It was down to the wire in all freefly events with barely a whicker separating the medallists….
Both senior and junior freestyle have been incredibly close battles, with tenths of a point separating the top four. The technical level of difficulty was very similar if not identical, meaning the medal placings were down to who could hold their nerve and perform their routine perfectly – not easy when at a world competition, especially for the juniors. The standard of flying was the best we have ever seen. Almost all the flyers performed their routines the best that we had seen them to date on this final day; some because they knew they were out of the medals so they could relax and enjoy their flight, or because they were fighting for a medal and knew they had to fly their very best to earn a world podium place.
The sophistication of the junior routines amazed me, with flyers I have seen many times really upping the difficulty level for this important competition. With the variety in flying styles, tricks and flavour I would hate to be a judge and have to decide who was better. It was lovely just to watch and appreciate, a sentiment clearly matched by the large crowd of parents, supporters and public. I have never seen so many parents bursting with pride – and rightly so.
In the end the judges awarded Kayleigh Wittenburg the junior title. Kayleigh is from the USA, is aged 14, and has been flying for 8 years. She was closely followed by Yi Xuan from Singapore, taking a world silver in her third freestyle competition. Coralie Boudreault was a worthy bronze medallist for Canada.
The adult competition was won by Toms Ivans from Latvia, who led all the way from the beginning, and was delighted to take the first ever world skydiving medal for his country. Toms has a unique style as he learned to fly in an open-air tunnel, most unlike the more modern, hi-tech cylinders we see in the rest of the world. Second was Kyra Poh for Singapore, with a stunning, elegant gymnastic routine. Just making third was Poland’s Maja Kuczynska, just one tenth of a point ahead of Norway’s Amalie Hegland Lauritsen.
The dynamic final saw a series of eight battles between sixteen teams, each flying in a 2-way battle. The results of previous days decided who was battling who for each pair of places – 16th and 15th; 14th and 13th; 12th and 11th and so on, all the way up to the truly thrilling fight between first and second; and third and fourth, to decide the medals. Each battle consisted of one free round and one speed round. If one team won both rounds the result was clear; if it was a draw (one round each) then the teams flew again in a speed round tie-breaker, with a new puzzle.
The semi-final and final were absolutely gripping! The battle-off for third and fourth was between Czech’s Hurricanes and France’s Windoor Ninjas. Hurricanes won the free round and Windoor the speed, so they flew again in the tie breaker. The Ninjas, who are great head-up flyers, won the tie-breaker taking the bronze medal for France.
Fighting for gold and silver were iFly Singapore (Kyra and Xi Yuan) and Aerogravity, with Leo and Gyzmo for France. The atmosphere by now was electric and this only intensified when the girls won the speed and the boys the free round – another tie-breaker for the world title! The crowd were screaming as both teams went again, on the edge of control, flying as hard as they possibly could. iFly Singapore were just faster and took the gold at this World Cup for Singapore, leaving Aerogravity the silver for France. Phew! We were all exhausted at the surge of adrenaline just watching so I can’t imagine how the competitors felt. The fact that all the medals went to a tie-breaker just shows how close this meet was.
Gravity did a superb job of running this competition. It went like clockwork, with timings to the minute. Accommodation was well situated, with most competitors on site at the relatively new Gravity Fly residence, within Gravity Village, a collection of shops, restaurants and bars built around this impressive wind tunnel. A very professional Live Stream went out to the world, and this feed was on Bahraini TV and radio, generating great awareness of the sport of indoor skydiving. The tunnel itself is beautifully laid out, with tiered seating and balcony areas so everyone could watch the spectacular performances. There was a very friendly atmosphere, with a large crowd of athletes and public cheering the performers, especially during the freestyle, junior freestyle and dynamic.
Comp information was clear and well communicated, in particular with booklets and a lovely magazine with all competitors included as well as info explaining each discipline and indoor skydiving as a sport. It was well attended by 25 nations and a host of teams. Posters and flags all around Bahrain promoted the sport and highlighted the athletes. Undoubtedly this 3rd FAI World Cup promoted indoor skydiving as a sport and generated excitement among the world at large.
The Wind Games at Windoor (Spain) in February is the next major tunnel competition including both FS and freeflying events, then the Bodyflight World Challenge in the UK in April, leading up to the next FAI competition, the World Championships at Weembi Lille, France in April 2019.
Full results, videos, scores, teams and more details are at http://wcis2018.com
Day 1 Update here
Day 2 Update here
FS Results here
Photos by Abdullah Minhas, for Gravity Indoor Skydiving