AE Bits Wednesday 23  October

by Missy Nelson

Editor's note: Check out the cover of this month's Parachutist - it's Missy's team!

Sorry for todays delay of tiddy bitties. I had to finish up my last two rounds of freefly this morning. Which, by the way, rocked!

So, most artistic event teams are finished and we decided to get together and do some big way VRW formation skydives. Another reason going to Nationals is cool. Big VRW formations are something we rarely get to do, but since the majority of the talent is just hanging out, why not??

WHERE’S THE SCORE? If you’re wondering why it’s taking forever to see the scores for our events, don’t worry, it’s not your computer. I know that the judges are busy slaving away in their little cave with no food or water and are getting paid very little, but HURRY UP!!! They’ve only judged up to round 4 of our events and still, anything can happen. All of us are anxiously awaiting the results even though we have a hunch Alchemy is taking home the gold. It’s just been a tight race between New School of Flight, Loki and Anomaly. Fun stuff.

Loki put a lot of talent and challenging moves on the table this year. This is their second National competition. Last year they placed third in the intermediate freefly event and this year is their first taste in the open class.

I got the fortune to sit down with Matt Flechet of the Open Freefly team, Loki. “We were worried about the “bust” in the speed round so every team slowed down to make sure they got all clean points. But it seems the speed round isn’t going to make that much of a difference in the scores.” He adds, “We’re going to kick it up a notch next year.”

So, I’m going to assume you are wondering why it’s taking so long to see our scores. First of all, judging relative work is a bit easier because it’s based on actual points. In the artistic events, it’s a little more subjective. After watching the video, they talk about what they saw, how hard they believe the dive to be, etc. and try to give a fair score compared to your previous routines and compared to other teams. However, in the end, all the teams that end up on the podium are usually the teams that belong in first, second and third.

Let me give you an example of the subjectivity and frustrations we share as competitors regarding the scores. Personally, the Sugar Gliderz didn’t have a bomb round one. Actually, we get out of frame a few times (our own fault) and we scored an 8.2. SURPRISE. We’re like, “NO WAY?!?!” Round 4 turns out to be a magical round for us because we stuck our routine and the video is shot flawlessly. Not only did we feel great about the round, but we figured the judges will have to score us higher because of the overall improvement of the whole routine. Well, we scored an 8.0. WHAT?? We’re stunned again. I choose not to complain, but remain bewildered and I encourage anyone who can come up with a better way to judge artistic events, come forward with your knowledge and help us out.

Alchemy’s round 5 was just played and what an outstanding performance. They showed 21 points, way ahead of the rest of the pack, but the judges busted them and gave them the official score of 16. Crazy. You should have seen how fast, how clean and how smooth Alchemy is. They certainly have raised the bar and pushed the envelope so far in three-dimensional flying. I’m glad they are continuing the team and I am so proud of my little brother (he, he, he)!

I begged and pleaded with the promising second place Open Freefly team, Anomaly to have a chat with me since I’m so impressed with their performance here at Nationals. With a little convincing, telling them they were going to be the most famous freefly team in the history if they did this interview, they slowly lolly gagged behind me. Jed Lloyd, camera flyer was talking a lot of sh@#t last night and tells me that he did as well as he expected. “Gold wasn’t really the medal. My goal was to come here and have more of the athletes impressed with what we did, not the judges,” Lloyd states.

“We’re here to open their eyes and hope they will watch their back” adds performer, Trent Alkek. And Stevie Boyd didn’t have anything to add.

Scott Meeeker Guano Open Freefly was very willing to share his team bonding moments during this event. “Last night we hogged tied Chris with packing tape and there are pictures and video! I think it was payback for the chocolate pie in face incident.”

Chris Salcone over hears the conversations and defends himself by saying, “I did nothing to deserve it, I’m innocent on all accounts.”

Nationals are an unexplored journey that allows us to open our minds in the essence of learning. We truly enjoy the bond we share not only with other freefliers, skysurfers or freestylists, but also with the entire skydiving community.

Overall, skydiving is a small community, but the artistic events are the smallest part of Nationals. It has been a pleasure to share the playing field with 8-Way, CRW, Style and Accuracy so that they may have a little look into the door of our world.

I encourage you, if you ever get an opportunity, to meet some of these athletes. They are just regular “Joes” who enjoy the sky and enjoy dreaming, just like you and I. They (I don’t know why I keep using ‘they’…), we are always open to share what we know to help anyone learn how to fly safer, more efficient and to gain a friendship. I also encourage you to help that jumper at your own DZ that doesn’t have anyone to jump with. Extend a hand, do a 2-way and spread the love.

Hours later, and all of round 5 is yet to be posted. Don’t go away, we’re not done yet.


The energy is definitely slowing down. People are leaving, it’s hot, we’re tired and we are STILL waiting for the judges to finish up. They’ve actually started round 6. Alchemy is still blowing us all out of the water scoring an impressive 9.4 on round 6. The boy’s definitely make us work hard, but that’s what’s so cool about keeping up with them – the innovation evolution.

My very tall, very talented little brother just dropped off his canopy in front of me. Not only did he compete in 4-way with his Alchemy teammates, he’s trying his hand at Style. Not FREESTYLE; like Style & Accuracy – Style. Why not, right? So I asked Rook to give some goods about his team and he replies, “Mike was entertaining last night and I wish the judging went a little faster.” Well, simplicity lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Don’t mind all the Alchemy blah, blah, blah, but they’re sitting right here willing to add to my bits about freefly. Jon DeVore, camera flyer for Alchemy plans to train with Rook and Mike, 4-way next year and predicts placing first in advanced and plans to move into open the following year.” Before I continue, let me fill you in a little about Jon DeVore. The little I know about him, he is a fun-loving, sarcastic and dazzling flier. “The whole team did our 1st ever 4-way and realized how easy RW is.” He looks at me again, smirking and adds, “And we feel that we should be able to dominate 4-Way in 2 years.” I just had to giggle. I wonder what Airspeed and DeLand Majik think about this. You got to love it! So I asked him what we should know about freefling and he comments, “Overall next year’s World Meet in the Freefly competition will change to 3 rounds of speed and 4 free.” Right now, it’s 5 Free, 1 aesthetic and 1 speed.

Want to know more about Jon DeVore? Okay. (If not, scroll down.) Jon’s nickname is Alaska Jon (or just Alaska) for obvious reasons and it stuck. His first national competition in freeflying was only last year with Alchemy and they (of course) placed first, dominating the whole event. Before Nationals I had the privilege to again interview Alchemy one-on-one. Alaska told me why he hadn’t competed before then. “What Eric Fradet once told me turned me off from ever competing. Fradet said, ‘it’s a one-way street to win a national or international event. You have to do the SAME jump 500 times or more and that’s the ONLY jump you will do all year. If you’re willing to do that, you’ll win.’” Well, here is, already a national and world champion. I guess it’s not that bad to repeat a dive over and over.

And by the way, Mike Swanson wants to give a shout out to his family who are very loyal readers of! HI SWANSON FAMILY, we love you!!

Anyways, it’s really cool to open up this ‘door’. I over heard several CRW and 8-Way competitors comment that we actually turn points like they do, only different (that’s cause it’s three-dimensional). Fun, huh?

Well, that’s all for now. We’re still “patiently” waiting the results of round 6. Don’t go far!


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