2017 Paraclete XP Indoor Championships

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 9.46.53 AM.pngOn February 25-26, Arizona X-FORCE attended the 2017 Paraclete XP Indoor Championships in Raeford, North Carolina. This was the first competition in VFS history where the discipline was expanded to 10 rounds with the addition of new blocks and randoms (18-22 & O-Q).

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4-way VFS Open podium: 1st SDC Core, 2nd Arizona X-FORCE, 3rd Golden Knights VFS.

Check out Skydivemag.com and NSL for more information about the event, and or watch the event video on Facebook.

Battle of the Blades at iFly Seattle

dbXpXtpuQKuGuOF8Nbs1qg.jpgOn December 8-9, AXIS Flight School and Arizona X-Force attended the indoor skydiving competition “Battle of the Blades” at iFly Seattle, Washington.

 

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Nik and Brianne (AXIS) during the 2-way VFS competition.

This was the the 3rd and final stop of the 2016 IBA (international body flight association) competition tour. The event was streamed live online where anyone could watch the athletes compete in their respective events.

Disciplines included: 2way FS, 4way FS, 2way VFS ,4way VFS, D2W, D4W, Freestyle, and Freestyle Junior.

The following words are by the IBA.

2way FS

The meet kicked off Thursday afternoon with 2way FS, with 4 teams in the #battleoftheblades – from professional skydivers Axis to pick-up team 11-year-old Elijah and Sally. Axis ultimately scored the gold medal, whereupon they decided to kindly donate their winnings to second place winners, Team Squared, a pair of teenage twins out of iFLY Sacramento.

2way VFS

2way VFS, the 3-time most popular event at IBA meets, where 17 teams competed across all 4 classes. Team Blue Knees won Rookie with a 16.5 average, Intermediate gold was captured by Brad & Stryker with a 15-point lead, Advanced was won by Natalie & Leecoming in with exactly 100 points after 6 rounds, and Open was nabbed by the indisputable champs Josh & Mikey of CollectiveCollective also took gold at the Rosemont meet, however their total increased by an impressive 42 points in Seattle.

4way VFS

4way VFS also featured 4 teams, with Arizona XForcegrabbing the gold with a total of 166 points, 41 more points than 2nd place team Pantene Cartel and exactly 100 points over third place team Kill Bill.

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AXIS completed the 2-way VFS discipline with a 23.5 average, while Arizona X-Force finished the 4-way VFS category with a 20.75 average.

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For all competition scores, please visit the In time scoring website.

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Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the 2016 USPA Nationals!

2016-sdaz-nationals-logo-small.pngThe 2015 USPA Nationals were held at Skydive Arizona(SDAZ) in Eloy, AZ. In the 4-way VFS category there were 6 teams in open, and 4 in advanced –the same turnout as the previous year.

Last year, Arizona X-Force took 3rd place at the 2015 USPA Nationals in Eloy with a 13.13 average. After completing close to 200 training jumps at Skydive Arizona, and spending about 20 hours in the Skyventure Arizona wind tunnel, the team was only able to maintain their competition average at a 13.88 this year. Unfortunately Seth Studer (tail flyer) needed shoulder surgery 2 months prior to the competition, forcing him to stay on the ground. Luckely Jason Peters was able to fill in last minute for Seth; and with very minimal training, the team entered the competition.

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Left to right:Brianne Thompson, Niklas Daniel, Kevin Mitchell (video), Jason Peters, Johnny Gunn. Photo by David Cherry.

Here is a look at the draw for the open devision:

  1. H-14-4
  2. 16-G-6
  3. B-L-A-E-15
  4. 12-13-J
  5. 9-D-2
  6. 11-F-5
  7. i-7-M-K
  8. 3-1-10
  9. N-17-8 (tie breaker round) not jumped

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SDC Core and Arizona Arsenal ended up taking the first two spots on the podium. There was an exciting fight to the finish between Arizona X-Force, the ARMY Golden Knights, and Skydive California Super Serious as they battled for the bronze until the last round. In the end, X-Force managed to put two more points on the board than the Knights, securing their 3rd place finish. For more in-depth information, please visit omniskore, and for more media coverage check out SkydiveTV.

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Arizona X-Force would like to thank Skydive ArizonaSkyventure Arizona, and all of our equipment sponsors who made this training season possible. Special thanks to Jason Peters for filling in last minute.

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VFS Open team Arizona X-FORCE. Photo by Jochen Althoff.

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VFS Open podium photo by Jochen Althoff.

Teams from left to right: Arizona Arsenal (2nd), SDC Core (1st), Arizona X-FORCE (3rd)

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SDAZ FEATURED FRIDAY – BRIANNE THOMPSON

View original post on Skydive Arizona website here. Interview by Melissa Lowe.

Skydive Arizona is a big drop zone with many extraordinary people from local to visiting jumpers, staff, pilots, instructors, ground crew, maintenance, manifest to teams, event organizers and load organizers!!! The Featured Friday series is aimed at getting to know the people that make Skydive Arizona work and rock!

Today, we meet a woman with a stacked resume including earning the USPA 2015 Regional Achievement Award. This woman has blazed (no pun intended) the trail continuing to inspire skydivers of all disciplines. Meet co-founder of Axis Flight School, Brianne Thompson!

Brianne Blue Eyes
What/who inspired you to make your first jump and why?

Ever since I learned that you could jump out of an airplane, anytime you wanted, I knew it was something I had to do. My parents were scuba divers, so as a young person, I knew that there were places on this planet that would educate you to do “dangerous” things. All I had to do was locate one of those places for skydiving.
Where & when did you learn and what kind of student were you? 
I actually learned here at SDAZ in the summer of 2000. I tormented my parents for years, begging for them to let me go skydiving. I even asked if I could get a fake ID to get around the minimum age of 18. They were less than enthused. So, for my 18th birthday in December of 1999, my dad and I did a tandem together for my 18th birthday. Needless to say, I was hooked. The school gave me flyers about how to go about becoming a student. I was on the website everyday, trying to figure out how to pay for it, when I was going to do it, etc. I was still in high school at the time of my jump. So, once I graduated and got all of my graduation money, I took all that, in addition to working two jobs, and scheduled myself for my A-license in August of 2000. I think I got my A-license in about 10 days. Fun fact, Matt Greis was one of my AFF instructors. Pretty cool.

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Many may not know your history in competing in 4-way. What piqued your interest in competing, why 4-way FS & how long did you compete?  
When I was a student during August, there were days that it was literally me and Airspeed on the plane. At the time, they had two 4-way teams. I got to watch them train, practice, prep, all that. I thought they totally looked cool because of their matching equipment, I had no idea that they were the best team in the world. Let alone, that same day I learned you could actually compete in this crazy thing called skydiving. Mind blown! So, because I enjoyed skydiving so much, I knew I wanted to compete in it. But, with my limited experience, I figured you needed about 10,000 jumps before I could even consider doing something like that. Those guys have matching jumpsuits and stuff, that is kind of a big deal. When I had about 75jumps, a jumper approached me in the loading area and asked “Would you like to do 4-way?” I told her I wasn’t very good, I only had 75 jumps. “That’s ok, we will teach you”. And that was it. She became one of my first teammates, and I competed in Nationals that year. My first Nationals was 2003 in Lake Wales, FL. After that, it was competitive after competitive team. I was on the US Team from 2006-2010 for women’s 4-way. I went to my first world meet when I had 900 jumps in Gera, Germany in 2006, Maubeuge, France in 2008, and Russia in 2010. Fun ride.

Blue Let Exit

Blue Podium
What/who inspired you to learn to freefly? 
There was never one person. When I was a little, baby skydiver, I always wanted to learn to freefly. I even got 2 freefly coach jumps when I had about 60 jumps. For me, I just had to focus on one thing at a time, and that was competitive belly 4-way. I dabbled a lot with freely in the tunnel and would do a goof off jump every once in a while, never really learning or advancing. But, my biggest influence is Niklas Daniel, my totally awesome husband. He was a tunnel instructor and so was always a freeflier, so to speak. He has been my biggest influence and coach for freefly and VFS. He has taught me the most.

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You are now a member of the 4-way VFS team Arizona X-Force. What inspired you to learn VFS? 
See previous answer. In addition, because of my competitive 4-way background, it was only natural that I wanted to do VFS. In fact, I pretty much learned to freefly just to do VFS in a way. Because of the VFS discipline, I was more motivated than ever to learn to freefly.

Team sky

Was it a hard transition going from FS to VFS? What skills translate from each discipline? 
No and yes. Meaning, the principles of 4-way are the same, regardless of orientation. You have to cross reference, you have to be level, and you have to stop, all before you take a grip. That is universal. However, the flight skills needed to even begin VFS are significantly more advanced, for sure. You have to be proficient in head-up and head-down orientations. So the individual skills needed for VFS are definitely more advanced. In addition to finding 3-4 other teammates with similar proficiencies.

Team by David CherryYou have many achievements! So many we’re just going to link your BIO HERE! Is there any achievement that stands out that you feel most proud of? 
I have 2:

1) Starting AXIS Flight School with Nik. I am most proud of that. We began AXIS because we were sick and tired of the rifts in skydiving. Belly vs Freefly, freefall vs. canopy, tunnel fliers vs. skydivers. So stupid! We believe you need a respect for ALL aspects of skydiving. It is fun to be able to competitively do many of the disciplines of this sport, then be able to teach them as well.

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2) Working with the Operation Enduring Warrior Projects. It has been so cool to teach these individuals, with varying injuries, to skydive and fly their bodies with complete control. So awesome. Todd Love was our first OEW student, and we have had a handful of completely awesome students from this project after him. We have seen this project go from theoretical to happening all over the country. Many of these students working towards their B licenses and beyond. Wicked.
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You are one of the coaches here at Skydive Arizona and co-founder of Axis Flight School. In a nutshell, what does Axis Flight School do and how can one get in touch with you?
AXIS Flight School is a coaching entity that teaches ALL aspects of this sport. From individual skills to learning to compete. We coach in the sky, the tunnel, and canopy skills- hence the name AXIS: For all AXIS of flight. We believe that everyone should respect all disciplines in the sport. You may not do all of them, or they all may not appeal to you, but you do need a healthy respect for all of them. We teach that. Our entire goal is to bridge that gap from the young jumper just off of A license, to becoming the next world champion. That is our goal. In addition, we believe it is the responsibility of the more experienced people in this sport to be nice/ approachable/ cool to the younger jumpers.
Any advice for newbies? 
Get coaching. Stay patient. Get coaching. Get on a team.
Anything else you’d like to add? 
This sport has so much to offer. If you find you feel “stuck” or are not sure what comes next, don’t sweat it. Give us a call. This sport is so diverse that it might be a bit overwhelming. There is something here for everyone. You just may need a little help with finding that thing that appeals to you. After your A license, it gets better. The A license is only the first step, not the entire goal. You may be the next world champion. We look forward to finding out.

Arizona X-FORCE on local newspaper cover

The Eloy Enterprise – words by Tanner Clinch, photo courtesy of Kevin Mitchell

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4-way VFS Team Arizona X-Force exits the Dentri (formation M of the IPC dive pool) over Skydive Arizona. 

 

As the clock struck noon on a recent Sunday, the four-man vertical formation skydiving team at Skydive Arizona was 10 minutes from taking off for its 12th jump of the day. As members walked over to the shuttle that would take them to the plane, they took the last few moments to practice their formations, rotating around each other and grabbing various arms and legs with machine-like precision

This is one of about 30 days that the team of Johnny Gunn, Niklas Daniel, Seth Studer, Brianne Thompson and their videographer, Kevin Mitchell, practice for their competitions.

“When you can get four people that are jiving on the same page with a really good video guy like we have, it’s impressive to get four people to do the things that we do in the same time, in the same space in the sky,” Gunn said.

They compete in what’s called four-man vertical formation skydiving (VFS), one of the many disciplines within the sport. It involves the four divers and videographer hopping out of the plane with roughly 35 seconds to pull off all their formations, all while at high speed facing head-first or feet-first toward the Earth. On the ground, the video will be reviewed by judges who base their scores on completion of the formations, precision and style. Different sizes of teams compete in different competitions, from two all the way up to 16-man teams.

Back at the drop-zone, the team finalizes how they will disembark from the plane in a mock-up exit before they are taken to the plane. A team colleague, Justin Price, explains that they will be taken to roughly 13,500 feet in the air before they drop.

As the team pops their canopies following their freefall, it takes members a few minutes before they come zooming into the drop zone from the west side. Despite the fact they are landing into a strong wind on this day, they slide on their feet across the grass for almost 20 feet before coming to a complete stop.

They grab their used parachutes loosely and run around the corner where they return with a freshly packed parachute, and before you know it they’re back on the shuttle for another jump. This round, there’s no time to practice their formations on the ground.

They are practicing for the U.S Parachuting Association Championship, which is slated to take place in Eloy at the Skydive Arizona drop zone in late October. Doing well at this event would qualify them for international events, competing for the U.S. at Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) events across the globe, something that has been a dream of Gunn’s for a while.

“My ultimate goal would be competing at the world meet in 4-VFS,” Gunn said of his favorite discipline of skydiving. “That in conjunction with competing for the U.S. in canopy piloting would definitely be the dream.”

Eloy is a special place when it comes to four-man vertical formation skydiving. The first official U.S. championship for it was held at Skydive Arizona in 2006, and the first ever FAI world cup for VFS was held there in 2008.

While he’s not training with his four-man team, Gunn is training in a different discipline of skydiving called canopy piloting. Just last week, he won best overall in his division at a USPA competition in Florida, and gold in the speed competition.

For Gunn, canopy piloting is a nice break from the team-oriented formation skydiving, something he can practice whenever he feels like it.

“I just love being up in the air, it’s quiet and it’s peaceful,” said Gunn. “It’s just me and my wing doing what I need to do to win.”

In canopy piloting, unlike the freefall disciplines in skydiving, scoring is done on the ground. In a typical meet, such as the one in Florida, there are three events, speed, distance and accuracy.

Speed is self explanatory. Skydivers will guide themselves through gates with their parachutes, and the fastest time wins, with divers sometimes reaching speeds of 90 miles per hour. Distance is measured by how far the divers can go using a technique called climbing in which they manipulate their canopy to give themselves some extra lift to go greater distances.

“Zone accuracy is what separates the men from the boys, for sure.” Gunn said. He placed sixth in accuracy during that particular meet. In this event, divers must drag their feet across four water gates before trying to land on a 3-by-3-foot landing pad, with varying degrees of success.

Competing at such a high level in both freefall and canopy piloting disciplines is uncommon, according to Price, who also competed in the competition in Florida. Unfortunately a botched landing in the event led Price to be on crutches for a few months.

“It’s pretty cool being able to participate in multiple disciplines to that extent,” said Price, who does the same. He shoots video for the belly-down formation skydiving team at Skydive Arizona.

For Gunn competing in skydiving is what he hopes to continue doing for a long time, and hopefully on the international stage following the event in October

“I’m going to keep competing and hopefully be fortunate enough to pay the bills with it because it beats an office job,” Gunn said. “There’s way worse ways to make your money.”