Thursday, September 21, 2023


By Albert Berchtold

Thursday, June 3, 2021

One of three main pillars of USPA is the promotion of competition and record-setting programs. As a member of our U.S. Parachute Team and someone who has competed in Nationals since 2003, this is an area I’m very passionate about. We have some plans in the works for later this year that will hopefully fundamentally change our ability to support our U.S. Parachute Team in the future, but we’ll get more into that next month. In this issue, you’ll find information on the newly created beginner 4-way formation skydiving test event that will be held at the 2021 USPA Nationals at Skydive Arizona in Eloy in October.

The creation of this test event is a testament to how our members, our board and our staff worked together exactly as designed. The USPA Board’s Competition Committee reviewed the idea for the event and then solicited, received and acted upon member feedback. Subject-matter experts helped form the rules, dive pools, structure, etc. The full board approved. National Director Melissa Lowe remarked, “I’m happy to see the board listen to the members and hope it inspires people to get involved and go compete!”

As soon as the board approved the event, the USPA staff kicked in and put together the beginner test event rules document (formatted so that it can take its place in the Skydivers Competition Manual if it becomes a permanent event) and worked with Skydive Arizona and meet management to add it to the upcoming Nationals.

I remember as a new jumper being intimidated by the idea of having to memorize 4-way blocks and randoms. Learning the skydiving skills was hard enough, let alone the idea of hurting my brain studying formations, many of which were too difficult for me to do, anyway. This test event should remove a lot of those barriers to entry for newer competitors.

As the season gets started, I encourage those who are thinking about getting involved in competitive skydiving to give it a go. Do you have your B license and are wondering what to do now? That’s what this beginner class is all about. Goal setting and team building with likeminded skydivers will not only be fun, but you may find new focus in the sport. There are several awesome articles out there on forming a new 4-way FS team. Here’s a head start: Read the series “On the Line: Succeeding in 4-way” by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld in the June-November 2012 issues of Parachutist (available at under the Back Issues tab). The first article is titled “Understanding Your Game and Selecting Your Team.”   Tomorrow’s world champions are today’s beginner-class exit funnelers. Go compete!

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