Nick Continues Winning Streak with 2015 Sun Path Open Victory

The 3rd Annual Sun Path Open saw the first of the arrivals of Alter Ego as Sun Path sponsored athletes for the first time.  Curt and Jeannie had switched over to Sun Path earlier in the summer, and after having won the first competition Curt had competed at on his new rig at the Pink Open, he was excited to try to bring the title home for the events namesake for the first time.  Competitors all showed up early to get some practice in during the week and get into the groove.  Even a few international competitors showed up such as Cornelia Mihai, Duncan French, and Andy Woolf.

The event got kicked off with a modified form of Zone Accuracy.  There were 2 positive zones, followed by 2 negative zones in the center of the pit, then another 2 positive zones with a hoola hoop for the 100.  It made the event much trickier.  Even the big names at the event had to plan very well, understanding than one little misstep could cost a lot of points.  This event is known for its unorthodox courses and events, but that is what makes it a common favorite among the competitors.  Some of the scores were very surprising, some big names had great scores, such as Cornelia, but Curt and Nick made a few costly mistakes with 4 and 44 points respectively.  There was a strong tailwind at altitude that dropped off at the ground and caught many competitors out.  Jeannie also received a zero on the first round, giving her new Peregrine a shot but carrying just a little too much speed with the winds.  This meant a lot of catch up for Alter Ego.  The second round saw a lot of adjustments and some really great scores being put up.  Jeannie switched back to her Comp Velo but landed hard on her lower back and pulled out of the comp due to injury to play it safe and not risking a more serious injury.

The third round saw the event move to Carving Distance.  The competitors hit 5 foot entry gates, the center gates of a carving course were much narrower than the normal 10 meters, about 2 meters wide.  They hit a third set of exit gates and then could climb for a normal distance technique.  Nick put down some impressive scores, while Curt struggled a little bit, making mistakes in his turn and coming in a little underpowered.  Despite that, both members of Alter Ego still closed the gap up towards the front, where Cornelia led the way.

The Speed event was up next.  This was a normal Speed course that the competitors were much more used to.  The conditions were perfect to set some records with a light tailwind.  Nick came in with an impressive 2.15.  Curt came in right behind, hitting the gates faster than any other competition run he had ever done. Unfortunately, he clipped the center buoy with his lineset.  The wingtip of his 64 Peregrine got jerked all the way to the water.  Somehow, he got the canopy up above his head just as he hit the bank of the pond still going 70 mph according to GPS data.  He still kept the canopy under control and in the course, flew out the landing to touch down normally.  He still recorded a time of 2.2 seconds.  Ian Bobo came through the course under the current World Record at a 2.06 with the new hip style harness from UPT.  Since this event was not on the FAI calendar, the run was unfortunately not an official World Record.  Cornelia had some trouble in Speed, getting a few zeros pushing hard to stay out front.  The second round of Speed saw the winds drop a bit and the times all went up a tenth of a second or two.  Curt got back on the horse with a sore hip, elbow and shoulder from impacting the edge of the pond and charged hard.  He had the best competition time of his career the jump after crashing with a time of 2.091.  After the 3rd round of speed, with scores settling in about the same as the second round, Greg Windmiller was 1st, Ian Bobo 2nd, and Nick Batsch was 3rd.

The last round of the competition was Zone Accuracy with the hoola hoop again.  Nick had climbed all the way back up to 1st place overall, and Curt was right behind in 2nd.  The first half of the field went up for the last round, but weather rolled in and the round wasn’t able to be completed that day.  The forecast for the next day didn’t look promising.  Somehow, the last few passes were squeezed in from a much lower altitude than normal.  As the competitors gathered and milled about, most with a beer in hand.  The judges went over the scores.  Curt’s score was seen dropping from 2nd overall to 7th.  The judges reviewed his Speed run crash, and decided it was a zero since the wingtip touched the water, quoting the “canopy down” rule.  So the overall podium ended up with Nick Batsch in 1st overall, Adam Teeling in 2nd Place, and Scott Harper in 3rd.  It was an awesome event, run very well and judges outdid themselves once again.  Thanks to everyone involved for making it a time to remember and congratulations to everyone!

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