This Is How A 8-Way Dive Pool Is Selected For Competitions

8Way spring    Everyone knows the Golden Knights 8-Way Team conducts hundreds of training jumps per year to stay proficient as competitors. But why does it take so much training to remain competitive at the top levels of formation skydiving?

A standard competition jump consists of five to six formations repeated as fast as possible for time. The 8-Way formation pool consists of 16 one-point formations and 22 two-point formations. Mix them together in a hat and pull out ten rounds of five to six formations per jump and you have what is called a competition draw. Sounds simple right? Not so fast…

Each formation has multiple ways the jumpers can build it in the air. This effectively doubles the size of the formation dive pool. An 8-Way team is split into teams of two called piece partners. Piece partners generally perform each prescribed maneuver together in concert with the other three sets of piece partners.

Still sound pretty simple? The International Parachuting Commission – the governing body of competition skydiving – thought so as well. To make competition harder they introduced formations called “slot switchers”. Slot switchers are designed to make piece partners change positions with each other mid skydive. This means that a pair of piece partners are not only responsible for knowing their own job, but the job of their partner in every formation as well.

Now take into account that the dive pool has effectively doubled in size to 76 formations because of the different ways they can be built. If you add slot switchers in the mix, the size of the dive pool doubles again as each jumper must know both slots their piece is responsible for in the formation. The size of the dive pool has now grown to 152 possible formations that each jumper must know and master.

But wait, there’s more! Each competition jump is drawn at random. That means that any possible combination of those 152 formations can be seen on any given competition jump. To add just one more degree of difficulty to the competition; teams aren’t given the specific sequence of competition jumps until the night prior to the start of the meet. This gives each team just a few hours to figure out the best possible way to engineer each jump before round one takes off the next morning.

A team will train all year long to see as many possible combinations of formations to ensure the best chance of success at a meet. Hundreds of jumps per year go into preparing for just 500 seconds of total competition.

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GKF4 Preparing For 1st Competition

image3 The Golden Knights Female 4-Way Team is almost two weeks into winter training. It

was a bit slow to get started, but since they got going, they haven’t looked

back.

Training at Avon Park, FL is ideal, due to the weather, the relative

isolation to training distractions, and the proximity to their coach, Solly

Williams, who has been instrumental in bringing the technical aspect of 4-way

up to par.

The team had to deal with some bad weather so far, both rain and

high winds, but they were still able to get in some great training by making

use of the Orlando wind tunnel. The tunnel is smaller than the team’s home

tunnel, Paraclete XP, and this smaller size forces them to leave out many of

the formations, but it still allows for good training.

The team was also able to pick up a few extra jumps by training on Saturday morning to make up

for the jumps missed due to the weather. So far this week, the weather has

been great and the Team is on schedule, doing up to 14 jumps per day, and

making leaps and bounds in their progress.

The first outdoor competition is looming less than a month away and the Team feels confident that their

performance will exhibit the training that they’ve completed, and set a great tone for the rest of the year.

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8way For members of the Golden Knights 8 Way Formation Team attending winter training in Avon Park, FL this year the stakes couldn’t be higher. The month’s worth of jumps here is the kick off of a two-year campaign to secure the teams third consecutive World Championship Title. A feat no other Golden Knights team has accomplished even once in this century.

GK8 may have escaped the weather back home in North Carolina, but the hard work, dedication, and discipline were packed into the team’s suitcases even before the parachutes. There are no sandy beaches or fun filled trips to amusement parks in the near future for this team of Golden Knights. They have their eyes set on one goal and one goal alone, Training to WIN!

This training Saturday started with a 0530 wakeup for the team as members perform their morning rituals. Some start with coffee, some with a run, but all conclude with departing to the drop zone before the sun crests the horizon. They’ve spent the previous evening thinking about the day’s upcoming jumps, what they’ve done well so far, and what they can fix today. Each jump is a tremendous learning opportunity, so every effort is put forth into preparation, and no jump is wasted.

The drop zone is set up and GK8 promptly goes to work on creepers. Each move of the skydive is meticulously analyzed, repeated, and committed to memory. When it comes to competition, there are no do-over’s or ‘fun jumps’. The gear is inspected, donned, and the team rehearses the sequence one more time from the mock-up aircraft door before heading to the airplane.

The ride to altitude is silent. This is the last 20 minutes each jumper will be able to reflect on this particular sequence before performing it in real time. At this point, the skydive becomes nearly completely mental. Each jumper is walking through the complex system of moves, grips, checks, and keys he must successfully complete in order to score just one point. Then the process is repeated an average of 20 times before the skydive ends.

GK8 completes the jumps in sets of four, with short breaks in between each set so the aviators can fuel the aircraft, and the competitors can fuel their bodies. The team watches the air-to-air video and picks apart each jump frame by frame, identifying things to fix on the next set of four jumps. After the video debrief, it’s back down on the creepers to repeat the process all over again. Once the jump day is finished, it’s time to learn the new set of skydives for tomorrow’s work. Which will occupy the competitor’s minds that evening, as they ice sore elbows, backs, and necks, write notes about the days training in their binders, and begin rest to start all over at 0530 the next morning?

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