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Did You Know...

... that Norway's national team Arcteryx moved up quietly at the Shamrock Showdown?

    Russian 8way project training in the early days...
posted Apr 13th, 2005 - The story of the Russian history in Formation Skydiving competition continues with more details of the 8way drama in 2001 that actually began in 1999, as the NSL News mentioned on 6 March 2012.

Russia did not win the first 8way gold medals in Australia 1999 but sent a very strong message to the USA. Oleg Shalamykhin said that the 1999 event had become even more meaningful to his team since Sun Path owner Derek Thomas had just decided to sponsor the team with equipment after following the Russian progression for a while.

The Russian 8way team was fully prepared and ready to charge for the gold medals in 1999. Arizona Airspeed was trying to win gold medals in 4way and 8way with the same lineup for the first time at this event, which added drama and excitement to the loaded atmosphere. Even a US TV station was in Australia to cover the double gold challenge.

Round four of the FSL Shamnrock Showdown 2005 was also the meet's best round for the Norwegian national 4-way team Arcteryx. The Norwegian score of 20 points tied Belgium's national team Spa Hayabusa's result for this round. This means more to the Arcteryx members as it might indicate on the first view.

...from Russian jump aircraft    
It wasn't the Russian 8way team that was in Airspeed's way in 1999. The French 4way team, with Marin Ferre in the lineup, beat the original Airspeed lineup by six points. Airspeed's 8way lineup won by two points over Russia.

Airspeed's double gold challenge did not mean much for the Russian 8way team who just wanted to win the first set of gold medals, and the team was more than ready. Oleg Shalamykhin remembered that his team was not happy with the final outcome. Russia had actually outscored Airspeed by six points (219 - 213) within working time. The judges did not like the Russian performance and deducted ten points after five infringements, while Airspeed lost only two points.

The Russian team was disappointed, and project leader Alexander Beloglazov even hung his silver medal backwards in protest. The Russian 8way team of 1999, including the four Sky Panthers Barkli and Black Cat competitors in DeLand next week (Vladimir Pavlenko, Oleg Shalamykhin, Vasily Korotkov, Alexey Minaev), remember this competition in a special way: "We did not win silver medals - We lost the gold medals..."

    Arcteryx round four see video

Belgium and Norway both competed with exactly the same line-up at the world meet in Croatia 2004. Belgium finished in 6th position with a 17.8 average after ten rounds, Norway finished tied in 7th position with a 15.8 average after nine rounds, which compares directly to a 17.4 average for Belgium after the same nine rounds. The difference between the two teams was 1.6 in point average.

Russian 8way team on travel    
The USA - Russia 8way battle at the World Meet 1999 in Australia was still nothing compared to the upcoming drama, first in Spain 2001 and then in France 2003.

There was additional internal drama within the Russian 8way project that separated the team after the lost gold medals in Australia. Oleg Shalamykhin was one of the leaving team members, together with Oleg and Vladimir Pavlenko, while Alexander Beloglazov invited new talented skydivers to fill the slots: Nicholai Vylegzhanin, Eugene Staschenko, Vladimir Arutyunov, Sergey Yalpaev.

At the same time, a new generation of Russian skydivers had come into the sport in a completely different way. Successful businessmen and women like Mikhail Kuznetsov, Igor Sitnikov, Leonid Kazinets, Larisa Sverdlenko, Vladimir Akopov and others had spent their lives and energy with education and business careers and were of similar age. The members of Alexander Beloglazov's "Central Sport Parachute Club Airborne Troops" project in Ryazan had become world class competitors while the new skydiving business people had the resources to hire coaches and learn quickly. Both groups joined forces and launched more promising team projects.

    Spa Hayabusa's round four see video
Spa Hayabusa showed progression between the world meet in 2004 and the Shamrock Showdown. The team's 18.2 meet average at the slower draw of the Shamrock Showdown indicates that the Belgian team is moving forward. In fact, the Hayabusa scores of some single rounds were much closer to the top of the world than ever before. The Hayabusa peak was round eight with the highest score of all AAA Class teams, including all the U.S. top contenders and Italy's Sinapsi PD.

Turning to 4way after the World Meet 1999    
The leaving 8way members turned to 4way where the new generation of Russian competitors could learn quicker and more efficiently. Vladimir Pavlenko signed a contract with Igor Sitnikov who had Victor Gorbunkov in his lineup, too. Oleg Pavlenko became a coach for a Czech team, and Oleg Shalamykhin did not really have a plan yet.

He was still very close friends with Sergei Shenin, another project member who had left the Ryazan project in 1994 and who would eventually become a Sky Panthers Barkli member, as well. However it would still take a few more years until they ended up in the same lineup. Oleg Shalamykhin eventually accepted a 4way player coach position offered by Vladimir Akopov who founded Exstreme.RU later and posted the 44-pointer world record for a single round at the Malevsky Cup 2006, tied with Black Cat.

Oleg Shalamykhin's next step was Igor Sitnikov's 4way team, where he was back together with former project members Vladimir Pavlenko and Victor Gorbunkov. In the meantime, the project's new 8way lineup enjoyed the financial support by Anton Malevsky and was preparing the next charge for gold medals at the World Meet 2001 in Spain. The NSL News will follow up with the dramatic events in Spain very soon.

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    Norway Arcteryx at the Shamrock Showdown
While Spa Hayabusa earned a lot of attention and respect at the Shamrock Showdown, it went almost unnoticed that Norway's Arcteryx delivered just as impressively as the Belgian team. Tore Buer (Center Inside), Oyvind Buer (Tail), Ole Petter Hjelle (Center Outside), Ditta Valsdottir (Point) and Morten Soendraal (Video) finished the meet in DeLand with a 16.5 average after ten rounds. This is a progression of 2.3 point average between the world meet in 2004 and the slower draw of the Shamrock Showdown.

The distance between Arcteryx and Belgium's Spa Hayabusa remained about the same with 1.7 in March 2005. However, the Arcteryx score of 20 points in round four was the clearest sign of the Norwegian progression. Spa Hayabusa and Arcteryx both easily walked past the German national team EADS, as well. The German team had finished in 5th position with an 18.3 meet avereage after ten rounds at the world meet in Croatia 2004. EADS had delivered ten consistent rounds and an impressive performance in Croatia.

Arcteryx Point Ditta Valsdottir    
Even though Belgium and Norway both beat the German team at the Shamrock Showdown they will surely face much more German opposition at the next meet, the Malevsky World Cup in July. EADS arrived on Saturday of the Shamrock Showdown, had no time for warming up and did all ten rounds on Sunday. However, Hayabusa's 18.2 average in DeLand almost tied the EADS average of 18.3 in Croatia, and Arcteryx is obviously charging, as well.

The Arcteryx performance in DeLand might not have found as much recognition and attention as Hayabusa's scores over the ten rounds. However, the team's Point, Ditta Valsdottir, was fully aware of the Norwegian progression: "We were very happy with our performance at the Shamrock Showdown. The team is right on track. However, there is still a lot of work, and we need more competition practice."

    Arcteryx at the FSL 2004 meet in Lake Wales
Valsdottir won silver medals with the Norwegian national team of the Women's Class at the world meets in 2001 and 2003, and she knows the value of competition practice and experience. The line-up with two newest members of the Norwegian national team, brothers Tore and Oyvind Buer, has not attended many competitions in the young team career.

Arcteryx currently trains in DeLand and will use the opportunity of another Florida Skydiving League event this weekend in Lake Wales to collect more meet experiences. Last year's FSL meet in April at the Florida Skydiving Center was actually the first competition for the new Norwegian line-up. The team was still missing a fourth member by then, and coach Lise Aune filled the slot in Lake Wales. Arcteryx finished the 6-round meet in April 2004 with a 15.7 average. The 2005 scores of Arcteryx at the same event will be posted this weekend.

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