New Zealand’s Mason Holden and Flying Finn Toni Sulankivi blew away the best of the UAE’s indoor skydivers to win the Dynamic 2-Way category in the annual SandStorm Scrambles event at Inflight Dubai.
Despite never having competed together – the duo only met for the first time on the night of the competition – Holden and Sulankivi combined superbly for a five round score of 411 points. It was enough to win the 13-team category by 8.8 points from Shayni Couch and Ivan Semenyaka in second place (419.8) with Omar Mohammad and Thomas Worboys coming home in third with a score of 421.1.
Staged in inflight Dubai’s 5.03m x 20.73m indoor tunnel, the two-category event saw competitors combined into two and four-flyer teams by Inflight Dubai’s Team Skynamic in order to represent a spread of ability.
And while many combinations, including Holden and Sulankivi’s ‘Little and Large’ team, had little or no experience together, the entrants agreed that the format provided some excellent competition.
“I hadn’t even met Toni until the draw was made just before we took to the tunnel together,” said Holden, who hails from Wellington in New Zealand and is an instructor at Skydive Dubai. “But that’s what makes the Scrambles competition so much fun. You don’t know who you will be paired with, which makes the five flying routines very challenging.”
For Sulankivi – who shared the AED8,000 first prize with Holden - it was the perfect end to a long day of skydiving, both indoor and outdoor.
“I live in Abu Dhabi so I was up at 5am to come up to Dubai to go skydiving during the day, before competing in the tunnel in the evening,” said the Finnish flyer, who works in Government IT in the UAE capital.
“It’s a very special event and the unpredictable nature and the camaraderie between the teams make it so good. You know most of the guys and girls by sight but to compete as a pair with someone you have never met before is a real challenge.”
For Holden there was double success – the Kiwi also claimed second place in the 4-Way Dynamic competition after joining forces with fellow-flyers Mo Mudassir, Jamie Arnold and Emma Merritt in the ‘Bench Pressers’ team.
Victory, and the AED16,000 winners’ cheque in the five-team 4-Way Dynamic category, went to the ‘Employee of the Month’ team of Dani Roman, Thomas Worboys, Brad Merritt and Mishka Lucaci on 423.8 points, 12.1 points ahead of ‘Bench Pressers (435.9). Third place went to the ‘Randy Ryanopolis’ team of Ryan Dudderidge, Pablo Rua, Omar Mohammed and Ivan Semenyaka on 444.5 points.
Both competitions featured a non-scoring warm-up round, four unique dynamic speed rounds and a mystery final round with the five scores of each round added together to determine the final placing. The next event in the SandStorm Scrambles series will be the Formation Skydiving competition, which will take place at Inflight Dubai on April 22. Competitors have until April 20 to enter at www.inflightdubaisandstorm.com.
SandStorm Scrambles Results 2-Way Dynamic
1. Little & Large – Holden/Sulankivi (411.0)
2. Share-A-Van – Couch/Semenyaka (419.8)
3. Shut Up Omar – Mohammed/Worboys (421.1)
SandStorm Scrambles Results 4-Way Dynamic
1. Employee of the Month – Roman/Worboys/Merritt/Lucaci (423.8)
2. Bench Pressers – Holden/Mudassir/Arnold/Merritt (435.9)
3. Randy Ryanopolis – Dudderidge/Rua/Mohammed/Semenyaka (444.5)