By Boel JanÚrus (Freefly
Monday June 25
So the first World meet in the freefly event has started. And
it's anything but a small happening. Twenty-two teams from 16
countries have arrived here in Granada, eager to measure their
skills. Those of us who have followed the discipline evolving
through the last few years already know the top names like Olav
Zipser and Omar Alhegelan, with the recently converted freestylist
Nicolas Arnaud among them. But what about the other teams? Before
this meet nobody has had the whole picture of what's happening in
freeflying at a global level.
The first compulsory draw was Spock - Double joker - Sole to
sole - Eagle. This jump, giving everyone the same frame to work
within, definitely revealed some differences in quality between
the teams. It wasn't surprising that France's Babylon, Olav
Zipser's Freefly Circus and Omar Alhegelan's Arizona Freefly all
did a great job, taking the three leading positions. But newcomers
at the international arena were the Finnish and Austrian teams,
both getting really good scores and a fourth and fifth place
The two first free rounds were also completed during the day. That
is where the teams really get to show off and present their
individual styles and strengths. The Norwegian and Austrian teams
showed control and style with classical moves and consistent,
high-quality camera flying. Arizona Freefly had the world's king
of stand-ups do a feet-down carve together with his performing
teammate flying head-down. Their ending was innovative too, the
performers holding a clown compressed and the camera flyer
seemingly flying through the space between their grips.
While most freeflyers in the world have to struggle just to do
a simple, half-a-second feet to feet (sole to sole) dock, Mike
Swanson and Rook Nelson of Freefly Circus do a 360 degree rotation
with the dock firmly in place. Another cool and super-controlled
move they do is a sit beside each other, then Mike does a
cartwheel over Rook's shoulders, ending up sitting at the other
side of him.
Strange French Birds
But the team adding most freshness to this competition is the
French Babylon team. Performers Nicolas Arnaud and Lu´c
Jean-Albert fly like strange and beautiful birds. Their bodies are
straight but not tense, their interactive work is superb and the
camera flyer Stephane Fardel creates an overall impression of flow
and rhythm. Their free routines include belly flying as well as
very tight tracking moves with barrel rolls. Freeflying is no
longer about head down, stand up, eagles and flips. The
forerunners in this discipline today fly belly down and back down
a lot. When put together with the much faster positions like head
down it creates very sharp changes in fall rate. It takes
experienced performers and even more skilled camera flyers to
perform such moves without exploding all over the sky.
The French performers build a compressed and flip it 270 degrees
to a belly compressed, while the camera not only flies under their
formation but rotates the picture as well. You have to watch it
several times to start understanding what they actually do.
I tell you, it will be really interesting to keep track of the
top fight between Babylon and Freefly Circus the coming days.
Tuesday June 26
The Stefania Saga
One of Tuesday's most interesting news was the score for the first
free round of women's freestyle. The judges gave Italy's Stefania
Martinengo a 9.4, which is only zero point six points from
perfection and the highest score in the free events so far during
this competition. She and camera flyer Ippo Fabbi moved as if
flowing through water while telling a forty-five second long saga.
Stefania made several upright spins in dance-like positions, and a
very cool head down spin with her hands straight above her head,
palms against the wind. She also did a 360 degree front flip of a
stand up-position similar to the stag but with her hand on the
knee pointing straight out to the side.
Emanuelle CÚlicouts free round had a harder edge while still
smooth and included a fast and strong head spin, great eagles
together with her cameraman Alexandre Gillard and some backflying
a la Omar.
Stefania and Emanuelle (winner of the World meet in Australia
1999) seem to be the two contenders for this year's female
freestyle gold, followed by Japan's Yoko Okazazi who won the World
cup in Eloy last november.
Strong Freestyle Danes
The drawing for the first compulsory freestyle round was Helix
spin - Side full twist sequence - Front front back layout loop -
Back back front layout loop.
On the male side the Danish team showed some great skills in the
compulsory round, being rewarded with a 9.0 score by the judges.
Following them are Olav Zipser and Nicolas Arnaud, two guys having
a similarly close fight in the freefly event running parallel to
the freestyle competition.
Freeflying Into the Future?
Freestyle has been around for a decade now and isn't the youngest
event anymore. Freeflying is the most newly arrived baby of the
competition family and we don't really know yet what forms this
discipline will take in the future. One thing is clear anyway:
freeflying is alive and kicking. At this World Meet there are 22
freefly teams from 16 countries. Right now it's being judged in a
way resembling freestyle but without the form criteria demanding
pointed toes and straight body positions. Some people are very pro
the way the compulsory jumps are performed at the Space Games,
where the teams do as many blocks and randoms as possible within
the working time. Whether this is a good way to go or not was one
if the issues discussed at an open meeting between competitors and
judges here in Granada.
Some competitors think the idea to include one compulsory in the
Space Games style is a good one, while others think it rather
could be the start of an event of its own. Who knows, perhaps
there will be two freefly events in the future, one similar to the
one we have today and another one resembling the fast and muscular
hunt for points we call Formation skydiving.