Early in the morning on Saturday, September 19, the staff at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, logged into the DZ computer to see the first video uploads already coming in from DZs in the Eastern time zone. It was the weekend of the Skydiving Nationals 2.0 remote skydiving competition, organized by Skydive Chicago to fill the void created by the cancellation of the USPA Nationals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-four teams from drop zones all over the U.S. and Mexico participated in formation skydiving (including a 4-way FS rookie class that gave new pick-up teams the opportunity to compete), mixed formation skydiving, vertical formation skydiving and freestyle events without having to leave their home drop zones. Although unable to officially sanction the event under competition rules, USPA threw its support behind the effort.
When USPA announced that it had cancelled Nationals, talk around Skydive Chicago’s campfire turned to the feasibility of a video-based remote competition. The DZ stepped up to the plate but had fewer than four weeks to market the event, establish the rules, recruit participating drop zones, gather willing judges and build a capable software system (with the technical support of the nDeviX programming team). The organizers even developed a scoring system that accounted for rounds missed due to weather.
Any drop zone could host a competition using any aircraft, as long as it was capable of getting the correct number of competitors to the correct competition altitude (or above) the correct number of times over the weekend. Having fast internet or a way to upload multiple videos throughout the day was helpful. Each participating drop zone had a designated meet director who oversaw the teams and communicated with Skydive Chicago during the event. These meet directors also signed a letter of integrity before the start of the competition, accepting responsibility for the teams competing under their direction.
Panels of nationally rated judges came together over Zoom to score the events using a new software system but the traditional scoring rules. After each jump, the team videographer or meet director uploaded the video into the system, and within minutes the judges would score the jump. After the chief judge approved the scores, they posted them to the results page along with the jump video for everyone to see.
Fortunately, the weekend weather was great in most places around the country. Of the 55 teams who registered, only two were unable to complete their rounds by Sunday evening.
In the artistic events competition, two teams—both from Skydive Arizona—competed in freestyle. Due its members also competing in VFS, AZ Dream had time to complete only two rounds of the meet for a total of 14.3 points. Paradox completed all seven rounds for a total of 21.2 points and first place.
Eleven teams competed in mixed formation skydiving, with a nice spread of three in intermediate, five in advanced and three in open. SDMW Leftovers from Skydive Midwest took first in intermediate class with a total score of 24.0 and an average of 4.0 per round, followed by SDMW AeronautX in second and Team Scorpio in third. AZ Sole Sisters from Skydive Arizona finished first in advanced with a total score of 75.0 and an average of 9.4 per round, followed by Wrong Box in second and Bromo Sapiens in third. In MFS open, FliteShop from Skydive Arizona took first place with a total of 115 points and an average of 14.4, followed by Revolutionary War and Apippany in second and third, respectively.
In vertical formation skydiving, seven teams competed, with three in advanced and four in open. SDMW Shakedown from Skydive Midwest took first in advanced with a total score of 93 and an average of 9.3, followed by SDC Corps in second and SDC Missiles in third. In open, Arizona Anthem from Skydive Arizona finished in first with a total score of 141 and an average of 14.1, with Gunn Show in second and SDMW Chemtrails in third.
Traditionally the largest discipline at the USPA Nationals, 4-Way FS was also the largest at the remote meet. Thirty-one teams competed, including 12 in rookie, a class that Skydive Chicago added to the event roster to encourage as many people as possible to participate. (It clearly worked, as rookie has the second largest number of registrations of the meet). Thirteen teams participated in intermediate FS, three in advanced and three in open.
Petrichor from Skydive the Ranch came in first in the rookie class with a total of 66 points and an average of 11.0, followed by Led Cezzna in second and Funnel Cake in third. In intermediate, Kaos Theory from Triangle Skydiving Center placed first with an average of 11.3 and a 113-point total, followed by Marion Bailworth and Spaceland Toxic in second and third, respectively. AZ Compliance from Skydive Arizona took first place in the advanced class with 142 points and an average of 14.2, followed by AZ Defiance and Disturbance. To round it out in FS open class, Aviatrixx from Skydive Spaceland-Houston snagged first place with a total of 131 and a 13.1 average, followed by SNE Fly Girls in second and Murder Hornets in third.
In 10-way speed, two pick-up teams formed right before the registration deadline for some fun skydives to determine who could form the designated formations in the fastest time. SDMW inTENsity from Skydive Midwest proved speediest, finishing just ahead of WTF Over with an average of 37.0 seconds.
The enthusiasm and flexibility of the meet directors, judges, drop zones and everyone involved made this first-of-its-kind event a great success. Sad you missed out on the action? Skydive Chicago is organizing a similar event in the spring or summer of 2021. Keep an eye out for the dates! The second event will include updated software, more time available to prepare and potentially expanded event offerings.
Complete event results and videos are available at skydivenationals2.com.
Des Moines Skydivers in Winterset, Iowa | GliderSports Skydiving in Clinton, Missouri | Jumptown in Orange, Massachusetts | Mextreme Skydiving | Mile-Hi Skydiving Center in Longmont, Colorado | Pepperell Skydiving Center in Massachusetts | Skydive Arizona in Eloy | Skydive Carolina in Chester, South Carolina | Skydive California in Tracy | Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois | Skydive Cuautla in Mexico | Skydive Midwest in Sturtevant, Wisconsin | Skydive New England in Lebanon, Maine | Skydive Perris in California | Skydive Spaceland-Clewiston in Florida | Skydive Spaceland-Dallas in Whitewright, Texas | Skydive Spaceland-Houston in Rosharon, Texas | Skydive Spaceland-San Marcos in Fentress, Texas | Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, New York | Triangle Skydiving Center in Louisburg, North Carolina
About the Author
Tracey Holman, D-36966, is an AFF instructor and the event manager at Skydive Chicago. She was instrumental in bringing Skydive Nationals 2.0 to fruition and woke up before dawn to help coordinate the competition.