The 2013 World Crokinole Championships are a month into the rear-view mirror. While it is nice to often take a break from crokinole after the World Championships, enough time has passed to look at the 15th edition of the tournament with a good perspective.
A year from now it will be hard to remember all of the exciting features this tournament had to offer, and in the grand scheme, most will only remember that Justin and Fred Slater won the doubles event, and John Conrad defeated Raymond Haymes to win his second straight world title. But let's take a look at the things most will likely forget.
Coming into the tournament, much was made about John Conrad's title defence in both the doubles and singles categories. While he was surely regarded to be among the favourites, the Ontario Doubles tournament in November made the favoured doubles teams to be Jason and Ray Beierling, and Fred and Justin Slater (note Fred Slater played with Brian Cook at the tournament but showed great doubles form in he and Cook's 3rd provincial title). Similarly in the singles, although Conrad made the final 4 in all 5 tournament he entered, he made the finals only twice, and lost both matches.
Top of mind were the other favourites for the singles category. Ray Beierling was not the only one to predict that 2013 would see a repeat of the final 4 from 2012 (that is R. Beierling, Cook, J. Slater and Conrad). While Conrad made every final 4 in the NCA, the other 3 men combined to win every Ontario NCA title, with the exception of Fred Slater's victory in London, and were the top 4 finishers at the NCA finale in St. Jacobs.
But when June 1st came, the interest in competition subsided to acknowledge all those that came together to celebrate the World Crokinole Championship. A total of 9 crokinole fanatics from Ohio made the long drive for a second consecutive year, along with 12 from Prince Edward Island and a pair of Fathers and Sons from Saskatchewan and Connecticut. In its 15th year there were 11 who could claim they had been there for all 15 years, in the hopes of returning for many more.
Focussing back on the competition, the doubles event saw Justin and Fred Slater win their first Doubles World title after previously finishing in 4th, 3rd and 2nd. They were only the second Father/Son team to win the doubles title. The first was Ron and Ray Haymes, who finished 4th this year for their 5th top 4 appearance. Ray Beierling and Jason Beierling made the top 4 for the first time since their world title in 2010. Their 3rd place finish this year was their 10th top 4 finish in the 15 year tournament. That is actually a world-record as no other doubles team has made the top 4 more than 7 times. Meanwhile, John Conrad and Tony Snyder's bid for a 2nd consecutive doubles title fell one point short to the Slaters.
Much was also made prior to the tournament about the 20s competition. Following Justin Slater's 142 20s tournament-record in 2012, a lot of anticipation surrounded the possibility that the record could be challenged, especially after a series of NCA tournaments that some very high 20s totals. However, 20s scores were hindered by a high degree of humidity, the likes of which had not been seen since 2009. Some players who were sweating during play suggested it was the most the tournament had encountered in its history. That being said, the 20s competition was not without its drama. Justin Slater was hoping to achieve a record-breaking 4th consecutive 20s title, and at the end of the day was matched with Ray Beierling at 99 20s. A rematch of the 2011 20s shootout, Beierling would get the better of the shootout this time around to win his 3rd 20s title. Now Al Fuhr, Ray Beierling and Justin Slater all sit with a total of 3 20s titles at the World Championships.
The top 4 cashing in the singles category were the anticipated Ray Beierling and John Conrad, and the surprises of Ray Haymes and Tom Johnston. With a 4th, Tom Johnston is only the fourth person to have 2 top 4 singles finishes in the last 3 years. The others are John Conrad, Ray Beierling (who made his 3rd consecutive and 7th overall top 3 finish) and Brian Cook, who saw his incredible 9 year run in the top 4 come to an end. That 9 year streak from 2004 to 2012 had Brian Cook win 3 consecutive world titles, 8 straight trips to the final and one 3rd place finish.
Raymond Haymes with a 2nd in singles and 4th in doubles became only the 9th person to finish in the top 4 in the doubles and singles categories in the same year. John Conrad and Ray Beierling also achieved the feat this year for their 3rd and 4th times respectively at the World Championships.
And of course, John Conrad was the man of the hour. His 2nd straight win made him only the 3rd person to win multiple singles titles, joining some elite company. His victory in 2012 was the first time anyone won the World Championship without having a previous victory on the NCA Tour. He repeated that feat this year. In the past, reigning champions have had troubles trying to defend their crown. Only Joe Fulop, Brian Cook and Ray Beierling have ever made the top 4 the year after winning the singles title, and of course only Fulop and Cook have ever won back-to-back singles titles.
And for the 15th year of the prolific World Championships, we saw yet another fantastic display of crokinole skill.
Videos from the World Championship, as well as other NCA Tour tournaments will be delayed this year (school work is once again a priority), but once they are available links will be provided through this blog.
And so the crokinole season takes a rest, but will start in a short while with Turtle Island Crokinole tournament (South of the CAN/USA border) in August.