1997 WFDF World Championships
The finals were held Sunday, August 10th in Kaivopuisto Park, Helsinki, Finland.
Absolutely perfect weather rained sunshine and light breezes on the soft, well manicured field where the freestyle finals took place.
Earlier in the morning Hartmut Wahrmann had won SCF and Golf, and fellow German Christian Voight had taken Distance, Reto Zimmerman from Switzerland had smoked discathon and Sune and Axsel had won their world title in DDC edging out the favored American team of Conrad Damon and Harvey Brandt. With Sune having secured the overall title via his victory in DDC moments before freestyle began, the possiblity of the United States being shut out of the victory circle loomed. (No American women competed).
In front of a VERY receptive crowd of 500 at Kaivopuisto Park in Helsinki – Nilson, Alhstrom and Johson opened the finals showing their well rehearsed routine. This young team from Sweden will be one to watch. Karlsson, Karlsson and Arversk followed with a crowd stirring, high difficulty and adeptly choreographed routine.
The crowd got a real treat as Wahrmann, Zimmermann and Storz began to heat up. Hartmut uses his remarkable athleticism to do several hi diff moves. Reto went out of his mind during a couple combos sending the crowd into a frenzy. His double spinning gitis close to the audience made a National Television broadcast.
I was unable to see the next 2 routines because I had to warm up. I gathered that Imperiale, Wright and Wentzel played very solid hitting many music cues and doing some very tight co-ops. They played to – something from Uma Guma I believe, by Pink Floyd into Santana.
The Finish home town favorites Isola and Ruuhinen were pared with Jan Ekman of Sweden. Everyone wanted to know if their Semi Final performance was a fluke. (They had upset Wright/Imperiale/Wentzel to win their pool). All I know is the crowd was making an incredible amount of noise when I was warming up. I think these guys played real hot.
Finally, the top seded team of the tournament Schiller, Leitner and Richards performed. After an early drop and a fairly slow start something clicked and Schiller did some of the hottest combos of the tournament including a double spinnig flamingo pull to a double spinning (in the other direction) flamingo-osis catch. He also did a mondo against the spin combo off one of Leitner’s hi Z “spanker” throws. By the end of the routine it seemed clear the high difficulty of their routine combined with clean execution (2 drops) had earned them the title. For Richards it was his first world title. For Leitner and Schiller is was their 10th joining Larry Imperiale (10), Kevin Givens (11), and Joey Hudoklin (12) with 10 or more world titles.
Later at the awards ceremony Leitner dedicated the routine to his Finnish friend Myka Nordman. at 20 years of age Myka had been one of the hottest players at his age in the history of the sport and has the distinction of being the first Finnish national break dancing champion. Joey Hudoklin recalled, “Myka had so many tools at an early age, he would have truly been one of the all time greats.” A tragic fall has left Myka paralyzed and confined to a wheel chair. He attended the finals and was greeted warmly by the competitors many of whom had not seen him in close to 10 years.