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Profile

Up Close & Personal

name: Craig Girard

email: Rubick@aol.com

age: 53

education: High School - Central Texas College - University of Maryland

family & marital staus: Divorced

number of jumps: 26,000

years in Sport: 37

teams: Golden Knights, Airspeed

favorite competition: World Meets of 2003 and 2008

skydiving mentor(s): Charles E. Merritt - Scott Rhodes - Jack Jefferies - Dan BC

hobbies: Base jumping, Hangliding, Scuba diving, Working on my cars

favorite music: Rock

Where will you be ten years from now? Skydiving until it doesn't feel good anymore!

best kept secret: I speak French very well.

favorite quote:

"I love the fight more than the win"

"Craig Girard with his 7th gold medal has now become the most successful Formation Skydiving competitor in the history of the sport. He has five gold medals in 8-way and two in 4-way. The NSL News is still working on his profile..."

This paragraph was posted by the NSL News during the aftermath of the World Meet 2008 in Maubeuge, France, with the story on August 18, 2008. It still took more than three months until Craig Girard's career story has finally been completed. It is no surprise since there was so much information to be collected, as Craig Girard's career reaches far back in time.

His name has been a synonym for the whole Airspeed project for such a long time now that his career before Airspeed is almost forgotten, even though it began at a time when Airspeed was not even thought of.

Craig "Sarge" Girard was born on 29 July 1965 in Tempe, Arizona. He made his first jump when he was 16 years old. He was in 10th grade and read in a local newspaper that he could learn to skydive for $65. He asked his father, who agreed without much hesitation, and went skydiving the following weekend at Sky-Hi Pioneers in Phoenix, Arizona. It was 14 March 1981 when he began his skydiving career close to the place where he is still - and again - located at the moment.

He jumped as much as he could afford and had a total of approx. 300 jumps when he eventually joined the US Army in 1983. He used the military opportunity of $1 jumps at selected skydiving clubs for three years. These jumps were not very well structured, mostly 2-ways and 3-ways. Finally, he applied to try out for the "Golden Knights" in 1986 and was accepted.

The Golden Knights experience would change Craig Girard's life. He made the "Gold Demonstration Team" and spent the entire 1987 season doing skydiving demos. Then he tried out for the Formation Skydiving team in November 1987. The Golden Knights 8-way team had just won its first 8-way gold medals at the World Championship of Formation Skydiving in Brazil 1987.

Charlie Brown and Scott Rhodes Charlie Brown and Scott Rhodes
Craig Girard was proud to be accepted as a team member and spent the next seven years with the Golden Knights. These seven years with the US Army team brought the first sets of medals at USPA Championships, World Cups and World Championships for the most passionate and most successful Formation Skydiving competitor in the history of the sport.

The success with the Golden Knights was mostly based on the 8-way team. Craig Girard won 8-way gold medals at three consecutive World Championships (1989, 1991 and 1993), at the two World Cups in the same time frame (1988 and 1990) and at all USPA Nationals between 1988 and 1994. There was one exception though when he was stationed with the US Army in Egypt for a year. He missed the USPA gold medals and the World Cup in 1992.

Craig Girard with first Airspeed 8-way lineup Craig Girard with first Airspeed 8-way lineup
Craig Girard was already a 4-way competitor by then, even though the Golden Knights 8-way team made the history books. He won the USPA Nationals in 1989 and 1990 actually in both events. JC Coffman, Charlie Brown and Paul Rafferty were his 4-way team mates in 1989, Kevin Peyton was on camera. Scott Rhodes replaced Charlie Brown in his 4-way lineup of 1990. His 4-way team did not compete at the World Championship of 1989 after handing the US 4-way responsibilities to the DeLand lineup with Jack Jefferies, Irv Cullahan, Ed Lally and Dan Thompson.

Craig Girard's career with the Golden Knights and the athletic success would already be enough for a complete life story. However, it was just the beginning of an even much greater chapter of his skydiving career. Craig Girard was far from being done.

He left the US Army in 1995 and went back to Arizona when Skydive Arizona's owner Larry Hill and the legendary Airspeed 4-way lineup (Jack Jefferies, Dan BC, Mark Kirkby, Kirk Verner) decided to build an Airspeed 8-way team. Craig Girard, already a multiple 8-way world champion, was put in charge of the 8-way project. This was the beginning of an even more impressive time period.

USPA Nationals 1998 in Sebastian USPA Nationals 1998 in Sebastian
It took the new Airspeed 8-way team three years to take over control of the 8-way event, as well, as the Golden Knights did not give up easily at all. Only the dramatic meltdown of the Golden Knights in Round 5 at the USPA Nationals 1998 in Eloy brought the first 8-way gold medals for Airspeed and indicated the upcoming change of 8-way dominance in the USA.

Craig Girard's Airspeed 8-way lineup then traveled to Australia in 1999 and won the first set of 8-way gold medals at the World Championship of Formation Skydiving. The Golden Knights still fought back successfully one more time and won the USPA Nationals 1999 in Sebastian before Airspeed's 8-way team made the golden trip to Australia. However, Craig Girard's 8-way mission in Arizona was already accomplished, and Airspeed has won each 8-way competition at the USPA Nationals ever since Sebastian.

First Airspeed Vertical lineup in 2000 First Airspeed Vertical lineup in 2000
It was probably only a matter of time when Craig Girard would also tackle the 4-way event seriously. He had already trained and competed with the other Airspeed lineups that completed the Airspeed 8-way team at the times when the Airspeed "A-Team" was in training and competition session. "Airspeed Purple" (Alan Metni, Gary Beyer, Craig Girard, John Eagle, Mike Scott on camera) became finally the strongest competitor for "Arizona Airspeed" (Kirk Verner, Mark Kirkby, Dan BC, Jack Jefferies, Steve Nowak on camera) at the USPA Nationals 1999, and the legendary 4-way lineup retired after this event. It was 4-way time now for Craig Girard.

Airspeed Vertical was formed at the end of the 1999 season and consisted of Craig Girard, John Eagle, Mark Kirkby and Neal Houston, with Marc Steinbaugh on camera. This 2000 lineup, with current Airspeed Odyssey members Craig Girard and Mark Kirkby, won already the USPA Nationals 2000 and beat France Maubeuge and DeLand Norgies at the same event.

Airspeed exit in 1998 Airspeed exit in 1998
Next step were the 4-way gold medals at the World Championship 2001 in Spain. In fact, Craig Girard's 4-way lineup even decided to try again in 2001 what Arizona Airspeed had already attemped in 1999: win gold medals in 4-way and 8-way. Both attempts failed by six 4-way points in 1999 and by one single 8-way point in 2001. Craig Girard won the 8-way gold medals in Australia 1999, then the 4-way gold medals in 2001 and missed the 8-way gold medals in Spain by one point. However, he was now a 4-way world champion, as well, and it would not be the last time.

It was still the most challenging time period that began with his first World Championship 4-way title. The next five years may even be the time period that made Craig Girard the most experienced, popular and mature Formation Skydiving competitor that he is now. The passion and endurance that it took him to keep moving on between 2001 and 2007 toward the current Airspeed Odyssey level is probably unprecedented.

After the jump-off at the Mondial 2003 After the jump-off at the Mondial 2003
Airspeed Vertical's 4-way gold medals in Spain 2001 did not impress the Golden Knights's new 4-way team (John Hoover, Eric Heinscheimer, Chris Talbert, Kurt Isenburger, Sean Capegreco on camera) too much, and they beat Craig Girard's same lineup at the USPA Nationals 2002 by three points. The US Army team competed for the USA at the World Meet 2003 in Gap, France, while Airspeed Vertical retreated to the 8-way event after winning in Ottawa 2002.

Airspeed's 8-way lineup then lost against the Russian 8-way team at the Mondial 2003. However, this event is still the most special memory for Craig Girard, which might explain why this not so successful time period was probably so crucial for his career. He remembers the 8-way competition with the Russians in Gap as the most memorable event because it was the first time in his entire skydiving career that he was in an 11th round jump-off for gold medals at a World Championship.

Craig Girard comments an Airspeed jump in 2003 Craig Girard comments an Airspeed jump in 2003
He also remembers that the competition was excellent in every round. Airspeed came from behind to catch up with Russia in Round 10. The 11th round jump-off was something that had not happened to Craig Girard in his 20-year skydiving career. Airspeed and Russia then tied the jump-off round, and Meet Director Patrice Girardin announced that the meet was over. The Russian 8-way team was declared the winning team due to the highest score of the meet in Round 2. Craig Girard said that he learned a lot in this meet as a competitor and "...to truly love the fight more than the win".

It was a good time for this experience since there would be more years to come without winning in the 4-way event. Airspeed Vertical came back from France in 2003, and a new top contender was waiting at the USPA Nationals in Lake Wales. The Golden Knights were tired and burned out after a disappointing 4-way competition and silver medals in France. However, DeLand Majik was fresh and eager to take on Craig Girard's Airspeed Vertical with the same lineup.

The DeLand team won after an exciting competition and qualified for the World Meet 2004 in Croatia. Airspeed Vertical disbanded, and Craig Girard had to recruit a new 8-way lineup quickly, as Airspeed would compete for the USA in 2004. He succeeded once again and added another 8-way gold medal at a world meet to his collection. Airspeed's 8-way team benefitted that year from weaker French and Russian 8-way lineups.

Craig Girard did not even have a new serious 4-way lineup at the USPA Nationals 2004, and the testing time period continued. Airspeed won the 8-way competition as usual, but his main focus was on a new and strong 4-way lineup. He finally formed Airspeed Odyssey for the 2005 season, even though it was not yet the current lineup. Airspeed Odyssey 2005 consisted of Craig Girard, Eliana Rodriguez, Andy Delk and Brian Johnson, with Will Pesek on camera.

Airspeed Odyssey's 2005 lineup with Brian Johnson Airspeed Odyssey's 2005 lineup with Brian Johnson
The USPA Nationals 2005 was the qualification event for the World Meet 2006 in Germany, and another lineup from DeLand came in Airspeed's way in 2005. DeLand Fire won a jump-off round in Perris against the Golden Knights and competed for the USA in Germany. Airspeed Odyssey ended up in 3rd place. DeLand Fire would win the 4-way gold medals in Germany, and Craig Girard's Airspeed 8-way lineup ended up behind France in 2nd place. Back from Germany, Airspeed Odyssey was not even able to fend off a high-profile pickup team from DeLand (DeLand Groove) at the USPA Nationals 2006.

However, once again nothing could discourage Craig Girard to continue on his path. His new Odyssey 2007 lineup, with Mark Kirkby returning to his Tail slot for Brian Johnson, was finally what he has been looking for. Airspeed Odyssey, with Craig Girard (Center Outside), Andy Delk (Center Inside), Eliana Rodrigues (Point) and Mark Kirkby (Tail) began to set new standards in 4-way Formation Skydiving competition with the start of the 2007 season and have never lost a competition ever since.

Airspeed Odyssey 2008 with gold medals and Excalibur Airspeed Odyssey 2008 with gold medals and Excalibur
Craig Girard's 4-way gold medals at the World Meet 2008 in France complete his full circle in 4-way that he accomplished together with his former Airspeed Vertical teammate Mark Kirkby, the most successful 4-way competitor in the history of the sport.

Craig Girard's dry 4-way period between 2001 and 2007 never deterred him from trying to become better and challenge himself. Once again, he came out as a winner, even though winning alone is obviously not what keeps him going. His positive attitude and the passion for the sport are the driving factors, and he is still far from being done. Airspeed Odyssey has already made plans for the 2009 season.

There are more exciting fights waiting for Craig Girard - no matter whether he will win them or not. The next one will take place at the FSL Shamrock Showdown 2009, and the French national 4-way team will be the old and new challenger. Count on Craig Girard that his team will be ready for another exciting competition.