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 Gold!

The Golden Knights Female 4-Way strike Gold!  This past week, the team traveled to Prostejov, Czech Republic for the 2012 World Parachuting Cup in Formation Skydiving.  GKF4 arrived the Friday prior to the opening ceremonies in order to conduct training jumps.  These jumps were important for a variety of reasons.  Not only would the jetlag from the long trip be hard to overcome, the aircraft used for the competition was a Turbolet.  The team almost exclusively trains from a UV-18 Twin Otter so the door and the exit from the Turbolet needed worked on.  The door of the Turbolet is slightly more narrow and taller than a Twin Otter.  The placement of the bar, which is used by the team as a hand hold, is also different.  By the time Monday, the official practice day, was over, GKF4 had made 10 jumps at Dropzone Prostejov. 

GKF4 competed in the Women’s 4-way Formation Skydiving category.  As you may know, they are also the US Team for the 2012 Mondial in Dubai this December.  Although the list of teams who will be competing there is not official yet, two other female teams they will face competed in Prostejov; Norway’s Polaris and France’s Aerodyne Deep Blue Defenders.  At the World Cup, Polaris joined GKF4 in the Women’s category while the Deep Blue Defenders competed in the Open class.  France and GKF4 did not directly compete, but the competition was still one of the highlights of the meet.  GKF4 has gone up against France on two previous occasions; the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Paraclete XP Outdoor Skydiving Championships (the Shamrock Showdown).  At both of these competitions, France has beaten GKF4.  In fact, GKF4 had not outright won a round against them yet.  This changed in Prostejov. 

Day One of the competition brought the first four rounds.  Three of these rounds were technical in nature and not the fastest to get through.  The other round was much quicker, containing mostly Random formations.  Inside Center of GKF4, Laura Dickmeyer said, “That first day of competition was probably the most in tune we have been as a team.  We went up and let it loose.  We gave it our all and it worked.  All the hard work up to that point was paying off.”  At the end of the day, the Team had won three of the four rounds, tied the other, and was up 3 and 11 points on France and Norway, respectively. 

Day Two brought, what the commentators called, faster rounds.  The good energy of the previous day continued, although with a little more pressure.  Small mistakes on two of the rounds cost GKF4 a little ground.  There was also a fast slot-switcher that the French really amped it up for.  As the sun set on Day Two, GKF4 had won two rounds, while France won the other two.  Final standings of the day put GKF4 one single point ahead of France and 22 points ahead of Norway. 

The last two rounds of 4-way were held for the last day of competition, Thursday.  Round 9 for GKF4 started off a little rough with a mistimed exit.  They recovered but not without sacrificing a few points at a crucial time.  This, combined with a good jump for France, put GKF4 one point down going into the final round.  Norway also had a good round with a 17.  Due to a rule dispute in the Open class, GKF4 boarded the plane with Norway and completed Round 10 almost a full hour before France was even on a call.  With the final round done, the Team could relax a little, collect their thoughts and grab a quick lunch.  To add to the drama of the final round, all video had to be turned in to the judges before any of it was to be scored.  As a crowd gathered to watch the live judging, teams intermingled to get the best view.  Of the 4-way, Norway was scored first.  They received a final score of 16 due to one bust.  GKF4 was next.  They scored a 19.  This meant France would have to score a 17 or less for GKF4 to beat them.  A handful of Open class teams were judged.  France was next.  A less than stellar exit started the dive slow and a bust on a cataccord was costly.  The final score was 16.  GKF4 not only won Gold in their category, but proved they are true contenders for the upcoming Mondial in Dubai.

This is only the beginning of this story as GKF4, France and Norway make their ways back home, most definitely to train.  Next stop for GKF4 is the US National Skydiving Championships in Eloy, AZ at the end of October.  Until then, they will be training harder than before, pushing each other further, going faster, and all the while knowing their competition is doing the same.  Blue Skies!

Don’t forget to keep track of GKF4’s progress at www.facebook.com/USArmyGKF4

 

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