Freestyle is defined as a solo free fall discipline that involves choreographed multi-orientation static and dynamic maneuvers. Generally speaking, it combines the dynamics of gymnastics and ice skating with the elegance of dance. The free stylist executes precise acrobatic maneuvers including loops, spins, twists and poses while falling at speeds of up to 200+ miles per hour.
A freestyle team consists of a performer and a videographer. Teams may consist of members of one or both genders, but the gender of the team is determined by the performer. If the videographer and performer are of the same gender, either may serve as the videographer on any particular round.
In freestyle skydiving there are seven rounds, two of which are compulsory. The remaining five are free rounds. The content of the compulsory rounds contains four compulsory sequences drawn by the Chief Judge, which must be performed in order of the draw. The compulsory rounds are performed in rounds 2 and 5. All sequences must have a static start and stop.
The content of the free rounds is chosen entirely by the team, and there may be any number of different free routines within the set number of free rounds. Each jump is from 13,000 feet with working time beginning when the first team member leaves the aircraft and ends 45 seconds later.
The compulsory routine is scored for the quality and correctness of execution of the sequences, with 10 being a perfect score. The free routine is scored in four different categories: difficulty, execution, artistic impression, and camera work.
The calculation of the official score for each round is as follows: (USPA rules 2004)
- Compulsory rounds:
All five judges evaluate the routines. For each compulsory sequence, the highest and lowest judges' scores are discarded. The average score is calculated by adding the three judges' scores and dividing by three with no rounding applied. The average scores of all four compulsory sequences are added, and the result is divided by four and rounded to the first decimal place.
- Free rounds:
Two judges evaluate the difficulty and execution criteria, with three judges evaluating the artistic and camera criteria. The scores for difficulty and execution are added and the result divided by four with no rounding applied. The scores for artistic and camera are added and the result divided by six with no rounding applied. The two results are then added, then divided by two and rounded to the first decimal place.
The first International freestyle skydiving competition was held in 1990. In 1996 the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI) gave freestyle skydiving official recognition, and free stylists competed alongside other established skydiving events at the World Cup of Skydiving in 1996, at the World Championships in 1997. Freestyle remains one of the most appealing skydiving events to media audiences.
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