Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Americans storm Berlin, strike gold!

(Photo courtesy of Jürgen Burkhart)
"Toot! Toot! Toot!"
America's new super hero, Toot Joslin, took first place and earned a gold trophy in the Sideburns category at the World Beard and Moustache Championships held in Berlin, Germany, on October 1, 2005. Toot is seen here flanked by Italy's Bruno Panza (left, second place) and Germany's Uwe Wankmüller (right, third place).
As expected, Germany dominated the event, taking gold in 14 of the 17 categories.

While the Americans didn't exactly hoist the stars and stripes over the Brandenburg Gate as they had hoped, they were invited along with all other competitors to appear on stage in front of the famous gate (the symbol of Berlin, once inaccessible in the no-man's land separating East and West Berlin) during celebrations on German Unity Day, October 3.
"This was a building year for us," says Phil Olsen, self-appointed captain of Team USA, who was pleased with the results. "We'll be back next time with a bigger and even stronger team."

The next World Beard and Moustache Championships will take place in Brighton, England, on September 1, 2007.

Toot is still waiting for the traditional congratulatory phone call from President Bush.

Bright future for America

(Photo by Kyle Parsons, If-You-Shave-You're-Fired, LLC)
Twenty-one-year old Jack Passion, from Santa Cruz, California, sported a massive, thick, red beard that was only two years and three months old at the WBMC 2005 in Berlin. Jack's beard earned him third place and a bronze statue in one of the most competitive categories, full beard natural. Jack has vowed to come to Brighton in two years and hopes to place even higher there. The best part of this, his beard is still growing and could be twice as long next time! Jack along with several other younger members of Team USA, including Aaron Lewis, Carter Tew, Jordan Dauby (who took fourth in this category in Berlin), David Traver (world champ in 2003), Burke Kenny (in Berlin he took fifth in full beard, styled moustache) and Bob Gengler, insure that Americans could well dominate this category for a generation.

Der König ist gefallen!

(Photo courtesy of the Berlin Beard Club)
The King is dead!
Günter Rosin, 2003 world champ in the Ungarisch (Wild West) category and all-around cool guy, came to Berlin riding a wining streak in his category longer than Lance Armstrong's in the Tour de France. The streak stretched all the way back to the WBMC 1997 in Trondheim, Norway. At the last three WBMC's, he narrowly beat out the American challenger, the Whisker Club's Bruce Roe, who was second in 1999, second in 2001, and third in 2003.
No wonder Günter, who recently changed club affiliation from Belle Moustache to East Bavaria, was the odds-on favorite to five-peat.
Günter had to settle for second in Berlin. Bruce was third. Who took gold? Newcomer Rainer Frech, representing none other than Belle Moustache. Evidently Jürgen Burkhart, Belle Moustache's president, couldn't stomach the thought of this category going to another club, so he somehow performed magic and recruited Rainer.
Es lebe der König! Long live the King!

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!!

One of the most colorful competitors at the World Beard and Moustache Championships 2005 in Berlin was rookie Australian Chris Ryan.

Chris' appearance along with his compatriot Thomas Hinton marked the first time Australia was represented at the WBMC.

Other countries represented for the first time were Albania, Poland, India, Tunisia, France, and Scotland.

The Aussies say they'll be back in 2007 and are hoping to field a squad of 20 competitors. There is also talk of Sydney making a bid for the WBMC 2011.

(Photo courtesy of Dennis and Carol Dickerson)

Is this a moustache?

Meet Mike Solomons, distinguished member of London's famous Handlebar Club and jovial veteran of numerous international beard and moustache competitions.

Mike is not permitted to have a beard, since the Handlebar Club specifically does not allow beard. To qualify for Handlebar Club membership, one must possess a moustache, defined as "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities."

In Berlin Mike tried to enter the freestyle moustache category. However, the powers that be (the pre-judges, appointed by the Association of German Beard Clubs, and all members of clubs in the AGBC) informed Mike that he could not compete in the category of his choice since he did not have a moustache but a beard!

Well, it seems the problem has to do with language. There is no word in German for moustache. What English speakers call a moustache is in German just a certain type of beard (Bart). Sometimes it's called a Schnurrbart (literally, "string beard"), sometimes an Oberlippenbart (literally, "upper lip beard"), or perhaps a Schnauzbart (literally, "snout beard"). So, for the German speakers who were officiating, Mike's moustache was none of these, as it certainly wasn't a string, covered more than his upper lip, and extended far beyond his snout. Mike ended up in the freestyle chin and cheek beard category.

What do you think? Does our friend Mike have a moustache or a beard?