Blue Skies Mag also published two letters in the same issue that were only related to Airspeed and Dubai. The first one explained the situation from the Airspeed perspective, the second one came from USPA Competition Committee Chair Scott Smith, who attended the meeting where the decision was made and who responded to the first letter.
He said that Airpeed was responsible for the decision not to compete at the World Cup 2011 and that the seven members of the USPA Competition Committee "prefered to stick with the USPA rules", which can be found in the USPA Competition Manual. Here is Scott Smith's complete response:
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USPA used to select its teams at the Nationals right before an international event no matter how short the interval was. However, based on competitor input and pressure that was changed to be the prior year's Nationals. The most vocal team in any skydiving discipline proposing this prior year selection was Arizona Airspeed. This ended up serving them well when one year they lost the Nationals to the Golden Knights just a few weeks before leaving for the World Meet. Airspeed didn't, as your anonymous writer implies they should have, give the slot up to the Knights, but instead went on to win the World Meet.
However, those Nationals are barely three weeks before the start of the Dubai Cup. We had complaints from competitors a couple years ago when the USPA Board shortened the window to 60 days because some U.S. Team members didn't think that was enough time to prepare for a big international event. When a proposal came up on the agenda at this summer's board meeting to use this year's Nationals to select our official team for Dubai, not one of the seven members of the Competition Committee supported it, preferring to stick with our rules.
Like your anonymous writer, I too like to see the stars and stripes waived from the podium. So they will probably be disappointed to learn that I also offered the new Airspeed line-up (although they hadn't yet competed as a team in a U.S. Nationals) the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the World Cup last summer in Germany. A World Cup, like a World Championships, is an FAI First Category event while the Dubai Cup is an FAI Second Category event. Although unlike Dubai, the World Cup wasn't offering any prize money and Thomas again said it just wasn't worth the team spending all the money it would cost to go over there just to win a medal.
I would have loved to see the new Airspeed line-up representing the U.S. at the World Cup this summer and at Dubai as well. But unfortunately we won't get to see that, because of their decision, not anyone at USPA."
The USPA Competition Manual relates to the "World Championship" in the selection rules. Scott Smith mentions that the Dubai Championship is only an "FAI Second Category event". However, the Competition Committee obviously decided to apply the same selection rules for the Dubai Championship 2011 as for an "FAI First Category event".
According to the results of the NSL Poll and the expectations of the audience, including many USPA members, Airspeed seems to be more than a top contender. In 1999, it was not a big surprise that Airspeed and Golden Knights went neck to neck. Such a close race is very unlikely to come up beginning this weekend, neither in 4way nor in 8way.
Airspeed member Thomas Hughes commented that he did not tell Scott Smith the World Cup 2011 attendance would not be "worth the team spending all the money just to win a medal". He said that Airspeed cannot afford to spend approx. $20,000 to compete at the World Cup, as there is no financial USPA support for the national teams and little from other resources. The situation is different in Dubai where the prize money can compensate for the expenses.
No matter what, Airspeed and USPA will have to learn how to work together, at least from here on forward. If the results next week are the same as the audience expects it, then Airspeed will surely be qualified to be USPA sanctioned as the US national 4way team for the major events in 2012. Then they could bring home medals and honors for the team, as well as pride for USPA and the Formation Skydiving community in the USA. Let the games begin and the leaderboard speak the only truth in Eloy...