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Until the Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship!

2008 Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship

Each year, we strive to make the Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Canine
Disc Championship better than the year before. We faced some
additional challenges this year with a weakening economy, two
hurricanes, high gas prices, gas shortages, and a new host city. But
despite these hurdles, our wonderful community came together just as
we always do, to celebrate the glorious bond between canine and human.
I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the Worlds feels as much
like a family reunion as it does a sporting event for the world’s best
disc dog teams. This year, our “family” included teams from Belgium,
Canada, Hungary, Japan, and from all points of the compass here in the
U.S. In a show of true dedication to the sport, a competitor from
Japan — Rieko Ara — went so far as to quit her full-time job when she
couldn’t get the time off from work to attend the World Championship!

Those who came early to Chattanooga, Tennessee, learned why we
selected Chattanooga as the venue for the 2008 Worlds. Disc doggers
took their canines to “See Rock City,” and a plethora of other dog-
friendly spots. Quite a few of you took riverboat cruises along the
Tennessee River, visited the aquarium, watched an IMAX movie, ate at
the fabulous eateries, or enjoyed other Chattanooga attractions.
Everyone I spoke with seemed to feel that Chattanooga’s motto, “The
Scenic City” was an understatement. Judging by the positive comments
made by competitors and visitors, we will be working hard in the off-
season for an encore performance in 2009!

This year, our World Championship week began a few days early as we
arrived in Chattanooga on Tuesday to begin pre-event media. The World
Championship was heavily promoted and enthusiastically supported by
the Chattanooga media and disc doggers were treated to an avalanche of
newspaper, radio and television coverage.

On Thursday evening, Hyperflite co-hosted a welcome reception with the
South Paws Dog and Disc Club (http://skyhoundz.com/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=24
), a new club with a multi-state membership and a multi-organizer
mentality. We thank South Paws for their support and wish them well in
their new endeavor.

On Friday, at the North River Soccer Complex, a whopping 240 teams
competed in the Last Chance Open Qualifier for the final 14
invitations to the World Championship. Qualifying at the “Last Chance
Open Qualifier” is always a battle and this year was no exception.
Qualifying in the Open were:

Open: Lawrence Frederick & Harley Davidson, Tony Hoard & Rory,
Lawrence Frederick & Easy Rider, Chandler Curtis & Loco

MicroDog: Karl Soderburg & Seiko Mako, Katherine Ferger & Tallulah,
Frank Montgomery & Gracie Lou

Pairs Freestyle: Mark Gose/Denise Thornton & Mia, Angela Ewtushik/Rick
Rauwerda & Rally, Mark Muir/Preston Dean & Gipper

Sport: Kevin Eroskey & Brook, Nate Bednar & Marcy, Preston Dean &
Tawny, Jeff Wright & Sampson

Despite the large number of competing teams, we were able to finish up
the Last Chance Qualifier at about 6 pm, just in time to attend a
reception at the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, one of the
premier animal shelters in the United States. Disc doggers were
treated to sweets and libations and the opportunity to see why our
involvement with organizations like McKamey is so important. To our
great delight, at least two McKamey canines found their way into disc
dogging homes, and I feel certain that many more will follow because
of our collective efforts to extol the virtues of shelter and rescue
canines.

On Saturday, the action moved to AT&T Field, home of the Chattanooga
Lookouts, where the large number of shoeless competitors offered a
clue that the soft green grass was just too tempting to resist.

Competition in the Open Division was as spirited and as close as we
have seen. All the teams came to play and brought their A-games to
AT&T Field. When the dust settled, Tony Hoard & Rory stood at the top
of the podium. At his sides, were the runner-up team of Mark Muir &
Gipper (a half a point out of first) and the third place team of
Lawrence Frederick & Easy Rider.

Saturday night, at the Gathering of Champions Awards Banquet,
Hyperflite recognized all of the many volunteers who make the Worlds
memorable for competitors including, but not limited to, chief judge
Chuck Middleton, and judges Ed Jakubowski, Mark Jennings, and Hiro
Sekiguchi (from Japan). Also recognized were Swanee Swainston, George
Freeman, Mike and Kathy Miller, Lisa Middleton, Ray Lowman and the
entire MADDOG Club, Nancy Noel, Gerell Evans, Dolores Willis, and
countless others who pitched in along the way to get the job done.

Speaking of MADDOG, they won the Hyperflite Skyhoundz Club Cup once
again.

To the great relief of the entire disc dog community, Mark Muir’s
beloved golden noggin’ protector was returned after an extended stay
in Farkle’s dog house, as well as a whirlwind tour of disc dog
competitions in virtually every state in the U.S. It took a bit of
trickery and subterfuge to make the reunion memorable and Mark, like a
deer caught in the headlights, fell for the ruse, hook-line-and-
sinker. Helping in the ploy were Dr. Amanda (and her husband Scott)
from the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, and the ever devious
Matt DiAno, who in the words of Richard Nixon “is not a crook.” The
following day, Muir fastened the helmet to his Pop-up tent with a
bicycle lock. This proved to be an adequate theft deterrent, though
several disc doggers made attempts at helmet liberation and were
repelled successfully by the Muir clan. Also at the banquet,
Hyperflite introduced its newest product, the Jawz Hyperflex, an ultra-
flexible version of the Jawz that is about 80% as tough as the regular
Jawz disc but soft like Hypeflite’s SofFlite disc. All banquet
attendees were given a new Jawz Hyperflex and they are now available
through the Skyhoundz store. To our surprise, Troy Kerstetter and
three-legged wonder dog Maty competed with the HyperFlex that they
received the night before and managed to finish tied for seventh
place, matching their effort at the 2006 World Championship. Way to go
Maty!

On Sunday, three World Championship Divisions made for a long day. In
the Sport Division, Kevin Eroskey & Brook out-pointed the competition
to take the World Championship title with second going to Preston Dean
& Tawny and third place to Jeff Stanaway & Colby. Only one point
separated first and third place!

The MicroDogs may be small in stature, but they stood tall on the
playing field and wowed the crowd with non-stop action. In the end,
the dynamic duo of Al Erikson & George, won the gold. Finishing in
second place were Tracy Custer & Frenzy. In third were, Gary Duke &
Fergie.

As usual, the Pairs Freestyle teams were the crowd favorite. Shannon
Bilheimer and Frank Buckland, an unstoppable force in the world of
Pairs Freestyle, notched their fourth consecutive World Championship
title to become the winningest team in the history of canine disc
sports. Several teams had previously won three world titles — most
notably, the legendary Alex Stein and Ashley Whippet — but no team
until Sunday’s event, had ever won four World Championships. In second
place, with an amazing performance that fell just short, were Danny
Eggleston/Christina Curtis & Guinan. The third place team was decided
by a first in Hyperflite history. After the team of Chandler Curtis/
Christina Curtis & Loco and the team of Frank Buckland/John Bilheimer
& Filo finished both rounds in a tie for third place (which could not
be broken by the first tiebreaker), spectators were treated to a rare
“Snapshot” round in which teams are allotted 10 seconds to demonstrate
their best trick cluster to settle the matter once and for all. A coin
toss meant that John Bilheimer, Frank Buckland & Filo had to go first.
No stranger to pressure, Bilheimer was involved (several years
earlier) in a Faceoff tiebreaker with Jeff Stanaway to conclude the
Sport Division World Championship. However, on this day, Bilheimer and
Buckland stumbled while Chandler Curtis/Christina Curtis & Loco wowed
the judges with a perfect multi-throw sequence that left no doubt that
they belonged on the podium. Incidentally, the Curtis’s became the
first mother/son team to finish in the top three.

An interesting note: This is the first year in which there was a tie
in at least one of the top three positions in each of the four
Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Championship divisions. And, not
surprisingly, “da two yutes” continued to impress with Preston Dean
and Chandler Curtis each claiming podium real estate for the first time.

Our photographer, Sven Van Driessche, who captured many of the images
in “Disc Dogs! The Complete Guide,” took 22,068 photographs over the
three-day event, which means, there’s a strong likelihood that Sven
took some great shots of your dog (and that he will almost certainly
need to have his shutter finger replaced with a bionic unit before the
2009 Worlds!). Sven will be putting together a compilation of the best
250 photos from the weekend which we will post on our website. As
usual, Hyperflite also arranged to have the action on Saturday and
Sunday filmed by experienced videographer, Randy Scoggins. This year,
the World Championship was filmed in the new “hi-definition” (HD)
format, which means that the true beauty of disc doggers will be
captured for the first time.

At the conclusion of competition, the “After Party” at the River
Street Deli was just what the doctor ordered — plenty of beer,
heavenly sandwiches and a chance to savor a delightful weekend of
stellar performances courtesy of our friends with fur.

And, in case we forgot to say it to each one of you personally — our
heartfelt thanks to you for your support. The Hyperflite Skyhoundz
World Canine Disc Championship, when you get right down to it, has
very little to do with us, and everything to do with you.

See you again next September…