Sunday 8 September

0730
The Excellence In Webcasting network is back at it this fine Sunday morning in Ottawa Illinois, where the judges are knocking back their coffee and warming up their panels.

Photo by Chris Schindler

The teams are jumping round 8 right now, but it will take several hours for the judges to catch up this morning. I would guess for some final results sometime mid afternoon.

T1 reporting ... I just had the most [insert hyperlative derogatory adjective here] "argument" with a Michigan jumper who questioned the accuracy of OmniSkore's timing to the meet director yesterday. (That would be the judging system, not the web page or DZTV, of course.) I wanted to hear what the guy had to say, so somebody found him and brought him to me this morning, and what he had to say would make Bill O'Reilly's "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" any day of the week. The first thing I set him straight on, and every competitor should know this, is that OmniSkore doesn't know about analog video or its timing. OmniSkore is just a big fancy stopwatch that has as much knowledge or connection to the video that, well, the stopwatch would have. (The video passes through a Time Base Corrector card in the Scoring Processor, which applies the freeze-frame via a serial interface, but the TBC card only gets power from the PC and is not connected to its data bus in any way. If you took the TBC card out, the rest of the hardware and software would never know about it.) After getting that out of the way, he tried to tell me that dubbing digital down to analog on one VCR and then replaying the tape on another VCR would have measurable differences. Okay, fine, I said, on what evidence do you base this proposition? Well, it's just what happens, the equipment isn't perfect. Yes of course the equipment isn't perfect, I know that, but if you think it's imperfect enough to cause an unfair difference from one team to the next, or imperfect enough to complain about at a competition, that's serious, and if it's serious, where's your evidence? Give me some, I wanna see it. Do what I did in the early, pizza-fed dungeon days of OmniSkore development ... videotape a running stopwatch, play the tape back through the system, and videotape the video tape being played back with a high shutter speed, and inspect the fields and frames. Freeze-frame, field step, and count them one at a time (the fields, not the frames), and guess what, you'll find them all there, each field between 0.01 and 0.02 seconds from the previous (0.0167, if your stopwatch is so accurate). And I've never heard of, or been able to find, a VCR that plays back at a different measurable rate than another one. It's all truly ... ridiculous. And that's today's memo ...

Photo by T2[T2] That Michigan jumper would have been interested watching how we did this ten years ago, with a stopwatch and VCR for each judge. Wanna talk about timing issues? Today's VCRs are an order of magnitude more accurate than yesterday's thumb and stopwatch...

0900
The judges are motoring right along...I just took a stroll through the hangar; Majik was geared up for round 8, people creeping everywhere, calm conditions under sunny skies with just a touch of morning haze left, just a beautiful day...thanks for the kind emails, I wish we had the time to reply properly to them all, but thank you it's those messages that keep us going in here...

...BTW, as usual all you teams/friends/family out there are welcome to request hi-resolution copies of the team photos...of course, if you haven't paid a visit to our sponsors yet you're more likely to get a picture of my dirty laundry instead ;-) ...

Over in Intermediate, the Juggernauts have a ten- and twenty-point lead over Air Force Blue and Skydive.com Pickup...that's quite a spread...

...OUCH take look at Jetstream's round five, that really pushed them down the Advanced standings...that's a shame...

...okay, it's 0930 and we're getting into some 4-way Open judging, let's hope they're using some accurate equipment in there, don't want these results to be tainted ...

[T1] btw, for you fellow geeks out there who are curious about how OmniSkore does timing, the Scoring Processor is a 486 processor running DOS 6.2 (yup, MS-DOS). While normal PCs (including Winblows) run on internal clock (the timer, not the bus speed!) setting of 18.2 cycles per second (the reasons for which I will not get into here, but yes, that number is not random), OmniSkore (the piece that runs on the Scoring Processor) reprograms the timer chip to run at 182 cycles per second, which is the frequency at which the judging panels are polled for button pushes. Thus, the accuracy of the collated time is less than 0.0055 seconds, or about twice the accuracy required by the IPC and three times the accuracy of 60-field-per-second video, and that, ladies and germs, is not ridiculous.

Finally, I know someone out there is wondering about digital video, and when judging will performed with purely DV equipment. Stay tuned, I'll have an update for you tomorrow...

Le photo by le T2[T2] Open scores are coming in, Majik and GK Gold matched 23s on round 7 while Vertical slipped a point with 22...all three looked solid...GK Gold with another 23 on round 8...GK Gold looks so steady on their jumps, very deliberate, lots of eye contact, but snappy on the moves...after seven complete rounds, can you believe it? The Golden Knights Gold have a 4 point lead over Airspeed and a 7 point lead over Majik...Vertical round 8, they just missed their 22nd off the freeze frame, and Majik comes back with a 24...wow, now Airspeed and Majik are tied for 2nd, but the Knights have a 6 point lead with 2 jumps left!

A little bit of history here...it was back in 1996 when Airspeed 8 first tried to unseat the Golden Knights reign of supremacy in that event, and they nearly beat them in New York. Two years later at Perris they succeeded [see correction to this below], but in doing so they tried to let the Knights represent the US at the World Meet. The commander of the Knights nixed it (and dismantled the Knights' 8-way team in the process) so Airspeed 8 went to Australia in 1999 (where they won 8-way but lost the 4-way sword) while the Knights decided to concentrate on 4-way. Well, here we are in 2002, and the Golden Knights are poised to upset the defending World Champions here in Ottawa, Illinois. Wow. And you know what else? The 8-way team selection here -- starting tomorrow -- should be every bit as fun and interesting to watch. More on that later.

1100
The EIW network asks the burning question: Is it lunch time yet? All this typing is wearing me down. Speaking of food, they have some great chow at the restaurant here. A tad pricey, but no more so than other good DZ restaurants. Their apple crisp a la mode is especially good...

...thank you for the email Jeff, a correction of dates: it was at Eloy in 1998 that Airspeed beat the Knights (the nationals were at Perris in 1997)...

1200
Round nine getting judged now...smack smack, T1 brought some yummy seared salmon pasta salad from the restaurant, smack smack...Airspeed Vertical is up, a good start, and they post a clean 23...a quick peak at the round 10 draw, it has a diamond > bunyip and canned tees with a couple of randoms, not the kind of skydive that's good to make up ground with...okay, it is almost 1230, and the judges will be taking a ten minute break in the next few minutes...

...GK Gold round 9...very smooth and deliberate, their 23rd is just out of time for a 22...Majik up now...a 22 as well...Airspeed Vertical already as a 23 posted for the round, so now with one jump left, GK Gold has a 5 point lead over Airspeed and 6 over Majik...they have held the teams on the ground while the judges caught up, as they are going to judge the final round semi-live...check out this picture of Synchronicity: Lilac wanted little Nicholas in the picture, so I digitally inserted him into Sally's arms...

...check it out, Nemesis made up 3 points on round 9 to pull to a tie in Advanced...the Juggernauts have juggered the nauts out of everyone else in Intermediate, with an 11 point lead...

BTW, we know there must be a bunch of competitors who go home and read these pages, you guys should whip out a few bits of your own and send them to us. Let's hear it from the troops, there must be some good stories out there! We'll post it all right on these pages. What's that? Careful now, we will be censuring the photos, but hey, send them anyway...

1400
I had a short visit with Meet Director Tony T, and the plan is for the last comp load of the day to carry the top four teams (Black Majik Vertical Gold). They will then judge those last jumps "semi-live" in reverse order of standing. It should be exciting. They are judging Advanced round 10 right now...

...coming up on the zero hour, Airspeed Zulu round 10 just did a 16...four teams left to judge in Open...GK Black up now...a 16 also, nice jump...Majik will be up next...this theater is packed, and the hangar crowded around the two screens in there...here's Majik...the crowd is silent...good start...quick pace...wow you can hear a pin drop in here...it's a 19 and the crowd cheers! This is exciting....still confirming Majik, yes it's a 19 clean...here's Airspeed Vertical, the crowd goes wild...the defending world champs in the door...what sweet video by Stein...great pace...a 21! Wow! A great jump! The stage is set, GK Gold needs a 16 to win...I cna braerly tpey...here's the Knights now...19!

Ladies and gentleman, skydivers and competitors, stand up and put your hands together for the new National 4-way champion Golden Knights Gold. These guys didn't just win the gold, they earned it with dignity, humility, hard work and cold determination. The humble representatives of the U.S. Army will stand once again on the center of the awards platform, and next year they will represent the United States at the World Meet 2003. What a great team, and what a great competition. Any one of those three -- Majik, Airspeed, GK Gold -- would have been a great choice to represent the US. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to watch them compete at this terrific venue. Congratulations Golden Knights Gold!

WHEW. The hangar is awash in Champagne and those Knights are drenched in bubbly.

...now back to work in Advanced, Nemesis just posted a respectable 13 on round 10, so the Angry Beez have some work to do...

...the not-so-semi-sort-of-annual Unofficial Omniskore Excellence in Video award will be unofficially presented with no fanfare or medals later on this page today...it's just something I like to do...

It's 1600 and the judges are beginning to see the bud light at the end of the funnel...

...the Angry Beez are up and need a 14 to win...gonna be close...no! We have a jumpoff in Advanced...

...and the jumpoff is here, Angry Beez up first, wow a sweet 16, that was a nice skydive. Nemesis, do you have it in you? Let's see it...here it is, and guess what, another tie! Is it? What say you, judges? Waiting...it was a pretty flat video angle on exit, it's a close call....they scored 17 formations in time, but they got a J on the 2nd so they are still tied after 11 rounds! So after 3 levels of tiebreakers in the rules, the winner of 4-way Advanced is Nemesis!

* Tie breaking procedure:

  1. Tie-break round (they tied)
  2. Highest score in any round (they tied)
  3. Highest score, starting at end of competition and working backwards
    (Nemesis wins, 16 to 13 in round 9)

I think next they would have flipped a coin or something...

[T1] Note to anyone coming to SDC and staying at the Praire Lakes Lodge: check in before 10pm, bring your own towels, and bring bug spray. If you like a sheet between your boodie and the blankie, bring that too. (I reckon there's a reason it's called a lodge and not a hotel.) The Hampton Inn, just a few minutes from the DZ (and conveniently located right behind a Cracker Barrel restaurant), is very nice and rooms are $70. If you're on a budget, the campground here is one of the best you'll ever see, which can come in handy if you tried to check into the lodge after 10pm.

1800
In just a half our or so, the judges will have judged over 680 jumps over the last two days. That's a LOT of button pushing...

...whack it on the butt and put it in the can, 4-way is DONE. Juggernaut runs away with the Intermediate title, distantly followed by Air Force Blue and Skydive.com Pickup. The judges are running for the beer cooler...

[Hide the women and children, another T1 note] Wow, shazam. I had the fortune to be somewhat of a spectator at the last meeting of Airspeed Vertical and Majik, in Russia a month ago, and here at Skydive Chicago. Obviously, most speculation (at least what I've heard, and to be honest, shared) was that this contest would be between those two teams. My biggest concern here was that a judging issue would impact who of those two might win (if I have enough wine, I may discuss the judging issue at a later time). But in the end, at one of the best 4-way competitions I've ever seen, the best team won. And it's a beautiful thing. Where's my wine ... [/T1]

That  Not-so-semi-sort-of-annual Unofficial Omniskore Excellence in Video award
There are no points and I'm the only judge and there are no protests (not to mention the winner gets zip zilch nada). The nominees are (sorry no time to look up the names, I went purely off the video):

  • Team 311, Tunnel Vision

  • Team 303, 4X

  • Team 226, Pepperell Momentum

  • Team 231, Juggernaut

  • Team 236, GT Inviscid

  • Team 234, Loki

  • Team 229, Jumpstart

The envelope, please. And the winner is (rip tear shred) --- Tom Shea of Pepperell Momentum, step right up and collect your -- uhm, cyber kudos! Great job of camera flying Tom!

Yes, I was biased towards the Intermediate camera flyers, so what...

1845
The theater is packed, SRO, for the 4-way awards. We've got the DZTV tape running on the big screen and Blue Man Group music rocking the house.

2030
Way nice, that was one of the best awards ceremonies I've ever seen (of course, it was 4-way only). The DZ put together a short video tribute to each Open team that played before the team took the stage for their medals. Afterwards, Roger gave a tasteful presentation to -- get this -- the last place Intermediate team, saying "This is who we are." It was very well done and everyone loved it.

And now, the 8-way briefing is in progress. Posting draw shortly.

Well, that's a wrap for two long first days of competition. See you tomorrow!

t2


2002 Chief Engineer "T1" Ted Wagner | Webmaster "T2" Tim Wagner