1998 US Nationals Tidbits (Timbits + Tedbits)


For additional news and photos, visit TK Hayes' site at http://www.skydivecity.com/nationals.html

Sunday, October 25

Hosts Larry and Liliane Hill has done a bang-up job getting ready for this nationals. The judges are set up in a "fishbowl" in the east end of the main hanger. The west half of the hanger is set up for DZ-TV, with a humongous 60-inch tube TV sitting in front of some bleachers and chairs. CLICK HERE if you are curious about the path a video signal takes during the competition. You might be a little amazed.

11:00 a.m.

The packing area is busy on Monday!

Some high winds are keeping a few teams on the ground while the braver keep training. The forecast for today and tomorrow was marginal, but is looking good for the next few days. The judges are working out the kinks, and everything is on line for the start of competition jumps tomorrow.

4:30 p.m.
Gads - who forgot to pay the weather bill! We've been winded out most of the day. There are 20 teams registered for 4-way Open, 25 for Advanced, and 12 for Recreational. 8-way registration is open until tomorrow night. Speaking of - the Golden Knights have their work cut out for them, as one of their starters has been ill for days. They've called up veteran Vern Miller from the demo team in case he's needed.

Start time is 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. The 4-way draw is now posted. Stay tuned for a great show!

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Monday, October 26

7:00 a.m.
After a brief cloud hold, the first loads are on a call. Let's Rock & Roll!

9:45 a.m.

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Team tents around the landing area.

Round 1 is wrapping up, and it looks like Airspeed is going to take an early lead into round 2. They posted a 16; earlier, FX also did a 16 but busted a bunyip for a 14. Ranch Air Traffic is currently third with a 12.

Airspeed landing after round 2.

1:00 p.m.
My apologies for the sporadic reporting, but I'm having a heckuva time trying to get the team photos to load through my lousy 24k connection. Airspeed put up a 19 on round 2, and FX did a 13 with another bust and an NJ on the exit. Ouch! They're down by 8 after two rounds. We're into round 3 right now, but the judges are still working on round 2. The weather is beautiful, a bit on the breezy side though, not too bad.

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FX in practice on Sunday.

2:30 p.m.
Well, it looks like Airspeed is really kicking some butt, they've opened up a commanding 11-point lead after three rounds of 4-way. I'm still having problems getting the team photos up, but please be patient, they will be there soon. Lots of pictures coming too!

5:00 p.m.

The judges in the northern part of the "fish bowl."

What a day! We've managed to mow through 6 rounds of 4-way, making minimums for U.S. Team selection. In that regard, unless Airspeed lets up and FX goes into overdrive, Airspeed will again reign as champions. They are skydiving fast and clean, two ingredients that are hard to beat in a competition. Through five rounds, Airspeed is in first with 100 points, FX is at 85, and in tied for third at 69 is Airspeed Edge and Ranch Air Traffic. It is interesting to note that Airspeed Purple is not doing 4-way (saving their gas for 8-way), like the Knights. A 31-point difference between first and third is a good indication of just how good Airspeed is!

I would have to say, with only a little bit of humility, that it is a great show in the

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The all-new "cabin cam," transmitted live to the ground.

The "DZ TV" control room, with Charla and Jori calling the video shots.

DZ-TV area. With the live camera feeds from the airplane, team photos, and live freefall judging, it's quite something to watch. There are three televisions; one showing Ted's "DZ Call" manifest program, one showing the second judging panel feed, and the big one showing the DZ-TV feed from the control room.

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Screen capture of "DZ TV"

Meet director Bryan Burke is doing an outstanding job of keeping the whole show in step; there are a lot of airplanes to coordinate. There are four twin otters and a skyvan flying competitors, boogiers, CRW teams training for the World Meet, with a few student loads thrown in. Manifest is also doing a fabulous juggling act.

7:00 p.m.
Round six of 4-way Open is in the bag now, with Airspeed at 117, FX at 102, and DeLand Genesis moving into 3rd at 86. Close in the chase for the bronze is Elsinore Storm at 84, Arizona Edge at 82, and Ranch Air Traffic at 80. In the Advanced category (through 4 rounds), Z-Spot has the lead at 39, Warp Factor and Convergence are at 34, and Flaming Sirens is at 33. It's too early in the judging to make a call on the Recreational class.

It was a great day of skydiving, beautiful weather, and wonderful vibes. The briefing for 8-way has been moved to Tuesday night, and they are starting with 4-way again tomorrow. And I finally got those dang team photos up on the results page! Good day! Good night! See you tomorrow!

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Tuesday, October 27

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Ginger is doing a great job as the video manifestor.

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The Meet Director extraordinaire, Bryan Burke

Wow, thanks for all the e-mails, my box was overflowing this morning! For those of you who are wondering why some teams (particularly Advanced and Recreational) have only a few rounds posted, it is because the Open teams are being judged live by judging panel One and the rest are being judged on tape by judging panel Two. Panel two is far slower than panel One for that and other reasons, so the scores are coming out a lot slower. A missing score is usually an indication that the team has a rejump to do for that round.

OmniDing: I'm not going to name any names (but they just won the 4-way World Cup in Portugal) but one team, after round one, refused to jump the live transmitter afterwards. They feel that it is unfair for their competition to see their jump before they do it. Huh? If the competition wants to see your jump, all they gotta do is stand outside with a pair of binoculars or a telemeter. Besides, that's the nature of competition - why the teams are drawn in random order to begin with. And if you're trying to win for the purpose of going to the World Meet, well guess what, they do ALL those jumps live, and you have no choice.

The DZ-TV room is a hot spot.

In the light of an excellent weather forecast, the Meet Director is proceeding with the rest of 4-way today, and will have the 8-way briefing and draw tonight. It is 6:30 a.m. as I write this and the first loads go up at 8:00.

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Airspeed swooping in after a 32-point round 7.

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Airspeed's Dan BC and Jack Jefferies

10:00 a.m.
WOW! Airspeed just ripped a 32 on round 7. Those boys, well, as Jack said after after the jump, "There's just no stopping this train!" That 32 should be a new national record...I think the world record is 36 by the French, Maubeuge I believe. Let's see what they do on round 10, which is an all-random dive. FX did great on round 7 also, with a 31.

The weather right now is about as perfect as I've seen it here. Clear, blue, and seventy-two. Skydive Sebastion's Andy Grimwade is walking around taking notes for his nationals next year.

The big race in 4-way open is apparently for the bronze, as four or five teams battle for the right to stand with Airspeed and FX on the winner's platform.

11:50 a.m.
4-way Recreational has wrapped up, and the unofficial winners: 1st place, Loki, 46 points; 2nd place, Focus 4, 39 points; and third is Team Willy, 37 points. Congratulations winners!

1:45 p.m.
Did I say yet how much fun everyone is having? It kinda bites not being able to compete (I'm president of the Jury for 10- and 16-way) but some of the vibes are just rubbing in. Everyone is still talking about the 32 Airspeed did on round 7, and there is much speculation about how much they'll rip on round 10 (all randoms). Can someone tell me, when was the last U.S. Nationals 4-way competition jump that was all randoms (true randoms, cat-accs don't count) and who scored what on it? You get your name here if you can tell me.

3:00 p.m.
Airspeed just logged a 29 on round 10 to nail down their 5th consecutive Nationals gold medal; FX did a 27. Airspeed ends up with 213 points, FX at 192, and the third place is still up in the air - wait - a big round of applause has just erupted from the hangar, and DeLand Genesis has just turned in a 23 to tighten the race with Elsinore Storm. Storm needs an 18 to tie and a 19 to take the bronze. And Storm's score is...(Tim's ducking out to the hanger to watch...)...oops, wait, Storm is competing as a guest team, so DeLand Genesis has almost certainly clinched a bronze medal. Way to go Genesis! Congratulations!

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The world-famous Bill Ottley, who will serve as head of delegation for the WPC-CF next week.

4:00 p.m.
Well, they are counting up the numbers and about to put a final wrap on 4-way. The 8-way briefing and draw is at 5:00. The Golden Knights have their sick man back in; Eric Heinsheimer has lost about 15 pounds the last 10 days, looks a little pale, but he says he's ready to go. Stay tuned for the draw coming up at 5:00 sharp.

5:00 p.m.
The 8-way briefing has been moved back to 6:00 so the judges can finish with 4-way. Hearty congratulations go to DeLand Genesis, they really skydived hard down the stretch. And I think that even if FX had performed to the level they did in Portugal, they would have still lost by good margin - Airspeed just plain kicked some booty out here, including rounds of 29 and 32 points. FX will have to keep their noses to the grindstone for a while to reach Airspeed's level. They've got the talent; will they stick to their guns? Let's hope so.

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Wednesday, October 28

7:30 a.m.
Day one of the epic battle between Airspeed and the Knights is about to begin. Which will go on to represent the U.S. in Australia next year? The Knights have not been defeated in Nationals 8-way since the mid-eighties and have been World Champions since 1987. Will this be Airspeed's turn, or will history prevail?

Airspeed's Advantage: Home court. Healthy team. Deep experience. On their game. Extremely talented and fast.

Golden Knights Advantage: 4-1 against Airspeed this year. Sparkled at the World Cup last month. Tradition of performing well with their backs to the wall.

Tim's Odds: Dead even, if the Knights' Eric Heinsheimer stays healthy.

Stay tuned for the show!

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Airspeed swooping in...

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...and landing after round 1.

9:20 a.m.
Airspeed, jumping first as team 801, turned in a splendid 21 points on round one, a very nice skydive. The Knights' jump wasn't seen live because of a transmitter problem, so there was a bit of anticipation waiting for the dub. When we finally saw it, it was a perfect skydive - 24 points in time! The Knights take and early 3-point lead after one round. If the Knights keep skydiving like that, they are going to be pretty damn tough to beat.

10:20 a.m.
Round 2: Airspeed was brilliant, with an amazing 24 on a skydive that had open stairstep>stairstep diamond on it. Amazing. 15 minutes later, the Knights put up a 23, so their lead is 2. The other open teams are doing some nice jumps too; Passion 8, Dallas 8 Track, and Dr. Evil all did 11's on round one. Fabulous skydiving going on here today.

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The Knights...

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...and Airspeed creeping for round 4.

11:30 a.m.
Round 3: Airspeed: 23. Golden Knights: 23. Both teams got the 23rd point right on the freeze-frame. They are putting on a show here today, and it's SRO in the viewing area when these teams are in the air. The Knights lead by 2 after 3.

The bonehead move of the day: A cameraman lands and cues his camera up at the beginning for the dub. He puts his camera down to do something with his gear. One of his teammates starts to hurl chunks, so someone grabs the camera and starts to tape it. The freshly taped jump is replaced by something that is rather unjudgeable. (Since it was an intermediate team, they got a rejump.) WAKAWAKA DON'T DO THAT! Camera Flyers, watch those helmets!

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The "DZ TV" room is SRO.

YEAH! There are WPC-CF teams trickling in for next week's World CF Championships (that's CRW for you old dogs), and those fantastic Italians just gave me a large bottle of Chianti. Thank you, Raffaello! CIAO! Gotta go, Airspeed's fixing to do round 4...

...and they were brilliant again, a flawless 24 on the board. The Knights...not so fortunate this time. They busted a set of tees-pods and had to settle with a 19, and just like that, Airspeed is up by three, 92 to 89! I've been saying all year long that the team that will win is the team that won't make mistakes, and Airspeed is perfect so far.

2:15 p.m.
Round 5: Airspeed 21, Knights 13. Yes, that's right, 13.
Airspeed was nearly perfect again, with only a slight glitch on an early donut. But the Knights suffered a catastrophic double-bust on the first donut out the door (and it could have easily been judged a triple-bust). Airspeed enters the back nine, er, back 5, with a commanding -- if not insurmountable -- 11-point lead over the Knights.

Jeez, I have no idea who is in third.

I've been snoozing on those final 4-way Advanced results (there was a team that had to make some rejumps); the final results went up a couple of hours ago and are now posted. Congratulations to the winners: 1st place, Z-Spot; 2nd place, Warp Factor; and in third, Hinckley Mock 5. Great job teams!

4:00 p.m.
Round 6: Airspeed 20, the Knights 20. Airspeed looked like they pulled the throttle back a notch, and the Knights were a little rough. We'll see what tomorrow brings; because you know what they say - it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings! Meanwhile, the judges are going up for a sunset load, and I'M GOING WITH THEM!

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The hard-working judges and staff finally got to make a skydive to end the day Wednesday. And it completed!

6:00 p.m.
YOOHOO! The judges and staff just did a really nice fun load to end a great day. Even Larry was on it! Speaking of Larry - everyone watching this show should know that he is running for the BOD in the USPA elections. If you like what you see going on at these nationals, and you would like to see more of this kind of action represented at USPA, then make sure you vote; if not for Larry, then at least for someone who is going to take the time and effort to work on behalf of competition formation skydiving. OmniSkore! heartily endorses Larry Hill for the elections (and we're only just a little biased). But regardless of who you vote for, please vote. If you don't vote, you haven't earned the right to complain.

Tomorrow we'll see if Airspeed continues their run of awesome skydiving. They sure put on an 8-way clinic today, some of the best skydiving I have ever seen. Want to see it? Be sure to order my video!

I would like to take the time to thank all of you folks who have flooded my mailbox with all manner of positive feedback. I wish I could take the time to respond to all of them, I hope to after this is all over. I don't know what Ted is getting, so be sure to CC him too. He's been stuck in the judges' booth passing judgement on unsuspecting teams, a dirty, thankless, and !>still<! unpaid job.

Just out of curiosity, I checked out the web stats for omniskore.com, and I was amazed. Just yesterday alone, this web site moved over a gigabyte of bandwidth via half a million page hits by over 4,000 surfers. Wow. I'm humbled.

That's it for tonight, thanks for visiting, and see you here tomorrow!

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Thursday, October 29

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The competition is drawing large numbers of spectators.

7:30 a.m.
Congratulations to the 8-way Intermediate winners: 1st place, Bev's Cross Keys 8; 2nd place, Turn The Fire On High; 3rd place, United Lebanon Front. To those of you who have written asking about what the green= guest means on the results pages, it means that the team has one or more members who are not U.S. citizens, and that makes the team ineligible to win a medal.

9:00 a.m.
Round 7: Airspeed 16, Golden Knights 15. A difficult skydive, Airspeed suffered a bust, and the Knights, again, suffered a double-bust. Airspeed ups its lead to 12 points. The Army boys are going to have to pull out a miracle finish to top Airspeed. In the chase for the bronze, Dr. Evil's 8-way and Dallas 8 Track have a good race going on, but Dallas has some catching up to do.

10:10 a.m.
Round 8: Airspeed 22, Golden Knights 24. Airspeed had a very nice skydive again, and the Knights nailed one, but Airspeed has a huge 10-point lead with only two jumps to go. But remember - the Knights went from 2 up to 11 down in the space of two jumps, so anything is possible. Dr. Evil did a 12 to strengthen their lead in the bronze medal chase.

11:30 a.m.
Round 9: Airspeed 18, Golden Knights 17, both clean. Airspeed is a cinch for their first Nationals gold medal in 8-way. Any bets on whether they can sweep all the events? And it looks like Dr. Evil will lock up the bronze medal. Wow!

1:30 p.m.
Round 10: Airspeed 18, Golden Knights, 20. I have never seen so many people crammed into the hangar at this place, and you could hear a pin drop as Airspeed locked up their first National gold medal in 8-way. Both teams - Airspeed and the Knights - stayed and celebrated in the landing area (which is still going as I write this) and I have to say that all 18 of them are world-class sportsmen and competitors. They've done the U.S. Nationals and Americans proud and I wish everyone could have seen it here. Heck, half those guys are in tears. All that work.


The 4- and 8-way awards ceremony is at 5:00 p.m. followed by the 10-way briefing. I'm going to try and get a camera out there so you all can watch it on the DZ-TV webcam.

Awards Ceremony pictures for 4- and 8-way:

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8-way Open Champions:
Airspeed 8

8-way Open Silver:
Golden Knights

8-way Open Bronze:
Dr. Evil's 8-way

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Airspeed pops the champagne to celebrate a long and arduous task. At right: Golden Knights team leader Charlie Brown gives tribute to the new champions. He said, "It's not an easy task to beat the Golden Knights, and we have been going at it all year. These guys are our friends, and while it's tough to stand in second place, let's everybody raise our hands and put them together for these world-class champions."

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4-way Open Champions: Airspeed

4-way Open Silver:
Space Center FX

4-way Open Bronze: DeLand Genesis

I apologize for not having all the medal winners here, it was a bit tough getting what I could (dying batteries in camera).

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Friday, October 30

This morning has dawned with some ugly clouds hanging around, but the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies. There are only eight teams registered for 10-way, a rather disappointing turnout, but the event should be a riot nevertheless. I think at least one team is trying to pull a chunk out the door. Even then, if they succeed, they still have to build the formation...

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USPA Executive Director Chris Needels and Colonel Springer say, "All you out there watching, don't forget to vote during the USPA elections!"

10:15 a.m.
We've gotten one round of 10-way off, now we're on a cloud hold. I haven't had a chance to see the jumps, but from what I hear it's a blast. At least one team is trying to come out with grips, and I'll have a report on that one soon. I  know that the Knights and Airspeed are coming out with zero grips and have a friendly bet on the final outcome.

Speaking of the Knights, they were partying hard in the Bent Prop last night with Airspeed. I think the Knights displayed ultimate class in taking second place to Airspeed, and Charlie Brown's little speech at the ceremony last night was one of the classiest I have ever heard. The Golden Knights are truly ambassadors of our sport, and they have surrendered the 8-way title with true grace and dignity.

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The judges pose for a photo Thursday afternoon.

12:00 p.m.
The clouds cleared up, and this 10-way is a blast to watch! The Golden Knights have taken an early lead, and they are finishing their jumps with an eye on the historic CG GodFrog Award (more on that later). Old Gold and Airspeed are in close chase. This one could go right down to the wire! The ten-way is being judged live, and the Cabin-Cam sure makes a difference.

2:30 p.m.
The Knights and Airspeed are still duking it out in 10-way, with Old Gold and Elsinore Black Sheep 98 hot on their heels. Airspeed just put up a 12.05 on round 3 to pull ahead of the Knights by just under 2 seconds. We're still dodging some clouds today, so it's slow going for now.

4:40 p.m.
Ugh - lots of cloud holds as a stubborn cold front sloshes through central Arizona. Airspeed has padded its lead slightly and has about a 4-second lead over the Knights. Elsinore Black Sheep 98 is the only team chunking the exit; it looks like they throw the first couple out the door, then the back eight comes out in a line of sorts. It doesn't seem to be a match for good skydiving, though, as they're in 4th place right now.

5:45 p.m.
The day has been called, the 16-way draw has been passed out, everyone is creeping and getting ready for the banquet. We made minimums in 10-way, and I don't know yet if they are going to finish the event tomorrow or call it at 4 rounds. At least one team (902) has withdrawn.

There are nine 16-way teams registered, and it looks to be a fabulous first-time event. Jack Berke is back with Deguello, Airspeed is teaming up with Elsinore Storm, and the Knights are teaming up with Space Center FX. It should be and exciting meet!

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Saturday, October 31

7:00 a.m.
They are starting up with 10-way, and 16-way will be on first call at 8:00.

The Nationals Banquet last night was very nice. Alan Metni spent some time handing out the final America's Cup 1998 awards, which included lots of cash and prizes. The top two 4-way teams - DeLand Genesis and Arizona Airspeed - are already sponsored with gear, so both teams passed their prizes on down the line to third place, Cruise-O-Matic, who also won a check for $1250. Cruise-O-Matic cleaned up! The second-place 8-way team, the Golden Knights, graciously gave their prize money to the U.S. Team Fund, "So Airspeed can go to Australia and kick some ass next year!"

Meet Director Bryan Burke MCd the banquet in fine fashion, and he had each of the medal winners stand up. When he got to the Golden Knights, he recognized them as "the team that has showed us all how it's done for the last twelve years." There was a very long, very enthusiastic standing ovation. Airspeed has been the home-town favorite here, but the Knights received some well-earned accolades.

USPA Executive Director was recognized for 35 years of service, and a bunch of USPA awards were handed out. And just when I thought they were done, they called "Tim Wagner!" up for my septa-diamond wings (#87) along with some other awards. Ambushed me!

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The unsung heroes behind any good competition is manifest, and Angie and Barb have wowed 'em.

11:00 a.m.
I wish I had more time to get some photos and commentary here, but I've got World Meet stuff piled up...I'm watching the competition on my TV, and Airspeed and the Knights FX have *YET* another fine battle going, this time in 16-way...Deguello had a bad exit on round two and really fell behind the pace...Mom is cooking some of her famous fried chicken for the judges (and select members of Deguello / Knights / Airspeed)...Airspeed and the Knights FX are both successfully pulling a 16-way out the door, so Deguello has lost one of the advantages it enjoyed in previous years (that of building the first point the fastest)...10-way, 2 teams finished their rounds, but the rest are doing 16-way, I guess they're going to finish 10-way tonight or tomorrow morning...

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One of our all-time great Nationals' competitors, Deguello captain Jack Berke. He says, "Roy, get that camera out of my face and get me some of Rose's fried chicken!"

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Deguello creeps round 5...

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...and door jams it.

1:50 p.m.
Airspeed has pulled ahead of Knights FX on round 4, courtesy of a late bust by the Knights. Pictures coming soon...

3:00 p.m.
The Knights FX had a nice jump on round 5, and Airspeed busted a 9 down to a 7, so the Knights FX takes a two-point lead into the final round. Deguello finally started to look like their old selves with a solid 8 points, but they are well behind the pace still.

4:10 p.m.
Shazam! Golden Knights FX just tied the world record on round 6 with 16 points. Airspeed jumps soon, and their score is...is...is...a 14, busted down to a 12. Ouch! Deguello put up a 10, another nice jump. The Knights FX are now up by six points. Round seven is also looking like a smoker...and...fast forward to -

5:00 p.m.
Those GK/FX folks just blazed another one on round 7, a 16 again. Airspeed is getting a much faster break time with a really sweet exit, but GK/FX, when they start to crank, they're just plain fast.

Well, that about wraps it up for the day. We're going to finish up both 10- and 16-way in the morning, and start time is 8:00. Halloween party tonight! C'ya

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Sunday, November 1

8:00 a.m.
Well, today is the last day. Airspeed still has a shot at sweeping the Nationals, but they've got to come from behind to beat Knights/FX.

10:10 a.m.
Airspeed was unable to top Knights/FX on round 7, scoring a 15. Knights/Fx have already done round 8, to the tune of 8 points, so Airspeed must score a 15 to tie or a 16 or better on round 8 to win the 16-way title. Deguello has a firm grip on the bronze at this point.

11:15 a.m.
Airspeed put up a good jump, but a 12 wasn't enough. Stay tuned for the finals of 10-way! Congratulations to Deguello for the bronze!

11:50 a.m.
The only two teams left doing 10-way are the Knights and Airspeed, who just went up in the plane together...two other teams withdrew...

1:10 p.m.:
Final 10-way standings: 1st place, Airspeed; 2nd place, Golden Knights; 3rd place, Old Gold. That's a wrap! Final commentary coming up later!

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Closing Commentary

The closing ceremonies have just concluded, and medals handed out to the winning 10- and 16-way teams. One more set of medals was then awarded to the Combined Champions of Formation Skydiving, which went to - drum roll, please - Arizona Airspeed. They won all but the 16-way events, where they took the silver.

But there was one more award to give, and it was presented by Roger Nelson on behalf of Sonic Force. That award is the perennial CG GodFrog award, which is presented to the 10-way team that best expresses the spirit of competition combined with a whole lot of fun and humour. Roger gave a brief speech, and presented the GodFrog award to the hands-down winner, the Golden Knights. Roger said, "This team has demonstrated class, style, and dedication, and they deserve a big round of applause," which of course they then got. The Knights had some of the DZ TV viewers ROFLOL with their antics after completing each 10-way formation. They had the "Wright Flyer" flapping it's wings, "Thacker's Bear Trap" was snapping open and shut, the "Raeford Dragon" was whacking its tail on its head, and they had a double-spider flying at a good 40 mph. It was a riot.

Alas, unless skydivers rally in support of the event with the competition subcommittee, this may very well have been the last time we ever see the 10-way event at the nationals. So if want to see it next year, be sure to write; the chairman of the FS subcommittee is Bill Wenger at USPA.

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and I thank you all for visiting. See you next time!

-Tim Wagner