USPA held its 2018 National Parachuting Championships at sunny Skydive Sebastian in Florida September 19-28. This was the first USPA Nationals for DZO Amanda Smalley and staff, and they did a spectacular job handling all of the expected (and unexpected) issues that arose.
The competition started with the classic event: accuracy landing (both individual and team). A total of 17 competitors and two guests took to the skies and put on a great display of skill, landing their canopies on the smallest of targets. The USA’s newest accuracy landing competitor, Ehab Mahmoud (who recently became a U.S. citizen), took bronze with a score of 29 cm. Jimmy Drummond took the silver with 23 cm. And this year’s U.S. Accuracy Landing Champion is Cheryl Stearns, who put on a masterful performance in the discipline with a total score of 10 cm. Her amazing performance broke the U.S. Record for Lowest 10-Round Accuracy Landing Score in both the general and female categories (previously 12 cm and 16 cm, respectively). What an incredible achievement!
In the team accuracy event, judges compile the scores of the teammates’ first eight individual accuracy rounds. Castoffs (Joe Barron, Mike Goodin, Dennis Hayes and Dennis Murphy) took the bronze medal with a total score of 264 cm. Team Four (Charles Julia, Matt O’Gwynn, Mery Rose and Zuhdija Smajic) took the silver medal with a score of 234 cm. Dominating the team standings, Makes No Sense (Drummond, Mahmoud, Stu Metcalfe and Stearns) scored just 89 cm and took the gold.
This Nationals determined the members of the U.S. Accuracy Landing Team that will compete at the 14th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Cup of Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing in Cordoba, Argentina, in May 2019. Drummond, Mahmoud, Metcalfe, Murphy, O’Gwynn and Stearns qualified for the team.
Next up were the canopy formation events. Missing this year was the familiar face of Don Bromley, a longtime participant in canopy formation at Nationals. Bromley was seriously injured on a jump just a few weeks earlier, so he was unable to participate and compete, and his presence was missed by both competitors and event staff alike.
Unfortunately, weather was a factor during the CF events, but even though the competitors were unable to complete all their jumps, they still put on a fierce battle. The action began with the open 2-way sequential event, which completed six of the scheduled eight rounds. Hard Dock Café took bronze with a total of 22 points (a 3.67-point average), Other Team From Skyknights took silver with 38 points (a 6.33-point average), and Elsinore Revolution took the gold with 48 points (an 8-point average).
The 2-way sequential pro-am class, which pairs experienced CF competitors and newer CF jumpers, was able to complete five of the eight rounds of competition. Ground CRW took the bronze with 12 points (a 2.40-point average), Hard Dock Café—which also competed in the open class—took silver with 14 points (a 2.80-point average), and Inline 2 took the top spot and the gold with 22 points (a 4.40-point average).
The 4-way sequential event completed seven rounds. There was a great fight for the top spot, with the Dawgfathers and Elsinore Revolution tied going into round seven. Elsinore Revolution came out of round seven scoring six points, for a total of 39 points and a 5.57-point average, but Dawgfathers squeaked past them for the gold with seven points for a total of 40 points and a 5.71-point average. Inline took the bronze with 15 points (a 2.14-point average).
The last of the CF events was 4-way rotations, which also completed seven rounds. Once again, there was a tie for first going into the last round. Inline scored a solid 10 and finished with a 71-point total (a 10.14-point average). Then Elsinore Revolution reached deep, scoring a 12 in round seven for a 73-point total (a 10.43-point average) and the gold. New England Wrapture took bronze with 20 points (a 2.86-point average).
The top team in each event—Elsinore Revolution in 2-way sequential and 4-way rotations, and the Dawgfathers in 4-way sequential—qualified to be on the U.S. Parachute Team that will compete at the 10th FAI World Cup of Canopy Formation in Strejnicu, Romania, in August 2019.
Canopy piloting was the last event to take place, but it was worth waiting for. Twenty-eight open competitors (which included five guests) and 13 advanced competitors swooped the newly renovated pond and put on an amazing display.
In the open speed event, Curt Bartholomew took the bronze with 279.838 points, and Paul Rodriguez took the silver with 293.152 points. Greg Windmiller, who won all three rounds and therefore had a perfect 300-point score, went home with the gold. In the advanced speed class, Jesse Weyher put in a similar gold-medal performance by winning all three rounds and scoring a perfect 300. Matt Koch took silver with 274.877 points, and Beau Riebe won the bronze with 253.603 points.
In open distance, Travis Mills’ 273.998 points secured him the bronze medal. Jay Sanders, with 279.699 points, took the silver. Bartholomew followed up his bronze in speed with a gold in distance by scoring 288.201 points. In advanced distance, Brian Redfield took the bronze medal with 255.380 points, Riebe took the silver with 271.008 points, and Weyher secured his second gold medal of the week with 273.591 points.
In open zone accuracy, Joe Abeln scored 274.375 for the bronze, Sanders scored 280.941 and earned his second silver medal, and Bartholomew took gold after winning all three zone accuracy rounds and scoring a perfect 300. In advanced zone accuracy, Redfield earned his second bronze medal of the championships with 218.054 points, Koch took his second silver medal with 242.763 points, and Weyher—finishing his sweep of all three events—took the gold medal with 288.888 points.
Judges combine the competitors’ scores in all three events to determine the overall medalists. In the open class, Mills took the bronze with 764.992 points, Sanders earned the silver with 825.215 points, and Bartholomew took home the gold with 868.039 points. In advanced, Riebe took the bronze with 718.500 points, and Koch took the silver with 750.672 points. Weyher, with his amazing three gold medals in the individual events, also took the overall gold medal with 862.479 points.
In addition, guest competitors Cornelia Mihai and Cedric Veiga Rios put in amazing performances during the event. Although not U.S. residents and therefore not eligible for medals at a USPA National Championships, both gave it their all and racked up medal-worthy scores. They will certainly give U.S. competitors a run for their money at international events in the upcoming year.
Due to the timing of events, this year’s USPA Canopy Piloting National Championships did not determine the makeup of the 2019 U.S. Team. The U.S. will select the team attending the 10th FAI World Cup of Canopy Piloting in Pretoria, South Africa, at next year’s Nationals.
Next year, Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina, will host both the USPA National Parachuting Championships and the USPA National Skydiving Championships at one big month-long competition September 1-27.