Cloud Dancer
Skydive AZ Logo 2002 US National Collegiate
Parachuting Championships
Test Freefly Event

Skydive Arizona, Eloy AZ
December 29, 2002


The following material represents my best effort to represent information that I have acquired while at the 2002 US National Collegiate Parachuting Championships. This material may contain typos and errors.

I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as event judge for the Test Freefly Event at the 2002 US National Collegiate Parachuting Championships as well as serve as a principle judge for Formation Skydiving. I believe that this is the second year that freeflying has been a test event at the U.S. I share some info on the competition here.

On December 29, 2002, four freefly teams competed under reliable wonderful sunny skies of Skydive Arizona. Even though there was a wind hold in the afternoon, the teams completed all five rounds in one day. As the day was coming to an end, the teams cooperated to accept jumping in higher winds for round four and accepted a 35 minute ground time (instead of the normal 1 hour time) to make their final round five jump before sunset.

Brent Finley was the video controller. The 2-way freefly teams had air-to-air video. The 2002 Collegiates Test Freefly Event featured top of the world freeflyers for the pool of videographers. Teams even had the opportunity to receive some excellent freeflying tips.

During freefly speed round competition, the formation must be clearly shown to the judges. This means that videographers must position them at an ideal angle so that the formation and grips can be seen for it to count. Also, the performers must not be too little on the screen (which can happen if the videographer is too far away or using a wide angle lens and a little bit too far). In Formation Skydiving, this requires the videographer to be filming from above at a fairly steep angle and to stay there during the entire dive. Freeflying is more complicated in that each formation has a different optimum angle of view to best show it. Since freefly speed jumps are new to freeflying competition in 2002, all freefly videographers are still getting the hang of how to best show each formation. At the 2002 Collegiates, videographers still required a second briefing with competition in progress to ensure that they worked with the team so that each formation was clearly presented. For example, the videographer needs to show both feet touching simultaneously during the toe-to-toe dock. This means that the videographer needs to be slightly higher than the team members so all four feet are in plain view on the video screen.

The Meet Director, Bryan Burke, worked in a very friendly manner with the competitors, introducing them to possibly their very first skydiving competition with helpful tips and addressing any concerns they had. During the freefly competitors' briefing, he explained some basic history of freeflying in the sport and how things came to be the way they are today.

Bryan reminded competitors that if they had a question to read the rules first and then feel free to ask questions. At the 2nd freefly competitors' briefing, the night of the draw, freefly competitors expressed concern about whether or not they would be able to make their jumps due to the number of jumpers and long wait time at the Christmas boogie. (Skydive Arizona's Christmas boogie was happening concurrently with the 2002 US National Collegiate Parachuting Championships.) Competitors learned that, during competition, they will have an airplane and service devoted to them! Bryan continues to explain basics. For example, there is a lot of noise so its good idea to have a team representative near the PA so that you will not miss calls for your load. You'll hear a competition load number called and listen carefully for your team number.

With event judge, Tamara Koyn, three principle judges, Linda Hardesty, Madolyn Murdock, and June Urschel judged the competition. All of the judges had a National rating in Formation Skydiving and were able to use their Formation Skydiving judging skills to judge the Test Freefly Event. This event is unique from the other Artistic Events in that every round was like speed freeflying round five as described in the Artistic Events competition rules. The freefly speed round is judged very similar to Formation Skydiving. This allowed using the same Omniskore! electronic scoring system that is commonly used in judging Formation Skydiving.

Omniskore! was easily configured according to the Test Freefly Event rules, except for a small detail for which there was an easy work-around. In the Freefly Event, a failure to show separation between formations results in a 1 point deduction whereas a NJ or a busted formation results in a 0. (Unlike the freefly speed round, a formation bust and an inter bust in Formation Skydiving are treated the same and Omniskore! is programmed accordingly.) An omitted formation results in a 1 point deduction. The judges gave a score differentiating between inter bust (I), formation bust (O), not judgeable (J), and scoring formation (/ or -). If there was an inter bust that collated as such, there was the option to change that to an omitted formation symbol, which causes the Omniskore! system to properly calculate the jump score. Omniskore! allows entering a comment for an omitted formation, therefore it was possible to label it as a busted inter where appropriate. The Omniskore! system functioned flawlessly during the judging process.

At the completion of all five rounds of the Freefly Event, there was a tie between Team 502 and Team 503 for second place, both teams scoring 3 points each. The Artistic Events rules (Section 6 from the 2002 USPA SCM) were referenced. Section 6-1.16.C.1., referencing the highest scoring free round, does not apply. Section 6-1.16.C.2. states that, "If this technique does not break all ties, the Chief Judge may assert additional qualifications to decide the top three places." It was decided that the highest score on any individual round will break the tie. Team 503 was awarded second place and Team 502 was awarded third place.

Detailed competition results can be seen or download from here. Note that this text document is NOT official.

In general, competitors seemed to have enjoyed the competition, but they also had some comments to share.

Apparantly, an earlier version of the Test Freefly Event rules were written with a three round competition. When it was later changed to a five round competition, there were unexpected costs that surprised both the hosting drop zone and the competitors alike. Other events at the 2002 US National Collegiate Parachuting Championships were either three or four rounds.

In order to deal with the variety of skill among teams, at least one competitor suggested that there should be some "curve" applied to the scoring so that everyone has an equal chance. It is natural for students to consider the idea of the "curve" since some professors apply it to their class grading systems.

Competitors expressed that they wished that there was a head-down random formation in the pool.

Competitors feel that 30 seconds working time is too short. However, deciding on the working time is a safety factor. The IPC is considering reducing the working time for the speed freefly round from 45 to 35 seconds even with the required exit altitude of 13,000 feet AGL. For a Cessna DZ that may be holding the US National Collegiate Parachuting Championships in the future, the working time of 30 seconds may be too long to be safe.

The rules for the competition were brief and were as follows:

updated 12/19/02

Collegiate Nationals Freefly Test Event Rules

Follow all applicable guidelines in the SIM, BSRs, and SCM.

A two-way pair is to perform a set sequence of three docks with a set working time of 30 seconds. Air to air video will be provided by the team's videographer or one from the video pool.

Each dock correctly performed in the correct order receives one point.

The team with the most accumulated points counted on video at the end of the competition wins.

There will be five rounds, and there will be a separate draw for each round before the start of the competition.

The docks will be drawn randomly from a set of four randoms.

1) Sit toe-to-toe dock: Both performers in a sit-fly position. A controlled toe-to-toe dock is performed so that all four feet are touching simultaneously.
2) Sit foot-to-knee dock: Both performers in a sit-fly position. A controlled foot to knee dock is performed so that each foot of one performer is on the opposite knee of the other.
3) Sit Totem: Both performers in a sit-fly position. A controlled dock with both feet of one performer on the shoulders of the other performer.
4) Sit hand-to-foot: Both performers in a sit-fly position. A controlled dock of one performer's hand on the foot of the other performer.

Possible applicable rules from Section 6 include:
6-1.4.C. Teams will be given not less than two hours between the draw and the start of the competition.
6-1.4.D. The draw will be performed at the briefing conducted by meet management, after the close of registration and before the start of the competition.
6-1.5. Exit Altitude: Each jump is made from 13,000 feet.
6-1.11.H. Dock: Dock: A recognizable stationary contact of the foot (feet) of one performer on a specified part of the body of the other performer, performed in a controlled manner.
6-1.11.H.1. For the compulsory sequences, no grips are allowed on any part of the parachute harness.
6-1.11.H.2. The following body parts are specified:
6-1.11.H.2.a. head: the part of the body above the neck
6-1.11.H.2.b. shoulder: the upper part of the body between the neck and the upper arm
6-1.11.H.2.c. upper arm: the part of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow
6-1.11.H.2.d. lower arm: the part of the arm between the elbow and the wrist
6-1.11.H.2.e. hand: the part of the arm past the wrist
6-1.11.H.2.f. upper leg: the part of the leg between the leg strap of the parachute harness and the knee
6-1.11.H.2.g. lower leg: the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle
6-1.11.H.2.h. foot: the part of the leg past the ankle
6-1.11.H.2.i. foot sole: that bottom part of the foot on which a person stands
6-1.11.I. Grip: A recognizable stationary contact of the hand(s) of one performer on a specified part of the body of the other performer, performed in a controlled manner.
6-6.4. Speed Routine Freeflying
6-6.4.A. Scoring sequence: a random compulsory sequence which is correctly performed in the drawn order and which, apart from the first formation after exit, must be preceded by a correctly performed total separation.
6-6.4.B. Scoring
6-6.4.B.1. Each correctly performed compulsory sequence will receive one point within the allotted working time.
6-6.4.B.2. Teams may continue scoring by continually repeating the drawn compulsory sequences.
6-6.4.C. Any incorrectly performed or non judgeable compulsory sequence will receive a score of zero points.
6-6.4.D. Failure to meet the requirement of total separation will lead to a deduction of one point.
6-6.4.E. An omitted compulsory sequence will lead to a deduction of one point.
6-6.4.F. The minimum score for this speed round is zero points.
6-6.4.G. If a maneuver that is not one of the three or five drawn sequences is performed, it is ignored and it does not result in any addition or subtraction to the score, and has no effect on what sequence is performed next (such a maneuver is detrimental to the total score only in that it wastes valuable working time).
6-6.4.H. It is the responsibility of the performers to clearly present the correctly performed compulsory sequences to the videographer.
6-6.5.B.5.a. Speed Round Freeflying: The score for the round is calculated in two phases:
6-6.5.B.5.a.(1) First, points can only be given if scored by a majority of the judges.
6-6.5.B.5.a.(2) This is the raw score for the team.

Since the rules were brief in nature, it was necessary to review a few particulars during the freefly competitors' briefing.

The "sit-fly position" was not defined. The assumption was that it can be anywhere from upright to reclined, as long as the body was not perfectly back-down and in the layout position (straight). Within reason, if you could sit on a chair in the position, it qualified as a sit-fly position. For example, sitting with the legs apart as if the chair back was in front of the chest was regarded as OK. Leaning forward a little bit was fine too.

For random formation number 2, it needed to be clarified that the feet had to "simultaneously" touch both knees of the other performer.

Body parts: While Section 6-1.11.H. defines the body parts, a "toe" and "knee" are not defined. Since the "toe" is a part of the "foot," the "toe" was considered to be the entire "foot." Common sense dictates that the knee is obviously in between the "upper leg" and the "lower leg" as described in Sections 6-1.11.H.2.f. & 6-1.11.H.2.g.

When does working time begin? Section 6-1.7.A. states that "Freeflying and Freestyle Skydiving: Working time begins when the first team member leaves the aircraft..." and Section 6-1.3.B.1. states that "A team consists of three team members, and..." This means that working time begins when either performer or the videographer leaves the aircraft. However, since the Collegiates uses a pool of videographers, the panel of judges, based upon their experience judging at past Collegiates, felt strongly that working time should begin when the first performer leaves the aircraft. This motion was accepted.

Section 6-1.5. states that, "Each jump is made from 13,000 feet." No exit altitude was defined in the rules for the Test Freefly Event. The altitude for freefly jumps was 13,000 feet and was indicated in the registration information.

Regarding rejumps and the pool of videographers... During the judges' briefing, it was verbally mentioned that non-judgeable formations due to video angle should result in a rejump for the team if they have a videographer from a pool. For freeflying, there is the possibility that there can be a lot of non-judgeable formations and this could result in lots of rejumps. Prior to the start of competition, it was decided that poor video angle (as well as too much distance) with a pool videographer will not be a reason for a rejump. The formation must be clearly shown to the judges. A rejump would be provided if a pool videographer were to bump or cause burble interference to the team. It turns out that at this Collegiates, with the excellent videographers, there would have been just only 2 rejumps awarded if non-judgeable due to video angle or too far of distance were to result in a rejump. However, it is unknown if every Collegiate nationals will have top of the world freeflyers to serve in the pool of videographers.

According to Section 6-1.4.D., the Freefly Event draw was performed in front of the competitors in the evening of December 28, one day later than for Formation Skydiving. This allowed freefly competitors to jump during the day before their competition day. Allowing them to jump as much as possible was important to the students on a limited break with limited time in beautiful weather to enjoy jumping.

The random draw was as follows:

Round #1
#2 Sit Foot to Knee Dock
#1 Sit Foot to Foot Dock
#3 Sit Totem

Round #2
#4 Sit Hand to Foot
#2 Sit Foot to Knee Dock
#3 Sit Totem

Round #3
#1 Sit Foot to Foot Dock
#4 Sit Hand to Foot
#3 Sit Totem

Round #4
#3 Sit Totem
#2 Sit Foot to Knee Dock
#1 Sit Foot to Foot Dock

Round #5
#3 Sit Totem
#2 Sit Foot to Knee Dock
#1 Sit Foot to Foot Dock

Team List

Team #Team Name
501LSD (Longhorn Skydivers)
502Collisions = Points
504Justin & the Flying Beavers

Team #Team MemberUniversity
501George ChamalesUniversity of Texas
501Shannon KiddUniversity of Texas
502Chris ArmstrongKansas State University
502Chris BurketKansas University
503Tim TodaroLouisiana State University
503Chris NeelUniversity of Southern Mississippi)
504Matt BeaversKansas State University
504Justin LowreyKansas State University

You can order a video of this competition from:
Chris Burket
1040 West Wallace
Kingman, KS 67068
The tape is reported to contain raw competition jumps from the Test Freefly Event and Formation Skydiving. The cost of the video (NTSC only) is $15.00 (US shipping included). You can contact Chris at (620) 532 1636 or write him at for more details.

Video Operations

I can not post my info about the Test Freefly Event without talking about my first exposure to the use of non-linear video computer equipment for the video dubbing and judging process. This system is vastly superior to a video tape based system.

Video was dubbed from the videographers into a computer supporting non-linear access. The video signal from the computer was routed to the Omniskore! workstation. For judging, Brent Finley's assistant, Terry Schumacher, controlled the video playback from the computer at the request of the event judge. The system worked flawlessly without hassle for freefly judging.

While most people are familiar with considerations unique to working with video tapes, there are also considerations in working with a computer based video system. Brent Finley made a written briefing available to the judges. I write the following for educational purposes.

There is the possibility of "dropped frames," which cause the effect of the performers suddenly "jumping forward" in their motion. It can happen just once or repeatedly. Dropped frames are video frames that are literally missing from the copy of the video within the computer. When this defect is observed, the videographer should be requested to dub again. This is only one reason why videographers must retain the original copy of the dive on his or her own camera. There were no dropped frames in any of the dubbed Test Freefly Event rounds. One jump in Formation Skydiving was redubbed.

"Digital artifacts," which are observed as screen pixel defects, may be present. These can and should be ignored during the judging process. They can come from either the videographer's camera (resulting from excessive wind or dirt or bad/overused tape) or the computer system. It appears as "blocky" glitches which seem to jump across the screen or just randomly appear and disappear. This phenomenon pertains to picture quality and has no affect on the smoothness and timing of the motion of the performers. If the particular "blocky" glitches appear in the same pattern when viewing jump after jump, then the defect is being introduced to the video as it is being played back from the computer. Restarting the video playback software or the entire computer can solve that problem. But usually the defect is insignificant and not a problem for judging. (This occurred through the course of judging three formation skydives in a row and never appear during judging the freefly event.) If the glitch pertains to the camera or tape, then it will appear only during that one jump or jumps shot with that particular camera or tape.

In working with the digital video system, the recording time for slates can be very short. When the system is being used, this does not matter because the slate is automatically the first picture visible when a clip is double clicked by the computer operator. However, once the video is dubbed down to VHS video tape for the records or future judging practice. The slate can be very short, lasting for only an instant. So, it is still important for videographers to record five seconds of slate and for the computer operator to dub five seconds of slate.

Additionally, when all video clips are gathered within video editing software to be dubbed to video tape, they tend to be organized by team rather than by round, most likely because the software automatically puts them in an order based on the file names of the clips. (This also happens in a tape based system where each team rather than each round has a video tape each.) Having the computer operator begin the file name with the round number and then the team number would have the effect of organizing the jumps by round. A video tape organized by rounds is conveniently organized for future judging warm up or training.

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 2003. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.