Natasha Montgomery caught the NSL News attention for the first time in May 2004. That was 18 months after she had made her first skydive in November 2002. The NSL News story on May 26, 2004, covered the third meet of the Southwest Skydiving League 2004. Arizona Blade attended this competition, and Natasha Montgomery was in the team's line-up:
NSL News: "The first SSL footage of the 2004 season also introduces new teams, including Arizona Blade, and shows impressive performances. Blade consists of player coaches Thomas Hughes (former XL member) and Mark Kirby (former Airspeed member) in the center positions, plus Natasha Montgomery and Beat Steffen on point and tail. Blade had scored a 13.7 meet average at the team's first 2004 meet in Eloy and finished the third meet in Perris with a 15.3 average."
The NSL News did not know the details of her skydiving career until she visited the NSL office in December 2004 for an interview, together with her 2004 teammate Thomas Hughes. Natasha Montgomery mentioned during the interview that she had made her first skydive in November 2002, and the NSL News became even more interested in her career story.
She made her first jump in Dallas, Texas, and she knew very soon what she was looking for. Natasha had a total of 150 jumps when she came to the USPA Championship 2003 in Lake Wales with her team "Taco Party". Current Airspeed Odyssey member Brian Johnson was the team's player coach, Cindy Scott and Rick Duran from Dallas completed Taco Party's line-up. Her first team competed in the AA/Intermediate Class competition and finished tied in 15th position with an 8.9 meet average.
The experiences of her first year with a 4-way team in 2003 encouraged Natasha to invest more into her new passion. She approached Airspeed veteran Mark Kirkby in December 2003 and asked him to do a player coach team with her and Beat Steffen, a Swiss skydiver who was interested in a serious team project, as well.
Natasha's team plans with Arizona Blade needed an adjustment in July 2004. Beat Steffen was not available any longer due to problems with his immigration status and a slot offer for the 2004 world meet with the Swiss national team. Natasha's search for an adequate alternate was more than successful. Robert "Robob" Healy joined the team and made it even stronger.
"The competition experience helped a lot. I am glad that we did all the meets, I really needed the experience. I had no competition experiences in skydiving before the USPA Championship in Lake Wales."
Natasha Montgomery could also study and learn two different team strategies at the same time, the Airspeed style provided by Mark Kirkby, and the XL style provided by Thomas Hughes. Her progression with the team was still extraordinary (13.7 - 15.3 - 16.8 - 17.7 - 17.9 - 18.5 - 19.9), and the NSL News asked her for an explanation in the interview:
"I think I am a very competitive person in general. As far as being athletic, I have always been involved in sports, one way or the other. My business experience has helped me, as well, since skydiving is mostly a mental challenge, especially in competition."
Natasha had no specific future plans with Arizona Blade at the end of the 2004 season. However, she was committed to move on with her 4-way competition career. Her approach to follow up with new team plans for the 2005 season was once again very efficient and did not take too much time. She also used her own resources for the next step and explained why:
"I do not look at this as an expensive venture, I see it as an investment. It is definitely a question of how to move on looking at all the options, and trying to figure out the best path to take."
"My goals in skydiving competition is keep enjoying the process. The process and the experience are really more important than anything else. The Blade vibes and energy were great, and we enjoyed being team mates."
Similar thoughts guided her to the selection of the DeLand Fire line-up, along with experience and skills. Gary Smith, Shannon Pilcher and Ian Bobo became Natasha's teammates for the 2005 season, Thomas Hughes took the position of the alternate and videographer.
The rest of the story is well known and has been unique in the history of Formation Skydiving competition: surprising first place at the FSL Shamrock Showdown 2005, impressive victory at the Malevsky Cup 2005 and final confirmation of the top position with the gold medal at the USPA Nationals 2005.
Natasha Montgomery is the first female 4-way competitor who won the 4-way Open Class competition at the USPA Nationals, and she is qualified to be the first female member of a US 4-way team representing the country at the World Championship of Formation Skydiving.
She will also naturally have a good chance to become the first female 4-way world champion in the history of Formation Skydiving competition. The US 4-way teams have always been top contenders for the gold medals, and there is no apparent reason why DeLand Fire should not be able to beat the rest of the world again next year.
"She is phenomenal. It is hard to understand how she can do it with her low level of experience. Her biggest strength is mentally. She hardly ever brainlocks, and she can handle pressure."
The team plans for 2006 will be discussed very soon. Looking at the previous business plans and decisions Natasha Montgomery has created and made in the past, it will probably not take too long until the plans for 2006 will be finalized.
Natasha Montgomery is motivated to be in the sport for much longer: "I love the sport, and I would like to become more involved with coaching. It has been such a great experience for myself, and I would like to forward this to other newcomers in the sport."
It was on 26 May 2004 when the NSL News mentioned Natasha Montgomery for the first time (Archives > 2004 > News). She had competed with Arizona Blade at the May meet of the Southwest Skydiving League, and the story simply provided the names of the team members (Thomas Hughes, Mark Kirkby, Natasha Montgomery and Beat Steffen).
The story of the June meet did not go any deeper, as well. Arizona Blade received more attention when Robert Healy joined the line-up, and the story on 3 August 2004 introduced the new line-up, mostly focused on the new Blade member.
Natasha Montgomery was recognized as an individual top competitor for the first time when the NSL News covered the 4-way Women's project at the "International Women's Team Week" in November 2004. Dan BC had invited the best four female competitors in the world to join forces in Perris for one week.
The NSL News took on Arizona Blade and more details of Natasha Montgomery's career with full power when Blade won the NSL Championship at SkyQuest 2004. The NSL News story on 8 December 2004 introduced the future world champion already as a very determined and passionate 4-way competitor. Round 10 of the NSL Championship 2004 can still be viewed on NSL-TV.
The next step came when the NSL News presented Natasha Montgomery up close and personal, together with Thomas Hughes, during an interview on 9 December 2004. NSL News questions as of the future of the team and Natasha herself came up, and she also provided insights of her personal life situation.
Numerous NSL News stories then followed the path of the new team and Natasha Montgomery on their way to the victory at the USPA Championship 2005. The NSL News coverage of the Shamrock Showdown 2005 and the Malevsky Cup 2005 offered many opportunities to update the audience on the progression of Natasha's DeLand Fire project.
She also competed a few times with Florida Skydiving League team Teiwaz when her team and business schedules allowed the extra time. The NSL News story on 19 September 2005 finally gave her all the credit for becoming the first female US champion in USPA's Open Class competition.
The sad story on 22 January 2006 reported that Natasha had a bad landing on her back that caused a compression fracture of her 2nd and 3rd vertebra in the lower part of the spine. She had to rest for six weeks.
However, Natasha Montgomery was not done yet, as the whole skydiving world knows by now. The NSL News now continued to follow her and DeLand Fire's path on the way to winning the 4-way gold medals at the World Championship of Formation Skydiving 2006 in Germany.
DeLand Fire was now the US national 4-way team, and Natasha Montgomery was out to become the first female 4-way world champion in history. There was more than enough content throughout the 2006 season that kept the NSL News audience in touch with DeLand Fire and Natasha Montgomery.
She was back for the Shamrock Showdown 2006 in March, and DeLand Fire posted a 23.2 average after ten rounds. Natasha Montgomery and Gary Smith visited the NSL office for a live interview after the competition.
Finally, Natasha's dreams became true at the end of the 2006 season, and the NSL News reported live from Germany when DeLand Fire won the 5-round competition and brought Excalibur to DeLand. The NSL News story on 5 September 2006 honored Natasha Montgomery as the first female 4-way world champion in history and invited her for another live interview, which begins with a video of her arrival at the NSL office with Excalibur.
The Skydiving Magazine recently honored Natasha Montgomery as the “2006 Skydiver of the Year???. The March issue of the magazine provides the details of this additional recognition of her impressive career.
The Skydiving Magazine explained why the selection panel thought that Natasha Montgomery should be rewarded for her achievements in 2006:
"One panel member thinks it's significant that Montgomery is the first woman who's won a 4-way world championship in the Open Class. While the rest of the panel believes that's a feat worthy of mention, it really didn't play a role in the selection process. In short, Montgomery would deserve to be Skydiver of the Year if she weren't a she. For going from zero to hero in three short years in our sport's most difficult competitive discipline, Natasha Montgomery is 2006 Skydiver of the Year."
He or she - it has been very impressive, and the NSL News couldn't have said it any better.