AKA “that time our jaws dropped so low we couldn’t see them”
On July the 22, myself and my lovely partner (who is also a huge pole enthusiast) travelled down in our tiny Citroen C2 from Durham all the way down to London. This 7 hour journey, although filled with traffic, bad weather, and idiot drivers, was worth it as we were on our way to see World Pole Sports Championships (WPSC 2015) where the best pole athletes from all over the world gathered to show off their mad skills. And OH MY POLE, their skills are mad!
The weekend started with Preliminary Rounds on the 23rd July, where the doubles and senior (18-40 years) females and males competed for the top 10 spots in each category in the final the next day (24th July). From the start our day was exciting. As we walked in to pick up our weekend passes, right by the desk stood Heather and Kristina Walker (UK doubles champions). We met them, wished them good luck and got completely over excited. We then checked out some vendors (and naturally bought some pole gear), before we settled into our seats to watch the preliminaries. 44 women, 17 men, and 24 doubles later, we thought we had died and gone to a pole heaven. We watched these athletes flip, jump, split, bend, turn, toss, spring, roll, spin, lift and fly. They looked invincible. I was overwhelmed by their strength and grace. They strung together combos that looked like magic and moves that seemed impossible. Yet only 10 from each category had to go through. We knew that the finals were going to be amazing after that.
The next morning, we woke up in our hostel, and went down to breakfast. Oh yeah, I forgot to add that we were staying in a hostel where most of the pole athletes were staying at, so we ate just the same food as them, at the same place, at the same time (with slightly less protein shakes). It was a strange realisation that these amazing athletes, at the end of the day, are only people like us, with maybe more abs, less body fat and huge guns. But still, only just human, not magical, immortal, fantastical creatures from your imagination, just human.
Which made the Finals even more impressive. Just let me add here that everyone in the finals was amazing, and I’m only mentioning the winners and a few others because otherwise this would go on for pages. The finals started with the Masters 50+ category, where we witnessed the amazing talent from Gisella Scheuch from Peru, the winner scoring 29.3 points: I encourage everyone to check out all performances from the 50+ category. Then it was the Master 40+ Men Seiichi Yamazaki from Japan who landed 1st (and only) place with 30.48 points. The Masters 40+ Women was rightfully grabbed by the Yvonne Haug from Germany with 35.78, although my favourite was by South Africa’s Benita Bouwer who landed second place with a spider themed routine. The competition then moved onto Juniors 15-17 years and the winner was Jazmin Petervari from Hungary with 28.05. The category that was most surprising was the novice category of the 10-14 year olds. There were 16 competitors from this category and all of them were fantastic, however by far my favourite was the winner, Elizaveta Shevtsova from Czech Republic with her storm and rain routine, scoring 32.03 points.
The women’s winner was Ruzenka Kunstyrova with 42.9 from Czech Republic with an amazing, dynamic and enthusiastic routine. Felipe Mendoza from Chile won over not only ours but the Judges hearts with his exciting and jokey routine which snatched him 37.58 points. Last and not least, the ever awaited doubles was won by Czech Republic’s Veronika Rehorova and Ruzenka Kunstyrova (the women’s wined also) with 45.28 points. My idols Terri and Lisette came second, with their ever dynamic and powerful routine which scored them 37.61 points.
This year the WPSC was different in that they were giving out scores after each performance, so if you have been paying attention, you will have known who won at the end of a category. This is because we are all pushing for Pole Sports to become an Olympic sport. On one hand it would be amazing for the sport to receive such recognition. However I have my own doubts about this. I feel that this close community that we have as polers is because we are still a little bit different. The origins of pole come from different sides, Chinese pole, Indian pole acrobatics, and the westernised stripper pole, and that’s great. It’s great that this doesn’t have to just be this serious competition, that there is an element of sexiness and that everyone can make it whatever they want.
I’m scared that if pole becomes an Olympic sport, we will get professional gymnasts coming in, learning the art, and stealing awards. However, until then, pole for me has never been more about being united from different paths of life, to find something that finally challenges us and makes us love ourselves – right now. Seeing all the different women, and men of all ages and all sizes, admiring and loving the art of pole, made me feel extremely lucky to be a part of such an unbiased and approving community.
All videos from the weekend can be found on the IPSF youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJMSNLzTSS7n2_xxgrOo2Eg/videos
To see pictures check out: https://www.facebook.com/worldpolesportschampionshipsIPSF/timeline with credit to Ann Freez: email@example.com