Saturday, August 27, 2005

Categorical Controversy

Jürgen Burkhardt ----------- Karl- Heinz Hille ---------- Schani Mitterhauser

When world championships are at stake, there is bound to be controversy.

Consider the imperial moustache (in German: Kaiserlicher Backenbart) category at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. In Carson City in 2003, this category featured a face off between three facial-hair superstars: Jürgen Burkhardt’s, Karl-Heinz Hille, and Franz "Schani" Mitterhauser. Hille took the category and went on to be crowned overall champ. Schani came in second and Burkhardt settled for third.

Unfortunately, there won’t be a rematch of the Carson City showdown this year. Why not? The rules of the Association of German Beard Clubs (in German: Verband Deutscher Bartclubs or VDB) define an imperial moustache like this: "whiskers growing from the cheeks and upper lip; chin shaved; whiskers growing from the cheeks point upward." In the spring of 2004, the Berlin Beard Club (Hille’s club) protested to the VDB that Burkhardt’s and Mitterhauser’s whiskers did not point upward but curled over. The VDB agreed and required Burkhardt and Mitterhauser to compete in the future in the freestyle category.

So Hille should now be a shoe-in in this category, right? Wrong. Enter newcomer Hans-Peter Jahn, who recently beat out Hille in this category at the Beard Olympics in May.

Hans Peter Jahn

What will happen in Berlin? Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Picking the winners

Picking the big winners at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Berlin 2005 on October 1 is no easy task. Don’t despair! My predictions are below.

This year, there will be no single overall winner. Instead trophies will be awarded in each of the seventeen categories as well as in each of the three overall classes – moustaches, partial beards, full beards.

Moustache Class.
This one is easy. Günter Rosin (pronounced: "Roe-zeen"), a taxi driver from Schorndorf,
Germany, has been the undefeated world champion in the Hungarian (or Wild West) moustache category since 1997. His winning streak started two years before Lance Armstrong’s streak in the Tour de France. Rosin also took top honors in the moustache class at the recent beard Olympics held in Austria. Don’t try talking to Günter before he takes the stage on competition day – he requires absolute peace and quiet as he prepares to compete. Unlike Armstrong, Rosin has no plans to retire.

Partial Beard Class.

Only one person on earth has ever been crowned overall champion at the World Beard and Moustache Championships – Berlin’s silver-bewhiskered Karl-Heinz Hille. He took top honors in Sweden in 1999 and again in Carson City in 2003. (There were no overall winners chosen at other WBMC’s.) Add to this the home court advantage and Hille should be the odds-on favorite. Not so quick! Karl-Heinz finished a disappointing third in his category (Imperial cheek beard) and therefore did not qualify for the final judging at the Beard Olympics last May. Nevertheless, I’m sticking with KHH because of his judge-appeal.

Full Beard Class.

This is a tough one. The top finishing full beard in Carson City belonged to Alaskan David Traver, who cannot make it to Berlin. I am going to go with Austria’s Hans Gassner, who competes in the full beard freestyle category. Gassner was the sentimental favorite at the Olympics where he took home the trophy in this class. He didn’t have to take the trophy very far, as the Olympics were held in his home town of Leogang.

OK, that is where I am putting my money. Remember where you heard it first.