way scores and also observed one of the Russian 4-way teams on his trip to Russia: "The French 8-way team is looking very good. But not good enough to have an easy ride in Germany. Black Cat was also at the site when the 8-way team was training. As we saw at the World Cup 2005, these guys are very fast. If they can keep it clean and together, they will be putting up some high scores."

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