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Northwest Express Skydiving Team
The Journey continues:

The Nationals:
During Labor Day weekend and the following week found us in Perris Valley, CA in southern California to compete in the US National Championships. We trained to compete in the 8-way competition, but we also planned to compete in 4-way, 10-way and 16-way while we where there. The weekend prior to the competition, we made a few 4-way practice jumps on Sat, and planned to make a few 8-way practice jumps on Sunday. During our two 8-way training jumps on Sunday in Elsinore, we still had the mojo—our performance from our last training weekend was the same. However, during landing after the second jump, two of us landed hard, went down on the hard pan and sustained injuries. Competing was now in question. Kimmy hurt her ankle and Tyree wrenched his knee. These two hobbled to the packing area and the team gathered to see how bad it was. Kimme went to the hospital for x-rays and Tyree laid on ice for the next several hours. Several hours later, the diagnosis was in—a badly sprained ankle and a tear of some sort in the knee. The team gathered for a decision. It was clear our goal was to compete in 8-way, which began in just two days on Wednesday. Four-way, on the other hand was scheduled to begin the next morning. The team decided it would be best to withdraw from the 4-way event, rest and remain on ice therapy for two days with the hope we would be healthy enough to compete in two days. It was a good decision.

Two days passed by and our injured teammates were a little better. Both were still sore, but felt they could jump--off to the store to buy ankle and knee braces. We got the draw on Tues evening—an aurora of excitement was in the air. The time is now.

Game Day:
Twelve teams entered the competition in our division. Teams from Cross Keys New Jersey, SpaceLand Texas, southern California, and top placing 4-way teams from the advanced 4-way division teaming up to compete in 8-way. Round 1—a quick trip to 13,000 feet and we’re on jump run. Our launch feels just like the previous 185 plus times—flying perfect in the relative wind. The jump goes very well, we land and we’re all smiles—judges give us a 10! We knew we came out of the gate strong on round 1 and a quick pass at the leader board we saw we were in the lead. After the first day and seven rounds later, we maintained our lead and was leading the pack by four points. However, there were two very good teams nipping at our heels—CrossKeys Vision and Massinore 8. The latter team was comprised of two 4 way teams that won the gold and silver medals in the 4 way advanced competition. We had our work cut out for us on day 2 of the competition with three rounds remaining. Day 2 of the competition brought sunny skies and eagerness to get on with the remaining rounds. After nine rounds, we maintained our position on the leader board with 4 points ahead of Massinore 8. Second and third place was a close race with one point separating Cross Keys Vision and Massinore 8. Off to the round 10 to complete the meet. Similar to Olympic events, the jump order was from last to first. Round 10 was an all random dive, so anything could happen on this jump. Even though round 10 was all randoms, it started with a Hope Diamond, one of the most difficult random formations in the pool and one that could present problems for most teams. However, the Hope Diamond was one of our favorite formations and one we could do very well. Would Massinore 8 go for the gusto and try to burn through the randoms to take a run at the gold or would they try to hang onto their close margin of one point over Cross Keys Vision for the silver medal? Actually, none of this mattered to us—we had to mentally prepare for how we were going to jump round 10. The team gathered in the team room and we all agreed that we had to go into round 10 just like the previous 9 rounds--skydive the way we’ve been skydiving. There was no need to be conservative and no need to increase our tempo. Off to the loading area to board the plane. We were in the airplane with Massinore 8. The ride to altitude was quiescent—you could hear a pin drop in the plane as both teams were in total concentration. Everyone knew the gold medal was on the line—100 percent effort--one time, right here, right now. Jump run--Massinore 8 jumped first, then us. A quick exchange of eyes among the teammates, a couple of reassuring words to calm some nerves and it was time to climb out. Ready, Set, Go—we were in the air. The chunk felt just like it did the past 9 rounds and the past 200 jumps. You could feel the energy of the team--we all knew we were on our way to the podium. Fifty seconds elapsed, time to track and open our parachutes. Nine canopies open and nine people whooping it up—Yaahoo! We all knew the dive went extremely well and we had a shot at a Gold Medal. We landed and JJ was off to the dubbing station to get the video to the judges. Would it be enough for a Gold Medal?

Everyone on the drop zone gathered to watch the judging of the top three teams. First up, Cross Keys Vision 8—they got a 12 and moved into the Silver Medal position. Next up on the big screen was Massinore 8—they got an 11 and were in the Gold Medal position. Finally, there we were—NW Express on the big screen. The exit was awesome; the Hope Diamond built smoothly on the hill. Twenty-five seconds later we were through the first page and into the second page. The second page was equally smooth and at the end of 50 seconds working time, we had completed two complete pages in time for a score of 10 points—the Gold Medal goes to us (NW Express)! Whew, what a competition! Our team performed exceptional. We had a perfect meet with no busts, posted 5 rounds with 10 points each and lots of 9 point rounds. Consistency was the rule. We finished with a 9.1 average—the highest ever in the 8-way competition in our division! Time to celebrate! After reflecting on the past 6 months, it can be summed up in a single phrase—We played, We worked, We dreamed and We achieved!

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