Bearded & Tschorn: USA dominates World Beard and Moustache Championships
ANCHORAGE – "‘Stache-thletes" from Los Angeles swept the Imperial (handlebar) mustache category at last night’s World Beard and Moustache Championships here, an early victory in what would prove to be the strongest-ever showing by the Americans since the games began in 1990.
The reigning champ, Alexander Antebi (singer for a band called Conquistador), preened and vamped his way to third place in what he dubbed his "Ziggy Czar Dust' getup, professional skateboarder (and Bristly Chap) Patrick Melcher took second place, and Benjamin Juergens came out of nowhere to take first place in his first-ever competition.
Fittingly, later in the evening, Alaskan competitors swept the Alaskan Whaler (chinstrap) category of beards, one that had been added to this competition in honor of host club SCAKBMC and one that produced some of the more colorful costumes of the evening, a mix of fishing waders, cable-knit sweaters and antique harpoons, as well as an actual piece of baleen -- wielded as a prop by third-place finisher Shawn Campbell of Anchorage. Aaron Suring of Anchorage took second place, and Kenai's Jerem Feltman placed first.
An Alaskan also took first place in the category of full beard freestyle and went on to be named world beard overall champion. David Traver, vice president and founder of SCAKBMC, won with a beard shaped and woven into the shape of a snowshoe.
Jack Passion, the whiskered Wizard of Walnut Creek and reigning world champion in the full beard category (whom we profiled in Friday's paper), repeated a win in that category on what he revealed was a very special occasion.
“Today is actually my beard’s sixth birthday,” he told the nearly 300 competitors and 1,500-plus spectators at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. "So help me sing 'Happy Birthday' to Big Red,” which the crowd happily did for a few verses.
When the evening was over, the host country had claimed 10 world titles, and the traditionally dominant Germans took top honors in just six, the first time time the U.S. had outstripped its biggest rival in the trophy count.
The next championship is scheduled for Trondheim, Norway, in 2011, although the shape and character of that event -- and the international competitive-facial-hair circuit itself, may well change, due to behind-the-scenes political wrangling between the World Beard and Moustache Assn. and Beard Team USA that began to spill into public arena here last week.
Much more on that in a later post, but suffice to say, the phrase "splitting hairs" is applicable.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos (from top): Third-place winner Alexander Antebi, at left, and second-place Patrick Melcher flank fellow Angeleno Benjamin Juergens, who took top honors in the Imperial category. David Traver, winner in the full-beard freestyle category and overall world beard champion. At bottom, full-beard-natural repeat winner Jack Passion. Credit: Mike Dinneen / For The Times