Nick Gets 2nd Place Podium as Swoop Challenge Starts a Revolutionary New Era for Canopy Piloting

Copenhagen, a city filled with beautiful waterways, ships, delicious food and incredible history. The view from above is truly amazing and one I will not soon forget.Swoop Challenge is a concept developed in 2013 by Michael Kattrup Lassen and George Blythe whom were both officers in the Danish army. This concept gave swoop competitors the ability to compete in an environment that would be more visible and spectacular for the public! In 2014 they ran a test event into the same lake as the competition this year; this event proved swoop challenge could be successful. And so the preparations for this years event begun. Prior to this event in August of 2014 Brian Martin Rasmussen joined the Team and headed up the marketing for the event. Roger Mulckey a professional swooper from Australia participated in the demo jump and in October decided to dedicate his event coordinating skills to make help Swoop Challenge happen. Roger runs the Funny Farm event out in Austrailia and has proven to be one of the most successful invitational boogies out there. Jens Toftbjerg joined the team shortly thereafter in January, making the Swoop Challenge staff a full powerhouse; success was inevitable.On June 4th 19 of the best freestyle competitors from around the world flew into Copenhagen to take part in the first professional freestyle competition ever to be held in a major city. This included 19 International Athletes representing 11 different countries. The competition would begin at Dropzone Denmark with 3 days of intense training before a 2 round qualifier for the main event. Only 16 would make the cut and go on to Copenhagen.

Competitors received a warm welcome from Dropzone Denmark which is located in Herning, a city 3 1/2 hours outside of Copenhagen. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating and competitors only got a handful of jumps in over the first few days of training. Despite the weather, there was an amazing vibe at the drop zone and everyone was super excited to be there. That energy carried through and the night before qualifying we made a demo jump into the beach at Fuglsang Lake located in Herning. It was a ton of fun for the athletes and the crowds loved it!

Wednesday morning began qualifying. It was a strong headwind and proved difficult and challenging for everyone fighting for the top 16 slots. After a training jump and 2 qualifying rounds the athletes continuing on to Copenhagen had been selected. The amount of talent and difficulty in freestyle moves was incredible. The people in Copenhagen were in for a great show! After round one I was sitting 12th overall. On the second round I had to stab out and abort my signature move a Lazygirl, I was pushing too hard and took it low and in the corner. Unfortunately that took me out of the competition. My Teammates Curt Bartholomew and Nicholas Batsch would make the cut and go into the competition qualifying in the top two slots! Myself along with the other athletes that did not make the cut, would still participate in the Swoop Night Lights; a spectacular air show in the Copenhagen Harbor on Thursday night.

Thursday morning competitors were transported back to Copenhagen to the Naval Academy where we would be staying. After a quick briefing on the helicopters and a view of the demo site we headed back to prepare for the evenings events.

The highlight of my trip was the demo in the harbor. After a disappointing qualifying for me, I wanted to go up, have some fun and rock some freestyle. exiting the helicopter over Copenhagen is one of the most incredible moments in my life (aside from marrying the most amazing guy in the world) 😉 The view was breath taking! We swooped right over top of the royal ship that was parked in the harbor. As I approached the water I realized I was perfectly set up to nail my Lazygirl and land on the raft. As I popped up and landed in the center I heard the crowds go wild. What a surreal moment for me. When my Husband Curt Bartholomew landed he greeted me with the biggest smile ever and later posted the following quote on Facebook “We did a demo jump into the harbor in downtown Copenhagen last night before the comp. My badass wife Jeannie Bartholomew KILLED it! She had the loudest crowd cheers out of everyone that jumped after doing a Lazygirl and then nailed the landing right on the center of the raft. Super proud of her, that was not an easy jump and she rocked it. Love you baby!” I have never been so happy!! Half of the athletes landed on the raft that night and half in the water. The emergency boats were ready and picked everyone up within seconds of their landings. Afterwards, we celebrated then headed back to get some sleep. The top 16 had a big day ahead of them!

The morning of the competition the weather was beautiful! A warm and sunny day, the first since we had arrived. The winds however, proved to be inconsistent switching from a tailwind to a headwind. This happened in between competitors jumps which caused some to miss the landing platform; a 6 meter wide and 25 meter long raft.

The competition consisted of one practice round followed by 2 rounds of competition. 70,000 people surrounded the lake, watching as the athletes either nailed their moves and landed on the platform or in the water. It was exciting and fun to watch. I have never witnessed such loud cheering at a skydiving event anywhere. The announcers Reagan Tetlow and Peter “Irish” Sutton did a great job commentating and explaining to the crowds what was happening and what the judges were looking for.

Some of swoopings favorite freestyle pilots threw down some impressive moves! Gage Galle from the USA attempted the first ever barrel roll in competition and ended up missing the raft and landing in the water and the crowds went wild!

The whole competition was broadcasted on live television showcasing the athletes like the true professionals they are. This is a first in Skydiving history and hopefully won’t be the last. Pablo Hernandez from the PD Factory Team was flying outside video. He had a rig set up on his helmet where his go pro was broadcasting to live television. On the last round of competition he followed Curt Bartholomew in as he pulled of his signature move a boomerang switchblade cowboy and landed in the center of the raft. His first move he threw down a new combination (that he actually thought up for me) a lazy boy switchblade cowboy that has not been done in competition before this event. Both scored fairly high and put him in 5th overall.

Noah Banson brought the heat with a miracle man switchblade on his first round and a boomerang miracle man on the second round securing his first place overall finish along with $7,500.

Cornelia Mihai invented a new move called the “Hat trick” Where she used a magnetic hat to swoop in and removed it off as she came across the water.

Nick Batsch pulled off a boomerang superman and boomerang blindman pulling him up to 2nd overall with less then a point away from 1st. He also took home a check for $5,000!

David Junior Ludvik brought home 3rd with his blindman switchblade cowboy and an award of $2,500.

In my opinion, everyone went home wining with the memory of an extraordinary experience.

So whats next for Swoop Challenge? Brian martin Rasmussen stated “The idea of Swoop Challenge and the motto ‘Swoop to the People’ was only formed in 2013, and after a trial event last year, the big test of the setup was yesterday’s competition. Next step is taking the concept to other major, spectacular cities around the world”

“What a fantastic day. The 70,000+ spectators in Copenhagen had a giant party, and the crowd created a unique atmosphere around the lake. We have been working extremely hard to build this event over the past two years, and it all became a little more complicated due to the weather forecasts, that made us reschedule on short notice, but despite that, Swoop Challenge was a great success and we are thrilled and proud. 70,000 people chose to stop by the lake today, and this makes it clear to us, that it is possible to unite the beauty in extreme sports and the heart of a historical, cultural metropolitan. After today’s success we are dedicated to carry Swoop Challenge across the borders and create a world tour, but it is only attainable, if others are willing to support us. Our athletes, whom are the among the best swoopers in the world, have all said, that it was amazing to jump in Copenhagen,” says George Blythe, co-founder of Swoop Challenge.

“Swoop Challenge was organized with great success. It opened our eyes and gave us world class parachuters in the skies above Herning and Copenhagen. With this great event, Swoop Challenge has achieved to take event planning the to the next level, and shows us a new way to use spectacular arenas for sporting events. The international athletes tells us, that they have never experienced a more beautiful place to skydive than Copenhagen, and it proves, that the concept of Swoop Challenge is on the right track,” says Lars Lundov, CEO of Sport Event Denmark, the national sporting event organization that works to attract major international sporting events to Denmark and that supports Swoop Challenge financially.

We all hope this is just the beginning of Swoop Challenge freestyle competitions world wide! We train the same 3 events year round and freestyle is something fun and different that brings a dynamic and fun event to the eyes of the public.

Top-6 – the total number of point attainable were 100 per round (200 total after 2 rounds)
1: Noah Bahnson, USA – 140,80 points (60,60 and 80,20)
2: Nick Batsch, USA – 140,01 points (58,32 and 81,69)
3: David Junior Ludvik, USA – 133,49 points (58,75 and 74,74)
4: Patrick Kaye, USA – 126,28 points (57,00 and 69,28)
5: Curt Bartholomew, USA – 123,53 points (57,68 and 65,85)
6: Christian Webber, Denmark – 112,32 points (63,76 and 48,56)
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7: Cornelia Mihai, Romania
8: Billy Sharman, South Africa
9: Gage Galle, USA
10: Petter Mazzetta, Sweden
11: Abdulbari Qubaisi, UAE
12: Martin Reynolds, England
13: Micah Couch, USA
14: Chris Stewart, New Zealand
15: Leigh ‘Macca’ McCormack, Australia
16: Kristian Moxnes, Norway

Skydive The Mag
Written by: Jeannie Bartholomew
Team Alter Ego

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Curt Wins Skydive Sac Pro/Am in Memory of Walt

The Canopy Piloting community has been reeling from a rough few weeks after a few high profile accidents.  Most recently had been an accident which claimed the life of Walt Hawkins.  As competitors arrived for the Skydive Sacramento Pro/Am there were somber greetings and reflections on our fallen friends.  Walt was an amazing person, always quick to help everyone around him and always had a smile on his face.  He had a big part in getting the Sacramento pond up and running again, and always made sure the pond was as well maintained as possible while it was around.  Walt and his wife Sharon organized this whole meet, making it a Pro/Am so that the Am’s could get as much help and learning as possible.  The comp was held on a Thursday so that there could be a dedicated King Air for the competitors.  There was a great turn out, 24 competitors showed up to compete in Walt’s memory. The weather was not cooperating the day before the competition and no practice jumps were made due to high winds.

The morning of the competition, the weather was much better and the winds were only at 6 mph.  The competitor briefing happened around 7:30, with Sharon thanking the great turnout for support Walt.  This competition was a much more relaxed meet.  It was about being together as a community and having fun in the sport we love.  Curt and Jeannie had a 30 hour travel day from Uruguay to California the day before the competition, and had zero training jumps on location before the competition started.  They used the practice jump the morning of the comp to get acquainted with Skydive Sacramento.  Ryan Brownlow and his wife had also taken off work to support the event.  There was a great judge turnout and even some vendors in the form of Safeish and Sierra Navada brewing company with tents set up.  With the side of the pond covered in spectators, the competitors started the comp with the Speed event.  Curt started off the comp with the fastest speed time in the Pro’s, and Ben Lowe started the Am comp with the best time.  The speed event moved along smoothly with Curt putting the fastest speed time of the meet up in the second round, and Jessie Brownlow putting the fastest Am time on the board in the same round.

From there the comp moved to distance.  The winds had died down to a light head wind and the weather was looking beautiful for a swoop comp.  The first round went off without a hitch, with the judges doing a great job.  In the second round of speed there was an accident where Dave Hebert crashed, missing the pond on the first impact and ending up in the pond at the end of the tumble.  Everyone was quick to attend to him and help out.  Dave will make a full recovery and ended up coming out of the rather scary looking crash with just a broken leg.  Everyone at the event sends their well wishes and were very happy that he is ok.  After the break in action from that incident, the jumping resumed and distance was finished.

The competition was rounded out with the visually appealing Zone Acc.  The spectators cheered as all the jumpers came in and posted great scores in light tailwind conditions.  Curt had 2 stand up landings in zone 6 and then zone 5 giving him 1st place in Zone Acc.  Ryan flew 2 extremely smooth and consistent runs on his Petra in a tailwind and put a lot of points on the board to round out the competition.  When the dust settled, Ben Lowe took 1st place in the Amateur class with a 1st in Speed, 2nd in Distance and 2nd in Zone Acc.  2nd Place overall for the Am’s was Nathan Emmett, and rounding out the podium was Jessie Brownlow.  Congrats to all the Am’s who flew an awesome and safe meet.  Curt took 1st place overall for the Pro class with a 1st in speed, 1st in distance, and 1st in zone accuracy.  He walked away with 595.822 out of 600.  Ryan Brownlow ended the comp in 4th place overall with a 2nd place finish in zone accuracy.  At the awards, Curt and Scott Harper said a few words in remembrance of Walt  to all those that were gathered, and then the trophies were distributed to the winners.

The team would like to thank Skydive Sacramento and all of the judges who made the meet happen.   A special thank you goes to Sharon Hawkins for organizing the meet after everything that had happened.  We all know that it was not easy for her to be there doing what she did and we are all grateful that we could support the event and Walt’s memory.  It was a very special event and Alter Ego was extremely honored that we could have a great presence to support someone as special as Walt.  We will all miss him dearly and we, as a community, would like to send our love out to Walt, Sharon, and the entire Hawkins family during their time of need.

Photos by Will McDaniel and Phil Zidek

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Alter Ego on Top Again as FLCPA Season Progresses

The FLCPA season continued with the second meet of four at Skydive City in Zephyrhills.  The weather was still not co operating in Florida and the conditions were very tricky the few days before the meet and during the comp.  Curt was the league coach again the friday before, handing out tips and tricks out of his seemingly endless bag of tricks.  The weather was far to windy the second half of the day friday so Curt held a seminar on competition and course strategy.  Rolling into Saturday morning, the ground winds were ok for the training round, but the uppers were 30 knots!  It made for some interesting setups and visuals.  As the meet kicked off with round one, Curt started the meet off with the fastest speed time of the day.  The winds had already started to pick up and going into round two there was a 0.3 second time drop off due to high winds and very tricky cross-head wind conditions.  Competitors had to dig deep to hit their setups correctly and have a good score.  Ryan Brownlow was in town for the comp and had 2 strong runs in the conditions seating himself in the top 5 after speed was done.  Jeannie struggled with the difficult conditions with her new turn but kept pushing on during the comp.

On to distance next, Curt again kicked distance off with the farthest swoop.  Despite hooking his Peregrine 67 up incorrectly after a fresh reline and no training time before the meet, Curt was able to control the canopy through the course and counter a slight left turn due to twists in the line group on the left front riser for a good score.  Ryan again put down nice consistent runs on both distance rounds to keep himself up near the top of the pile.  Jeannie racked up another few zeros while still having a rough comp.

Zone Acc proved one of the trickiest events in the super strong winds.  There were a lot of scores in the 70 point range, along with a few 91’s on the second round.  The team put some good scores on the board to round out the end of the comp.  When the dust settles, Curt was out front again by over 40 points to second place Gage Galle.  Third place was an impressive performance from Matt Shull.  Greg Windmiller of the Golden Knights was fourth, and Ryan Brownlow, our yellow ranger rounded out the top 5 of 21 Pro Competitors.  In the Amateur class, Ben Lowe fought through the tough conditions to come out victorious, while Pawel Piotroski was second, and Darin McKeen got on the podium in 3rd at his first competition.  Rob Harris in 4th and Stephen Perry, both students of the Alter Ego Project, rounded out the top 5.

Halfway through the FLCPA season, Curt sits in the lead with 200 out of 200 points, followed by Gage Galle with 195.4 points, and Scott Harper sits in third with 190 points.  Jeannie is rounding out the top 10 with 157.9 points.  With 2 more meets to go can Curt stay on top?  1 of the 4 competitions will be dropped from the overall standings, with the top 3 performances making up the competitors scores.

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 Photo’s by Jim Harris

FLCPA Kick Off 2015 Season with Some AE Gold

The FLCPA kicks off the season every year for Alter Ego.  Jeannie and Curt showed up 4 days early for some training but unfortunately had to sit on the ground until Friday due to weather.  Curt was the league coach for the first meet, and gave everyone tips and tricks out of his seemingly endless bag of tricks as they landed.  All the competitors were eager for the help and listened and applied the coaching very well.  We may have even seen Curt sneak on the last load of the day to get a sunset swoop in, I guess he couldn’t let everyone else have ALL the fun.  There was a huge turnout to the first comp of the season, 25 Am’s and 21 Pro’s eagerly registered to get the year into full swing.  There were a few heavy hits in training and a few trips to the hospital, but nothing overly serious.  Everyone was eventually released and doing are now doing well.

The winds were very tricky for the start of the competition.  We kicked off with the speed event, and the winds were somewhere between a downwind and crosswind.  It was extremely turbulent and gusty, which in fact kept the am’s on the ground for much of the day following their practice jump in the morning.  The pro’s kept plowing through even though the most experienced felt uncomfortable with all the bumpy air.  Curt came through the course with two consistent 2.3 second runs, both being the fastest of their respective rounds.  Jeannie put her Valkyrie through the gates and got 2 solid scores.  Jeannie had switched her turn from a 270 to a 450 in the off season and had put a lot of hard work into making a difficult, yet necessary, step in her career.

Everyone went on a wind hold in the middle of the day due to the high, turbulent winds.  Later in the afternoon the am’s finally saw some action and cranked out both of their speed runs while the pro’s took a turn watching from the ground.  A lot of great flying was seen from the am’s, and they got their comp started.  Everyone then moved on to distance with the new 70 meter gate in the afternoon after a short wind hold.  Justin Price set the farthest run in the first round, edging Curt out by less than a meter.  Jeannie put a third score on the board in changing wind conditions, giving her some valuable experience with her new turn.  One last jump on the first day right before sunset to round out that event for the pro’s, while the am’s had to make up the last distance round in the morning.  Curt got to head home that night with another 100 point distance round and a decent lead in the overall with some breathing room.  The am’s were halfway through their comp and a great fight developed as the dust settled.  Pawel Piotrowski was leading in first place from Rob Harris in 2nd.  An even more interesting fight saw Danny Feltner fighting it out with his dad Fraser for the podium in 3rd and 4th place.

The start of the second day started in calm winds for zone accuracy.  The wind quickly picked up to a steady downwind just as the competitors started running the course.  There were a lot of solid runs thrown down.  Curt pulled his usual zone acc magic and stood his landing up even in the downwind, and Jeannie threw down an impressive score to keep her climbing up the scoreboard.  The last round of the comp saw the winds shifting into a crosswind and changed up everyones approaches last minute.  Curt finished the comp with a 91 on the zone acc course, making it his 5th 100 point run out of the 6 rounds.  Jeannie made her adjustments as well and put 6 out of 6 scores on the board, smashing the goals she set out for herself.  Zone acc threw the am scoreboard for a little bit of a loop.  After a little bit of a shuffling, Piotrowski ended up bringing home the gold for am’s, Rob Harris secured 2nd place, and Fraser edged out his son for the last step of the podium.  Alter Ego sponsored the medals and trophies for the FLCPA season, so these three am’s will be receiving medals for their efforts for the first time in the league history.  Everyone at Alter Ego wanted to help support the league and help it grow, as well as help give the am’s the recognition they deserve for all the hard work and dedication they put in.  Congrats to all the am’s and we are looking forward to watching them battle it out at the next comp.

For the pro’s, Gage Galle from the PDFT edged out Justin Price for the last spot on the podium, followed by Scott Harper in 2nd Place.  Curt rounded out the top of the podium with 599.242 points out of 600.  Jeannie made the top 10 in the pro class, edging out 5 of the “prototype” canopies on her Valkyrie.  The judges did an amazing job once again, the whole swoop community would like to give them a huge THANK YOU for what you guys do.  Albert ran another flawless meet and we all look forward to the next one!

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Bartholomew’s Take the Double Gold at FLCPA Meet #2

The 2nd FLCPA meet of the year commenced on March 15th.  40 competitors showed up to go head to head, including a host of international representatives, Denmark and France having a huge presence.   There were 25 pro’s at this meet, a huge turnout!, and 15 amateurs.  Around half the competitors had been on location training for the better part of the week before.  Competition was intense, and the weather was finally willing to co-operate.  The event started off with speed, where Peter Kallehave set the fastest time of the first round followed closely by Curt and a few other pro’s.  Curt responded on the second round by throwing down the fastest time of the meet.  Jeannie set two solid speed scores down in the amateur class.  Distance was up next where Curt set the farthest run of round 3, breaking the State Distance Record.  It would not stand up on round 4 however, where Gage Galle set a new State Distance Record of 139.2 Meters, edging Bartholomew out by 5 meters.  Jeannie also had a great distance run on round 4, throwing down a 112.22 meters.  Zone Acc would complete the meet.  It was tough conditions as it was a direct tailwind for both the rounds.  Jeannie threw down an impressive 81 point score on the course, and Curt followed by getting the top score of 91 points for the round.  Jeannie managed to land down in the center zone on the final round, but a bank strike would hurt her otherwise impressive round.  Curt finished out the meet by landing a controlled stall in Zone 5 again for another top score of 91 points on the course.  Curt would finish the meet with an impressive victory with a points lead of just over 84 points.  Jeannie finished as top amateur, bringing home the gold in that category, and was situated 16th overall in the combined scoring,  having finished ahead of a few of the prototype wings.  It was a great competition overall, the Team would like to congratulate everyone involved including the competitors, judges, and even organizers for all of their hard work!  See you all at the next one!

 

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Nick Batsch takes 2 in a row at the #3 DISL

Batsch took a second victory of the year at the Dubai International Swoop League meet #3.  The new league is really growing and promoting our sport to new levels.  There was tough competition for a quickly growing field of competitors across the pond.

Pictures courtesy of Skydive Dubai and Max Haim

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Alter Ego expands!

Team Alter Ego Announces New Teammates

Team Alter Ego is excited and proud to announce the addition of two new team members to their lineup, strengthening the team even further. Jay Sanders and Michael McCann join the team this fall, just in time for the 2014 competition season.

“I’m really excited about Jay and Mike joining the team,” team member Curt Bartholomew said. “We have been keeping our eye out for newcomers to the competition scene, and it was great to see these guys putting in the amount of effort it takes to get to where they are now. The team has been watching Jay for over a year now and he’s a great fit and talks with Mike have been going on for a little over a year.  He’s got some unique ideas and visions that will help put a different twist on the projects that we are involved in.”

Sanders, from San Diego, has been jumping for 12 years with over 11,000 jumps and has been making waves on the competition circuit for the past two years and Alter Ego has been watching him as an up and coming competitive skydiver as a possible good fit for the team. Sanders’ performance during the 2013 Competition Circuit, where he earned a spot on the US Canopy Piloting Team further solidified his position as a prime candidate to join the team.

“Making the US Team this year and winning Speed at Performance Design’s Project Orange Competition was awesome,” Sanders said, “but announcing that I was part of this team was the highlight of that comp. I’ve secretly wanted to be on Alter Ego for some time now, so when they asked me to join, I was very honored and happy”.

McCann is also a long-time jumper with over 7,500 jumps and first started talks to join the team earlier this year.

Finding the right photographer for the team wasn’t easy. Alter Ego has been scouting several people for well over two years looking for the right fit and after meeting and flying with McCann, the search finally ended. With a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Production from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and a passion for skydiving, the union of science and art is a perfect fit for the highly technical and championship team Alter Ego.

“I’m really excited to be a part of this team. I am happy to be a part of a team that is leading the evolution of the sport and I like putting more into this sport than I take out,” McCann said. “Alter Ego is the very best and that’s the team I want to be a part of. Boom!”

McCann brings an energy to the team that can only be described as electric and will work as the team’s videographer, photographer, and…..well we can’t say anymore just yet.

“We’ve got BIG plans and I can’t wait to unveil the ideas and show the world what we’re made of,” McCann shared.

 As fans of the team know, each individual team member is identified by a personal color choice, so of course the first order of business is: what colors will Sanders and McCann be?!?

“I’m going to be the charcoal grey ranger!” said Sanders.

For McCann, he’s decided on white: ”White is the blending of all colors and I like the symbolism. My job is to capture the great things this team is doing and help represent them all.” McCann said about his color choice.

“We have had amazing growth as a team the last 3 seasons and can’t wait to see what the future brings.”, Bartholomew shared. “We all work extremely hard on a daily basis and having a strong network of teammates surrounding you is indescribable”.

Next up for Alter Ego is the 4th Dubai International Parachuting Championship where Bartholomew, Batsch and Sanders will compete after earning spots on the US Canopy Piloting team earlier this year. Bartholomew is the reigning DIPC champion and Alter Ego is looking to continue their winning streak at the competition.

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