Click here for the official web site!Saturday, September 30


Last night's competitors' briefing was unique in several ways. First, it was the shortest one I've seen in years, as meet director John DeSantis pared it down to the bare bones. OmniSkore helped a little bit by providing the first computer-generated manifest draw, saving the teams a half hour of pulling numbers out of a hat. The dinner buffet was quite good, too, some kind of chicken-on-ham dish with carrots and salad.

As I write this,  manifest is announcing that they don't know when this morning's fog is going to clear, but when it does they got five Otters waiting to haul teams up. So grab a cup of joe and turn on the Olympics while we sit around for a while.


“Sunny” Southern California ;-)

The weather is quickly clearing and teams are on a call for round one. Here we go!

A T1 (Ted) Bit

A lot of people have asked for my speculation on the outcome of 4-Way Open. I normally try to avoid sticking my neck out or offending a team, but I thought I might relay to you a conversation I had with Bryan Burke last night in the Bomb Shelter, where he asked me whom I picked for the top five. Wow ... so many great teams ...

Based on what I've seen so far this year, I'd start out by putting the Norgies, Airspeed Vertical and France Maubeuge in the top five as shoe-ins. Fighting for the remaining two slots (not to be confused with 4th and 5th place!) are Airspeed Zulu, PD "the Team Formerly Known as Genesis" Blue, Golden Knights Gold, and finally, the perennial question mark, Sebastian oops Space Center err Generation (or maybe it’s just) "FX".

Here’s my thinking.

The Norgies, 1999 World Meet bronze medal winners, have been training as a team for four years and trained at DeLand again this year. Paul, Lise, Torstein and Carl-Erik are one of the most consistent and clean performing teams I’ve ever seen. I cannot imagine them finishing with less than a 21 average. They finish in the top three or I will jump in the pool naked.

Airspeed Vertical, with Craig, Johnny, Neal, and Mark, has looked terrific from their beginning this spring. Call them old dogs who love to learn new tricks; their vertical Photon-Photon is a treat to watch (look for it in Round 6). They started the year at an excellent pace and have only improved. Many people pick them to take the top spot here. They finish in the top three or I will pose for photos before jumping in the pool naked.

Defending World Champion Perris France Maubeuge, whom I affectionately refer to as PFM, have two new faces with Erwan Pouliquen and Julien Losantos but every bit as much talent as they did last year. They are a motivated, competitive and well coached team. If they don’t finish in the top three, they certainly will at the World Cup next month.

DeLand PD Blue started the year on an excellent improvement slope but seemed to level off, even stutter a little, this summer. At the Crosskeys America’s Cup meet they looked, well, a little flat, and not in the same league with Airspeed Vertical. They will need their best meet to finish in the top three, but I consider even that to be a long shot.

Airspeed Zulu, with Alan, Kirk, Christopher and Chad, has shown flashes of brilliance at times but I have yet to see them have a consistent performance. If they can avoid the busts and glitches that have plagued them in previous meets, they can finish third or fourth.

The Golden Knights Gold has looked decent all year, but they look, well, like half of a good 8-way team that’s trying to do 4-way on the side. With a recent replacement in their starting lineup, a top five finish will be very good for them.

And now we come to the big variable, 1998’s surprise World Cup winner, the-team-now-known-simply-as FX. With 1998 teamie Christopher Irwin now jumping with Airspeed Zulu, Dawn, Joey, and Doug welcomed back their 1996 'mate Dave Timko to make the charge with them in 2000. Word is they have about six hundred training jumps in DeLand and a lot of tunnel time in Orlando, but I did not see them compete all year. This is a team with a very different approach to what they do; conventional wisdom is an oxymoron to them. FX arguably has the best random work in the business (and that’s not just tunnel talk; they were exceptional in this area long before they ever saw indoor freefall). If they can compete in the blocks, and avoid the busts that derailed them at the 1998 Nationals, do not be surprised to see this team surprise everybody else. If they’re close or in the lead after Round 9, watch out!
- T1

Off to the Races
Whew! That round one flew by quick! Half the field posted 19s, but FX upped it with a 20 and Maubeuge one better at 21. Great skydiving - PLEASE WEATHER STAY NICE! This one's going to be good!

Mowing on through the Advanced and Intermediate, “Barry Jive's Uptown Five” tied Optic Nerve with 14 for a tie in Advanced, while Dallas 4-Quest has the Intermediate lead half way through round one. 

Round two of Open is finished, and what a show. Maubeuge picked up two more in their points lead, while FX maintained a one point lead over Vertical and a two point lead over GK Gold and PD Blue for the medal standings. Watching Maubeuge is quite a contrast from most other teams: they wear colors that don't contrast with the background, put the camera farther away, and haul ass. The result so far is scattered busts that don't collate and a 3 point lead after two rounds. I wonder if the U.S. teams might want to try this strategy at the World Cup. Wear some desert cammo jumpsuits and dare the judges to bust them. Hmmm...

Big crowd watching DZTV!
Having fun in the loading area Ellie Metni & Mom taking it in
Z Girls ponder round 3.
DeLand Tunnel Rage looking calm More fun in the boarding area
Walking in from the landing area

It's been a mad mad mad mad day so far, what a great day of great formation skydiving. John DeSantis is conducting the Skydive Perris Symphony Orchestra, and the house is rocking. If I had to pick a nit, and it would be a little one, it's the lack of a central DZTV viewing area. There sort of is one in the form of a huge TV set up on the porch next to the creeping area, but it's hard to see when the sun is out. Still a first-class operation here though.

michael mcGowan THE MAN

He spends so much time behind the camera, it's nice to see him in front of one.

Round 2 of Advanced is done, and “Barry Jive's Uptown Five” has taken the points lead over Optic Nerve, who suffered a bust. San Marcus Fast4ward, Teiwaz, Perris High Pressure and Nemesis are bunched in close pursuit. Dallas 4-Quest and DeLand Tunnel Rage look like they'll be duking it out for the Intermediate medal, with guest team Blaze tagging along for bragging rights.

Somebody go through all the team photos and tell me how many times you can find Jack Jefferies. That man is a coaching machine!

It's oh-dark-thirsty here and the judges are trudging through round 3 of Advanced while the jumpers have completed through round four. Ooh, this is going to be a late one. Anybody out there staying up for it? There are some serious tight battles going in all three classes, and the crowd is quite mixed in their loyalties. Someone please e-mail me a beer.

Thank you for the Molson Ice, that's very nice. Can you e-mail a cheeseburger & fries? Well, it was worth a try.

Back to skydiving, who is this “Barry Jive's Uptown Five” (hereafter known as BJUF)? Clean skydiving, nice moves, great video, and leading the Advanced class after three rounds, posting the highest score in all three. And NSL guru Kurt Gaebel's Teiwaz giving chase.

Wow. Check out those 4-way Open standings! Airspeed Vertical and the Norgies cranked out 24s on round 4 to tighten things up at the top of the food chain. I've been working mostly at the PC, but what I've been able to see of the jumps has been most impressive. The Norgies continue to impress with their clean style. Vertical looks like they are starting to click on all cylinders. FX is not giving any quarter. PD Blue and Zulu are only five points off in the medal standings. I think I'm going to take tomorrow off and see Disney Land.

Speaking of medal standings, to answer a couple of e-mails, any team competing as “guests” is ineligible to win a Nationals medal, usually because one or more of the team members are not US citizens.

As of 2000 hours, there is one panel of judges working on round 4 Intermediate, and I'm calling it a night. They'll finish judging round 4 in the morning while I start an IV of caffeine solution. This was a fabulous start to a great nationals so be sure and come back tomorrow. G'night!