The NSL News did this a few times in 2011, as the major 4way events created different scenarios every single time after new scores were posted. It has been a very exciting competition season so far, and it is far from over.
Arizona Airspeed's situation was once again a big part of the story, as the world class team missed the World Cup in Germany and will miss the Dubai Championship 2011. However, Airspeed did not only catch the journalistic attention of the NSL News this time. Blue Skies Mag also published a few letters that took on the critical topic at the same time. The NSL News will follow up with this additional input later.
It's a world without the USA, at least in 4way. No US 4way team in the Open Class made the trip to Germany. The female lineup of the Golden Knights represented the USA in IPC's special 4way category, and the US Army's 8way lineup won the gold medals after a tough 1-point fight with the French world champions of 2006, 2008 and 2010. However, what's a 4way Open Class competition without any teams from the USA?
The TGolden Knights made a smart decision by skipping 4way in Germany and focusing only on 8way. The Army's Gold lineup is very strong and might have won the bronze medals in the 4way Open Class where Germany's Paratec-Saar "amateur world champions" took the 3rd place from the Russian Sky Panthers Barkli. It is questionable whether the Golden Knights would have won the tough 8way race had they competed in 4way at the same time.
Arizona Airspeed currently feels and suffers the rules part of this deal. The strongest US team of the 2011 season, proven after attending five competitions, will most likely win the upcoming USPA Nationals, probably quite clearly. Airspeed will still not be sanctioned by USPA to represent the USA at the next high-profile competition, the Dubai Championship. The USPA Competition Manual is once again in the way, and the USPA Competition Committee confirmed the strict application of the rules.
The Dubai Championship has $20,000 cash for the winner of the 4way competition, $15,000 for the 2nd place and $10,000 for the 3rd place. This at least offers the top teams to recover after spending top dollars to get there and pay registration fees. Airspeed had included this event in the 2011 schedule, as the World Cup does not offer prize money and the opportunity to recover financially. The skydiving federations of most other countries support their national teams fully or partially when they compete at FAI/IPC events. It was a sad but understandable Airspeed decision to take the Dubai Championship over the World Cup. However, the 4way Open Class competition in Germany took place without any US teams, and the new world order cannot have Airspeed on the top.
Let's see. It seemed like 4way and 8way world champion France had a slow start with new team member and Center Inside Emmanuel "Manu" Sarrazin in the 4way lineup. NMP-PCH Hayabusa won in Dubai and then again in Bedford. Airspeed beat France at the Valentine's Meet and won the Shamrock Showdown. Then the new lineup from Arizona claimed after the indoor competition in April that you don't win a World Championship of Formation Skydiving in a flying chamber. That was a blow going in the direction of Belgium, winner in Bedford.
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Yes, it can change again, no doubt, but only between France and Belgium. Airspeed cannot take the No. 1 spot this year, there is no opportunity, unfortunately. Aerodyne Aerokart and Hayabusa will fight it out again in Dubai, beginning at the end of November. And who knows, maybe the Russian Sky Panthers Barkli train a lot in the meantime and get a few fast rounds in Dubai that the Russian speed experts love so much. However, Airspeed will not be in this game.
It will be interesting to see how Airspeed deals with this situation. France and Hayabusa obviously keep pushing each other to new and higher performance levels meet by meet, while Airspeed has been and will be observing this from a distance only. There will be strong competition at the USPA Nationals, no doubt, where Perris Fury, Paraclete XP4, Golden Knights and SDC Rhythm XP will be waiting to challenge the Arizona home team in Eloy. Are they strong enough to really put up a good fight for Airspeed who need to feel pressure to keep pushing forward?
There will be new numbers on the scoreboards after the USPA Nationals and then after Dubai, and there will be an opportunity to compare them somehow. The NSL News will surely do exactly that in December...