Many top world-class competitors had a difficult time at the 14th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Cup of Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing in Cordoba, Argentina, May 18-26, and the members of the U.S. Accuracy Team were no exception. This could be because competitors from the Northern Hemisphere had little time to train, as their jumping season generally begins around April. Jimmy Drummond, Venancio Guevara, Ehab Mahmoud, Stuart Metcalfe and Matt O’Gwynn comprised the U.S. men’s team. Lacking a full female team, Americans Cheryl Stearns and Mery Rose competed as individuals on a mixed-country team. No U.S. team member competed in style.
Of the 15 countries represented at this World Cup, only nine brought full five-person teams. Three of the six women’s teams and three of the 12 men’s teams were mixed-country teams and thus were not eligible for medals.
Weather conditions always play a role in accuracy. Although high winds and low temperatures caused weather holds on four days of the meet, the competitors were able to complete all 10 accuracy rounds, five women’s style rounds and two men’s style rounds. Throughout the meet, Chinese competitors dominated the podium, and jumpers from the Czech Republic also made a strong showing.
The Chinese women’s team placed first in accuracy with a final score of 49 centimeters. The members of this team—Zhao Tiantian, Xing Yaping and Zhang Ling—swept first, second and third places, respectively, in individual female accuracy. Bulgaria took second place in the women’s team event, and Argentina took third. Stearns injured her knee landing in the fourth round and couldn’t complete the meet (although she still placed 21st even after racking up the maximum score of 16 centimeters in the final four rounds). Rose finished 24th.
Fifteen women turned style. China’s Xing Yaping, Li Xiaolington and Li Yiyao earned the top three places, respectively. As a group, they averaged 7.12 seconds per series of four turns and two back loops. Thirty-two men competed in style. Less than a second separated Yu Ruiling, who took first place, from Elischa Weber, who took second. Marco Pfluger took third.
China’s men’s accuracy team narrowly beat the Czech Republic by two centimeters, 23 to 25. Italy was third with 40 centimeters. The U.S. came in sixth. Czech Republic’s Tabor Hynek took first in individual accuracy with 5 centimeters. Hynek’s teammate, Jiri Gecnuk, and China’s Gao Tianbo tied at 19 centimeters. Time ran out before they could complete their jump-off round. Gecnuk took second because he had five dead centers to Tianbo’s four. Drummond had the strongest finish of the U.S. competitors, scoring 22 centimeters for 29th place. Mahmoud placed 42nd, O’Gwynn 44th, Metcalfe 52nd and Guevara 55th.
Although no members of the U.S. Team reached the podium, they scored well in sportsmanship and were great ambassadors. Scores show the results, but the experience is the prize, and everyone came home with that.
Lindy Leach | D-28895
Charlotte, North Carolina
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