GK Competition Teams get ready for the US Nationals

As the 2012 USPA National Skydiving Championships approaches, the Golden Knights are still training hard.  In fact, the US Nationals are just about one week away.  While the end goal of this year is the World Meet in December, the US Nationals are a crucial stepping stone on that path.  The Golden Knights will represent the US Army in four different events; 4-way, 8-way, 10-way and 16-way Formation Skydiving.  The focus, of course, is on the 4-way and 8-way competition.

GKF4 returned from the World Cup in Prostejov at the beginning of August and dove right back into training.  They just passed 750 jumps for the year.  At this point, the only other confirmed all female team to attend Nationals will be the Canadian team, Crimson Fox.  The focus for GKF4 is to improve their position from the 2011 USPA Nationals.  They placed 10 out of 16 teams in 2011.

Just down the hallway, GK-8 has been training hard.  The US Nationals will be the first competition for them since the 2012 Paraclete XP Outdoor Skydiving Championship in DeLand, Florida, in which they took Gold.  During the nearly 7 months of training, GK-8 jumped nearly 600 times, knit-picking each one to maximize the training value.  One big highlight of Nationals for GK-8 will be competing against Russia’s Sky Panthers Barkli.  Although Barkli will be considered a guest team and not directly face GK-8, the two teams will meet again in less than a month in Dubai.

The members of the Golden Knights Competition team will also pay respect to a fallen teammate.  SSG Eric Holman, a former Golden Knight, was killed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom on August 15, 2012.  In tribute, the team wears the initials EH on their helmets, along with a white ribbon for awareness of the victims of terrorism.

This year the Nationals will take place at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, AZ.  While Nationals begin on the 24th of October, the 4-way event starts on October 29th, followed by 8-way, 10-way and finished off with 16-way.  To keep tabs on the competition and the positioning of GKF4 and GK-8, visit the Golden Knights (Facebook.com/USArmyGoldenKnights) or GKF4 (Facebook.com/USArmyGKF4) Facebook pages.  You can also visit USPANationals.com.


Competition Team Performs Parachute Maintenance

                The Golden Knights Competition Team took a break from training to perform necessary equipment maintenance today at the Golden Knights Headquarters on Ft. Bragg, NC.  The work is headed up by the five Parachute Maintenance Technicians (Riggers) assigned to the Competition Team. Although members of the Competition Team hold various Military Occupational Specialties from Intelligence Analyst to Truck Driver, each Teammate takes part in the equipment and parachute maintenance.

                Re-lining the parachutes proves to be the most time-consuming task. The Competitors have made over 500 freefall training jumps this year in preparation for the upcoming US Nationals and World Parachuting Championships. As jump numbers increase, the Riggers closely monitor wear on the parachute lines, and replace them as necessary.  The Competitors team up and replace lines, one by one. Each line must be measured and “tacked” in place by a special sewing machine. The lines are made up of several different lengths and must be attached to exact points on the parachute to ensure proper trim, flight characteristics, and a soft opening. The work is always double checked by a Certified Rigger to ensure accuracy and integrity.

                With the periodic maintenance complete, the Competition Team will turn its focus to the upcoming US Nationals to be held in Eloy, AZ. The Golden Knights look to defend their titles in 8way, Women’s 4way, and Overall Champions. Competition is set to kick-off Oct. 29th, check back for updates! 



Golden Knights Win in Florida

The Paraclete XP Outdoor Skydiving Championship/Shamrock Showdown wrapped up midday Sunday in sunny Deland, Florida.  While this meet takes place in Florida, it has attracted more international teams than the years prior.  In fact, there were more international teams than US teams in attendance.  Many of these teams will meet again in Dubai 2012, making this competition even more interesting.

GKF4 turns a Monopod on the hill over Deland, FL

Once again, GKF4 went up against the female teams from Norway and France.  The only newcomer to the scene was the Canadian team, Crimson Fox.  While Crimson Fox is a relatively new team, they put on a good showing and have earned the official distinction as the first Canadian National Female 4-way Team.


At the World Parachuting Cup in August 2011, France, Norway and GKF4 competed under similar circumstances.  At that competition, France took first and Norway took third over GKF4, who placed fourth.  This competition’s standings ended up the same with France in first, Norway in second and GKF4 in third.  While the spread between first and second was not as close, the battle for second was fierce, especially in the last three rounds, won by GKF4.  In the end, Norway took second over GKF4 by one point.

SFC Drew Starr videos GK8 over Deland, FL

The 8way battle between the Golden Knights (Team USA) and Russia ended Sunday with GK8 coming out on top.  After 10 rounds the GK8 scored 219 points- 28 points ahead of the Russians.  GK8 jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, winning the first 3 rounds of competition by 3 points each.  The Russians were certainly not beat, as they went on to tie GK8 in rounds 4,5, and 6.  On Sunday morning GK8 won rounds 7 and 8 by 4 and 7 points respectively.  Round 9 presented a possible world record sequence of formations.  The current 8way single round record of 31 points was set by the Golden Knights in 1997 and still stands today.  GK8 tied that record on round 9 with 31 points in 50 seconds of freefall, but were deducted 2 points for an incomplete formation and incomplete separation.  The Russian Team built 30 formations in time, but were also deducted 1 point resulting in another tie between GK8 and Russia.  The Knights went on to win the final round by 6 points after Russia experienced a mid-air collision.  The 21.9 average is a new Team best for GK8 in competition.

GK8 and the Russian 8-way team, Barkli

Following the Competition, GK8 presented the Russian 8way team with a Golden Knight Sword and plaque which reads “Friends, Comrades, Competitors”.  SFC Brian Krause and SFC Sean Sweeney went on to explain the significance of the Sword and to express our appreciation for their long travels and commitment to competition.  Competition history between USA and Russia goes back over 50 years, and will surely continue.

GK8 and GKF4 have returned to Fort Bragg, NC and, after a Safety Day of our own, the training will continue.  Dubai 2012, here we come!  Blue skies!

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