Blue Skies Magazine. May/June 2013.
Talking about the tube.
Article by Annette O’Neil.
Airkix Milton Keynes. April 2013.
New Global Cypres Ad.
You heard me. Global.
90 Percent. May/June 2013.
Words about the World Challenge.
90 Percent. Online Version. April 2013.
Same Dynamic Four-Way piece.
World Challenge 2013 - Round Six.
Our highest scoring free routine.
All The Pieces Matter.
Did anyone else miss the boat when ‘Atmonauti’ was shaken off in favour of ‘Tracing’? Atmonauti is a magnificent fusion of the Italian words for ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Navigator’, and its inevitable trimming to ‘Atmo’ resulted in a perfectly functional term for the practice of hoofing about in the sky at any angle other than straight at the ground. For me ‘Tracing’ has the whiff of office buzz-word about it, and when I hear it I experience the exact same we-are-all-doomed-as-a-species sensation as every time I hear a ‘touch base’ or an ‘action item’. Try using it in Europe and you may well find yourself confronted with a selection of baffled expressions and despite a total lack of sense or accuracy when you start waving a dictionary about the place, the definition of ‘Tracing’ when applied to skydiving actually makes it sound rather poetic…
Tracing: Noun: A faint or delicate mark or pattern.
The same thing happened when I first heard use of the term Dynamic 4-Way (or even, if you can tolerate such video-gamery, D4W). I didn’t quite recoil in horror, the sensation closer to a creeping dread, knowing I would from then on have to force the phrase out time and again against my will. However, it is actually as appropriate as can be. When people do science ‘dynamic’ is used in opposition to ‘static’, a word that anyone who has ever set foot inside an indoor skydiving facility will likely have heard used with nary a cringey expression in sight. This is true, as any Italian skydiving physicist will tell you.
Dynamic: Adjective: Characterised by constant change, activity or progress.
Dynamic: Noun: A force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process.
At the moment typing the words Dynamic 4-Way into the internet gets you not very far. Last year there were two events that featured this new category, The Nordic Meet and The Battle of Bottrop. The Nordic Meet has happened every year at Voss in Norway for the last decade and as of about a year ago they have a tunnel, VossVind, just minutes from the dropzone. The breadcrumb trail back to the genesis of Dynamic 4-Way leads to this event and to Håvard Flaat, one of the Skywalkers, a Norwegian skydiving team with a lengthy list of achievements and accolades. Håvard is modest about his involvement. “The concept of Dynamic 4-way is not something that I have started, it is something that everybody has been working towards. As people have been getting more and more interested I have been trying to create a competition system that would be fun for people to do. During the Nordic meet we did a test competition. This was to see wether or not it was possible to make draws from a dive pool and do competitive speed rounds from it. The answer was yes, but we had to simplify the rules a lot because it was too complicated and difficult to judge.”
So here is approximately how it works…
A mixture of free and compulsory rounds make up the competition. The free rounds are judged on their artistic merit, factoring in the usual artistic category considerations such as difficulty and style. The compulsory rounds feature a dive pool of stock tunnel moves, such as carving and layouts, that are to be arranged in an order determined by each team and performed in succession until the time runs out. This is more or less the same as 2-way artistic skydiving but for one chief difference. Two vertical lines and one horizontal line divide the flight chamber into eight equal sectors and a teams performance is also judged upon their precision and proximity within and around these areas (Imagine two cakes, in quarters, on top of each other. You may choose what kind of cake). This means you have to think about, as Håvard explains “Not only the way you need to move around the other flyers but also where you need to move in the tunnel. This means that you have a minimum distance to move around the tunnel. This makes it more about flying smooth, fast and clean, instead of being the smartest at organising the shortest (and thus quickest) way that you can do it.”
In December 2012 Indoor Skydiving Bottrop hosted the first Battle of Bottrop. Håvard and many of the flyers already involved from the Nordic Meet met up in Germany with a selection of other teams and applied what they had learned. “The Nordic Meet gave us answers regarding how long it would take to judge each round and what was slowing the process down. It gave us the knowledge we needed to complete the full Bottrop competition in only four or five hours including judging. Now we are working on 100% live scoring system that will cut down the waiting time and allow us to organise more intense competitions using less time. This is an important direction for the sport.”
Also present at the Battle of Bottrop was Adam Mattacola. Adam is instrumental in bringing the Dynamic 4-Way category to the upcoming World Challenge that takes place annually at the UK’s own Bodyflight Bedford and is three-time champion in the 2-way freefly at this competition (winning as Team Bodyflight in 2012 with Håvard). I asked him if anything had changed after Bottrop. “We have tried to make the rules clear and with as few grey areas as possible. There are some more compulsory moves that are designed to be able to flow together and the scores will be broken down so the competitors can understand and use them to improve between rounds or for future competitions.”
So what does this mean for our sport? Are we taking it all too seriously? Does our need to quantify and qualify everything somehow compromise our freest of flying and take some of the fun out of it?
Dynamic 4-Way is an expansion of the skills used in the established artistic categories but granted greater scope and multiplied possibilities by adding more bodies. “It is giving Freeflyers something to aim for, other than just flying around.” says Adam. “This competition will grow fast and keep developing as people’s skill level increases. Yes you need to be an advanced flyer but with a little guidance the techniques become much easier. As long as the moves are broken down in the correct way they can quickly be understood.” Håvard agrees. “This is a brand new discipline but we are working hard to make the competitions run smoothly and become the new standard in freeflying”.
One of the most appealing things of being involved in a sport that is comparatively small scale is that it is much easier to get involved. You will see the main players at the tunnel or around the dropzone and if you have questions, ask them. They will help you and include you. Adam is ready with advice for those who are interested in giving Dynamic 4-Way a try. “The first thing you need is a base routine, something that is relatively easy to fly with a variety of moves. After that you can build it up or change a few things to make it more technical. A lot of people make the mistake of trying to build a hard routine to start with and then have to take things away. Make is as difficult as you can, but nothing too risky to be able to pull off on competition day as nerves play a big part. Try to have a mix of tricks and different flying patterns, but most importantly make it enjoyable to fly.”.
So is Dynamic 4-Way heading out of the tunnel and into the sky? Do we really need another competition or do the established categories such as 2-Way Artistic and VFS sort of have it covered? Håvard is very positive. “Yes! We are already in the process of working on this. It will be one of the main goals and topics for discussion at this year’s Nordic Meet.” Adam thinks so too. “It has definite potential for skydiving. The skill level to perform this stuff in the sky is very high but not out of reach. The ability of the average skydiver is increasing rapidly, so we are going to work on making it happen.”
The prospect of Dynamic 4-way in the sky should be pretty appealing. Anyone who has ever tried Vertical Formation Skydiving can tell you that it is bastard hard and to watch the very best teams is to witness a magnificent feat of collective skill. However, although undeniably contributing to the progression of our sport I have often seen VFS as having an element of reaching across or bridging the distance between the new and old schools of Freefly and traditional Formation Skydiving instead of charging headlong into the unknown. There is a certain purity in sports which have established rules that are essentially sacrosanct and have changed little throughout decades or even centuries, but skydiving and all of its friends are constantly adapting and evolving. Two decades ago the whole thing was blown wide open when a German called Olav and a few of his friends discovered that you can skydive any way up that you may care to and move around each other upon all three of the available axis. If you apply the rate that things have changed and grown since then to a couple of decades down the road, who can say where we will be?
Dynamic 4-Way is all set to take a big step directly forwards over the edge of the map and into uncharted territory. And here be dragons.
Håvard Flaat is one of the principal organisers of the Dynamic 4-Way events and the Voss Valhalla competition that will take place at VossVind during Norway’s Extreme Week in June (23rd-30th). You can reach him via the Skywalkers website at blog.skywalkers.no
Adam Mattacola will be at the World Challenge flying for Team Bodyflight. He runs regular Dynamic 4-Way camps and coaches at all the UK wind tunnels. His email is email@example.com
Joel Strickland (which is me) is one fourth of Varial Airkix for the World Challenge. Varial Freefly offer coaching at every level and run regular freefly evenings and camps at the Airkix wind tunnels in Milton Keynes, Manchester and Basingstoke (when it is finished). Our website is at www.varialfreefly.com
I would like to thank Peter Volk for the Battle of Bottrop pictures and Piers Hampson from Bodyflight for the ones from last year’s World Challenge. Also John Rogers at Airkix Manchester for the opportunity to take some photos of my own.
Skydive the Mag. April 2013.
Dynamic Four-Way Article.
Skydive Langar. 11/04/2013.
World Challenge 2013.
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