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1998 World Cup of Formation Skydiving, Freestyle & Skysurf

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Saturday, 19 September

vora, Portugal, is an ancient, romantic town with a varied history and the obligatory middle ages castle and old town wall at the center. The port of Lisbon lies approximately 150 kilometers to the west, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather this time of year tends towards hot and dry, although it is drizzling as Tim writes this on Saturday morning. Just a few short clicks west of town lies the Aerodrome, site of the 1998 World Cup of Formation Skydiving, Freestyle, and Skysurfing.

The OmniCrew departed Arizona for these parts on Wednesday morning. After 15 hours of flying and 2 hours of driving, we were setting up shop at the competition site. 8 hours later, dinner at the hotel and bedtime. When we woke up, it was Friday. Somebody had lopped Thursday off the calendar like a moldy heel off an old loaf of bread. No must-see-TV for you!

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Ted sets up the air-to-ground video antenna.

The whole town seems to be lit with excitement about hosting this World Cup, as there are posters and signs all about town. We did not know what to expect upon arrival, but after spending the last two days setting up shop, these hosts are out to run a top-notch championships. Why, they even gave us an ISDN connection to the Internet for all this stuff! Now that's what I call service!

The opening ceremonies are later this morning, with the competition draw and briefing this afternoon. We will, of course, have all that posted here at omniskore.com. There are 33 4-way teams and 10 8-way teams registered, plus the freestyle and skysurf teams to come later.

Saturday Evening

We have finished most of official practice, but a weather hold is forcing us to finish tomorrow. The competition jumps will probably start after noon. There is yet no draw to post. I am also working on resolving some technical problems with the "DZ TV" webcam; it seems that the software I brought to run it isn't working properly. I hope to have it working by the end of tomorrow. Good night!


Sunday, 20 September

A

fter finishing official practice this morning, the competition draw was done for the FS events, and jumping for 8-way, Freestyle, and Skysurf began soon after; 4-way was released for the day. Live judging was supposed to be used for every other team, but clouds and visibility caused the chief judge to shelve live judging for the day.

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The row of team tents along the fliteline.

Running "DZ TV" is quite a bit more challenging than it used to be, mainly because we have two panels of FS judges running concurrently with a team of Freestyle/Skysurf judges. Between the three of the them, it's hard to get everybody who's being judged out on "DZ TV," especially when every time one of us sneezes, we lose one of the 7,853 electronic connections that we have in the "DZ TV" control room.

Passion8's Dates

The Golden Knights dirt-diving round one.

Topping off the list of today's headaches was not getting the new OmniSkore.com server to behave, so Tim spent all of his spare time moving the files over to skydiveaz.com. I hope everyone is able to find us here, because I have no way of even putting a link up at omniskore.com, so everyone out there please spread the URL for this coverage: http://www.skydiveaz.com/98_world_cup/1998_world_cup.htm. Thanks!

Ted's Babes

Perris Passion8 under Old Glory. They posted a 10 in round one - go girls!

8-Way has begun with a very interesting start. The Golden Knights, heavily favored to run away with this event, came out of the gates looking jet-lagged and posted an 18 in round one. Soon afterwards, the French and then the Russians matched them, resulting in a three-way tie after one round. It's gonna be a good one to watch here, folks! You think Airspeed's doing this draw back home? Hey guys, wanna send me your results too?

Sunday ended with another weather hold, and we'll probably be starting with 8-way first thing tomorrow. Now, it's bud time again...


Monday, 21 September

Morning

O
R&R at the USA tents

R&R at the USA tents.

kay, who forgot to sacrifice a virgin to the Weather Gods? The normally sunny skies of southern Portugal are not cooperating thus far. We are starting Monday out with a weather hold, as low clouds and drizzle are keeping the teams in the tents and on the creepers.

I saw on CNN last night that Mark McGwire hit number 65 and Cal Ripken ended his Iron Man streak.What a year for baseball! And I hear it's going to be a very interesting day for Bill Clinton, too. Sex, lies, and videotapes, right there in the White House...CNN International was ripe with interviews of foreign dignitaries bemoaning the state of the US presidency. I think if everyone back home knew how the world felt, Clinton would be out of the Capitol by the end of the week. Okay, back to skydiving. No jumping going on right now, I think I'll go stalk Passion8 for some more photos...

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Competitors enjoy some soccer before the competition. The host town of …vora is in the background.

Six hours later...

We've managed to push through the clouds and drizzle and start round 3 of 4-way by 1600 o'clock. The early surprise in 4-way: USA's  Space Center FX, a first-year team from Florida, is tied with France after two rounds. Both teams experienced heavy rain on round one and both teams re-jumped. I've got to say, FX looks pretty darn impressive for their first year together; very smooth and quick, right up there with France Maubeuge. Another great match-up to watch here at The Cup!

6pm: Round 3 of 4-way just went in the can. This competition's big surprise isn't the 3-way tie in 8-way after one round; it's who's winning 4-way after three!  France, jumping with their coach (and former World Champion) Jerome David in place of the injured Davide Moi, posted a 22, besting the previous high of the round by one point.  A few minutes later, Space Center FX -- Dawn, Joey, Chris and Doug -- trumped them with a 24, earning a raucous round of applause in the "DZ TV" hangar.  And this is Doug's first international competition, and first year on a 4-way team -- most impressive, dude!  (I'd better be careful or I'm gonna jinx 'em...)

Monday Evening
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Hey serge, guess what? After two days of the World Cup, the US of A is leading in 4-way and the Russians are leading in 8-way. This meet is playing out like a Forest Gump script. What we gonna get next?

Perris Passion8 had a fab round 2, they did a 16, unfortunately they busted to a 14, but still a great jump by the girls from Perris. Go girls!

Do you like the photos of this World Cup coverage? Practically all of them were taken by the Golden Knights CO LTC David Stahl, who we enlisted (sic) as a roving OmniPhotographer. Thanks, Dave! We appreciate it! It's bud time again. Bartender!


Tuesday, 22 September

Morning

Otter...Water...

An Otter waits for blue skies.

A

nother day has dawned damp and cloudy, and we are on another weather hold here in beautiful, usually sunny southern Portugal. Okay everybody, together now: sit on the floor. Assume the "lotus" position, legs crossed, hands on your knees, palms facing upward. Form circles with your thumbs and middle fingers. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. Now jump up, point at the monitor and yell, "Rain! Rain! Go go away! Come again some other day!" That's it! Yes! Yes? No? Dang. Still raining...coffee...

Three hours later...
Hot dang! The lotus position worked! We just finished round 4 of 4-way, along with a couple of 8-way round 2 re-jumps. Space Center FX is starting up where they left off yesterday, picking up another point to take a 3-point lead after 4 rounds of 4-way. Some lingering clouds are still hampering the live air-to-ground idea; it's hard to track an airplane that you can't see. Everybody keep that lotus position, we're staying pretty busy right now...

Evening

Australia 8-way

XLR8 builds a "compass"
in 8-way competition.

We finished round 5 of 4-way and most of round 3 of 8-way before clouds and rain again rolled in around 1700 o'clock. France Maubeuge absolutely blazed round 5 to pick up two points on Space Center FX, who still has a one-point lead; in 8-way, the Knights ran in to a cloud deck near the bottom of round 3, then they got a 20 on the re-jump to pull even with the Russians, who look really sharp to this point - very smooth and quick.

8-way, round 4 -- Russia blazed a very nice 21; a short while later, the Knights countered with a flawless 22 (23 was out by an eyelash). France is doing well, but ten off the pace. The FS leaderboard tonight is all stars & stripes.

I gotta tell ya folks, except for the weather, this is competition skydiving at it's best. What time is it, lotus sitters? It's bud time.


Wednesday, 23 September

Morning

L

otus positions, everyone. It's thicker than Monday's soup outside. Hey Airspeed, everyone wants to know how you're doing on the draw. If you SEND ME your results, I'll post them round by round as the competition goes, if you're game.

GK

Golden Knights 4-way exits round 9.

Okay, time to insult everyone:
Q: How many Golden Knights does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One. He just stands there and the whole world turns around him.

Q: How many Freeflyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Five. One to screw in the bulb and four to film it.

Q: How many Belly Flyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Twenty. Six to organize, five to lay base, four to assign blame, three to go low, two to film it, and one to take it out.

Send me more, folks, I'll start a collection here...

DZ TV

Passing time in the "DZ TV" hanger.

I have received several e-mails asking about the title of the competition, which is officially "The World Cup and European Championships of Formation Skydiving, Freestyle & Skysurf," and if we are posting the European Championships standings. The answer is no; we just don't have the time to deal with so many results pages. If there is another web site that has those standings, we will be happy to post a link to it.

Some of you may be wondering why there is no freestyle or skysurf on the "DZ TV" WebCam. Well, because freestyle and skysurf are running concurrently with the FS events, the organizers decided to unplug the video cable from Pegasus (the freestyle/skysurf scoring system) and run it straight to its own spectator TV, bypassing our "DZ TV" system altogether. Thus, no video feed for the WebCam. (What you see on the WebCam is the same feed that the spectators watch in the hanger -- just a lot slower frame rate...).

Evening

Sarah

Omni Associate Sarah mans (womans) the controls in the "DZ TV" dungeon.

After 7 rounds of 4-way and 6 rounds of 8-way, what we have here is a good old-fashioned neck-to-neck horse race in both events. In 4-way, France Maubeuge and Space Center FX are tied up at 131 and in 8-way, Russia and the Golden Knights are also knotted up at 131. All four of these teams have not suffered an infringement and all four are skydiving like it's sudden death overtime.

Tim & Ted

The OmniTwins at work.

I wish to state again that Ted and I are not ignoring freestyle and skysurf, it's just that they've unplugged it from us. Starting tomorrow, we hope to have daily commentary here from Tamara Koyn and/or Dale Stuart.

The weather forecast is calling for bluer skies the next few days, so stay OmniTuned right here for what will surely be a grand finale to this World Cup. Hey Ted, where's that bud?


Thursday, 24 September

Morning

E

veryone must have slept in the lotus position, because we actually woke up to mostly clear skies today. We are approaching the home stretch of these championships and there is much excitement in the air. For you freestyle & skysurf fans, we have enlisted the help of Tamara Koyn to bring you some news and commentary for those events.

Last night, there was a Formation Skydiving Competitors' open meeting, and the dominant subject of discussion was the use of slow motion replay for judging. You can read Ted's opinion on this controversial issue HERE.

FX Dirt Diving

FX is in step this week...

Round 8 of 4-way is proving to be rather interesting; the first point of the sequence is the Danish T - Murphy block, and many teams are being busted for not showing the subgroups in the inter. Don't be surprised if this block is history after the next IPC FS subcommittee meeting - it's a real pain to judge.

Noon
In all my years of competitions, the battles we have going on in both FS events are as close and hotly contested as I can remember. All four teams are tied for first. None have experienced a penalty. Who will prevail?

Mid-afternoon
Yikes. Space Center FX just did round 9. The first two passes, the judges gave them a 29. One the third pass, they got a 28 - with two judges awarding the 29th. It looked to me like they were breaking from 29 to go to 30. France Maubeuge did a 29 -- theirs was also on the timeline -- to take a one-point lead. Space Center is not getting many breaks this meet!

The Golden Knights, however, ripped a 25 on round 7 and take a two-point lead into Round 8 of 8-way.

FX Door Jam

...FX door jams...

Uhm, it has been suggested in conversation and e-mail, that maybe, just a little, this web site is biased towards Formation Skydiving in general and Americans in particular. To which Ted and I respond: Well, duh. This is the OmniSkore! coverage, not the OFFICIAL coverage -- please go back and read the disclaimer if you were expecting something different ;-)

Late Afternoon
Round 8 of 8-Way just went in the can!  The Golden Knights performed a smooth, clean 21, only to be out-performed a notch by the Russians' 22.  A one-point lead for the USA going into the semi-final round.

FX Creeping

...and FX laying it down.

Space Center FX is only a bit down after the judging frustration of round 9.   But, like their French

Southern Aurora

"Southern Aurora" Exits Round 10; the all-girl
team set a National record 16 points on round 9.

competitors, they have terrific attitudes and are going into the final round with their heads high and confidence intact.  Both teams are putting on a terrific show, and may the best one win!

We've heard some rumors that there's a freestyle/skysurfing meet going on here too, so we'll go hunt down the latest scores and update those results...

Tim's trivia question of the day: How many times have the Golden Knights won the World Cup in the 1990s? Answer coming after round 10 of 8-way...

Evening
An Otter just went up with France and Russia on board for 8-way round 9, and then came back down because of rain at altitude. For some strange reason, the Russians immediately formed a circle in the lotus position...then the manifest called up a load of 4-way for round 10...

SHAZAM!
Space Center FX just picked up a point on France Maubeuge on round ten to force overtime! The fabulous excitement of this meet isn't over, folks! Both teams sizzled on the jump, but Maubeuge had one costly glitch building a crank that slowed them down a split second, while FX maintained incredible composure under enormous pressure to finish with an 18. This is even more exciting than Big Mac v. Swingin' Sammy!

I think there will be a sleepless night for some of us here. To all of you out there, good night, and tune in tomorrow for the Grande Finale! Now where's my dang bud?


Friday, 25 September

Morning

D

awn has broken gray and dreary this Friday morning as the championships look to wrap up the final jumps of the competition. There is a movement among the competitors to have the final jumps judged live, with the air-to-ground transmitters, which would make this exciting meet come to an even more exciting finish. Does anyone remember the grand finish at the 1993 World Meet at Eloy, when the US 8-way needed an 18 on the final jump to win? It was live, and it was very dramatic. We are hoping for a similar finish here, in both events, whether it is the US or France or Russia who wins.

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Round 10 of 4-way featured a lot of exits like these Aussie boys.

When I downloaded my e-mail this morning, there was a pile of messages from FX fans cheering them on. I will deliver them all, folks. They will appreciate it.

Noon

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This is the weather satellite shot as of 1300 local. It sucks. We are in the middle of it, and it is howling outside.

Gray. Dark. Overcast. Wet. Windy. Everyone's watching the Golden Knight 1997 Team Movie in the hanger. The team captains for Maubeuge and FX were just called into the Jury room to draw some jump-off rounds. But the way the weather looks now, we'll be lucky to get one off before the show wraps up on Sunday. If the two 4-way teams finish in a tie, Maubeuge would win the gold medal based on the best round of the meet.

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This is what's going on outside on Friday.

There is some good news to report outside of the dismal weather; the Australians have set new National team records with 19 points in 8-way (round 2) and 16 points in women's' 4-way (round 9). Australia will also be hosting the 13th World Championships of Formation Skydiving next year in Corowa, NSW, and we'll be down under to cover it.

It is mid-afternoon, the wind is blowing 25 to 35 mph, so we're signing off for the day. Everyone, please. You know the drill - lotus positions all. G'day.


Saturday, 26 September

Morning

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The Knights warm up with one-arm pushups Saturday morning.

T

oday's weather is looking a little bit more promising, as the sun peeks through broken clouds blown by a stiff, cool wind. Last night, the OmniCrew went out to dinner at a very fine restaurant in town, it was a fabulous dinner (Amy - same place you saw in the magazine!).

Tim, Sarah, and Ted, breakfast at the hotel.

There was another pile of mail in the in box this morning, wishing all kinds of good look to Maubeuge, Space Center FX, Russia, and the Golden Knights. It is quite apparent that the world is watching this one, and we wish you could all be here to see it. Meanwhile, we sit and wait for the weather to break. We have all day today and half of tomorrow to finish the events; the weather forecast is for high winds, so we shall wait and see.

 

11:00am
Yuck.  At first-call time this morning, the skies were partly cloudy but winds iffy.  The meet director gathered up the formation skydiving team captains to see if any had objections to the winds.  Only France 4-way declined.  (If the winner is not determined by "sudden death" jump-off rounds, the victory goes to France by virtue of their 29-point high score in round 9.  If I were the French team captain this morning, I would probably have made the same call...)

Now, two hours later, it is raining very hard (you need earplugs in the hangar) and the winds are even stronger than yesterday.  Hurricane Georges may just as well have come here!  The weather map at http://cnn.com/WEATHER/Europe/satellite_image.html looks like there's a chance of some break in the clouds and rain.  Do stay tuned...

In an effort to recognize the men and women behind the FS competition cameras, Tim has posted the Officially Unofficial OmniSkore! Best Videographer Awards for the 1998 World Cup of Formation Skydiving. And they are: 8-way, Richard Brooks of Australia XLR8, and 4-way, John Johnsen of Norway DeLand Norgies. Both videographers provided exceptional quality video to the judges by way of steep video angles and good framing. Great job, guys!

12:30pm
Maubeuge
and FX just took off for round 11, but the weather is very borderline and I do not know if they will jump. There is great excitement in the air; there were many people cheering the teams as they boarded the aircraft moments ago. 8-way round 9 is on call.

4-way Round 11: Space Center FX, 22 points; France Maubeuge, 20 points

Space Center FX Wins! Space Center FX Wins!

Space Center FX has just stunned the competition FS world with a dramatic, 11-round victory at the 1998 World Cup of Formation Skydiving.   The clouds parted, just enough, and the wind subsided, just enough, to squeeze in two passes from a Twin Otter. FX posted a clean 22; moments later, Maubeuge was on what looked like a sure pace to a 23 or 24, but a busted build of a snowflake slowed them down and cost them two points, resulting in a bedlam celebration in the hanger (which I missed!) as FX won the World Cup! What an amazing show by an amazing team!

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FX exits round 11 -
Click for larger picture

I just walked out to congratulate the winners, and I witnessed one of the classiest displays of sportsmanship I have ever seen. Maubeuge met FX on the tarmac and exchanged hugs and congratulations. FX stripped off their team shirts and handed them to Maubeuge, who responded in kind. These are two teams of world-class individuals who put on quite a display of skydiving. Congratulations to both!

Meanwhile, there is unfinished business in 8-way, and we are on yet another weather hold. (France 8-way was on the plane with the two 4-way teams, but did not jump.)  Again -- stay tuned!

Evening
The 8-way teams are still on weather standby, while I just finished helping FX down a couple bottles of fine wine in the hangar.

Some of you may be familiar with the 4-way random "drill" dive that has been published in a couple of magazines this year; FX had a tape of the dive from their training, so we plugged it into OmniSkore! and judged it. I don't know what other teams have done on it, but we judged FX at 58 points in time, clean.

It should be noted, somewhere in the body of this bloated commentary, that this is the first FAI Category 1 (i.e., World Cup or Word Meet) championships where a woman will stand on the winner's platform, and there are not one, but two: Dawn English of Space Center FX, and Lise Aune of Norway's DeLand Norgies. Congratulations, ladies, may you continue to demonstrate the meaninglessness of the word "gender" in formation skydiving.

O-Dark Thirty
They just put round 9 of 8-way up a few ticks before sunset; a slow skydive, France posted a 13, Russia posted a 17, and the Knights put up a very nice 19 to pull ahead by 3. What a day, goshdang it's BUD TIME.


Sunday,  27 September

Morning

Passion8's new jackets look strangely familiar...

A

fter a bit of a slow start this meet, the Knights have started to look even better than they did at Cross Keys a few weeks ago. The 19 they did on round 9 was a work of art; when the Russians did a 17, I thought that was a pretty hot skydive, until the Army boys showed everyone how to do it. They did a couple of open accordion > diamonds that just knocked my socks off. And unlike their competition here at times, they have been very clean and easy to judge the whole meet.

The Knights walking through round 9.

We are starting this day out, guess what, on a weather hold. It is cloudy and the forecast is for rain, and the meet ends in a few hours. I've got mail to pass out for FX and Elsinore Storm. Storm, by the way, finished at a very respectable 7th place, one of three U.S. teams to finish in the top 7.

11:30am
8-Way round 10 is wrapping up. The big surprise in this event, of course, has been the Russian squad; it is hard to believe this is pretty much the same team that averaged 17.1 at last year's world meet in Turkey. They are very young and talented, and it will be very interesting to see what they do next year in Australia.

Was I just talking about how great the Russians were doing? Oops...they really had a melt-down in round 10. After France posted a VERY nice 19, Russia did a jump that had at least 3 busts (one a double) and the judges (VERY nicely) gave them a 15 on it. Could have very easily been an 11 or worse. Rumor has it they were at the discotheque very late last night...

MEANWHILE, those fabulous Golden Knights shined on round 10, posting a marvelous 23 to take the gold medal by an 11-point margin -- quite a feat, considering they were only ahead by only one after eight rounds! They finished up with 21.9 average, no busts.Way to go guys! The United States has swept the gold medals for the second straight World Cup. Congratulations to all the winners!

Well, the Pointy Toes and Flat Feets (and I mean that nicely!) didn't get to go all ten rounds, but they have wrapped up all the Freestyle & Skysurf events. Congratulations to all the winners, especially Skydive Arizona home team Chris Rimple and Grant Hetherington (3rd Place, Men's Freestyle). The pair posted a wonderful compulsory in round 8 to jump into the medal standings. In Skysurfing, there was a great duel between gold medal winners Fradet/Raymond and silver winners Furrer/Krecker; the lead changed hands several times, and only 5.60 points separated the two after the ninth and final round. The gold medal French freestyle team Arnaud/Tzifkansky drew frequent rounds of applause with their superb flying. I wish I had time to see all of the action in these events!

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So long from the OmniCrew!

Well, that about wraps up this whole thing. The awards ceremony is in an hour (it's 1600 here), after that it's cocktails with the French delegation, dinner, celebration, bedtime, and a long flight home. Everybody, thanks for visiting, and see you next time!

p.s. The last time the Golden Knights won a World Cup was in 1990, at Gap, France. They lost in 1992 and 1994, and did not compete in 1996.


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