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Profile

Up Close & Personal

name: Jerome David

email: vr4france@hotmail.com

age: 52

education: - BAC Scientifique
- BA: Law
- Sports Professor
- Mental Coach

number of jumps: 9,000

years in Sport: 34

teams: RCA 1986-1989, France Essonne 1990-1995, France Perris Maubeuge 1996-2001

slot(s): Tail

favorite competition: World Championships Lucenec 1991

funniest moment in skydiving: Too many to pick one.

skydiving mentor(s): Philippe Schorno was my team leader from 1990 until 1993, he was also my piece partner. He is the one who allowed me to achieve my dreams. I like his fairness and tenacity. Now, he is my colleague at the French Federation, we’re working together, hand i

hobbies: Daughter Lou

favorite book(s): I never read.

favorite music: French songs.

favorite movie(s): All movies by Claude Lelouch.

favorite place: Walking in the mountains, diving in the blue waters, surfing the light snow or home.

Where will you be ten years from now? I will still be watching the eternal battle for Excalibur, and admire performances being higher and higher.

best kept secret: No secrets.

favorite quote:

"Second place is the first loser."

The eternal battle for Excalibur, the trophy for the World Champions of Formation Skydiving in 4-way and 8-way has now been fought for more than two decades. In 4-way, this competition for the gold medal has been exclusively a two-way race between France and the U.S.A. ever since 1985. Jerome David, the current French national coach, has been directly involved in this exciting duel since 1990, first as a competitor, then as a coach. For the World Championship in 2003, he has officially declared the pursuit of a goal that has not been achieved in history yet. His team plans to win the gold medals and Excaliburs in both events with the same personnel. The NSL Profile of Jerome David now offers insights of the French skydiving history and explains the strong desire of a dedicated competitor and coach.

Once upon a time when TAG was dominating

Jerome David was 18 years old when he made his first jump on a July day of 1984 in Luc, a town in the southern countryside of France. It was a jump that would soon change his whole life. And it happened by coincidence when a friend from school told him during one of their classes that he would go skydiving. From here on, they never ever talked about anything else in class.

While living in Nice, where he was studying the law and was jumping on the weekends at Luc's skydiving centre, David advanced very rapidly through the skydiving classes. When he was done with his static line jumps, he fell in love with freefall, which was a true revelation for him. His life changed completely when he came to understand that this was the life he had been longing for. He felt that his life would now take place at a skydiving centre and that he was headed to become a freefall world champion one day.

The trophy of the World Championship in Formation Skydiving, Excalibur, is a symbol of the perfect flight. Jerome David grew up as a skydiver when the French TAG team dominated the 4-way world with Frank Mahut, Philippe Schorno, Jerome Bunker and Eric Fradet, his idols.

1986 - 1989: Team RCA

Right after he got all his skydiving licences, David built his first 4-way team together with his best friend, Francis David. The team name was RCA (Relatif Cote d’Azur). To finance the team, they founded a skydiving club and looked for sponsors. Little by little, this adventure took shape. The team began training every other weekend. The rest of the week, David continued to study in school and worked to make money for the training. In 1986, he attended his first French national championship and had a wonderful experience. His team won the junior event. But even more important was his experience of exploring the exciting world of skydiving competition.

David realized that the world of Formation Skydiving competition is more than just a simple sport. It is a fascinating and very special lifestyle, totally focused and dedicatedto skydiving performance. David and his friends gave up their traditional life style to go and live on the drop zone of Avignon-Pujaut in the south of France. RCA became much more than a team, it was a family. The members made a living out of teaching freefall, making pictures and videos in freefall. Their financial means were very limited, but they admired the TAG team and managed to program some training.

It was a time of lean cows. The year was 1989; the TAG team had won their second consecutive World Championship with 20 points ahead. RCA finished 16th at the 1988 World Cup in Vichy, then 3rd at the French National Championship in 1989, right behind the girls of the Coca-Cola team and the TAG team. David now caught the attention of the TAG team who had been watching him for some time. They knew that David was a leader in his group where he took a lot of responsibilities upon himself. When Frank Mahut and Jerome Bunker decided to put a stop to their career, Jerome David and Patrick Saget were called upon by Philippe Schorno and Eric Fradet to boost up their team. Jerome found himself propelled into the TAG team.

1990 - 1991: France Essonne

When David first grabbed the grips of his partners in the turquoise skies of Castellon in January 1990, a dream became true for him. After a few jumps, he overshoots the average of the RCA by 10 points, with scores reaching 21 points in freefall. After 400 jumps, the new team PUC-TAG achieves the same score as that of the World Championship in 1989. The machine is on its way, the confidence of the young members like Patrick Saget and Jerome David easily blends in with the expertise of the veterans Eric Fradet and Philippe Schorno.

During the winter of 1991, after winning the 1990 World Cup in Gap in front of the Golden Knights (with Scott Rhodes, Craig Girard and Jack Jefferies), the team got yet one step further by gaining the sponsor Essonne. At the same time, in the United States the Deland Gang with Tom Piras and Jack Jefferies got ready for a tough fight with the new French team. The U.S. teams had been world champions in 1985, the French teams in 1987 and 1989.

The duel in Lucenec, Tchecoslovakia, would be a beautiful one. France and USA are to each other’s elbow, the rounds are tight and the pressure is extraordinary. During the competition, David had to perform the so-called leg-locks in rounds five and seven, which were part of the dive pool by then. This maneuver was his specialty in the team. After nine rounds, France-Essonne was two points ahead of the U.S. team. The sequence of the last jump was a fast one. Needless to say that the atmosphere at the loading area of the MI-8 helicopter was quite hot. Everything would be won or lost in this last round. The Americans went first and beat the world record with 22 points. A minute later, the French team scored 23 points and landed in the middle of a large crowd, hearts full of emotion and eyes full of tears.

France realized the triple gold medal series 1987-1989-1991, winning the competition in Lucenec with a three-point lead. The French team and the U.S. team congratulate each other with tremendous respect. David was only 24 years old by then, and it became the most beautiful day of his life. He could not help thinking of all the years spent with his friends of the RCA dreaming of the supreme title.

During the small celebration that followed the victory, U.S. veteran Dan BC came to warmly congratulate David. They drank beer and shared their passion for Excalibur. BC had always dreamt of the same thing: to win Excalibur one day. He thought that it was his turn now. The friends separated with a brotherly handshake and knew that their paths would cross again one day. However, for the time being, David and his teammates were on a roll for another two years. The victory felt just too good to stop right there.

1992 - 1993: France Essonne

During the preparation for the 1993 World Championship, David alternated training with studies to become a sports professor. To continue and achieve all of his dreams, David knew that it was necessary to prepare for the future. Skydiving was still not a sport that offered a social status. In 1992, France won the next World Cup on home turf in Gap 16 points ahead of DeLand Vertical Speed with Jack Jefferies. It was an era of absolute dominance for France-Essonne who again beat the world record with 26 points

Durting these years, David and his teammates revolutionized Formation Skydiving competition with new techniques. Thanks to the introduction of judging by air-to-air video, it became possible to fly nearer and to build and break formations quicker.

The French team invented the vertical techniques and "cheated" the shape of formations. Between 1990 and 1993, they increased the scoring average from 15.0 to 19.5 points. Their goal was not only to defend their title at the World Championship in 1993 in Eloy. David's team also wanted to be the first team in history to cross the mythical bar of the 20-point average.

In Eloy, France had to compete against a U.S. team with Jack Jefferies and Kirk Verner and won their fourth consecutive gold medal with a seven-point lead. The victory jump took place on October 29th, the day Jerome David turned 26 years old. His teammates, Philippe Schorno first, had a wonderful surprise in store for him: they presented him Excalibur in a big gift package. Emotion were running deep again. This was also a magnificent apotheosis for Philippe Schorno, the brilliant leader of the French team since 1990.

However, the magic bar of the 20-point average had still not been attained when France-Essonne won with only 19.5 points in Eloy. Later in Soulac, during a French Cup competition, the team just missed this bar again with a bad round nine and a 19.7 meet average. Now, Philippe Schorno and Patrick Saget withdrew from international competition. At the same time, David for his part completed successfully his sports professorship.

1994 - 1995: Nightmare in France

Early in 1994, the Federation Francaise De Parachutisme (FFP) promoted Jerome David as the national coach, and David took the helm now leading the French 4-way team. With his good friend Eric Fradet, he called in two new young partners, Claude Tzifkansky and Paul Grisoni. The team resumed their activities at a very low level (13-point average), while in the United States the newly formed Arizona Airspeed, a joint venture of veteran competitors from DeLand Vertical Speed (Jack Jefferies, Kirk Verner) and Air Moves (Dan BC, Mark Kirkby) planned the new attack on the French dominance. It was very serious since Airspeed would begin at a 19-point average level. David remembered his conversation with Dan BC in 1991. BC’s destiny would now get closer to David's.

The French team worked very hard. But they lost at the 1994 World Cup. And they were defeated again at the World Championship in 1995 on home turf in Gap, even though Frank Mahut re-joined the team. Dan BC had kept his promise, and Jack Jefferies was finally rewarded for his long perseverance. David was crushed for he had just lost the title of which he used to be the custodian.

It was a poor consolation that for the first time in history, two rival teams had crossed together the magic 20-point average benchmark. France-Essonne scored a 20.5 meet average, Airspeed finished with 20.7 points. The French drama got even worse when the French 8-way team of Didier Boignon also lost to the Golden Knights at the same world meet in France.

1996 - 1997: Rebuilding

Disappointed with these results, David was also unhappy with the general climate that characterized the spirit of the two French teams during these two years of preparation. David's spirit of love, respect and family atmosphere between the French national teams was simply absent. The groups were aging and did not work well any longer. Since David was competitor, technical leader and national coach at the same time, he saw how difficult it would be to undertake vast reforms while continuing to jump with the 4-way team.

David was at a crucial time in his career. The satisfaction of team management was taking over the desire of competing. He began dreaming of achieving a coaching career as successful as the one of a competitor that he still was at heart. David dreamt of building a great French team, great by its achievements as well as by its team spirit. With Philippe Schorno, whom he then selected as the coach for the 8-way team France-Essonne, David launched a new policy how to select the young competitors for the national teams. He chose a young team that had attracted people’s attention in France for the last two years on the national circuit: the team from Maubeuge.

David saw the same glimmer in Maubeuge's team members' eyes (Martial Ferre, Thierry Boitieux, Marin Ferre and Davide Moy) that had been in his own eyes when he lived in the trailers of his first training place in Avignon-Pujaut. David believes that the quest for Excalibur has always been a tribal adventure. It is a gift of oneself to the teammates with many sacrifices. The new journey would be a long one for the Maubeuge members since they averaged only 15.5 points at that time.

These years were unquestionably the ones of Airspeed's supremacy. After a second place at the World Cup in 1996, the new Maubeuge team competed very seriously with Airspeed in Turkey during the 1997 World Championship. However, they still fell short by four points and Excalibur went back to the U.S.A. Being very close to his young team members, David filled in for the second round when David Moy dislocated his shoulder during the first round.

This was a surprising comeback in the big arena and David was still right on top of the team performance. France-Maubeuge almost made it when the scores were still equal after eight rounds. However, in rounds nine and ten, Airspeed played a big game and became irresistible. Maubeuge was extremely disappointed, and David had to think of further innovations to motivate the team again until 1999. He now set up a custom made strategic project for Maubeuge. He also negotiated a very promising partnership with Skydive Perris in California, for he felt that it was a place that radiated positive energy.

1998 - 1999 France Perris-Maubeuge

During the next two years, France Perris-Maubeuge trained with ambition. But the team still had to deal with David Moy’s shoulder injury. During the 1998 World Cup in Portugal, David had to replace Moy again, and the team had to bow down after a tie-breaking jump facing the U.S. team FX. However, this phase of the team progression allowed Jerome to define two new strategic axes that would prove important for the future. One was “smoothing??? the blocks to raise speed. All the techniques of the group were modified and the tenths of seconds fell block after block. Next, David set up a specific program of mental preparation, which would allow the team members to sustain stress in all situations. And it also helped little by little to integrate the certainty that Airspeed could be defeated.

A few months later, in February 1999, Perris France-Maubeuge succeeded for the first time to beat Airspeed in Eloy at the Valentine’s Meet. This was the first step towards the gold medal at the 1999 World Championship in Corowa, Australia, where the French team confirmed their strength by winning with a six-point lead. David now had his revenge on Dan BC.

On the podium, the reunion with Excalibur was accompanied by the motto: “The sword is back home??? on the blue-white-red French flag. Like the fate's wink of an eye, it happened again on the 29th of October with David celebrating his 33rd birthday. He had just accomplished his second dream: bringing back Excalibur as a coach. He would now need some time to assimilate the latest success. However, competition is a process that never ends. And while he could have turned the page, David again wanted more. There was still a lot of work to do in order to build the French team of his dreams.

2000 - 2001: Transition

Martial Ferre and Thierry Boitieux now decided to put a stop to their career for a professional move. Coach Jerome David decided to replace them with Julian Losantos and Erwan Pouliquen. Losantos and Pouliquen were no newcomers. David had already worked with them for several years. Successively members of the French farm team and then of the national 8-way team, David decided to integrate them into the 4-way team since they got along great with David and Marin. The French 4-way team went back to work, Airspeed and the Norgies would be tough challengers. Next, David began rebuilding a transitional 8-way team with veterans.

His strategy was to insure a podium of eight top competitors on the basis of minimal training in order to prepare a group of young people between 16 and 24 years. To learn competitve 8-way, of which he was now in charge as well, Jerome placed himself as a competitor within the group. The simultaneous training of the 4-way team, the 8-way team and the farm team gave him a very heavy workload. David used all his energies for a completely re-defined training system in France. He reinforced the synergy between the groups, reorganized the management in a pyramid system where each competitor is an energy relay for the others.

Despite the very serious training and re-defined  flying techniques, the 4-way team Perris-Maubeuge only placed second at the 2000 World Cup, and lost the gold medal by two points to the new Airspeed Vertical team at the 2001 World Championship in Spain. The French 8-way won the bronze medal with only 200 training jumps. However, for the French teams, Spain was a bad nightmare that needed to be forgotten quickly. Luck had not been on the French side in Spain

Two months later, Erwan Pouliquen injured his ankle. And again David had to step in and take his place competing for the French colors at the World Games in Akita, Japan. After 19 training jumps, the team scored a 20.0 meet average and placed third behind Airspeed and the Norgies. This was one of the best memories for David, even though it was his first and only bronze medal in a 4-way competition. After three years without any 4-way training, David still kept up with the pace in Japan. And he still believed in his new strategy, as well. Even if France would finish the 2001 season with an average success report, David would not alter his plans. He knew that the groundwork would soon pay back.

World Meet 2003 in Gap World Meet 2003 in Gap
2002 - 2003: UItimate Challenge

A new idea grew in David’s dreams when he noticed that all his former teammates and older athletes were still dreaming of competing. All had the same goal in common: winning the 8-way for the first time and also crossing the two swords for the first time. The 2003 World Championship would take place on home turf in Gap. It could be a beautiful revenge for the last French mishap on their home turf in 1995. All candidates for the project also wanted to accomplish the ultimate success: winning the double. David finally decided to have the farm team wait another two years while continuing his work with them. To pursue the new goal of the double gold in 2003, he gathered a very experienced 4-way/8-way group.

Around David Moy, Erwan Pouliquen, Julian Losantos and Marin Ferre he selected Polo Grisoni, Martial Ferre, Eddy Ben and Manu Sarrazin. Winning the 2003 World Championship in both events with this group might be considered impossible. However, David could not pass on this exciting challenge. He believes in his good star, the very one that allowed him to win twice on his birthday. He now wants to plant both swords in the middle of his garden for the anniversary of his ten years as the national coach.

Meanwhile, David has mastered all the procedures related to his work as a coach. He delegates the techniques to the athletes in order to just be “the outside eye???, which frees some of his time for his family. That allows him also to focus more efficiently on all the management tasks that his position requires, including selection of the groups, logistics, sponsorships, planning, overall coordination, stewardship, financial management, communication, international representation, social follow-up, management of the equipment, regulations and organization of the competitions, co-management of the training center in Maubeuge, mental training, etc.

David's daily tasks are much varied. His passion has been to contribute day after day to the improvement of the system, to the evolution of the training conditions and always more performance. He has also been very close to his athletes since friendly relationships are essential for him. Behind the euphoria of victories and the experience of losses, David has come to understand that the true quest for Excalibur is not so much the victory itself. It is more the strong human adventure that it represents.

French 8-way lineup of 2003 French 8-way lineup of 2003
The whole French FS delegation believed strongly in the double gold project for the World Meet 2003 on home turf. However, soon they had to realise that it was a very challenging goal. First, they had to accept missing it at the World Cup 2002 in Ampuriabrava where the 8-way team won the gold medals but the 4-way team placed 3rd place behind DeLand Majik and Arizona Airspeed.

It did not turn out much better at the World Meet 2003 in Gap where the French 4-way won the gold medals easily by 15 points. The French 8-way team lost the meet early after two bad jumps on Round 2 and Round 7 and ended up in 3rd place behind Russia and USA.

The 4-way victory was the 4th gold medal for Jerome David. It was still hard for him to appreciate it since he had put so much of his time and efforts into the 8-way project. The success in 4-way was not enough for him. He remembered that the 8-way team was ready to win but missed its opportunity in Gap. It would take more efforts and more years to continue the pursuit of the ultimate challenge. It became even more challenging for the national coach when the French federation decided to strongly support the female 4-way event, as well. Now he had to recruit an additional lineup that could win gold medals for France, while it would make the budget situation more difficult.

French 8-way lineup of 2004 French 8-way lineup of 2004
2004: New Direction

2004 was a special year for the sport when the next World Championship of Formation Skydiving was scheduled in Croatia just ten months after the last one in Gap, France. It would have been possible for Jerome David to try the double gold challenge once again. However, both teams were tired, especially the 4-way members who had put so much energy into both events. Jerome David decided that the next national teams would focus only on one event and began to build two new groups: a new French 8-way team and also a new French female lineup.

He chose to give the young lineup an opportunity in 8-way that he had selected as the "farm team" in 2000. Manu Sarrazin, who was already in the 2002/2003 lineup, became the team captain. Erwan Pouliquen, who was still competing in 4-way, was assigned as the external 8-way coach. The new 8-way team was not ready to win in 2004, but Jerome David felt that this new generation of French FS competitors would be able to win the 8-way sword for France. He knew that France had never won 8-way gold in the history of Formation Skydiving competition. It was time for Jerome David to take on this historical challenge for France.


Friends and competitors: Dan BC and Jerome David Friends and competitors: Dan BC and Jerome David
At the same time, he would also be engaged as the technical coach for the new French female 4-way lineup. It was a lot of work, however, Jerome David remembered that he saw it only as a real challenge: "Skydiving history has been made with those kind of challenges..." He met one of his oldest friends and opponents when he began his work with the French female 4-way team. Arizona Airspeed member Dan BC was the coach of the female US team.

The eternal competition between Jerome David and Dan BC turned out to be in US favor in Croatia 2004. Synchronicity won by three points over the new French team. However, Jerome David was aiming at the World Meet 2006 in Germany with his young team. The situation was the same for the female lineup and the 8-way team. Both were in Croatia to learn for the future. The young French 8-way lineup learned quickly too and finished in 2nd place behind Airspeed. They had performed stronger than expected and were even in contention for the 1st place. The final round would have been the final opportunity, but rain in the morning of the last meet day stopped the competition.

Jerome David was not very happy with the results of the 4-way Open Class competition in Croatia. The story of a bad video angle in Round 5 and the following defeat against DeLand Majik became a poor happy end for this lineup, which the French national coach wanted to forget quickly. The US delegation won all three gold medals, and France went home with three silver medals.

8-way success at the Malevsky Cup 2005 8-way success at the Malevsky Cup 2005
2005 and 2006: Unusual System

Jerome David and the French federation were still happy with the results in Croatia. The French national coach continued with exactly the same 8-way lineup (Manu Sarrazin, Bruno Perin, Damien Sorlin, Clement Martin St Leon, Mathieu Bernier, Guillaume Bernier, Julien Degen and Jeremie Rollett) and the female 4-way team of 2004 (Sophie Deremaux, Sandy Labattu, Severine Bocquet and Cathy Gallet). He was hoping to win both sets of gold medals in Germany 2006 after two more years with the same lineups.

The new 2-year period with the young groups would be financially difficult for the French FS budget. Jerome David had to become creative and announced a new qualification system for the 4-way Open Class event. The winner of the French Nationals 2006 would become the French national team for the World Meet 2006 Gera, similar to the US qualification system. Jerome David thought that this unusual idea in France might allow the lineup of 2000 - 2004 a possibility to be in contention without too much financial input.

First French 8-way gold medals in 2006 First French 8-way gold medals in 2006
It worked out well, as the team was rebuilt with just few training jumps. Former 8-way competitor Paul Grisoni filled Marin Ferre's slot, who had decided to step back, and Jerome David still had his competitive 4-way lineup.

In Gera 2006, he once again met Dan BC on the other side of the female 4-way competition who was now coaching the British team Airkix. The result was the same, and France went home with silver medals in this category. Jerome David still considers this 2nd place the worst failure in his whole coaching career: "Having worked more than four years with a team without reaching the gold medal position is a very painful experience."

He had enjoyed the work with this lineup and hoped so much that he could help them get to the very top. It did not work out, however, the first French 8-way gold medals in Gera 2006 helped him to digest what he remembers as the "female fiasco". The young 8-way lineup was performing very strongly in the bad German weather conditions. Jerome David remembered that his 8-way team had perfect jumps in Round 3 and Round 4, which created enough distance to Arizona Airspeed.

Jerome David with the 8-way sword in 2006 Jerome David with the 8-way sword in 2006
The same French 8-way lineup had defeated Airspeed for the first time at the Malevsky Cup 2005. They mastered the difficult weather situation in Germany perfectly and were declared 8-way world champions after five completed rounds. A very emotional celebration followed, as Jerome David remembered. It was the first time that a French 8-way team touched and kept the famous 8-way Excalibur sword. Jerome David said that many generations of French competitors had dreamt about the 8-way gold medals and missed it by next to nothing.

Last not least, Jerome David also added 4-way Open Class silver medals to his collection. The "pickup team" of 4-way and 8-way veterans won the second place in Germany without any significant training over Itali's team Sinapsi and Russia's Sky Panthers. France won one set of gold and two sets of silver medals and the Patrick de Gayardon award for the best nation in Formation Skydiving. It was the first time for France in 2006.

Now there was only one big goal left for Jerome David, and he was ready to pursue his vision. He wanted to guide this exceptional generation of young French competitors, who he had worked with since 2000, to the ultimate goal. He started to work on his final mission.

New 8-way lineup for 2008 New 8-way lineup for 2008
2007 - 2010: Final Track

Jerome David had gathered his national teams at the end of the 2006 season to determine the goals for the next four years. The strategic plan was plain and simple: go for three sets of gold medals in 2010.
The French national coach had checked all the cycles of previous years and concluded that 2-year plans were usually not efficient enough to pursue big challenges. He decided to organise all his teams and the options for training looking at the best approach for 2010 instead.

However, he had to deal with an unpredictable situation. The new 8-way world champion lineup of 2006 was ready to disband. Six of the 8-way members wanted to compete in 4-way where France had not had an official national 4-way team since 2005.

It was obviously difficult to choose four members of six world champions without harming the group dynamics. He had to find a French 4-way mix that will work hard to win gold medals without causing trouble for the 8-way lineup that he had built up since 2004. He also had to recruit a completely new female 4-way lineup, which would require additional money and energy.

French 8-way lineup of 2008 in action French 8-way lineup of 2008 in action
Jerome David finally decided to use the results of his own recent evaluation to come up with a tricky 4-year plan that would possibly cover all the basics and have a chance to win all gold medals in 2010. The next World Championship of Formation Skydiving in 2008 would be hosted by France, and he needed to win at least one gold medal to guarantee the political stability and future of his whole delegation.

He selected Mathieu Bernier, Guillaume Bernier, Julien Degen and Jeremie Rollett for the new French 4-way Open Class lineup and had one condition. The new team would first have to focus on the 8-way event for two years to guarantee the one needed gold medal for France in Maubeuge 2008. This way, Jerome David would also have enough time to prepare a new generation of 8-way competitors for the World Meet 2010. The new 4-way team would then have the possibility to focus only on 4-way after 2008, and France might have the best chances to reach Jerome David's final goal in 2010.

Result of these politics at the end of the 2006 season was the fact that Jerome David had an 8-way lineup in Maubeuge 2008 with only one change compared to the 2006 lineup. Erwan Pouliquen filled the slot for Damien Sorlin who took a break for professional reasons. Erwan Pouliquen was now technical coach and competitor in 8-way at the same time.

4-way coach Marin Ferre 4-way coach Marin Ferre
Jerome David then continued with Sophie Deremaux in the female 4-way event and added three new members: Françoise Simons, Berangere Duplouy and Amelie Tirman. Both French 4-way lineups were coached by former French 4-way world champion Marin Ferre. Jerome David looks back very happily at this choice. He had trained and worked with Marin Ferre for many years before and knew that he would be the missing piece for his final 4-way plan, and Marin Ferre would have the same 4-year plan as the whole French Formation Skydiving delegation.

Two years later, the French audience in Maubeuge sang the Marceillaise during the 8-way award ceremony, which left a lasting impression for Jerome David: "This small drop zone that had supported the different French Formation Skydiving teams since 1996 was able to organise a very professional competition with a great atmosphere and strong media coverage."

French 8-way vacation at the USPA Nationals 2008 French 8-way vacation at the USPA Nationals 2008
He was proud of all the efforts he had put into the management of this dropzone for so many years: "Only the rain could show limits in the organisation. But what could we do about rain...?"

Only six rounds were completed, just like two years ago in Germany. However, France had the 8-way gold medals, and the French 4-way Open Class team missed the 1st place only by a single point to Arizona Airspeed. The female 4-way lineup finished in 3rd place. It was actually an acceptable result for the "transitional event".

Jerome David thought that his golden 8-way lineup, the foundation of his 4-year plan, deserved a celebration of the hard work and achievements, and he sent the whole team to compete at the USPA Nationals 2008 in Eloy. The French 8-way team appreciated the extra vacation team and finished its commitment with an impressive meet average above 22 points after ten rounds.

Martial Ferre ready for a new battle Martial Ferre ready for a new battle
Jerome David's biggest goal was still to be accomplished. Now he needed a new 8-way lineup that would be able to defend the gold medals successfully in 2010. He thought that both his 4-way teams would be ready to compete for the gold medals. Both teams were now perfectly organised and functioned on a very high level of internal cohesion, and they had Marin Ferre's great coaching.

He was prepared for the 8-way situation and the last 2-year period of his 4-year plan. He had in mind a three-layered solution for a couple of months. He had asked Martial Ferre, Marin Ferre’s brother, to come back for just one more last year. Martial Ferre was a 4-way world champion with Jerome David in 1999, and he was also on the French 8-way team that placed 2nd at the World Meet 2003 in France. He had stopped competing to focus on his work and family, even though he still had this bad feeling of "unfinished business" inside.

Jerome David knew that and invited him to come back and take a key slot for a very important mission. Martial Ferre was now the oldest team member, together with Erwan Pouliquen, both coming from the French generation of the 90s. They were Jerome David's first layer of players for the new 8-way project.

The second layer were the recent 8-way world champions (Clement Martin St Leon, Damien Sorlin, Manu Sarrazin) who were a solid group of up-to-date competitors. Finally, he would add three young competitors who he had prepared in the national B-Team lineups since 2007. Julien Olek, Thomas Perrin Gachadoat and Arnaud Mille were selected from a group of ten candidates.

Psychology in Bedford: after first victory over Airspeed Psychology in Bedford: after first victory over Airspeed
There was only one flaw in Jerome David's 2-year plan. Manu Sarrazin did not commit and would only participate as the alternate. The national coach had to come up with a new solution, which would be a surprising one. Mathieu Bernier had agreed to train and compete in 4-way and 8-way.

The first step of the final two years was promising. The French delegation won the three sets of gold medals at the World Cup 2009 in Prostejov, Czech Republic. Both 4-ways teams were beginning to show their strength and consistency. The 8-way team was learning how to fly like the previous lineup, jump by jump. Both 4-ways attended two more strategic events after Prostejov to prepare themselves and learn to produce their best performances in every competition jump. They competed in Dubai and at the FSL Shamrock Showdown 2010.

A major psychological step for the 4-way Open Class team was the 1st place at the World Challenge 2010 in April. Mathieu Bernier, Guillaume Bernier, Julien Degen and Jeremie Rollett defeated Arizona Airspeed in Bedford, and Jerome David knew from his own experiences how important this was. His own first World Meet victory over Airspeed in 1999 was preceded by winning the Valentine's Meet on Airspeed's home turf in Eloy.

Successful career as competitor and coach: Jerome David Successful career as competitor and coach: Jerome David
Jerome David said that each of his three lineups was ready when they traveled to Menzelinsk in Russia this summer. There was no more to do for him, and he became an observer of the competition action. Here is the eye witness report from his perspective:

The Final Showdown in Menzelinsk

"First, the 4-way female team opened the road. The girls did an incredible performance and won the gold medals for the 1st time in the French history. Moreover, they realized a female world record with a 47-point jump and finished with a 23.6 average, twenty points ahead of the UK team.

On the 8-way side, after a very bad second day with some performances heading downwards, the new three-layer team finally won by seven points ahead of the Golden Knights to bring back home the 8-way sword for the third consecutive time.

Mission accomplished - Dream come true Mission accomplished - Dream come true
It was a wonderful August 4th. Around the middle of the afternoon, the skydiving gods were completely on the French side this year and with my dream. The end of the day was slowly coming near on this legendary day when the French 4-way team and Airspeed boarded this last Turbolet for Round 10.

Both teams had fought and peaked for three complete days, in order to be the masters of those world championships, Airspeed after four years of domination, the French team with the new world record of Round 3 (56-pointer) and all confidence. Both teams were tied going into this last round. Mathieu Bernier, who was already a new 8-way world champion, would have to focus one more time - the 20th time in Menzelinsk. Airspeed scored a wonderful 23-pointer in the last sequence, and the whole dropzone crowd was in front of the big screen for the final judgment.

Then the French squad came on the screen to be judged. Everybody witnessed an incredible performance, a kind of a jump that you can just dream of. 26 points! Then the atmosphere became frenzy. The 4-way sword would go back to France, and the first double gold in the history of the sport was here in the hands of Mathieu Bernier. August 4th brought four gold medals for France in all four FS events, and the ultimate accomplishment was here in Menzelinsk!"

Friends on the road: godfather Toshiba and Martial Ferre Friends on the road: godfather Toshiba and Martial Ferre
It got even better for Jerome David and France when his best friend Philippe Schorno, who was the creator and the coach of the first French Vertical Formation Skydiving team 4speed, also won a gold medal with a memorable victory over the US team Arsenal. It was the first French VFS gold medal in the history of the sport. Menzelinsk was the final destination of a fascinating life dedicated to skydiving for the two friends.

Jerome David has accomplished his triple gold mission that he had always dreamt about. He will now be able to stop and be in peace after this long quest. He feels that he will be quiet for the rest of his life. He will have time to remember those 21 years with the French national teams while dining peacefully with Fred Leroux Toshiba, his packer for more than 16 years, who is also the godfather of his daughter. He says that he will now enjoy with serenity the long winter nights with all his friends from the many different teams, recalling together with them all the big events, the big victories as well as the defeats, the good times and the bad times that he has shared with all of them for so many years.

He has reached the end of this road, and he knows for sure now that the treasure was not winning the gold - it was the road itself that he shared with team mates and friends.