Friday, December 28, 2007

World Championships of Sand Sculpture

I have always admired ice sculptures and realized how similar sand sculptures are, and I discoverd that some ice sculptors also sculpt sand. The World Championships of Sand Sculpture are held each year in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada beginning the first Tuesday of September and ending the following Saturday. Scultures remain up until the beginning of October.

The World Championships of Sand Sculpture draw about 300 participants who compete in one of three classes and event participation is limited to master sculptors/carvers, who have years of carving and sculpting experience. The event is held in Harrison Hot Springs because there is no tide to wash away the art (it's a lake beach), and the sand is angular mountain silt, instead of round ocean sand, which makes it easier to sculpt. There are about 200 smaller competitions in North America where ameteurs can compete, and several other competitions around the globe.

Master Team Class
-Teams are between 2 and 10 people
-100 person hours per team
-2007 Champion: Sandboxers - Victoria, BC, Canada

Master Doubles Class
-Two people
-50 person hours
-2007 Champion: Michel deKok & Nicola Woods

Master Solo Class
-One person
-22 person hours
-2007 Champion: Dan Belcher (winner 3 years in a row)- St. Louis, MO, USA

How Sand Scultpures Are Made
The sculptors first create a plan of what they want to make, complete with drawings. At the beach, they shouvel sand into forms and add plenty of water, or they stack wet sand into the desired general shape. Tamping, or compacting the sand is performed between layers, until all the needed sand is formed and compacted. Sculpting starts at the top and the forms are removed as the carving progresses to the ground.
World Championships of Sand Sculpture

Sunday, December 9, 2007

International Whistling Championship

What would the world be like without whistling? It sure adds a lot to films, shows, and life. If you think you are really good at musical whistling, then go to the International Whistler's Convention (IWC) around the end of April each year in Louisburg, North Carolina for their International Whistling Champioinship, or you could just go and listen and visit their International Whistlers Museum.

Contestants in the International Whistling Championship can enter into three categories: Classical Music, Popular music, and Allied Arts (which is where contestants are allowed to do other things while whislting, like accompany themselves).

There are several titles that people can win in this contest. Contestants who enter into the classical and the popular music categories can go on to become the male or female International Grand Champion of musical whistling. There are also male and female teenage champions, children's champions, and allied arts champions. The whistling Entertainer of the Year is also recognized at the convention.

International Whistler's Convention:

High quality recordings of musical whistling:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

International Tree Climbing Championship

Who doesn't like trees? Lots of children would love to win a prize for tree climbing, but some people actually do. The International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC) is put on by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This championship is one that is put on for a very practical purpose, because it is an event for tree care professionals around the world, and over 1,000 contestants participate at over 50 local competitions worldwide. The next championship will be in St. Louis, Missouri on July 26-27, 2008.

The International Tree Climbing Championship was initially started to preserve the classic skills that would prepare a climber equipped with nothing more than a rope to have the ability to save a life in an aerial rescue. The event's purpose has expanded to promote safe working practices, demonstrate innovations in equipment and techniques, and provide industry recognition, as well as to provide entertainment and education.

Practical Results
The ISA says the International Tree Climbing Championship has reinvented the tree climbing equipment and care industries by bringing the end users and the manufacturers toghether which has resulted in new inventions and products specifically designed for tree care. The event's strong focus on safety (most of the official rules focus on safety) has strengthened the safety standards of the industry in nearly every participating country.

How it Works
The championship has several events, each with a men's and a women's category, where participants are scored by judges. Contestents can earn points, bonus points, and penalty points. The scores from all events are added together and the top 5 men and the top 5 women go to the Master's Challenge. Essentially, the person with the highest combined score wins and becomes the Men's Champion or the Women's Champion.

Work Climb Event
The Work Climb tests the contestant’s ability to move about the tree using a tree-climbing rope and saddle. The contestant starts from a staging area in the tree and is required to visit five work stations throughout the tree, performing a specified task at each station. Work station events include: The Handsaw Station, The Limb Toss Station, The Pole Pruner Station, The Limb Walk Station, and The Landing Station.

Aerial Rescue Event
The Aerial Rescue event is a timed event that tests the contestant’s ability to climb to and safely lower a climber who is unable to descend without assistance. Prior to the event start, a judge tells the contenstant the 'situation.' The contestant must go up the tree and lower safely, efficiently, and carefully, an injured climber (a dummy) to the ground without excasterbating the situation, where an EMT with no climbing knowledge would perform an assessment if it were real life and not a competition. The dummy is between 20 and 25 feet above the ground.

Throwline Event
The Throwline is a timed event that tests the contestant’s ability to accurately place a throwline and climbing line in a tree at heights between approximately 40 and 60 feet (12 and 18 meters). The contestant attempts to toss a throwline through two of six targets (with unlimeted throws), which can be in single or multiple trees.

Belayed Speed Climb Event
The Speed Climb tests the contestant’s ability to climb a predetermined route from the ground to about 60 feet (18 meters) up a tree with a belayed climbing line attached for safety. The event is timed, and the contestant who reaches and rings the bell at the top of the course in the least amount of time wins.

Secured Footlock
The Secured Footlock measures the contestant’s ability to perform a vertical ascent into a tree using a Prusik hitch or other approved friction hitch for fall protection and the footlock rope-climbing method on a doubled climbing line. The heights are 15 meters (49 feet, 2.5 inches) for the men’s event and 12 meters (39 feet, 4.5 inches) for the women’s event. Mechanical ascenders may not be used. The event is timed, with a maximum time limit of 60 seconds, and the contestant with the fastest time wins.

Masters' Challenge
TheMasters’ Challenge is designed to judge the contestant’s overall productivity and skill with a rope and saddle in the tree. Contestants are judged and scored on their knowledge and their ability to demonstrate mastery of different climbing techniques, use of equipment, poise in the tree, and safe working practices. The contestant must perform a pre-climb inspection of the tree, install any necessary climbing and/or belay equipment, and then enter the tree. The contestant proceeds to three or four work stations in the tree. In some situations, a fourth station may be added to increase the difficulty of the climb and provide additional opportunity for the judges to assess the climber’s abilities. One of the stations is equipped with a plumb bob suspended from the limb. If the contestant puts too much weight on the limb, causing the plumb to drop and activate a buzzer, no points are earned for completing the task. A maximum time to complete the event is specified in advance. The climb is timed to assess overall productivity, but the Masters’ Challenge is not a speed event.

When I was on the Work Crew for the Hill Cumorah Pageant in 2000, the work crew leader was a tree surgeon from Conneticut. He knew all sorts of knots and knew how to work lots of different types of machinery. I thought it was interesting that someone could become a tree surgeon, but I'm glad they are around to work on our trees.

International Tree Climbing Championship

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

NCAA Women's Soccer Championships

Right now the NCAA is finishing up their women's soccer championship series.

NCAA Division I Women's Soccer
This championship began on November 16th and the Women's College Cup (championship finals), will be held this this weekend on December 7 and 9, 2007 in College Station, Texas.

Full Bracket

NCAA Division II Women's Soccer
Division II championships began on November 9, 2007 and finals were held November 29 and December 1, 2007 in Orange Beach, Alabama. The University of Tampa (Tampa, Florida) won the NCAA Division II Women's Soccer National Championship.

Full Bracket

NCAA Division III Women's Soccer
Division III championships began on November 7, 2007 and finals were held November 23-24, 2007 in Orlando, Florida. Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois) won the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer National Championship.

Full Bracket

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ice boating

When I first saw an ice boat, I knew that it was something that I have to try some day, and I really want to try it. I first became aware of it when I lived in Plymouth, Minnesota and I saw these little boats sailing around really fast on top of frozen Lake Minnetonka. Ice boats/ice yachts have been around since the 1600's in Europe. In 1861 the first ice boat races were held in the USA and modern ice boats can go over 50mph, with a few boat designs caplable of going over 100mph.

Ice boats have a hull, a sail, and three skates or runners on the bottom of the boat, and it is mostly a hobby sport. Most ice boats are constructed by the people who use them. Some ice boats can be purchased for a couple of thousand dollars, with the nicer ones costing several thousand dollars, and the championship winning ones costing many tens of thousands of dollars.

There are six different classes of ice boats, the DN (named after the Detroit News), Nite, Renegade, Skeeter, Stern Steerers, and the Monotype-XV. The DN is the most popular model, holds one person, can have up to 60 square feet of sail, and is popular in the USA, much of Europe, and Russia. The Nite seats two people side by side and can have up to 67 square feet of sail. I'm not sure what makes the Renegade different from the DN, but it can have up to 67 square feet of sail. The Skeeter class boats are like formula 1 race cars, as most of the newest R&D and technology goes into these, and they can have up to 75 square feet of sail. The stern steerers are most often historical boats. They are divided into three classes A (over 600 square feet of sail), B (450 to 600 square feet of sail), and C (350 to 450 square feet of sail. The Monotype-XV is a European model that seats two people and is commonly raced in Europe.

The International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association (IDNIYRA) holds their Gold Cup World Championship on February 18-20, 2008 in the central lakes region of North America. It seems the regatta location is announced shortly before the event begins because the ice conditions cannot be predicted. Ice boating seems unusual in that the World Championship is not the culminating event of the sport's brief annual timespan because there are still other smaller regattas later in the season. Local ice boat clubs hold different regattas and are the best place to go to learn how to ice boat.

International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association

Useful site on ice boating

Friday, November 30, 2007

Three Women's Volleyball National Championships end today

Yesterday I discovered yet another collegiate women's volleyball national championship. This one is from the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association), so today there will be three college volleyball teams that will each become national champions... the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball National Champion, The NCCAA Division I Women's Volleyball National Champion, and the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Champion.

The NCCAA division I championship is being held in St. Paul, Minnesota from November 29 - December 1, 2007, with eight teams in the championship. Their division II championship was from Nov. 8-10, 2007 and was held in Omaha, Nebraska. Clearwater Christian College from Clearwater, Florida is the 2007 NCCAA Division II Women's Volleyball National Champion.

Division I

Division II

Thursday, November 29, 2007

USCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship

There is yet another collegiate national volleyball championship. The USCAA (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) had their Women's Volleyball National Championship finals on Saturday, October 27, 2007 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This event has the eight best ranked Division I and Division II teams in the USCAA compete for the title in single elimination. I don't think there are any more collegiate national volleyball championships other than the ones I've mentioned in this blog, but if you find some, let me know because that would be interesting.

2007 USCAA Women's Volleyball National Champion
Florida College, Temple Terrace, Florida
(3rd National Championship in 3 years)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lumberjack World Championships and STIHL Timbersports Series

Timber anyone? The timber industry used to be very large in the United States and it is still an important industry here and in many parts of the world. Modern day lumberjacks and timber experts are very dedicated to their sport and have a loyal fan base and there are many timbersports competitions around the world.

The Lumberjack World Championships is held in Hayward, Wisconsin in July at the Lumberjack Bowl and is part of ESPN's Great Outdoor Games. Competitors come from all over the world and compete in sawing, chopping, pole climbing, log rolling, and boom running, for several men's and women's titles (more than 21 events), and compete for the best time in most events. I'm not sure how the participants are selected. Apparently log rolling is being taught at schools in some places, and it seems that many of the champions come from families with a history of timbersports winning.

While the Lumberjack World Championships produces a world champion for each type of event, the STIHL Timbersports Series produces one all-around world champion lumberjack in their professional World Championship (they also have a collegiate championship). The participants are selected from applicants from around the world who must compete in other timbersports events and produce a resume showing how good they are, and the top 32 applicants are invited to the competition and compete in eight events. You can watch a recording of the STIHL Timbersports Series is shown on ESPN2 if you can figure out when it is on, but I've got too much going on to watch.

I remember a long time ago I got to use a single bucking and a double bucking saw at a scout camp near Sarnia, Canada and also at the BSA's National Jamboree. It's a lot of fun to saw against some friends. If I did sawing like that every day then I would be in really, really good shape. I had a friend who wanted to get into shape really quickly, so he started chopping wood every day and it worked.

A few years ago I lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Western Wisconsin) for six months and I also lived up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (Northern Minnesota) for eight months and the timber and logging industry is definately a strong part of the heritage of Wisconsin and Minnesota and is still a major part of the economy there, though modern lumberjacks use things like cut-to-length timber harvesters and other large machines that are very efficient at clearing timber. I stopped and watched one once and it was almost mesmerizing. The thing grabs the tree at the base of the trunk, cuts it, tips over the tree, shoots the tree through and cuts off all the limbs, and shoots it back the other way and then slices the tree into pieces of equal length, and someone told me the machine's computer records how many board feet and how many logs were cut. Then another machine picks up the logs and puts them on a truck. It only takes about two people to clear timber with this method.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NCAA Women's Volleyball National Championships

NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball
The NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball National Championship begins on Friday, November 30 with 64 teams competing. Finals will be held on December 15, 2007 in Sacramento, California.

Full Bracket

NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball
The NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball National Championship finals will be held from November 29 to December 1, 2007 in Topeka, Kansas.

Full Bracket

NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball
The NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball National Championship finals were held from November 15-17, 2007 in Bloomington, Illinois. Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri) won this National Championship and it is their 9th NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball National Championship.

Full Bracket

NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship

NAIA (The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) will be holding their 2007 Women's Volleyball National Championship from Wednesday, November 28 to Saturday, December 1, 2007 at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri with 20 teams competing in the event. There are about 300 colleges involved with NAIA. You can watch this volleyball championship live over the internet if you want to.

Monday, November 26, 2007

NJCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship

I had never heard of it before, but the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) does exist and it recently had its women's volleyball championships. These events were held simultaneously on November 15-17, 2007.

NJCAA Division I (held in Scottsdale, AZ)
NJCAA Division II (held in Scottsdale, AZ)
NJCAA Division III (held in Rochester, MN)

2007 NJCAA Division I Volleyball National Champion
Western Nebraska Community College, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
(1st Volleyball National Championship)

2007 NJCAA Division II Volleyball National Champion
Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois

2007 NJCAA Division III Volleyball National Champion
Central Lakes College, Brainerd, Minnesota
(3rd Volleyball National Championship in 8 years)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

World Ice Climbing Championships

I was wondering about ice climbing and guess what, it is a relatively recent international competitive sport. Ice climbers compete on either speed or difficulty, with men and women competing for separate titles. The World Ice Climbing Championships/World Cup have been held by UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation/Union Internationale Des Associations D'Alpinisme) for a number of years with outdoor competitions.

More recently The North Face, Inc. has sponsored The Ice Climbing World Cup, which is an indoor competition where participants also compete on speed or difficulty. About 2000 spectators can watch in person. The UIAA seems to endorse this event because their logo is on the website.

I have noticed other sports where there are two different 'top' championships for the same sport. Perhaps in the future one event will become more prestigious and the other will disband or the two will merge. Maybe this is already occurring in 2008 and I just don't know. For other sports where there are multiple national or world championships, it would be nice to know which is considered more reputable or prestigious by the participants.

Here is a quick video from the 2006 UIAA World Cup

UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup

North Face Ice Climbing World Cup

Friday, November 23, 2007

The World Equestrian Games

Yesterday I noticed a rebroadcast of show jumping on TV. It was interesting how these riders could jump their horses over all of those different fences and other obstacles, and having the horse barely touch one will reduce their chances of winning quite significantly. And then one man completed the course without knocking down any of the rails and won a lot of money. I had no idea that such events happened up in Calgary, Alberta.

I discovered that show jumping is one of several equestrian games and is even an event at the Summer Olympics, but some consider the FEI (Fédération Equestre International) World Equestrian Games to be more prestigious than the Equestrian events at the Olympics.

The FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years in between the Olympic Summer games, with competitions in seven areas:
  • Dressage - how well a horse responds to the rider's aids for requested movements while staying relaxed. This type of a competition tests the horses ability to be an excellent riding horse. Horses are tested on obedience, balance, suppleness, and rhythm.
  • Show Jumping - how well and how fast a horse and rider jump over fences on a course.
  • Eventing - tests dressage, show jumping, and cross country. The cross country event has the horse and rider jump over a variety of obstacles that are more permanent than the fences in show jumping, and over a longer distance.
  • Endurance Riding - controlled long distance races. Races are typically 50 or 100 miles and the first horse to cross the finish line wins.
  • Vaulting - vaulters do gymnastics or dances on horseback while the horse is moving.
  • Combined Driving - also called horse driving trials. This event has a team of horses pull a carriage and driver. The driver must negotiate the team around a course while only using their hands and voice to lead the horses.
  • Reining - the rider has the horse perform a set pattern of movements while moving quickly: circles, spins, and stops. The horse is judged on its responsiveness to the rider.
I have never know very much about the equestrian type sporting events, and there are more equestrian events than those held at the World Equestrian Games.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bands of America Grand National Championships

Right now Nationals is going on in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for high school marching band. This is the last year that the event will be held in the RCA dome because a new arena will be replacing it. Nearly 100 schools are participating in preliminaries on Thursday and Friday. Saturday night will be finals. Watching the finals show is stunning and spectacular, even if you don't normally like this sort of event; it's just because everything in the finals show at Nationals is done at a level tremendously higher than most local events.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The World Beard and Moustache Championships

Here is one very unique championship that I found a month or so ago while on google. The World Beard and Moustache Championships is a biennial event (held every two years) with beard and mustache wearers from all over the world participating. It is held in a different country each time and has seventeen different categories to compete in.

I think the photos are really interesting and entertaining and I'm sure these men take great pride in being able to compete in this. It looks like the costume is just as important as the facial hair. I don't think I'll ever enter this event, but some of these are almost artwork.


Official website and more photos:

Monday, October 22, 2007

My National Championship

My first direct exposure to a national championship was when I was in high school in Canton, Michigan and was a member of the Plymouth-Canton Marching Band (PCMB). This band has a long history of being one of the best bands in the country, and was by far the best competing team at the school. In 1990 and 1991 it won nationals. In 1999 we won Nationals and the finals performance in 1999 is regarded as one of the most outstanding performances ever for the marching band community and for PCMB.

When I was in it in 1997, 1998, and 1999 it was always a dream of everyone in the band to win nationals again. The band was unique in that it did not have a culture of winning just to win. It had the culture and philosophy of just doing your best and doing better than the time before and enjoying winning if winning was the result. I personally feel that this philosophy on winning is much better than the philosophy of winning just to win, because the people who work really hard just to win, and don't win, receive an enormous emotional let down. But those who do their very best while keeping in mind that they can't control how other competitors do will be happy with how they did even if they didn't win, and will be ecstatic if they do win. But both philosophies on winning have their place and each may be more suited for a particular type of championship or individual; and competition obviously enhances performance and stretches the limits previously known.

A state championship came all three years I was in the band, as has happened pretty much every year, and in 1997 our band placed 5th at Nationals. The Grand National Championships were held in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana by Bands of America and has about 190 bands in Preliminaries, 30 bands in Semi-Finals, and about 10 bands in Finals. Semi-Finals produced a National Class Champion for each of the classes based upon school size: A, AA, and AAA for the largest schools. Typically about 80,000 people watch finals and there is always lots of adrenaline and electricity at Nationals. In 1998 the band placed 2nd at Nationals and got the award for best music in Finals, and everyone was very pleased with 2nd place.

In 1999 our band of 220 people had a great show, based on George Orwell's 1984, had a fantastic staff that was well seasoned and everyone mixed well together. A few years ago I calculated that for this show the band dedicated in the neighborhood of 400 hours to organized rehearsal and to competitions, and many more hours of individual practice. As Nationals approached we all knew that we were good, but continued to practice hard in Indianapolis to perfect the few segments that needed work. Semi-finals yielded a National Class Championship and all 3 awards for the AAA class: best music, best visual, and best general effect.

Our finals performance could not have been better and I think the finals performance was the only time we got the drill right for the final song of the show, because it got rewritten and we had to learn all new drill a week before nationals for that section; and the whole band got hooked together with tube things and in Finals I think pretty much everyone got hooked together, which didn't happen very often. At one point the spectators were standing and were louder than the band was while playing one of the loudest parts of the show.

We became the Grand National Champion with a score significantly higher than the 2nd place band with a slight difference in score between all the other placements, and we got the awards for best visual and best general effect in finals. It was so exciting standing on the 50 yard line in the RCA Dome for the Finals awards ceremony knowing that our performance was better than anything we had ever done, and that we were going become National Champions. I can still vividly picture the excitement of the momment and the electricity that was in the air during the performance and the awards. After the awards ceremony we got to perform again on the field, except it was just for the parents.

Here are two videos of the 1999 Finals performace, which has since become known as one of the greatest performences ever from Plymouth and is a legendary classic favorite in the marching band community. One video has close-ups with multiple camera angles and the other video is just a high camera angle that gets pretty much the entire football field. In the beginning of the video clip before the performance starts you can hear some random girl from another school call out my name. She responed to a message board post I made and I think I was the only person from Plymouth that she knew of by name. I had not ever expected anyone to call out my name before a show, but video is permanent.

1999 Plymouth-Canton Finals Multi-Cam

1999 Plymouth-Canton Finals High-Cam

Winning a National Championship was fantastic and it truly means a lot. The memories of getting ready for nationals are probably more prominent than the strong memories of the actual event and the experience and life lessons gained from winning a National Championship are extraordinary. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you did something well and that you did it the best that you possibly could do it, and that you exerted all the effort you possibly could to attain that level, and that you did it better than anyone else in the country that year, even if only for the culminating day of the championship. But knowing that you did your best and that you have no regrets about your preparation is the most important thing.

Winning a national championship is something that I had not ever considered before my time with Plymouth, but I am certainly glad that it happened. Winning this championship has caused me to think over the years about various aspects of championships and champions, which is the catalyst for this blog and other small projects I'm working on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So what's this all about?

You found it. The blog on championships.

This blog is intended to be about facts related to championships of any sort, and any aspect of championships that seems interesting, while mostly focusing on national and world championships from any country. If you know of any championship events or organizations that hold these events, neat stories, or are a champion or know of a team/person who is, then please post comments because all of us together know about more championships than I do right now. So with your help this can be a very useful, entertaining, and informative blog, but please verify the accuracy of your comments and be kind and objective if you leave an opinion and please use clean words. Others may find it useful if you include legitimate links to websites related to your comments.

I find championships very fascinating because there are so many of them for many different types of events. Millions of people know about the famous ones like the Superbowl, the World Series, the PGA tournaments, and the FIFA World Cup for soccer/football, but there are so many more championships out there because people specialize in lots of different sorts of activities and different events are more popular in different countries. And then there are championship events for different categories of participants, like professional, collegiate, high school, hobby, events where anyone can participate, and within these there are divisions, each with there own national champion. Between all the events on the planet that award National and World Championship titles for individuals and teams, there are thousands of new champions each year.