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Competing at the World Air Games (WAG) is a desire that many athletes in the world of aviation yearn for, yet very few are afforded with the opportunity. The WAG fields the world’s top Air Sports athletes, featuring everything from Parachuting to Aeromodelling to Aerobatics to General Aviation.
Historically, the WAG took place in 1997 in Turkey, 2001 in Spain, 2009 in Italy, and most recently, 2015 in Dubai. It wasn’t until 2009 that Canopy Piloting was included as a discipline within the official event of Parachuting. It also proved to be an event that was going to set the bar for future WAG competitions, particularly in the world of CP.
Performance Designs Factory Team member Jason Moledzki (Canada) won the Canopy Piloting during the 2009 WAG, (his fourth world title), making him the first athlete to hold a World Title in CP at the WAG. Following Jason in second place was fellow PD Factory Team Member Ian Bobo (USA) and in third place was Francisco Neri (Venezuela).
Having only been the second time that Canopy Piloting has been included as an official event at the 2015 World Air Games, the pressure was on to win big. This year, there were 39 international competitors from 20 countries that gathered in Dubai to contend for the World Title in Canopy Piloting and to bring the gold home to their countries.
There were three rounds each of Speed, Distance, Accuracy, and Freestyle. Of the athletes competing, those representing the PD Factory Team were fellow members Pablo Hernandez (Spain), Brian Vacher (United Kingdom), Julien Guiho “Juju” (France), and Gage Galle (USA). The competition was intense, there was a lot going on, and the pressure was building, especially for the PDFT Teammates.
Pablo came into this competition immediately after winning the 2015 Dubai International Swoop League just days before. Pumped and ready to go, here’s what Pablo had to say about bringing his A-game during the 2015 WAG! :-
PD Factory Team Member Pablo Hernandez, representing Spain, competes during the 2015 World Air Games (WAG) that took place in Dubai. Pablo came into this competition immediately after winning the 2015 Dubai International Swoop League just days before
Supporting the PD Factory Team during the WAG was Maxine Tate, where she served as the official ground crew, capturing the action as it was unfolding from the ground.
Julien was on the 4-way VFS (Vertical Formation Skydiving) Team, ‘Team4Speed’, where won three VFS World Titles in a row for France. This year, Julien was forging forward in an effort to conquer his fourth World Title and one of a few that would hold a World Title in more than one discipline. Though a challenging goal, here’s what Juju had to say about having a good time during the 2015 WAG:
PD Factory Team Member Julien Guiho “Juju”, representing France, competes during the 2015 World Air Games (WAG) that took place in Dubai. Julien, as a part of a 4-way Vertical Formation Skydiving Team, ‘Team4Speed’, has won three VFS World Titles in a row for France.
Gage, having competed in events all over the world and placing in many Canopy Piloting competitions, see how Gage had high hopes for high scores during the 2015 WAG.
PD Factory Team Member Gage Galle, representing the United States of America, competes during the 2015 World Air Games (WAG) that took place in Dubai. Gage has competed in many canopy piloting events all over the world.
Brian currently holds five titles as a U.K. National Champion of Canopy Piloting and holds two World Titles in 4-way video, hustling to bring home another World Title is the name of his game! See how Brian hustles between loads during the 2015 WAG!
PD Factory Team Member Brian Vacher, representing the United Kingdom, competes during the 2015 World Air Games (WAG) that took place in Dubai. Brian currently holds five titles as a U.K. National Champion of Canopy Piloting and holds two World Titles in 4-way video.
And then…let us not forget the Freestyle rounds that also took place. There were two rounds that took place on the same day, leaving Brian Vacher and Nick Batsch with perfect scores of 100. It was a welcome change to have freestyle back as an addition and all the athletes enjoyed having some fun on the pond, showcasing a different set of skills. To say the least, the Freestyle rounds were jam packed with action, adventure, and lots of really cool style!
There were a total of 3 rounds of Freestyle that took place during the 2015 World Air Games (WAG). the Freestyle rounds were jam packed with action, adventure, and lots of really cool style!
It was a tight race for all competitors! Every centimeter was fought for, as was every 100th of a second. In today's current climate there is very little separating the top ten athletes in canopy piloting, and the outcome is never certain. It's not over until the last canopy pilot is on the ground. CP continues to be a crowd pleaser. All of the athletes gave it everything they had, giving every competitor a run for their money during the 2015 World Air Games.
The overall scores are as follows:
1st Curtis Bartholomew (USA)
2nd Nick Batsch USA
3rd Cornelia Mihai (UAE)
PDFT Members finished with Pablo Hernandez in 4th, Julien Guiho in 6th, Gage Galle in 9th, and Brian Vacher in 11th.
The US Team won the gold in the team event.