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