ELOY — Following nearly a full week of competition, the 2019 FAI World Cup of Formation Skydiving and Artistic Events came to a close Saturday evening with a medals presentation at Skydive Arizona.

The United States came away with eight medals and took the top three spots in the 4-Way Formation competition.

France grabbed three medals, which included two golds in the Freestyle competition of the Artistic Events and the 4-Way Formation for females.

Russia finished with three medals and finished first in the 8-Way Formation competition.

Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain each won a medal as Norway took first in the Freeflying competition and Switzerland placed third.

Great Britain placed second in the 4-Way Formation for females.

The Artistic Events is a difficult competition to critique because it is up to the judges to decide how difficult the routine was, where as in Formation Skydiving judges dock points based on whether or not the teams grabbed onto each other and completed the patterns correctly.

“The artistic teams have like difficulty scores,” said George Hargis, Skydive Arizona marketing and events coordinator. “They sent in a video to the judges of their jump and then the judges judge that prior and gave them a score based on what the routine was. The rest of it is called the compulsory round so they have to do a specific thing, like three front flips in Round 4, and every team has to do that.”

As far as spectators making it out to watch the event, there were a few scattered crowds throughout the week.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Hargis said. “We had volunteers out answering questions and keeping them in the designated area. I’m happy it wasn’t a zoo, I’m glad we got this many people. I feel like it was a soft launch as far as spectators go.”

The rest of the awards ceremony included a dance presentation by Ballet Folklorico Del Sol de Eloy and a special gold medal from the United States Parachute Association to meet director Bryan Burke.

The USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service Award is to honor outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community.

Burke has been a key figure in skydiving for more than three decades. He began working at Skydive Arizona in 1990 and has been an instrumental part in improving the safety of the sport.

He served the USPA as a safety and training adviser. Burke has written many articles on safety and has taught many skydivers safe landing patterns.

“I knew this was coming, but I tried not to think about it and I didn’t really think about it till an hour ago,” Burke said. “My parents taught me from an early age ‘do your best,’ that’s all they cared about. They probably didn’t anticipate that I’d spend so many years in trailers at dropzones; now I get a gold medal, but most of us don’t get a gold medal. I want to thank all the people who did their best and won national championships, struggled to find the means to come out here and did their best. That’s all that really matters in the end whether you get the gold medal or not, when you leave if you can say I did my best.”


Maria Vasquez is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. She can be reached at mvasquez@pinalcentral.com.