CHICAGO (AP) — Two U.S. Army teams have excelled at the World Parachuting Championships, with the 8-way formation skydiving team trouncing the competition in record-breaking style and the women's 4-way team taking gold after a nail-bitingly close contest.
Late Wednesday, the Golden Knights' 8-way team finished a full 40 points ahead of second-placed France in the 10-round competition at Skydive Chicago near Ottawa, Illinois.
The eight skydivers also set a competition record, according to Nancy Koreen, spokeswoman for the United States Parachute Association. The team synchronized their moves in freefall at such speed that the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale judges scored them a 23.90-point average, the highest score in that discipline in the history of the World Parachuting Championships, Koreen said Thursday.
The Golden Knights' women's formation skydiving team also scooped gold for the U.S., although they fought to stay a nose ahead of France for almost the entire competition, pulling away in the last two of 10 rounds. The team included one civilian jumper: JaNette Leftkowitz stepped in to assist the Army team just four months before the competition after Golden Knights team member Angela Nichols withdrew because she was pregnant.
"I have tremendous respect for the Golden Knights, for their history and all the work they do," said Leftkowitz, who usually jumps with U.S. silver medal holders, SDC Rhythm XP. "The organization and resources are incredible."
The rivalry between the American and French women's teams has been going on for years, and France has won the last two world meets "so we knew it was going to be close," she said.
Another U.S. team, SDC Core, won the vertical formation skydiving gold on Tuesday.