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Until the Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship!

2007 Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship

First, let me apologize for getting this post to the list a tad later
than normal. I’ve had my hands full the past few days with a very
small, but needy, matter of great importance.

This will be a long post so grab a “cactus cooler” before you start
reading.

This morning I performed the ceremonial “last rites” on the 2007
Worlds…namely I returned the empty keg from the awards banquet to the
local microbrewer. As I drove down the road with the keg banging
around in the back of my truck, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be
entirely inaccurate to describe the disc dog community as “a drinking
family with a disc dog problem.” You folks sure know how to have a
good time!

Let me begin where I should and thank the many volunteers who worked
tirelessly to make the event a success. Kudos go to our experienced
judges Chuck Middleton, Mark Jennings and Greg Perry. Those guys
spent three days in the sun and watched hundreds of dogs perform and,
as usual, got it right. Next year, we promise not to outfit the
judges in black shirts, though they sure looked svelte don’t you think!

Others volunteers who toiled to make the event special include, but
are not limited to: John Bilheimer, Shannon Bilheimer, Frank
Buckland, Val Buckland, Diane Campbell, Gary Duke, George Freeman,
Kara Gilmore, Chuck Hensley, Nancy Liptak, Ray Lowman, Frank
Montgomery, Theresa Musi, Larry Pease, Gail Pease, Joselyn Skaggs,
Jeff Stanaway, Angie Stanaway, Swanee Swainston, Sven Van Dresche,
Peter Williams, Carolynn Williams, Dolores Willis, and countless
others who were always willing to lend a hand whenever and wherever
needed. It sounds cheesy to say it, but without you, there is no us.

Next we want to thank all of the competitors who donated money to the
Forsyth Humane Society no-kill shelter. Thanks to your efforts — and
with a little Hyperflite cash tossed into the kitty — a total of
$3,500 was raised to support the efforts of this worthy organization.
It is always a delight to see dog lovers open up their hearts (and
wallets) to help ease the plight of homeless animals. Special thanks
to Susan Jones who, with a Verizon matching contribution, donated
$750 dollars to the cause, and to George Freeman who made a last
minute donation of $200 at the Awards Banquet to help us reach the
$3,500 milestone. Thanks also to Ray Lowman and Susan Markham and to
the numerous other clubs and individual donors who helped raise money
for the cause. We have a sneaking suspicion that the disc dog
community could raise even more money next year if Peter and I
promise not to do another pairs routine! Our knees and backs are
still hurting from that humbling experience.

Now, let’s talk about the Eastern Open Qualifier. We were blessed
with wonderful weather for all three of the competition days
including a light rain and cloud cover on Friday morning that kept
the dust down and the dogs cool. The Open Qualifier, despite more
than 200 competitive entries, went smoothly thanks to the
aforementioned cadre of volunteers who busted their tails to help us
finish by late afternoon. A better name for the Open Qualifier might
be the “Mini World Finals” because the competition is undoubtedly as
fierce as the big events on Saturday and Sunday. At the end of the
day, 12 new teams qualified for the Worlds.

Open Division

Lawrence Frederick & Flash
Preston Dean & Skye
Tracy Custer & Raccoon Jack
Autumn Trainor & Nevi

Pairs Freestyle

Peter/Carolyn Williams & Lena
Mark Muir/Preston Dean & Rocket

Micro Dog Division

Nadja Palenzuela & Wee-la
Jack Fahle & Ruckus

Sport Division

Danny Eggleston & Guinan
Adrian Custer & Blade
Troy McConaughey & Einstein
Jeff Stanaway & Cojo

For the complete Open Qualifier score rundown please go to this link:
http://skyhoundz.com/downloads/07_Eastern_Open.pdf

The Worlds

As the countdown timer on the Hyperflite website clicked to zero, the
World’s began.

It was pouring when competitors arrived at Piedmont Park On Saturday
morning, but eventually the sprinklers turned off! As most
competitors know, Saturday at our World’s features the Open Division
which is still regarded by many as the most challenging disc dog
championship because it combines Freestyle and Distance/Accuracy. In
all my years of judging disc dog competitions, I have never seen a
World’s in which the competitors were so tightly grouped. Everyone
present felt sorry for the poor judges who were forced to split hairs
to account for the subtleties between so many great routines. In the
end, Danny Venegas of West Palm Beach, Florida gave notice that two
of the top podium spots were his domain. Finishing in third was Tracy
Custer who, showed great poise in dealing with an unexpected
interruption to her routine that occurred when a visibly ashen
Michael Vick wandered onto the field in an attempt to apologize to
Andrew Yori’s dog “Wallace” for crimes against “caninity.” The
response from the disc doggers present has already been well
documented in other posts and I won’t expand on it, except to say…
Semper Fido!

Final results for the Open Division were as follows:

1st Danny Venegas & Jumpin’ Jack
2nd Danny Venegas & Oreo
3rd Tracy Custer & Raccoon Jack

Sunday was another glorious day and I’m not just talking about the
weather. For me, the most heartening thing about the competition on
the final day of the World’s was that everyone was rooting for
everyone. All the competitors and spectators were wowed by great
routines and it didn’t matter who had them. The copious camaraderie
that I saw on Saturday and Sunday was the most pleasing and wonderful
thing about the event this year. I have always had great faith in the
disc dog community and believed that we were unique in the world of
sports because of our love for our dogs and our concern and respect
for our extended family members. Although I didn’t get to see the
final rounds on Sunday (something relating to a birth in the family),
I was told that the competition continued with spectacular
performances and not much room between the top competitors. In the
end, someone had to win and the results are as follows:

Pairs Freestyle Division

1st Frank Buckland/Shannon Bilheimer & Shiloh
2nd Josh Grennell/Andrew Yori & Wallace
3rd Danny Eggleston/Christina Curtis & Guinan

MicroDog Division

1st Katherine Ferger & Tallulah
2nd Jack Fahle & Ruckus
3rd Nadja Palenzuela & Wee-la

Sport Division

1st Robert Walkley & Brigit
2nd Scott Jones & Bolero
3rd Bill Marion & Blaze

For the complete World Championship score rundown please go to this
link: http://skyhoundz.com/downloads/07_World_Championship.pdf

Much as last year, there were many firsts at the 2007 Hyperflite
Skyhoundz Worlds.

Frank Buckland and Shannon Bilheimer & Shiloh became three-time Pairs
Freestyle World Champions and joined a rather elite group of three-
time world champions that includes Alex Stein & Ashley Whippet, Bill
Murphy & Bouncin’ Boo, and Gary Suzuki & Soarin’ Sam.

Two young men, Preston Dean (a 14-year old from Monroe, Georgia) and
Chandler Curtis (a 13-year old from Fountaintown, Indiana) qualified
to compete in the Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Championship making them
the two youngest competitors to qualify to compete at the elite level
of the sport.

Danny Venegas became the first competitor to take the top two spots
at the same World’s after finishing in the second and third spots the
previous year.

Our neighbors to the north also notched their first world title when
Katherine Ferger & Tallulah of Queensville, Ontario, Canada, won it
all in the MicroDog Division. The maple flags were flying everywhere
as an enthusiastic pod of talented Canadian teams, including veteran
Dennis Alexander, showed the disc dog world that “Canadian Chicks
most definitely do rule!” Previously, the only other international
team to win a World Championship title at our World’s was the team of
Sayuri Norose & Passer, from Japan, who took the Sport Division crown
in 2003.

The year 2007 marked he first time that Mike and Kathy Miller missed
the Worlds. Apparently, the couple decided that a vacation at a
transmission repair shop in Gallup, New Mexico, would be preferable
to the company of their disc dog family. We will forgive them…this time.

Even more notably, the 2007 Worlds showcased Lawrence Fredrick’s
ability to go three days without French kissing a stinging insect.

Afterword

At the Gathering of Champions Awards Banquet, we were privileged to
announce that Ray Lowman, was the 2007 recipient of the Skyhoundz
Lifetime Achievement Award. Ray’s devotion to our sport is
unquestionable and he has helped turn the MADDOG Club into a model
for disc dog clubs everywhere. Five MADDOG world champions joined Ray
at the podium as he received his award. Then before they could
retreat to their tables, they were informed that MADDOG had also
recaptured the Skyhoundz Club Cup from the Indy Club. Word on the
street is that MADDoggers feed their canines a strict diet of
Chesapeake Bay seafood! Hmmm. The text of my Lifetime Achievement
Award speech can be seen here: http://skyhoundz.com/downloads/
2007_Skyhoundz_Lifetime_Achievement_Award.pdf

Finally we forgot to mention a few things at the Awards Banquet.
First, “Disc Dogs: The Complete Guide” is nearly finished and we
promise it will represent our sport well. We have delayed publication
until late 2007/early 2008 so that we could incorporate more Pairs
and MicroDog photos from the 2007 Worlds and also obtain information
from the other contest series for inclusion in the book.

This year’s Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Championship DVD, for the
first time, will include footage of all the Divisions: Open,
MicroDog, Pairs, and Sport. The 2007 World’s DVD should be available
in about three weeks.

Next, we neglected to announce the recipients of this year’s Peter
Rice Bloeme Rising Star Scholarships. These are awarded each year to
deserving disc doggers. The 2007 recipients are Frank Buckland, Matt
Derfler, and Bill Marion. In addition to free entries to all
Hyperflite Skyhoundz events for 2008, these individuals will receive
discs, apparel and other goodies in “the post” (as they say overseas)
very shortly.

To conclude, Peter, Greg, Nancy and I extend our deepest gratitude to
the disc dog community for supporting our little flying disc company
and for helping us to showcase the talents of the world’s best canine
disc teams.

Jeff Perry