Skydive Spaceland SpaceBlog

News and thoughts about what's going on at Skydive Spaceland, our state-of-the-art skydiving facility near Houston, Texas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nationals Day 6, Saturday (10/17)

7:25 am: Welcome back to Spaceland everyone! It's a bright, clear, cool morning, 53°F and loads are already flying! Sorry we didn't have any late updates for you last night; the blogger was having Internet connection issues...

Anyway, things went pretty much as you'd expect, we hung some medals on some very talented skydivers in the vertical formation skydiving (VFS) and 8-way events. Congratulations to everyone!! We'll post some photos of that later on... in the meantime, we'll just note one of last night's surprises. Meet director Scott Smith announced that 8-way open winners Arizona Airspeed have decided to focus their attentions on 4-way, so they passed their World Team 8-way slot to the Golden Knights.

Also, meet management chose to leave 10-way registration open until around 10 a.m. today, so there's still time to register! We're up to 7 teams right now, with 2.5 hours to go. Ten, can I get 10?

Lastly, this is the last day you'll be enjoying this particular blogger's company; I'm headed home and others will be keeping you up to the minute for the rest of Nationals. I hope you've enjoyed the coverage and the photos... oh yea, photos, back to those... Stand by! :)

8:15 am: Photos!!

Paraclete XP 8-way
Ooops... Video flyer
Judging room (1 of 3)
Perris Fury
Woohooo! Golden Knights Gold
Loading for sunset Paraclete landings
Golden Knightd 8-way
Skydive Spaceland staff and volunteers
Sunset at Skydive Spaceland

8:40 am: More photos!

Jack Berke of Deguello Pilot Trevor
Deguello loading
Focus on 16-way

9:20 am: Scores are rolling in for 16-way; Arizona Airspeed topped round 5, but they only bested Deguello by 1 point. The Knights have yet to be scored.

Freestyle scoring is done through round 3; longstanding team Flew Id is still on top by 0.8 points. They've commanded clear leads in rounds 1 and 3, but lost 1.1 points to Dragons in round 2.

10:15 am: We were just discussing this year's online registration/team management system, which was designed brand-new for this event. Overall the response seems to have been quite good, particularly from the meet management standpoint; some of the other regular host drop zones have expressed a strong interest in using this system for future Nationals.

Competitors, what do you think?

Feel free to add your comments at the bottom of the page. (Family friendly, please!)

We've got more 16-way scores in; the Knights topped Deguello on that last round by 2, so they're still in second place behind Airspeed. Round 6 scores are in for a few teams, and Airspeed is still on top with a total of 65 points after their 11 in round 6. Deguello put up a 7 (they are consistent today with 7s in the last four rounds). Their total is one up on the Knights, but the Knights' round 6 score isn't in yet...

10:40 am: Yahoo, the blogger gets to do 10-way!!! Updates might be a bit more spread out this afternoon. We ended up with 9 teams!

16way looks to be about complete except for Havoc SPX, who spent a little time with local Channel 2 this morning--did anyone see it on TV? Comment below with a link if you found it online!

Anyway, it's most likely Airspeed followed by the Knights and then Deguello, scores 65-49-43.

See ya in the air!

11:25 pm: Man, it turned into a busy afternoon! I ended up on the 10-way team Annie's Toys, which was a BLAST!!! Haven't been able to jump a lot this summer, so it was quite a unique and great experience to knock off the rust by competing with that bunch of very accomplished skydivers (including a brand spanking new 4-way world record holder, at least once the paperwork goes through!). Thanks for picking the blogger up out of the media room, guys! :)

So the day's winners are:

16-way: Arizona Airspeed, followed by the Golden Knights and Deguello 17
10-way: Golden Knights, followed by Annie's Toys and Arizona Airspeed
Freestyle: Team Flew Id, followed by Dragons and Suicide Transition
Freefly Open: SoCal Converge, followed by Orlando XP
Freefly Intermediate: IsIs, followed by InLaws and SDH Outlaws
Combined Formation Skydiving Champions: Arizona Airspeed

We'll put up some photos from today and awards photos tomorrow--right now, it's time to celebrate after tonights banquet! Stay tuned to for results of canopy formation, style and accuracy, and canopy piloting.

Have a great night!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Nationals day 5, Friday (10/16)

8:15 am: We've been on a cloud hold, but load 1 is on a call; here we go!

9 am: We've got some really fantastic photos from the last day or two coming up for you soon, stay tuned for that! In the meantime, it's a busy time here at Skydive Spaceland. Currently we've got four events jumping--vertical formation skydiving (two teams) and 8-way finishing up, plus the artistic events have begun (freefly open/advanced and freestyle). And the 16-way registration will be closing today at 11 a.m., with draw and jumping to commence after 8-way jumps complete. Six rounds for 16-way... competitors are hoping we can squeeze all that in today after 8-way, but that event may run into tomorrow. We'll keep you posted!

We've got 6 teams registered now for 16-way; you've got time, keep 'em coming! :-)

SPX8 shirt Deguello shirt

Skydive Spaceland says... Go home teams!

11:10 am: Looks like finished 16-way registration with 6 teams: Deguello 17 and Arizona Airspeed of course, plus Staff Infected, Havoc SPX, Rogue Knights, and Rain on Saturday (Noooo!!).

8-way open has another round on the board, and Airspeed's still on top after matching the Knights' 15. Paraclete gave up four points to them on that round; their 11 was matched by Perris Moxie and Spaceland BFE Elsinore. Dallas Rogue posted a 13. Deguello 9 has withdrawn to practice 16-way, finishing with a 7.63 average in the 8 rounds they jumped... see you soon in the 16-way standings!

...and Airspeed/Paraclete have gotten scores for round 8; they've both posted 19s, and the Knights have yet to be scored.

In 8-way intermediate, Perris Cobra Kai and Ranch Deliverance both got 7s in round 8; Deliverance is still 10 points back. We've got a close race for bronze between Dallas Fusion and JellO Slots; Fusion has a one-point advantage at the moment.

Freefly/freestyle judging is off to a slow start; we'll bring you those results as soon as we can.

In the meantime... photographic stylings by Craig O'Brien:

Golden Knight Landing 8-way at sunset

11:25 am: The Knights also scored a 19 in round 8; they're hanging right in there, but making up 5 points in two rounds to take gold over Airspeed is a tall order... Freefly scores are coming in, IsIs is out to a one-point lead in intermediate over the InLaws. In open, SoCal Converge is up 2.1 points on Nor Cal Revolt.

More photos, this time by Ori Kuper (mostly):

Freestyle, ow...
Arizona Arsenal Tshirt

1 pm: We're still going strong here at Spaceland, it's a gorgeous sunny day with a high of 79 (what a welcome change!).

Perris Cobra Kai wins 8-way intermediate! Ranch Deliverance takes silver, and there will be a jumpoff later for bronze between Dallas Fusion and JellO Slots! Stay tuned, and congrats to all for a great performance!

Open judging isn't complete yet, but the three leaders have been scored and Paraclete XP beat up on both the Knights and Airspeed with a solid 20 in round 10 (Airspeed scored a 19 and the Knights took a 17). It wasn't quite enough to pull them up out of third, though; they finished 2 points behind the Knights with a total of 187 (Knights 189), and it looks like Airspeed will take the event with a total of 196 points!

2 pm: MAJOR drama in the judging room earlier... An 8-way intermediate team's videographer effectively shut down a judging panel for about 15 minutes by diving off the top of the Otter to the right (after sitting on top) instead of exiting from the left-side camera step. There are a couple of issues with this, the first and foremost being the safety issue. If the videographer should strike the tail on exit, the worst-case scenario involves damage to the tail that compromises the aircraft's maneuverability enough to result in a crash.

Secondly, when you put an airplane between yourself and the team, you're guaranteed to lose sight of them, which could certainly compromise their score.

While there was some pretty capable flying on the part of the videographer in that his team was out of frame for only about a second or less, that counts for exactly nothing. Instead, the team received a zero and the DZO ejected the videographer from the drop zone for the rest of the event. Fun is fun, but putting safety issues in front of a panel of national and international judges at the United States Parachute Association Nationals is not smart.

Here's what chief judge Judy Celaya had to say about it on the scoresheet:


2:30 pm: And it's official, Arizona Airspeed takes home the gold in 8-way open, followed by the Golden Knights with a silver and Paraclete XP for bronze. Congratulations to the winners!!!!

We're still waiting on the jumpoff results for 8-way intermediate bronze, stay tuned...

Freefly open scoring hasn't progressed, but intermediate has round 2 judged and IsIs has widened their lead over SDH Outlaws to 2 points, with InLaws only 0.3 points back from Outlaws. (Crooks and straights, anyone? :-)

2:45 pm: Just heard that there is currently no feminine national record for most points in an 8-way skydive, likely because there is not yet a category for it... Hey Moxie, want to talk to the competition committee about that? That was a pretty sweet 15 points in round 4!

3:40 pm: Dallas Fusion bested JellO Slots by one point in the jumpoff to take the intermediate bronze medal! Great job guys, congratulations!!!!

4:30 pm: Awards presentation for VFS and 8-way will be at 7:30 pm. 10-way registration will close TONIGHT at 7 pm. Draw at 7:30 Scores are rolling in for freefly and freestyle; in freefly open, it's still SoCal Convergence by 6.9 points over Orlando XP. Nor Cal Revolt is in third by 2 points, and guest team Romance is only 0.10 point in fourth. Intermediate round 3 scores are rolling in; we'll catch up on that in a bit.

16-way round 1 is complete and round 2 scores are showing up; so far it's Airspeed with a strong lead, starting with their 11 in round 1 (nearest neighbor Golden Knights scored a 7, followed closely by Deguello's 6). Rain on Saturday was next with a 4. (Did you know that team originally was two teams--Rain on Saturday and Wind on Sunday? :) It looks like we'll get through three rounds of 16-way today.

In freestyle open, Team Flew Id is 0.9 points up on Dragons after one round's judging. Suicide Transition is 1.8 points back, with CSC Trinity chasing 1.1 points.

...we're up to three 10-way teams, let's keep it up!

5:55 pm: Two rounds into 16-way and Airspeed's still on top with a 23 after pulling a 12 in round 2, same as the Knights who are 4 points back. Deguello got a 9, and they're 4 more points back, followed by Rain on Saturday (that's just wrong) 5 points back.

In freefly intermediate, IsIs is broadening their lead over InLaws, but that last round was pretty close, they were only 0.1 points up. SDH Outlaws are just 0.2 points in third, no doubt hungry for that brighter silver...

VRW Advanced has had a bit of a changeup; remember that two of the three teams finished yesterday, but Elsinore VFS had people doing 8way as well... today they're rolling, they've taken the gold medal by 7 points over Gravity Rats (total score: 35)! Congratulations Elsinore VFS!! Proskydiving VFS picks up third place with a total score of 8.

And lastly, VRW Open is complete as well--no surprises there, Arizona Arsenal is still on top. Spaceland Vertical Force did not meet manifest calls after round 3, so they remain in third place behind SDC Standard XP.

Congratulations everyone!!

6:30 pm: Woohoo, Deguello just took off for round 4, looks like we're a little ahead of schedule! Round 3 is partly judged and it's still Airspeed on top; they scored a 10. Deguello and the Knights tied with 7s. More to follow!

Let's talk 10-way... I don't know if everyone is aware of this, but there's a judges' award for the team that entertains the judges the most after the scoring formation is built. Skydivers are so creative--show us your ideas and win a prize! :) (Boy, I sound like a carny... but it sure makes for great video to watch later over beverages!)

By the way, I hear some new formations are being proposed for the 10-way pool, and there's no reason you couldn't practice one or a few of them after scoring your time as there's no longer a rule against it! Or come up with your own, or whatever--have fun, that's what 10-way is all about!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nationals Day 4, Thursday (10/15)

7:40 am: Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a great time partying it up last night after seeing some 4-way history being made!

Back to it... after a brief morning cloud delay, vertical formation skydiving load 1 is in the air. Team rosters coming soon along with photos from last night's awards ceremony, stand by!

8:05 am: I must be getting a little practice at this; team rosters for VFS open and advanced are done with the photos I have... I suppose it never hurts that there are only three teams registered for each division, more's the pity. With only three teams registered per division, only two medals will be awarded per division.

8:20 am: I think we neglected to mention the results of our favorite fun team name poll from a few days ago--here they are, Staff Infected (16-way) ran off with the vote at 58%, followed by the Amphibious Attack Tigers (4-way) at 17%. Thanks to everyone who voted!


Now here's a current interest poll: Let us know your feelings on this one!

9 am: 8-way roster pages are done (10 teams in open, 6 in intermediate); we'll add photos later on when the teams get their photos made.

9:30 am: VFS round 1 is judged for open and advanced, and 8-way teams are in the air. Elsinore VFS is out to an early 3-point lead in advanced with their 5 points in round 1, while SDC Standard XP and Arizona Arsenal are tied at 42 points after round 2 (wow!).

The VFS results pages are up and rolling, keep hitting the refresh button to see the latest scores!

10:45 am: Sorry for the delay folks... the 8-way draws are now posted and VFS scores are still rolling in! After round 3, our tie for the top in open is now broken--Arsenal topped Standard by one. Standard actually did one more point, but got busted back to one under with an incorrect inter and a video angle bust...

Bribing the chief judge? :)

Is this like bribing the chief judge? :)

10:55 am: We're just about caught up for the moment, VFS draws are posted and 8-way scores are starting to roll in. In Intermediate, round 1 is judged and it's Perris Cobra Kai out to an early lead with a 7, 2 points ahead of Ranch Deliverance and 5 points ahead of guest team Perris Blue Ice.

In Open, the only two teams judged so far, Deguello 9 and guest team Perris Stun, are tied at 7.

12:20 pm: ...this just in, Standard just blew out round 4 of VFS open with a 35! And so did Arsenal! So the latter is still one point in first. Looks like it's going to be a close race all the way to the wire.

In Advanced VFS, Elsinore VFS is still three points ahead of Gravity Rats despite being the only team without a round 4 score.

In 8-way open, Arizona Airspeed and the Golden Knights are tied at the top with 15s in round 1, with Paraclete 8 only one point back. In intermediate 8-way, Perris Cobra Kai has a 4-point lead over Ranch Deliverance after two rounds judged, and there's a three-way tie for third between guest team Perris Blue Ice, Jell-O Slots, and Dallas Fusion.

Photos coming soon... really!

1:50 pm: Round 2 is judged for all 8-way, and in intermediate Perris Cobra Kai is out in front by 4, with Ranch Deliverance 7 points ahead of Dallas Fusion. It's tight at the top of the open class; Airspeed is still on top; the Golden Knights and Paraclete 8 are tied one point back. Dallas Rogue is next with a 26 total after two rounds.

In VFS open, Arizona Arsenal picked up another point on SDC Standard XP; the point totals are 116/114/20. The third-place team, Spaceland Vertical Force, is two rounds behind on judging because at least one member is also competing in 8-way...

VFS advanced: After round 3, Elsinore VFS is 6 points up on Gravity Rats, with Proskydiving VFS in third.

Just found out that team 416, Voluntas (G), set a Danish national record with their 29 points in round 6 yesterday--congratulations, guys! Records all around! :)

2:35 pm: PHOTOS!!!!! (From yesterday and today)
Team landing
Skydive Chicago gloves
Danish national record holders Voluntas
Bribing the judges?? :-) Sunset skydive
Sunset breakoff
Perris Fury

3:21 pm: We're up to round 6 scores in VFS open, and it's starting to look like an even barfight! SDC Standard XP just picked up 3 points on Arizona Arsenal to lead by one. Spaceland Vertical Force is wayyy back, but they're also three rounds behind on scoring since at least one member is doing both VFS and 8-way.

In intermediate, Gravity Rats are now 5 points ahead of Elsinore VFS, but VFS is also three rounds behind on judging for the same reason as Force.

8-way open: Airspeed is still on top after round 3, but only by 2 points. Paraclete and the Knights are tied at 50.

8-way intermediate: Round 3 is in, round 4 is partly scored; Perris Cobra Kai is still on top after posting 8s in rounds 3 and 4, but their nearest neighbor Ranch Deliverance hasn't been scored for round 4 yet. Dallas Fusion is still in third, with Perris Blue Ice two points back.

More photos coming!

3:50 pm: I've heard a few comments about the judging going slowly, but it's not really just that. It's true that there are fewer judges here now than there were for 4-way, so they are running two panels instead of three--but even though we're running two events concurrently, there are only 22 teams jumping at the moment. That's only two-thirds of the number of teams jumping during 4-way in intermediate alone--so there are also quite a bit fewer skydives to score.

Enough about that, how about some photos of our 4-way award winners from last night?

Arizona Airspeed

Open Gold Medalists: Arizona Airspeed

Spaceland Force

Open Silver Medalists: Spaceland Force

Perris Fury

Open Bronze Medalists: Perris Fury

Advanced Gold Medalists: SDC Furies XP

Ranch Fallout

Advanced Silver Medalists: Ranch Fallout

Spaceland Havoc

Advanced Bronze Medalists: Spaceland Havoc

Intermediate Gold Medalists: VTSD

Carolina Ice

Intermediate Silver Medalists: Carolina Ice

Cross Keys NRG

Intermediate Bronze Medalists: Cross Keys NRG

4:15 pm: Yahoo, Airspeed just ripped a 27 in round 4 of 8-way open; let's see what Paraclete and the Knights can do with it...

Ranch Deliverance gave up one more point to Perris Cobra Kai, so they're 5 points back. Dallas Fusion is sitting 13 points from Deliverance; Perris Blue Ice is two points back, still in the hunt!

5:05 pm: It's getting hot in here... or at least in VFS Open... Arizona Arsenal returned the favor to SDC Standard XP, beating SDC's round 7 score of 20 with a 23 to take the lead by 2! Looks like we might try to finish up VFS tonight, and get through about round 6 of 8-way before sunset.

Scores are incomplete for 8-way open round 4, we're still waiting to see what the Golden Knights and Paraclete XP do with it. Dallas Rogue put up a 19 and Perris Moxie scored a solid 15. Nice job, girls!

SCHEDULE UPDATE: The 16-way briefing will be held tonight at 7 pm, but the draw will be held TOMORROW (Friday) after 8-way completes. Tonight's briefing will cover much of the same ground as the 4-way/8-way/VFS briefings, but if you haven't attended any of those, you need to be here tonight.

Registration check: Currently we have 4 16-way teams registered, but only 2 10-way teams... 10-WAY, GRRRRRR!!!! Come on, pick up a team and have some fun! Free coaching by the blogger if you can catch me outside the media room and not busy! :)

5:30 pm: Just heard Arsenal had a camera mal and rode the plane down for round 8, they're holding VFS open judging until they jump that round.

In 8-way open, the Knights posted a 23, putting them 6 points behind Airspeed. No word on Paraclete XP's score yet, stay tuned...

5:50 pm: In VFS Open, SDC Standard has put up a 13 in round 8 to finish the competition with a total of 163, average of 20.38. Nice scoring, guys! We're still waiting to get Arsenal's round 8 video in to see who comes out on top.

In the meantime, we have a couple more photos from last night...

Boyd family
Advanced bronze medalists Spaceland Havoc going to the stage Scott Elmer and Brett Thomas

6:15 pm: Still no round 8 score for Arsenal; the judges are working on 8-way. Note to competition videographers: There are a couple of things the judges really don't like to see that they've just been observing. #1: Date/time stamps on the footage--they an obscure grips especially if the video is far away. #2: Secondary (non-team) videographers getting in the frame of the team's videographer--it's distracting visually to the judges, plus the team's videographer often finds it quite difficult to keep from moving his/her head to glance at the secondary videographer when that person comes into their periphery.

In VFS open, Spaceland Vertical Force still has only 3 rounds on the board but they haven't withdrawn; it's far from a complete meet... in advanced, the Gravity Rats are currently on top with a total of 28, but Elsinore VFS also only has 3 rounds on the board.

In 8-way open, the Knights have scored a 23 in round 5, but Airspeed, Paraclete, Rogue, SPX8, and Spaceland BFE Elsinore have yet to be judged.

8-way intermediate: Five rounds are judged and Perris Cobra Kai is looking pretty solid with an 8-point lead over Ranch Deliverance. Dallas Fusion is securely in third, 12 points behind Deliverance, 2 ahead of (G) Perris Blue Ice, and 6 ahead of JellO Slots.

6:30 pm: Arizona Arsenal turns in a 20 in round 8 to open up an almost unbeatable lead in Vertical Formation Skydiving Open, 7 points ahead of SDC Standard XP, total lead of 9! (Spaceland Vertical Force hasn't completed competition)

7:00 pm: Well, the day is wrapping up and it's been an interesting one. 8-way judging is still going on, and after round 6 Perris Cobra Kai is still solidly on top of the intermediate class. Ranch Deliverance is 9 points back, and Dallas Fusion is sitting in the third spot 18 points down, 2 up on (G) Perris Blue Ice and 4 on JellO Slots.

8-way Open's round 5 is fully judged, and the Golden Knights ruled that one with a 23 (2 ahead of Airspeed and 1 up on Paraclete). It's not enough yet though; Airspeed is still 4 points up on the Knights with an even 100 point total, and 5 up on Paraclete. Home teams Deguello and SPX8 both posted 8s to end the day with 41 and 36 points, respectively.

Hey, I just saw a round 7 score pop up for SPX 8, a 9--stay tuned for more scores! By the way, OmniSkore! engineer Jan Meyer sent in a few notes to add to the Camscore vs. OmniSkore! post...

9:45 pm: 7 am show for 15-min. call for artistic events and intermediate 8-way tomorrow, 7:15 am show/15 min. for open 8-way. Round 6 of 8-way open was done a while ago (hey, the blogger gets a hang-out break occasionally!) and Airspeed's still on top after scoring a 19; the Knights tied that score and Paraclete was 1 back, so there is now a 6-point spread between first and third places. In four more rounds, anything can happen! See you bright and early for more 8-way!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nationals Day 3, Wednesday (10/14)

7:50 am: Well, at least it's not raining... but it is foggy. No loads have flown yet, but we're hoping to get in the air soon!

Foggy morning

8:15 am: We're still on the ground, but I've just been handed the last team photo... thanks everyone! Spaceland Blue: Your official team photo is just fine, but this one is much more fun:

Spaceland Blue

Spaceland Blue

And did you know we posted some more great photos late last night? Check out yesterday's post for that.

8:30 am: Still waiting... in the meantime, much of the hot discussion at the DZ centers around who will set a world record in round 6 (draw: A-N-H-P-O). Funny, most people seem to take it as a given that someone will make skydiving history today!

So let's talk about records. The current 4-way world record is 44 points in time (35 seconds), set jointly by Black Cat Team and Russian Team Extreme in 2006. (If two teams get the same record-setting score in the same round, they both are listed as world record holders.) There was one dive with more points--47 in time by DeLand Fire at a Florida Skydiving League Shamrock Showdown in 2006 (draw: F-M-P-O-E)--but Fédération Aéronautique Internationale judges were not present at that meet to certify the record, so it's not recognized by the FAI as an official one. Note that two of those DeLand Fire members are on Spaceland Force, but any of the top open teams are capable of some record-busting skydiving with this round!

Lastly but not leastly, Spaceland Blue has a good shot at setting a second world record today--that of most points in 4-way by an all-female team (current record: 30 points by Team Airkix in 2005).

Go teams, let's see some new records! :)

8:40 am: And we're on a call, stay tuned!!

8:55 am: This just in, I've just been told that the local news issued a mosquito alert for Southeast Texas this morning, and based on the number of skeeters I've been killing after multiple insect repellent showers per day, that's a legit alert... If you're not here yet, BRING BUG SPRAY!

10 am: Scores are rolling in; that CamScore system is letting the judges work VERY quickly. I believe they were through judging yesterday just about half an hour after the last load landed.

Advanced round 5 is fully judged; Ranch Fallout, SDC Furies XP, and Cross Keys Aerodyne all posted 14s. Havoc's 13 set them in second, one point back from Fallout, and the Furies are chasing Havoc by 3. Only 6 points separate the top four teams at the moment.

Tim Wagner noted that he was watching the most amazing aerial display earlier, before we started jumping--there were millions of mosquitoes being chased by thousands of dragonflies, who in turn were being hunted by hundreds of birds swooping and diving all around... My bet is we'll see even better aerial displays in round 6!

11 am: Open scores are going up, and everyone's buzzing about round 6... guess what, meet management feels so strongly that there's going to be at least one new world record that they're planning to briefly shut down jump operations so everyone can watch the top few open teams' judging video and see it for themselves!

Open scores are almost all in for round 5; Airspeed took a 28, now they're leading Force by 6. Force and Fury both scored 24s and are still 2 points apart.

Lots of intermediate teams have round 6 scores posted; VTSD won that one with a 15 and they're now leading Carolina Ice by 11. Ice put up a nice 14, NRG and Mamba scored 12s, and (G) CSC Pareto Optimal had a little trouble and dropped out of that third-place tie with a 9.

Spaceland Force scored an outstanding 45 points to claim a brand-spanking new world record 4-way skydive! Chief Judge Judy Celaya already had the paperwork prepped just in case; this one will go on the books very soon! CONGRATULATIONS FORCE!

More record setting probably comes best from our Twitter stream:


Congratulations to all our new record holders!!!

12:45 pm: OK folks, we've got your eye candy ready--video of the new world record claimed by Force!! (13.7 MB)

Spaceland Force

New world record claimers Spaceland Force

2:40 pm: We're up to load 40 on a call, going strong! In intermediate, lots of round 7 scores are posted; so far Kaliedoscope has the top score with an 11.

Advanced round 6 is fully judged--SDC Furies XP's 23 put them easily on top of that round, but Ranch Fallout's 21 keeps them on top of the pile. Havoc's 18 didn't get them any closer to the top, but it does keep them pretty comfortably in the bronze slot at least for now; Cross Keys Aerodyne is currently 6 points behind them.

In Open... you already know about Spaceland Force's stellar performance in round 6; unfortunately for them, they're still 5 points back from Arizona Airspeed. Perris Fury is 4 points behind, and the Golden Knights Gold are 6 points behind Fury.

It appears there was some confusion over the women's 4-way national records claimed earlier. Here's the deal: It appears that there is no official national women's 4-way record on the books, so whatever score SDC Furies XP or Spaceland Blue could rack up would be a record if/when certified. Since there were plenty of judges here to approve records--why not grab another national record? As one judge put it: Four records, 40 minutes, not bad! (Women's national record performance of 23 points by Furies, superseded by Blue's 26, plus Force's national record performance for the 45 points, plus their claimed world record performance for the same dive)

3:10 pm: Looks like VTSD posted the top intermediate score again in round 7 (14), they're pretty solidly in first with a 13-point lead over Carolina Ice. Open and advanced scores are rolling in for round 7 as well, stay tuned and stand by for photos...

4:20 pm: We're up to load 52 and the judging is going very quickly, as usual. Perris Fury topped Force and Airspeed's 21s in round 7 with a 22, but they're still three points behind Force, who's 5 points behind Airspeed. What a great meet for all of these teams, they've all got averages north of 25...

Advanced round 7 is done too, and check this out, the Furies posted a round-leading 14, 3 points over Fallout's 11, to take the lead back from Fallout by a point! Havoc is 5 points back after scoring a 10.

No surprises yet in intermediate; all of round 7 and most of the round 8 scores are in. VTSD won round 7 with a 14 and their total is a point ahead of Carolina Ice's even though their round 8 hasn't been scored yet (and Ice scored a 12 in rd. 8). Cross Keys NRG is 7 points behind Carolina Ice.


Everyone watching the claimed world record round by Spaceland Force
Spaceland Force interview with Scott Smith
Local TV interview with Spaceland Force
Golden Knights Gold Golden Knights Gold

4:40 pm: Update on intermediate: VTSD posted a 10, three points behind round leaders Spaceland Mamba and Air Force Groove. Those two are tied for fourth, five points out of bronze territory.

Open and advanced round 8 scores are starting to roll in, stay tuned for more!

5:35 pm: Round 8 is done for open and advanced... In advanced, things are pretty exciting! The Furies picked up two more points on Fallout with a 12; they now lead by 3. Coming from behind (third to first) like that is tough--nice job, girls! Havoc is 4 points behind Fallout, and CK Aerodyne is 4 more back.

In open, Airspeed rocked a 21, picking up another point on Force and two on Fury. Ten points separate the three teams; Force is 6 back from Airspeed and Fury is 4 behind Force...

Intermediate round 9 scores are rolling in, stay tuned!

5:50 pm: We're getting on to sunset and Otter 73 is on a 15-minute call. It'll be tight, but it sounds like we've got a shot at completing 4-way today... cross your fingers!

By the way, did you happen to catch the split-screen video capability from CamScore this afternoon? If you were here or watching the live feed online, you might have noticed a split screen with Airspeed and Force racing for the top score in round 6. We know how that turned out... but how cool is that! They tried a 3-way split with Fury in the mix as well; the videos didn't play quite so smoothly with that, but that's another cool trick!

7:10 pm: Busy afternoon! It was a photo finish, but all 10 rounds of 4-way have been completed (jumped). Barring any rejumps or jumpoffs, we're good to go! Judging proceeds at a fast pace and things are heating up in intermediate for the silver slot. Cross Keys NRG looked like a lock for bronze, but they had a hard time in round 9, posting a 6 while VTSD, Carolina Ice, and Spaceland Mamba all put up 12s. That brings Mamba within one point of the hardware! VTSD is still looking like a lock for gold with an 11-point lead over Carolina Ice.

Advanced is still a tight race; after round 9, the Furies are hanging on to a 3-point lead over Fallout after putting up a 12 (Fallout, CK Aerodyne, and DiZturbia all put up 12s also). Havoc scored a 10, losing 2 to Aerodyne, which leaves Aerodyne only two points out of the medals going into round 10.

Open: Airspeed, Force, and Fury all scored 23s in round 9, bringing us into round 10 with 6 points between gold and silver and 4 between silver and bronze. The Golden Knights Gold are 12 points out of the medals going into round 10.

It's getting exciting; stick around for the final report!

7:20 pm: The VFS draw and briefing will happen in 10 minutes. The awards program for 4-way is scheduled for 8 pm, and the 8-way draw and briefing will happen after that.

8:50 pm: And it's official!

Open Class:

  • Gold: Arizona Airspeed, 251 points, 25.1 average
  • Silver: Spaceland Force, 244 points, 24.4 average
  • Bronze: Perris Fury, 243 points, 24.3 average

Advanced Class:

  • Gold: SDC Furies XP, 131 points, 13.1 average
  • Silver: Ranch Fallout, 129, 12.9 average
  • Bronze: Spaceland Havoc, 121 points, 12.1 average

Intermediate Class:

  • Gold: VTSD, 131 points, 13.1 average
  • Silver: Carolina Ice, 115 points, 11.5 average
  • Bronze: Cross Keys NRG, 102 points, 10.2 average

Congratulations everyone, great skydiving in the face of some serious weather adversity and delays. Great job keeping it together!

Photos coming later, somebody bring the blogger a beverage... :-)

9:20 pm: Schedule for tomorrow: VFS has a 7 a.m. call for a 7:15 takeoff, and 8-way has a 9 a.m. call for a 9:15 a.m. takeoff (intermediate will be jumping first, then open).

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Camscore vs. Omniskore

Everyone, you're in for a fantastic treat! Tim Wagner, judge extraordinaire and co-founder of the popular scoring system Omniskore, has chosen to grace us with a guest Timbit blog post! And to ice that cake, it's a post analyzing the differences between Omniskore and the CamScore Scoring System in use at this year's Nationals for the first time. (Jo, Andrew—BEER!)

Can you say…

Camscore vs. Omniskore SMACKDOWN!

OK, that smackdown bit is a complete joke--Tim's become a pretty big fan of CamScore, along with all the other judges here. It's been really interesting to see Tim and Andrew Mansfield of CamScore working together over the last few days to analyze the nuts and bolts of CamScore and compare the two systems in painstaking detail. (They even got to spend a few hours together on a hardware run during which the rental car broke down… but I digress.)

Andrew Mansfield and Tim Wagner discussing CamScore

Andrew Mansfield and Tim Wagner discussing CamScore

I think Tim said it best this morning: "I don't want to see CamScore to be as good as Omniskore. I want to see it become much better!"

With that… take it away, Tim!

Omniskore and Camscore

Analysis and Commentary by Tim Wagner

When I learned earlier this year that Omniskore wasn't going to be used at the 2009 USPA Nationals at Skydive Spaceland, I wasn't sure what to think. But now that I've had a few days actually working with the system, I certainly have a few thoughts to share.

But first, a little background. Omniskore was born in the early 1990s from a "DZTV" graphics tool that was used at the 1993 WPC at Eloy, AZ. DZTV was created by (my twin brother) Ted Wagner with the backing of Larry Hill; Ted then went on to develop the scoring system by extending the graphics capability into a full-fledged judging tool. While Omniskore was initially designed for Formation Skydiving, Ted went on to add features to include canopy formation, artistic events, and Style & Accuracy. As we like to say, the rest is history – Omniskore has been the standard bearer for competition skydiving scoring ever since. And a lot of technology has changed along the way, to say the least. Omniskore was created in the age of VHS, and writable DVDs weren't even on the horizon. Before Omniskore, judging was paper, pencils, and stopwatches. Now there is a new scoring system in town, and VHS tapes and DVDs are following stopwatches into the rubbish can. Enter stage left, Camscore.

Camscore differs from Omniskore primarily in that it was created from the ground up as a judging tool first and a public display (DZTV) second. By far the biggest advancement is the elimination of VHS tapes and DVD discs. Camera flyers dub directly to the system via touch-screen flat panels just outside the judging rooms. As soon as a team has dubbed, the video is available for judging by Camscore.

Dubbing a video into CamScore at the 2009 Nationals

Because all of the jumps are dubbed straight to hard drives, the event judges have no tapes or discs to queue up. They simply select a team and round with a couple of clicks and the team is ready to be scored. If the judges have a "false start," the system automatically resets the video back to the beginning, which is another big time saver. It is fast and efficient.

Omniskore uses a scoring box for each judge; the box has a LCD display and six buttons for scoring. Camscore separates the buttons from the LCD box by using generic game controllers that are connected to each LCD box. The actual scoring process is nearly identical to Omniskore in terms of pushing buttons. Like Omniskore, each judge can edit his score after viewing the jump, and the event judge controls the flow. Because there are no tapes or discs to change, the judging process is far quicker than ever. The judges can judge as fast as they can push buttons, and teams get scored faster.

The "DZTV" aspect is different in that it isn't as "live" as Omniskore. Instead, Camscore detects when a jump has been judged and confirmed, and it then renders the jump with a graphics overlay that includes a running score, countdown clock, judges' button pushes, and the coolest addition of all, a running timeline bar at the bottom of the screen that shows when each point collates during the jump. As each jump is rendered by the system, it is placed in a playback queue for output to the public display system. And so while it isn't as "live" as Omniskore's "DZTV," the result is a smoother display of jumps with none of the start/stop/start that is common with a live video feed. It's a very clean and crisp display with nice fades and transitions--very nice to watch.

One of the most popular features of Omniskore is its ability to post results in real time to the internet, and for Camscore this is a new feature that is a functional work in progress. We were always trying to raise the bar with Omniskore, and the Camscore team is no different.

Jo Bell and Andrew Mansfield of Camscore
The Camscore team is software guru Andrew Mansfield and his assistant and co-developer Jo Bell. Camscore is part of their greater DZ software product, Cametrix, which handles many other DZ duties (see their web site for more details). They have developed the Camscore system based almost entirely on feedback from judges, especially Bob and Kate Charters. If Omniskore and Camscore share a lot of similarities, it's largely because virtually all judges want the same thing, and they pretty much got it all in both systems. I think it's safe to say that if Camscore resembles Omniskore in many respects, then it's a compliment to both systems.

Omniskore has lived a long and remarkable run of scoring, earning creators Ted Wagner and Larry Hill The Faust Vrancic Medal from the FAI. But time has marched on, and Omniskore has new competition in town, and it's every bit the kind of scoring system that the latest technology can bring to the table. While Omniskore is a venerable steam engine chugging down the tracks, Camscore is a fresh gem that, when it gets a few more chips and some polishing, is going to be the standard bearer for years to come. And that's great news for the competition skydiving community. Welcome to the show, Camscore, and a job well done by Andrew and Jo.

Tim Wagner

More Details from OmniSkore! Engineer Jan Meyer

First off kudos to Camscore. It is a step in the right direction. I have never seen Camscore in person or know of any of its specifications – hardware or software wise.

I took over technical support of OmniSkore! in April 2006 with the endorsement of Ted Wagner and Larry Hill.

I thought OmniSkore! was a well established, well oiled, state of the art machine, adept in skydiving scoring. I had helped Ted and Tim at previous Nationals and knew a few things about the infrastructure. When I went out to Eloy to pick up the equipment, Ted gave me an intensive in-depth description of how the system works.

The scoring processor is a real-time DOS based computer. The real-time feature is very important because it allows the button presses to be recorded instantaneously. This is critical to ensure that the judges split time is within a certain threshold, usually set to 0.3 sec. A time-sharing operating system (OS) has a systemic delay built in by the OS. The OS runs several processes and switches among the processes.
Inputs to a process running under a time sharing OS are not real-time.
Delays are unavoidable and may vary each time an input is given to the process.

The split time is important because it determines when the video is frozen to indicate the end of working time. Any errors in the split timing show up at the end of the dive, when the judges ask 'Was that point in-time or not?'

Judging with a scoring system is very different than with a timing system, such as a stopwatch. You can also see for an online timing system. Timing systems are great tools to use when you are in training and you want to track how your transition times improve over the season.

With a timing system you press the button as soon as the point is made.
Then you check the times to see how many points were within working time. There is no crosscheck among the judges to determine split time.
What this means to competitors is that one judge may start the clock earlier than another judge and the last point would be out of time, compared to a judge that started the clock later and showed the last point in time.

With a scoring system you press the button when you are sure that the point was complete. This is usually later than when the point was actually first built. Then at the end of time, with the freeze frame (based on the averaged split time of the judges), you have a short amount of time to decide if that last frame shows a complete formation.
A button press for a last point is made out of working time. A scoring system allows a team to get credit for the last point even if a button press was made after working time expired.

As Tim said, OmniSkore! was first a DZTV that evolved into a scoring system. OmniSkore! has never been part of the video dubbing operation.
Camscore integrated the video dubbing to the video feed to the scoring system. This is a major improvement because of the many different ways hosts would set up dubbing. Over the years, technology has allowed for central dubbing to a server that then feeds the judges' stations.

OmniSkore! also has a FTP internet connection that allows for scores to be posted as soon as the judges confirm a score. I added a live internet standings board that showed current standings for each event. This was displayed locally on a TV and could be accessed by anyone. PD displayed it on a lappy in their vendor tent in Eloy. Cherie Berke told me at Skydive Chicago that she used her crackberry to pull up the scores instead of walking around to the hallway to see the scores.

I also automated the team pages that have the photo and roster of the teams. Tim used to do this by hand. Team photos were taken by Tim, Ted, Roy (Dad-Wagner) or me. All we had to do was drop the files into a directory on the server and the team pages were complete. I added photos for the Style and Accuracy competitors and judges.

In addition, the OmniSkore! web site provided color commentary. Tim is especially astute in this for FS. He would tell you why a team got busted and what it meant to the competition.

OmniSkore! provides an online account of what is happening. The 'live'
video that Jim Slaton set up for this year's Nationals is a great addition. It has some technical difficulties, but most of those are corrected.

I think that in the future we will have a server to dub to that will serve videos to judging stations, instantaneous score posting, automated team pages with photo, roster and scoring summaries, videos of each dive, live standings board (determined after completed rounds) and live broadcast of DZTV.

Jan Meyer

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Nationals Day 2, Tuesday (10/13)

5:30 am: NOTICE UPDATE--Open teams have a 15-minute call at 7 am, intermediate at 7:15, advanced at 7:30. No weather delay at this time. Woohoo!

8 am: We're rocking and rolling here at Skydive Spaceland today! Competition load 11 is on a 10-minute call and the judges are starting to score today's jumps. We've still got a chance of rain in today's forecast, but right now we're working to get a bunch of competition jumps in. Keep watching the results page for the latest scores!

Van Halen's "Jump" was the first thing on my music shuffle when I was getting ready to leave for the DZ this morning; I think it was an omen. :-)

Spaceland sunrise

Today's sunrise!

8:15 am: It is SO good to see scores going up on the board! About half of the open class round 1 has been scored, and Airspeed has jumped to the top with a solid 20, 2 points up on Spaceland Force and 3 on both the Golden Knights and Perris Fury. Intermediate scoring is into round 2. Stay tuned for more scores and photos!

9:10 am: Here's a little judging funny... Chief Judge Judy Celaya just shared a bit of lore with us. Apparently when Omniskore came on the scene several years ago, some judges complained that the buttons on the Omniskore judge controllers were too loud, and that other judges could hear each others' button presses (potentially affecting their own assessments of the point or lack thereof). Judy tells us that Tim Wagner (Omniskore co-founder) just commented (jokingly) that the CamScore buttons are too quiet... oh, the irony...

Load 23 is on a 10-minute call, we're still going strong! We've got a few more team photos rolling in; teams, if you haven't had your photo made, please do so before your next jump! If no one's hanging around the backdrop with a camera, see Erin at the registration table and she'll hook you up.

Photos from yesterday incoming shortly!

9:45 am: We went on a brief weather hold, but we're back flying... Intermediate has two completely judged rounds in the can. VTSD is still on top with a solid 25 points, Carolina Ice is 3 points back and it's only 5 points to (G) CSC Pareto Optimal and Cross Keys NRG. Advanced's round 2 is about half judged, Spaceland Havoc is currently on top with 22 points, but the round 1-leading SDC Furies XP have yet to be scored... Open's round 2 has a few scores; Spaceland Force has put up a solid 23 for a current total of 41 and Perris Fury put up a 21 to trail Force by 3. The Knights also took a 21 to tie with Fury. We'll see what Airspeed has to say about that in a few.

9:48 am: Rats, weathered again!

Photos from yesterday...

Team LOL Tshirt
Part of Spaceland Havoc Posing

10:05 am: Uh oh, we're pulling planes in--that's never a good sign. We've got more judging results though... in Open, Airspeed scored the third 21 we've seen in round 2, tying them with Force for the top slot.

Time to go process more team photos. Competitors, we're still missing a bunch of your team photos--see Erin at registration to get your photo made!

Current favorite team photo:

Dallas Flash Point

Dallas Flash Point

11:25 am: The judges are judging again after an early lunch break; they've finished advanced and open round 2 and are into intermediate round 3 at the moment. In Advanced, we've got a tie for first between Spaceland Havoc and the SDC Furies XP at 22 points, with Cross Keys Aerodyne and Ranch Fallout only one point back.

While they work, let's enjoy a few lovely guest photos by Brandi Shallenberger and Craig O'Brien:

Steve, Stevie, and Eric Boyd of Skydive Spaceland
Spectator area
Spaceland Otters
Dan BC and Dan Cook
George Dickinson and Delphine Toursiere
Sunset load

12:15 pm: We're nearing our competitors' check-in time of 12:30 pm, and it's still raining... looks like we'll be doing a bit more photo work and we're working up some nice rainy-day reading for you to enjoy soon.

In the meantime, here are the teams whose photos are still AWOL. Please get your photo made ASAP! Rigs are not required.

  • 201
  • 203
  • 205
  • 211
  • 212
  • 217
  • 220
  • 230
  • 303
  • 401
  • 403
  • 406-410
  • 412
  • 416

2:25 pm: Now back to our regularly scheduled jump operations... competition load 36 is loading now! We've gathered a few more team photos, let me go through them and see if we're still missing any. We'll bring an update on that in a few.

And for now, we have a special treat for you--a guest Timbit blog post! Even better is the topic:

Camscore vs. Omniskore SMACKDOWN!

3:00 pm: We're still in full swing, and the judges are working their way through round 3 of intermediate. VTSD is still on top with a comfy 6-point lead over Carolina Ice; CSC Pareto Optimal is 2 points back from Ice.

Team photo update: We're still missing a few, but we're getting there! I understand that two teams have had their photos taken, but those images apparently ran off faster than good weather in Texas... We apologize, but please get your photos retaken sometime today. Thanks for your patience.

Here's the list of photos I don't have:

  • 201
  • 203
  • 205
  • 211
  • 212
  • 230
  • 303
  • 406
  • 407
  • 409
  • 412

3:25 pm: The judges are working on advanced round 3, which looks like a faster round for most teams so far, 4Schzl is leading the round with an 11. And we just located a misplaced card with a few more team photos. Updated list of the missing:

  • 205
  • 212
  • 230
  • 406
  • 412

3:55 pm: And after finding yet a few more AWOL team photos on flash cards, we're missing only two teams: 230 and 412. Sorry for the mixup!

Advanced round 3 is completed, and it looks like the Furies had a little rougher jump than some of the other teams... they've dropped to third after losing 2 points to Havoc and Fallout in round 3. The first five teams in advanced are all one point apart.

Open round 3 is being judged; right now A4C and Crystal each have 16s in this round--the highest score on the board so far.

6:10 pm: We're still rolling here, Otter 52 is on a 15-minute call and the judges are turning out those scores in a pretty speedy time frame. All of intermediate round 4 is judged with the exception of one team, and VTSD is pulling away from the pack. They made up 3 more points on Carolina Ice that round for a total lead of 9 points at this time. Ice is four up on Pareto Optimal, but that's a guest team so it's Cross Keys NRG currently in the bronze slot, five points behind Ice and one behind Optimal.

Things are changing up a bit in Advanced; Spaceland Havoc is still on top with a 46 total, but now they're tied with Ranch Fallout and the Furies are 4 points back. Cross Keys Aerodyne is no doubt hungry to make up those two points to get back into the top three.

Open round 4 is being judged; there aren't a lot of scores on the board yet, but the Amphibious Attack Tigers have posted a nice 18... stay tuned...

7:35 pm: Today was a smashing success compared to yesterday! All but a few intermediate teams have jumped through round 5, and advanced/open teams have all completed round 4. The forecast is looking very promising for the next several days, so cross your fingers, toes, and whatever else you want that we can complete those last rounds tomorrow.

As for scores: In open, Airspeed had a rockin' round 4 at 28 points, picking up 3 points on Force to pull 4 points ahead by total (Force is currently in second place with an 89). Fury had a great round as well, posting a 27 to pull in 2 points behind Force. Tomorrow we've got a potential world record all-random round in the mix, and with the scores fairly close anything could happen!

Golden Knights Gold posted a 23, they're 6 points behind Fury (total of 81). Last year's Advanced champions, SDC Rhythm XP, are next with a total of 66--not too shabby for their first trip in this class!

Advanced, you already know; in intermediate, VTSD and currently fourth place team Spaceland Mamba both picked up 9s, everyone else who has been scored so far was below that. VTSD is 10 points ahead of Carolina Ice, with (G) CSC Pareto Optimal and Cross Keys NRG tied 5 points back, and their nearest neighbors (Spaceland Mamba and Perris Jimani) 6 points away.

Tomorrow looks good weather-wise, so here's the schedule: Teams that have done round 5 have a 7:30 a.m. call tomorrow. All others have a 7 a.m. call.

Photos coming soon!

11:55 pm: Getting by with a little help from our talented photographer friends...

Golden Knights creeping Karen Lewis
Spaceland Force
Arizona Airspeed exit Arizona Airspeed
Sarah Knipling of Dizturbia and Dad
Chief Judge Judy Celaya
Shannon Pilcher and Eric Boyd of Spaceland Force
Perris Fury
Landing at Skydive Spaceland
Arizona Arsenal practice

Arizona Arsenal practice

A little practice vertical formation skydiving went on today too...

Landing over the wet
Nice face!
Swoop practice

And some swoop practice too...

OK, that's about all this blogger has for tonight... see ya tomorrow!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Nationals Day 1 (Monday, 10/12)

4:30 am: NOTICE: All competitors are released until at least 10:30 a.m. due to weather. Expect another update by 9:30 a.m.

Ugg... back to bed. :(

9:15 am: Well, I got teased by the weather a lot on the way here from Houston. Holes in the clouds with sunbeams in them, breaks in the fog--I even saw the sun a couple of times! Unfortunately, we're still socked in with clouds, fog, and intermittent rain here at Skydive Spaceland.

This just in... All competitors are released until at least 2:30 p.m. due to weather. Expect another update by 1:30 p.m. :( Agh! Well, that should allow plenty of time to post some photos from last night, stay tuned for those.

UPDATE (10:30 am): There are sucker holes all around now! If your team is here and ready to jump before the posted 2:30 check-in time, let Dan know in the Nationals manifest (inside the air-conditioned packing area). There's a chance we might get in the air sooner!

UPDATE (11:15 am): Competition load 1 is on a 15-minute call, here we go!!!!

11:45 am: It is ON!!! Load 1 is in the air!!!

12:30 pm: Noooo.... we're back on a weather hold. Previous weather hold/competitor release time still applies. Stay tuned.

While we wait, here are a few photos from last night's briefing and thereafter...

Creativity in video capture by Jim Slaton
Chief Judge Judy Celaya Creativity in video capture by Jim Slaton
Judges get to play too Jo and Andrew of CamScore
Skydive Spaceland owner Steve Boyd Tim Wagner
Skydive Chicago Furies XP

1 pm: Load 2 is on a 15-minute call!!!

CamScore is upgrading some video cards for higher-resolution imagery, but we're hoping to see some live judging video and results from load 1 soon. So far moisture on camera lenses at lower altitude hasn't been a problem, so competition altitude will be 10,500 feet.

3:35 pm: Sorry for the delay in posting; it got a bit busy around here! 25 of the 33 intermediate teams have done round 1 and CamScore's still working on the video hardware upgrade, so we've added some unofficial results to They're unofficial because they're done by hand, not served out of CamScore.

And you guessed it... it's raining again. Seriously raining. Like, where's my ark rain. But it's South Texas, so hopefully that won't last too long. As always, stay tuned for more!

3:45 pm: Rain's letting up already, we'll see how it goes.

4:10 pm: ...and we're back! On a call, that is. The rain's moved out and it's becoming a typical hot, steamy South Texas afternoon.

5:30 pm: That call didn't last long, unfortunately. The weather's back in the toilet again, and the teams that have already made a jump have been released for the day. Our call tomorrow is the same as it was this morning, be here at 7 a.m. for a 15-minute call.

We'll go work on team photos and such, check back on that in a bit!

Sunset landing6 pm: It's official, we now have the real-deal CamScore results page going! See for available, updated scores. We're working on team roster pages and will let you know when they're ready. Oh, and on those team pages... We are missing a LOT of team photos. If your team is all here, please, please, pretty please stop by the backdrop next to the registration table this afternoon and see Jim Slaton to get your team's photo made. It's pouring, what else are you going to do?

6:15 pm: And we're back on a 10-minute call for competition load 8!

7:15 pm: Done for the day after a couple of loads and a gorgeous sunset; the judges are gearing up to score dives so look for updated scores here shortly! Also, check out the team roster pages (photos coming soon, get your team photo made ASAP tomorrow if you haven't already!).

8 pm: Judging continues, check out the new handy results pages! Wow, that's a tough round for Ranch Fallout, they had four busts to give them a 4. Give me a few minutes to get these team photos done, maybe I'll get to watch a round or two...

Got the story on that round for Fallout, Block 13 (hammer-hammer) requires the solo flyers to turn in opposite directions.

8:20 pm: OK, we've got 22 team photos on the site now (click your team's name in the results page to see it!). That means I'm missing about 35 of you... please take care of that team photo ASAP in the morning so I don't have to call you out by name and make you infamous. :-)

So to wrap up the day...
  • 2 of 16 open teams have done Round 1. Elsinore BTE gets to rule that class for the night, with a 13 in Round 1.
  • All 8 advanced teams have done Round 1, and the Furies have a 1-point lead over Aerodyne and Havoc.
  • All 33 intermediate teams have done Round 1; VTSD has gone out to an early 2-point lead over Carolina Ice and Cross Keys NRG.

We'll leave off the day with a few gorgeous sunset load pics:

Landing area
Sunset landing

The schedule's the same for tomorrow as today... 7 am show for a 15-minute call, and there will be an update on by 6 a.m. in the event of weather. See you then!

10:55 pm: UPDATE FOR TOMORROW: Weather permitting, open teams have a 15-minute call at 7 a.m., intermediate at 7:15, advanced at 7:30. Weather update at by 6am.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nationals, T minus 1 day (Sunday, 10/11)

8:40 am: Good morning from Spaceland! So far today's looking a lot like yesterday... cloudy, with a hint of rain on the way here. No planes have flown yet. The drop zone population's a little thin this morning, no doubt due to yesterday's weather followed by today's forecast. I'm thinking at least a few of our competitors figured there was no reason the party had to wait till after the competition!

Stay tuned to this page for more updates!

9:45 am: Registration is hopping, we now have 411 jumpers registered and 224 of them checked in. Current team count: 84. Current 4-way team count: 49, with more than 8 hours to go before 4-way registration closes tonight at 6 p.m. Draw and briefing will be held at 6 pm in hangar 2 (the one on the left as you walk in from the parking lot, with the registration tables and award stage).

Registration hot tips:
  • #1: Register/pay online and print/fill out your waiver before you get here!!! Your check-in will take as little as 2 minutes if you're prepared.
  • #2: Girls' shirts run small.

Registration table

Registration is busy this morning.

Competition briefings for each event will happen the later of the following:
  • The night before the event begins at the close of registration (6 pm).
  • When jumping ends, or
  • After any medals are awarded for previous events.

12:30 pm: Registration update: We've got 432 jumpers registered, 265 checked in, and 91 teams (all events). Right now, there are 54 4-way teams registered.

It's still pretty thick out there, but here's a few shots of what's going on around here...

Kirk Verner Mark Kirkby
Doug Park Hank Prewitt
Team photo backdrop

8 pm: All right ladies and germs, the briefing is over and we've got a potential world record round in the draw for open class (there are 57 4-way teams registered, 16 Open, 8 Advanced, and 33 Intermediate). More on that in a moment, first let's run through a few notes and quotes from the briefing (bulleted for speed's sake):

  • "Just look at this place, they've really pulled out all the stops! The Boyd family has shown a real commitment to skydiving with this place."--Scott Smith, meet director
  • "Welcome to the 2009 USPA Nationals, I've been waiting a long time to say that! Thanks to our sponsors--Sky Systems, Aerodyne, Vigil, and Jumper Sportswear for helping us produce this event!"--Eric "EZ" Boyd, DZ manager
  • "We're working really hard to get this done, when the sun is shining, be prepared for 45-minute calls (the minimum specified in the Skydivers' Competition Manual). If you land out, have a mal, or whatever, let manifest know right away. We want to keep things moving when the weather is good.
    "There is an official notice board next to the registration tables; look there for any updates on weather or anything else. There will also be a 'non-official/official' notice board at it at 6 a.m. to see if you need to be here at 7 a.m. for a 15-minute call. If we are on a weather hold till, say, 11 a.m., by 10 a.m. we hope to have an update on If there's a chance we'll be jumping, we're going to hold everyone here so we can jump our a$$es off and get this done once weather's here. There is no maximum number of jumps per day, we'll keep going till we have 10 rounds in or it's sunset."--Smith (Weather's not looking too great for full altitude tomorrow morning, but keep your fingers crossed!)
  • Early rounds will go according to team number, but by round 5 we're expecting to have teams jump in reverse order of standings. "Really pay attention to the manifest calls!"--Smith
  • If moisture proves an issue for video at lower altitudes, jump altitudes may be raised but 35-second working time is still in effect.
  • 5 Otters will be in use, 4 with outside floater bars and one without as a backup. All planes are considered the same and outside floater bars are fair game.
  • Jump runs will run north or south for consistency with four teams per plane, three teams for the first pass and one for the last. Green light=exit, red light during jump run does not mean to stop climbout. The next team out will get a go-around.
  • No grips on flap handles!
  • Jump run speeds will be 90 +/- 5 knots, with 85 as the target.
  • Landing procedures: NO HOOK TURNS IN THE MAIN LANDING AREA! "Land safely straight in for two weeks, then we can all party like rockstars after that. If you gotta do a hook turn, sign the swoop park waiver and land over there, but remember you'll still be on a 45-minute call when you land. And swoop park competitors have right of way (practicing or competing)." --Rabbitt Staib, air boss/S&TA
  • Hook turn violators may or may not get a warning...
  • Avoid landing on the runway or the short-mown grass next to it, the planes use both... Beware of aircraft if crossing the runway, they'll be using it about every 4 minutes...
  • "You guys are going to be way, way impressed with the CamScore system this year. Video staff, judges, and I am all really impressed with it." --Smith (more on this tomorrow!)
  • Video downloading is all digital with touchscreens on this system.
  • "This is the first major meet where CamScore's random electronic draw has pulled an all-random round (Round 6 is A-N-H-P-O). We have FAI judges here to certify a world record if it happens!" --Judy Celaya, chief judge

What, you want the draw? OK, here you go!

Team list: (it'll be on CamScore tomorrow, but here's your preview!)

Elsinore BTE

Spaceland Force
Ranch Delivery
Perris Fury
Amphibious Attack Tigers
Golden Knights Gold
SDC Rhythm XP
Arizona Airspeed
(G) Black
Golden Knights Black
Spaceland Blue
(G) Crystal
Sebastian Tempest
(G) Voluntas
Ranch Fallout
SDC Furies XP
Spaceland SPX Lite
SPX Edge
Spaceland Havoc
4 Schzl
Cross Keys Aerodyne
(G) Blue Ice
Perris Matrix
300% Deviation
Dallas Vertical Velocity
Venture 4 Fun
Elsinore FLV
(G) First Point
Elsinore Rigby
Spaceland BS5
(G) CSC Pareto Optimal
WPT Apocalypse
Perris 4 Shock
Spaceland Funnel Approach
First Time Out
Perris Jimani
Dallas Flash Point
Carolina Ice
Bisquits and Gravity
Spaceland 2BD
Piece Out
Spaceland Mamba
Cross Keys NRG
Dallas Fusion 4
Air Force Epic
Syncing Feeling
Air Force Groove
Elsinore TBA
Air Force Raptor

Photos to come later, must find dinner now!

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nationals, T minus 2 days (Saturday, 10/10)

9:45 am: Good morning from Spaceland! Yesterday's rain has moved out, but it's left low clouds in its place. Loads have been manifesting since around 7 a.m., but no planes have gone up yet. We hear it will clear out later on today, and the cooler temperatures are a nice change--59 degrees F at the moment, with a forecasted high of 74. The good thing about the weather is that everyone's got plenty of time to catch up with friends, get checked in, unpack their gear, etc. We're up to 353 jumpers registered so far, with 79 checked in.

Keep checking this page for updates and photos throughout the day!

2:30 pm: This place is awfully busy for a drop zone on a weather hold! Preparations are still going on, the parking lot's almost full, judges are arriving, there's dirt diving and creeping, and there's plenty of barbecue to be had for lunch!
Barbecue truck

Bakers Ribs says they can feed 700 people barbecue with this setup... they might get to prove it!

Barbecue on the grill

CamScore logoThe judges will be test driving CamScore today and tomorrow (some of them have used the system, some haven't); we'll talk to them tomorrow afternoon and let you know the scoop on that. So far I don't know a lot of details about it, but everyone I've talked to who does seems to think it's the best thing to come along since modern parachutes. We'll find out more soon!

In the meantime, we've got a little more DZ touring to do... check out the spiffy new bunkhouse/showerhouse (16 bunks, bathrooms, and laundry):


Each of the two bunk rooms has eight beds. Some are still available for $15/night, call manifest at 281-369-3337 to reserve one.


The new showerhouse adds several toilets and two showers each for men and women in addition to the bathrooms and showers in the main hangar.



Plus there are two washers and dryers each for men and women.

2:45 pm: It's still cloudy, but brightening... get on the manifest if you want to jump, I heard a rumor they've manifested out 12 loads plus tandems...

3:25 pm: I see sunbeams! They're not jumping yet, but that layer is definitely breaking up. :-)

3:45 pm: Rats! Load 1 was on about a 10-minute call, then got another weather hold. Stay tuned...

Skydive Spaceland Nationals Medal4:00 pm: Just found out something pretty cool... We all know that guest competitors (individuals or teams with at least one member who is not a U.S. citizen or has competed as a citizen of another country in the last two years) are not eligible to receive medals. Right? Well, Skydive Spaceland decided that if they're good enough to place in the top three, they should get a medal. It won't be a USPA Nationals medal, and they won't be considered a medalist in the official standings... but they'll get a nice-looking Spaceland medal to show off anyway. Nice move!

By the way, if you want to get the very quickest updates from Skydive Spaceland, follow us on Twitter at!

Lastly, another of Spaceland's Otters just came home from its travels, bringing the on-site Otter count to 5. We are so ready to go when this cloud layer breaks all the way up!

8:00 pm: Bummer of a day, no loads flew due to clouds. Bright side? The lack of jump operations let the staff focus on finalizing the remaining ground preps. We just got out of a staff meeting and everyone's really pumped about things, looking forward to kicking this thing off! Staff will be wearing red shirts with Nationals artwork front and back plus red staff badges, so if you need something while you're here, look for someone who fits that fabulously detailed description. :-)

Tami Jo Gertz, packing coordinator

Tami Jo Gertz, probably saying "Stow your brakes!"

Speaking of staff, here's a note for professional packers wanting to pack indoors OR any jumpers needing packers here... Please see our packing coordinator Tami Jo Gertz. She will be managing the professional packer spaces in the air-conditioned packing area, plus assigning jumpers to packers. The central hangar space with green carpet is a free-for-all in terms of packing space.

Lastly but not leastly, the hangar will be open tomorrow at 6 am. The first practice loads are scheduled to start flying at 7:15 am.

See you all tomorrow... here's hoping the weather will improve and this blogger will get to make a jump or two!!!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Nationals, T minus 3 days (Friday, 10/9)

9:15 am: Good morning from Skydive Spaceland! We're currently on a cloud hold and hoping we'll get some practice loads in today before the forecasted weather moves in. All together now, let's do a sun dance... nope, sounds like they're going to pull the planes in before that red and yellow mess on the radar gets here.

In the meantime, we'll keep working on setups and getting the incoming staff up to speed. Look for a post on the CamScore system later today, along with more photos!

Speaking of scoring, while we won't be using Omniskore this year, I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to them for providing their services for so many competitions up to this point. Whether following the meet from home or checking scores on my phone from the competition, they've always been a great resource (especially the Timbits+Tedbits :-). We'll do our best to live up to that standard of reporting!

12 pm: Yep, it's raining and cool now... temp's bumped down to the mid-60s and it's still breezy, so bring some long sleeves if you're heading out today.

Competitors: Have you heard that everyone has to register online this year? You can do it before you get here or stand in line for a registration terminal once you get here... it's probably easier for both of us if you do it before you arrive! Visit Skydive Spaceland's Nationals registration system to get started. As of right now, we have 308 jumpers registered and 62 teams (including all events). It's shaping up to be a good time out here!

2:30 pm: Yup, still raining. There's some discussion on Facebook about sacrificing virgin sheep to appease the gods and make it stop raining, but apparently virtual sheep don't cut it. We'll have to try something else...

Rotten radar

In the meantime, how about some photos of the people who are making it happen around here?

Eric Boyd

Eric Boyd, Skydive Spaceland manager

Scott Smith

Scott Smith, meet director

Dan Cook

Dan Cook, Nationals manifestor extraordinaire

Erin Horten

Erin Horton, registration queen

Ali Macdonald

Ali Macdonald, Skydive Spaceland manifest/team room coordinator

Robin Kalina

Robin Kalina, Skydive Spaceland manifest/judge coordinator


Tyler Smith--thanks for the nice gravel walkways, they'll come in handy after this rain!


Mark--thanks for the sod around the team rooms, it got a nice watering today...

Tina Hyder in store

Tina Hyder, volunteer coordinator and pro shop ruler


(Speaking of the shop, they have lots of extra weights for sale if you need any! Price: $6/pound)

3:10 pm: So it's not raining at the moment, but it's pretty dark and gloomy... For the moment, I'll leave you with this thought:

Is it beer:30 yet?

4:15 pm: OK, who was in charge of the sacrifices to the weather gods? It's raining buckets right now. Let's take a minute to look at some of our more entertaining team names so far... what's your favorite?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Countdown to Nationals! Thursday 10/8, T minus 4 days

Hey everyone, it's great to be at Skydive Spaceland right now! This particular blogger hasn't been here in a few months and the changes are spectacular. Huge new hangar for planes and creeping, more bathrooms, team rooms, mega swoop pond, full carpet in the main hangar, gravel walking paths (less mud!)... we'll take a full photo tour of the facilities later on.

For now, we'll just enjoy a sunrise photo from this morning...


Spaceland sunrise.

Things are hopping here; the hangar is opening at 7:30 a.m., teams are checking in and practicing, and the first load just took off (8:45 am). The weather's great, come on out and play!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This year, Omniskore will not be scoring the USPA Nationals... we'll be using CamScore. To stay tuned to the scores and happenings at Nationals, please visit We'll have scores, a blog (shortly), live judging video feed, and much more.

Stay tuned for more updates!

1:15 pm: Load 10 is in the air and last-minute Nationals preparations are in full swing.

3:20 pm: Winds are up, and most of the teams are down after 12 loads. Airspeed, Voluntas, Raptor, and Spaceland Force have made training jumps so far. Seems like a good time to catch up on that Skydive Spaceland photo tour...

Skydive Spaceland hangars

Skydive Spaceland hangars from the parking lot.

Main hangar

The main hangar faces the parking lot; it will be the primary congregation point, and is where manifest, rigging loft, cafe, pro shop, air-conditioned packing, etc., are located.

Second hangar

The second hangar to the left holds airplanes and offers plenty of creeping space.

Packing area

The air-conditioned packing area (a serious perk in South Texas!) measures about 8,000 square feet and contains the satellite manifest office.

Spectator area

The covered spectator area offers a bit of shade and tables/benches facing the landing area.


Spaceland offers patriotic creepers...

More creepers

...and regular ones.

Swoop pond

The swoop course is set up... man, those gates are a long way off! The pond measures 500x250 feet.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nationals Online Registration Now Open!

Hi all,

We hope everyone's having as great of a summer as we are! And to top it all off, the USPA Nationals is just around the corner. Where will you be? Skydive Spaceland, we hope! :-) RSVP (OK, register online really) at

Our system lets you register, pay, and form teams online, so have at it! The idea is that once you get here, assuming you've registered and paid online, we'll just check your ID and rig repack date/seal, make sure your information and waiver are correct and up to date, hand you a goodie bag and send you off to have a great time. :-)

Team captains, please note that individuals must be registered AND paid in full for events before you can add them to your teams. For more information on how the system works, please see our video demonstration. Make sure your registration is done before your event's registration deadline!

Need any more information on Nationals, such as the schedule, lodging, how to get here, or team rooms? Visit our Nationals information page! We look forward to seeing you!

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