After three days of lead changes, wild weather and nine intense jumps, Team Alter Ego member Curt Bartholomew added Canopy Piloting Gold to the USA medal count at the 2013 World Games, continuing his reign as the #1 Canopy Pilot in the world.
“This was a super tight competition in the hardest conditions I’ve ever flown in,” Bartholomew said after the competition.
Chosen as one of only six US Canopy Pilots to compete at the World Games (held every four years and organized by the International Olympic Committee), Bartholomew was the seeded #1 Canopy Pilot going into the competition, which began last Thursday.
Only the very best Canopy Pilots in the world received an invitation to the World Games, and 36 champions had their eye on taking the top spot in the highly-coveted and highly exposed World Games.
Having dominated the competition scene for the past year and a half, winning the last two world competitions (2012 World Canopy Piloting Champion and 2011 Dubai International Parachuting Champion), Bartholomew was in the crosshairs and an intense showdown was imminent going into the World Games.
Bartholomew was bested by teammate Nick Batsch at the 2013 US Nationals Championships and has been healing after an injury that occurred late in his regional Florida Canopy Piloting Association Championship run. In addition to Batsch, seven-time World Champion Jay Moledzki was fresh off a Canadian National Championship win and had his sights set on earning Gold at the World Games.
Throughout the competition, Bartholomew, PD Factory Team members Pablo Hernandez and Moledzki moved around the top 3 spots, with lead changes as close as 0.4 points separating first and second. Going into the 3rd and final day of competition, the scores pointed to a showdown between Bartholomew and Moledzki, with Hernandez taking 3rd. Batsch would earn three 100 scores during the competition and set a World Games Distance Record at XXX meters, but stumbles in the first two rounds of Zone Accuracy left him short of the podium in 4th place, missing 3rd by 1.5 points.
An upset was plausible with any given event, though, as the top 10 were within striking distance if one of the top three had even one bad round.
Moledzki would end the competition in 9th, with fellow PD Factory Team member Thomas Dellibac taking over 2nd place on the podium. Dellibac posted consistent scores throughout the competition, which allowed him to capitalize when Moledzki posted a 67.032 to Dellibac’s 92.307 in the first event of the day, Zone Accuracy. Dellibac also outscored Hernandez, closing the gap to 2nd and 3rd. Dellibac bested Moledzki by 9 points and Hernandez by 18 points in Speed for the second round of the day and had the podium in sight. When Moledzki scored only 3 points in the final Distance round he dropped unexpectedly to 9th and Dellibac sealed the silver by outscoring Hernandez by 11 points in the round. Positions 2nd, 3rd and 4th were only separated by 1.5 points between each rank.
“I’m last out. I watched all the key players throw down, with Curt landing right before me,” Moledzki wrote to his Facebook fans after the competition. “I saw the mark, I knew what was necessary to beat it by enough to pass and regain the lead. I put the hammer firmly down and brought mega heat to the gate, but couldn’t keep it below the marker. I didn’t come here to get a silver medal”.
Hernandez fought throughout the competition with only Speed showing as an achilles heel. In a dead heat for Gold with Bartholomew and Moledzki, some would say his time to be on top of the podium is due.
Bartholomew never fell below 3rd place, and his consistency in producing solid scores in each event allowed him to finish a full 45 points ahead of the silver earning score. He was also awarded “Athlete of the Day”, chosen out of 4500 athletes also competing on August 4 and joining only 29 other competitors who were chosen among a pre-selected jury.
“2013 World Games Champion. I’m still wrapping my mind around that,” Bartholomew said. “I will remember this one for the rest of my life”.
World Games 2013 Canopy Piloting Top 10:
1. Curt Bartholomew (USA)
2. Thomas Dellibac (USA)
3. Pablo Hernandez (ESP)
4. Nick Batsch (USA)
5. Andrew Woolf (AUS)
6. Brian McEnney (USA)
7. William Sherman (UAE)
8. Timothy McMaster (UAE)
9. Jason Moledzki (CAN)
10. Roman Dubsky (SVK)
The global canopy piloting competition season is just beginning, with Bartholomew, Batsch, Hernandez, Dellibac and fellow US Canopy Piloting team members, Gage Galle, Scott Harper, Ian Drennan, Jason Sanders, Ian Bobo, Jessica Edgeington, Mikael Stevens, Greg Windmiller and Robert Wallace head to Kolomna for the 7th FAI World Cup of Canopy Piloting August 24-30.
Remainder 2013 Canopy Piloting Season:
August 15 - 18: Pink Open (Klatvoy)
August 24-30: 7th FAI World Cup of Canopy Piloting (Kolomna)
October 9 - 13: SunPath Products Canopy Piloting Open (Raeford)
October 16-20: PD Project Orange (Zephyrhills)
November 27 - December 10: 4th Dubai International Parachuting Competition (Dubai)
World Games Competition Recap
Only 2 rounds of competition were able to be completed on the first day of competition, and Moledzki quickly established a double digit point lead after a 1st place Zone Accuracy and 3rd place Distance finish. Bartholomew was comfortably in third while Batsch struggled in Zone Accuracy and ended the day in 17th. The final day’s Speed event was not able to be completed due to high winds.
By far the most tumultuous day of the competition, four rounds were completed and resulted in several lead changes.
Beginning with Zone Accuracy, Bartholomew set the pace for the day by scoring 100 points in the round. Moledzki’s score of 88 put Bartholomew win 2 points of the overall lead. Batsch, however, struggled with a low Zone Acc score and was in danger of falling out of contention.
The Distance event followed and Batsch laid down a 134 meter run, comfortably taking 1st and gaining position. Bartholomew, meanwhile, gained another 9 points on Moledzki with a 2nd place 128 meter run. 3rd place was taken with a 117 meter finish by Pablo Hernandez, who had been in the top 3 with Bartholomew and Moledzki throughout the competition.
Many competitors were able to make gains in the point tallies following the completion of two speed rounds where the top 3, Bartholomew, Moledzki and Hernandez performed in the middle of the pack, allowing Batsch’s 2nd 100 score of the competition to put him in the top 10 and within striking distance of a podium finish.
Day two ended with only 0.4 points separating 1st place Moledzki and 2nd place Bartholomew. Hernandez stood in 3rd, 18 points behind the leaders.
Beginning, again, with Zone Accuracy, Bartholomew tied for 1st in his strongest event while Moledzki fell 30+ points with a 67.032 score.
Only the top 18 competitors moved on to the final Speed round, where Batsch further closed the gap on the leaders with a 95.996 score. Bartholomew, Hernandez and Moledzki all scored less than 84, allowing the field to make huge leaps in points on the leaders. Going into the final round of the competition, Bartholomew held a 23 point lead over second place Moledzki and Billy Sherman, who had taken over third from Hernandez.
In the final Distance event, Batsch scored his third 100 of the competition and set a World Games Distance Record with a 144.77 meter run. Bartholomew ended right behind with a 142.85 meter distance jump and solidified his Gold win. Meanwhile, Thomas Dellibac from the USA, had been landing consistently solid scores and had been sitting within striking distance of the leaders throughout the competition. After besting Moledzki and Hernandez in the the last two rounds of the competition, he earned Silver overall, with Hernandez earning Bronze.
Photo credit: World Games 2013
Flickr Stream of the Canopy Piloting event: