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Here you will find the latest news from the "National Skydiving League". Special thanks to Kurt Gaebel, founder of the league and webmaster of its web site.
[Updated: March 12, 2001]
PD Blue's new team member
They took their time and chose carefully. And it was not an easy decision at all. However, it is final now: Niklas Hemlin is the new PD Blue team member. Very few people probably expected Hemlin to win the slot since PD Blue had a few world class candidates available. Solly Williams, Gary Smith and Doug Park all had shown their interest in becoming team members with Shannon Pilcher, David vanGreuningen, Ian Bobo and Kyle Collins. Hemlin will finally put on the PD Blue uniform.
Team spokesperson Pilcher and Hemlin visited the NSL office Monday night to provide the NSL audience with more insights. Hemlin is 23 years old and has a total of 2,550 jumps. He used to be a member of the Swedish national 4-way team "Velox" in 1997 and 1998 as the outside center. Velox scored 14.8 average at the World Championship in 1997 and 16.2 at the World Cup in 1998. He began dreaming of competing with a world class team early in Sweden. After training in Florida with Velox, he decided to pursue his dream in the United States.
NSL's web site
He tried out for the Golden Knights in 1998 when he met his future wife Kathryn, formerly Huntington. At the same time, the opportunity came up to become a member of FX. He dropped the Golden Knights vision and tried out for FX. Although FX did not materialize for Hemlin at this time, he stayed close and connected with the team. While he was going to school to finish his education as an Emergency Medical Technician, he kept on training with FX once in a while. He completed school in 2000 to become the official alternate for FX. The same year, he made approx. 150 training jumps with FX as point or tail. However, the FX plans for 2001 with Joey Jones, Doug Park and Gary Smith never materialized. When Smith left the team, Hemlin also decided to look for different options.
Just a few days later, PD Blue decided to look for a new team member because center inside Kyle Colins had decided to step back. Hemlin did not hesitate to express his interest in the open slot. PD Blue now had the choice between four world class competitors. As the other three candidates, Hemlin had already proved his scoring potential after putting 19.7 average on the FSL scoreboard with "FX Brazil" in January 2001. It was now up to PD Blue to make the choice. Pilcher explained that all four of the candidates would have made a great fit in regards of talent and experience. It was the team chemistry that was the main factor at the end.
PD Blue is very excited about the decision. The team is looking forward to begin training for the new season at the end of February. Collins will still be involved and train with the team as the tail and center outside. He will give the center inside positon fully to Hemlin who will need each jump to learn the new position. Hemlin took action immediately after learning that he made the slot. He began studying his new position by watching PD Blue's videos and asking every world class center inside for feedback by e-mail. He will be ready for the first jumps. PD Blue as a new unit is planning to continue the PD Factory Team project with full steam. Goals are to win the U.S. Nationals in 2002 and the World Championship in 2003. The training plan will include approx. 600 jumps in 2001. The first Blue scores with Hemlin will probably get on the scoreboard at the third FSL season meet on April 1st.
Judges are welcome
The National Skydiving League has not only created a playground for teams and competitors through the whole skydiving season, but eager and interested judges have more than enough opportunities to sharpen their skills and practice for challenging competitions. In the past, most of the currently rated FS judges did not have the greatest real world opportunities for judging. They had to get ready to face the best and fastest teams in the world at the U.S. Nationals by studying videos at home. There is some additional training right before the Nationals at the competition site. And that's it. No surprise that many of the calls at the Nationals were not happily supported by expert competitors and coaches.
However, there is the chance for the judges now to get enough competition training. In 1999, the NSL and the affilliated leagues offered 39 competitions all over the country. In 2000, the number of meets went up to over 60. This season, the expected number of meets will pass 80. There should be one for every judge in the country who wants to get the practice. Judges have always been welcome at the NSL meets, few have taken the opportunity. Hopefully, the co-operation will increase since this looks like a win-win situation for everybody.
Meet organizers and league directors are looking for judges to take the neutral position. Many leagues have been using experienced competitors and event coaches to do the job at the season meets in the regions. This works well. However, it puts extra efforts on the shoulders of people who already do other jobs. The league meets of the regular season offer a great opportunity for skydivers and ex-competitors to remain or become involved with competitive skydiving by judging the meets. The atmosphere is friendly and social, help is appreciated. A student judge can learn without a lot of pressure. Currently, the league directors are preparing the 2001 season. It's the right time to get in touch with them and find a meet around the corner. Matthew Cline, Director of the new Southeast Skydiving League, has been trying for a while to find judges for his season. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new league in the northeast is taking form
J.R. Sides of the Chambersburg Skydiving Center began in September 2000 to gather information for a new league in Pennsylvania. His efforts have now materialized in a league that may soon become one of the strongest in the country. Originally, the league was planned to cover Pennsylvania only. However, Skydive Delmarva with a new 4-way team has already joined the league. And there is a very good chance that Skydive Cross Keys will become a part of this league, as well.
At this point, Sides has already staffed the league committee. The committee had its inaugural meeting and set the schedule for the 2001 season. The league will hold five season meets with a weather date in reserve. The locations for the meets have not been determined yet. The next committee meeting will be on Saturday, February 3rd, at 5:00 pm at the Chambersburg Skydiving Center. The league has been contacted by Skydive Pennsylvania and Pittsburg Skydiving who are both interested in hosting events, as well. The Pittsburgh Skydiving Center with competitor veterans EdGanley and Don Bick already have a team for the 2001 season that will begin training in March in Florida.
A very strong player may still join the club in the northeast very soon. Skydive Cross Keys has been a great supporter of Formation Skydiving competition in the past. They have consistently been hosting Americas Cup events in the past years. After the merger between NSL and Americas Cup, the Cross Keys are now considering becomming a part of the NSL structure. The new league in their backyard is the perfect opportunity for them. The NSL News will follow up on the new league developments. J.R. Sides can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.