|On 30/31 January 2010, after a gap of 57 years, the European
Yo-Yo Championships were held for only the second time in history. The
first, and until now the only European Championships had taken place in
England in 1953.
Many of the competitors arrived in Prague on Thursday and Friday. Among them was Don Robertson from Essex, the undefeated European Champion of 1953, now 81 years old. He was to award the prizes at the victory ceremony.
Yo-Yo players came from every corner of Europe: from Bulgaria, England, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Iceland, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Scotland, Turkey and Finland. They were joined by guests from the U.S. and Australia, as well as the reigning 3A world champion Kentaro Kimura from Japan, and Samuli Manistö, organizer of the EJC 2010 in Finland.
The Saturday morning began with the Trick Ladder, a competition for advanced players, and the Spin Top Division, which was won by Jan Dvorak from the Czech Republic.
Then came the 3A Final (string tricks with two yo-yos) to decide the first of a total 5 European titles, which Lorenzo Sabatini from Italy won hands down.
This was followed in the late afternoon by the qualifiers for the 1A category (tricks with one yo-yo). 64 competitors, each had one minute to give a freestyle performance that would earn them a place in the final on Sunday, alongside the national champions who had already qualified automatically.
The large numbers of very high standard players made it no easy task for the judges to decide who should go through to the 3-minute Freestyle final.
Later that evening at the afterparty, the lucky finalists were announced by Pat Cuartero from New York, the championship MC.
Sunday was finals day. The breaks between competitions in the individual categories were filled with show acts - including BMX, footbag, frisbee and a model aircraft demonstration.
Emil Lamprecht from Berlin impressed the yo-yo community with his club juggling freestyle, and Fabian Hedinger from Switzerland presented his skills with one to three diabolos.
Anyone who still needed to stock up with yo-yos and accessories could visit the vendors´ stalls, which were also selling event T-shirts and hoodies, and a special edition EYYC yo-yo.
The 2A final (loop tricks with two yo-yos) was clinched by Dave Geigle from Germany.
Winner in the 4A category (yo-yo loose on the string, like a diabolo) was Nandor Groger from Hungary, who put on an excellent freestyle.
In the 5A category (yo-yo fixed not to the hand, but to a counterweight) it was Petr Kavka (Czech Republic) who came out on top.
Then it was time for the eagerly awaited 1A final. The fantastic freestyles on display covered the whole spectrum of tricks and styles, and in the end it was only a few pooints that separated the top places. Vasek Kroutil (Czech Republic) took first place ahead of Mateusz Ganc (Poland) and Lorenzo Sabatini (Italy), with Kojo Boison (Germany) in fourth.
After the finals, the hspin 3x3 Battle brought the house back up to boiling point. In this breakdance-style battle, three-person teams challenged each other - just for fun. Each player had just one trick to win the favour of the audience, and in the ent it was the team of Jason Lee, Kentaro Kimura and Vasek Kroutil who were most successful at it.
As a prelude to the victory ceremony, Jan Schmutz und Ivo Studer from Inmotion presented their fantastic yo-yo team show. The ceremony was then rounded out with a grand finale featuring the new champions alongside past master Don Robertson, followed by a party in honour of the champions that continued into the early hours of the morning.
The superb organisation deserves a special word of praise. The hostel for all the participants was in the same building as the club in which the championships themselves took place. It was great to have everything so close at hand.
A huge thank-you also goes to all the sponsors, without whom these wonderful championships would not have been possible!
Everyone is already looking forward to a repeat of the event next year. But before that, the next date to remember is the European Yo-Yo Meeting taking place in London in early May.
For infos on the European Yo-Yo Championships: http://www.yoyo-europe.eu
Interview with Don Robertson: http://juggling.tv
General yo-yo infos: http://www.TYM.de
Pictures by Paolo Lamperti