Come to UNICON VII!

COME TO WORLD UNICON VIII, THE EIGHTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF UNICYLCING.

Held under the auspices of the International Unicycling Federation, Inc.,
Summer, 1996

The summer of 1996 will mark fourteen years since the International Unicycling
Federation was founded in 1982. In that time, there have been seven world
championship convention events. We call them UNICONs, which means UNIcycle
CONvention.

UNICON I The first world unicycling championship was called the International
Unicycling Convention, held in 1984 at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New
York. There were about 150 participants, representing 8 countries. For the first
time, world champions in the sport of unicycling were chosen. There were no
overall champions for racing, and the awards for artistic were combined. There
was a Compulsory event, which was different from the one used in later years,
and the Freestyle competition. Peter Rosendahl from Sweden, won for the men,
followed by Sem Abrahams and John Foss. Peter has since gone on to a
professional performing career, spending most of his time at the Circus Circus
casino in Las Vegas. He also now holds more Guinness world records than anyone
else currently, and they are all for unicycling (including the 100 meter
record). The first world champion for the women was Teresa Hemminger from
Michigan, who is now a part of the Semcycle company, married to Sem Abrahams (on
unicycles), and performing all over the world.

UNICON II The second championships was called World UNICON II. It was held at
Nassau Community College and Hofstra University on Long Island, in New York.
There were about 100 participants from 7 countries. Most of the riders were
Americans that year, and the Freestyle champions were John Foss, then from Long
Island, and Carol Bahorich, from Michigan.

World UNICON III took place in 1987 in Tokyo Japan. It was the largest UNICON to
date, with 851 registered riders! It was held in combination with the 10th
annual All Japan Unicycle Meet. Overall racing champions were chosen for the
first time, using a combination of the 100, 400, and 1500 meter races. Winners
were Tomomi Zeisho (Japan) and John Foss (USA). There were individual
championships for both Freestyle and Standard Skill, which were both combined
with a compulsory event that all competitors were required to enter. Freestyle
champions were Constance (Schleck) Cotter (USA) and John Foss. There were also
champions for Standard Skill, Pairs Freestyle, Group Freestyle, Basketball, and
other events, but these are too numerous to mention.

UNICON IV was held in 1988 in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Over 200 participants
came from over 10 countries, for the first 6-day UNICON. The first three
UNICONs were 3 days only. Extra days allowed for extra events, such as the
coasting contest, downhill gliding event, UMX (unicycle moto-cross), and an 8k
marathon on public roads with live radio commentary! Racing champions were Mika
Nakamaru (Japan) and John Foss. Individual Freestyle champions were Wendy
Bahorich (USA) and John Foss. Highlights of this UNICON were the beautiful
location, with the UMX race being held almost on the beach, and the room and
board which were provided free by the Puerto Rican government. Convention host
Alberto Ruiz invited any and all to come stay at his beach house on the North
coast after the convention, and about 20 people accepted. It was refreshing to
be able to combine some vacation with the unicycle event, because so many times
it seems to be impossible to do so.

UNICON V was held in 1991 in Hull, Quebec, Canada. There were between 150 and
200 participants, who stayed in dorms in the heart of Ottawa, Canada’s capitol.
Beautiful urban scenery this time. Racing champions were Constance Cotter (USA)
and Javier Ruiz (Puerto Rico). These two riders were also the winners of the
Individual Freestyle event. Riders at this UNICON were treated to unicycle tours
of the Capitol area.

UNICON VI No less than 100 people came all the way from Japan to participate in
UNICON VI, in Quebec City, Canada in 1992. The third floor in the dorm building
at Laval University was like ‘Little Japan.’ Good cooperation by the university,
and excellent planning and organizing by the Beaumont family made this the best
of the 6 day UNICONs. Racing champions: Yumiko Ichikawa and Daisuke Kawamura
(both from Japan). Unicycle racing is the main part of competitive events in
Japan, with obvious results. Individual Freestyle: Constance Cotter (USA) and
Jose Roman (Puerto Rico). There were many memorable events at this UNICON. 191
unicyclists held hands and rode together to set a world’s record. This came
after a group ride up through the streets of Old Quebec (WAY UP, uphill!) with a
police escort. The Cinderella Girls, a unicycle dance troupe from Japan, brought
tears to the eyes of spectators and judges as they easily won the Group
Freestyle event, and did several other exhibition performances. A TV crew from
the ESPN show AMAZING GAMES did a piece on our sport (not including the artistic
events) that has been shown several times since then. The undefeated Puerto Rico
All Stars unicycle basketball team had their closest game yet, against the home
team (Quebec). The home town crowd went nuts and made tremendous noise as the
leading team changed constantly. Finally, Puerto Rico won by a single point!

Last summer, we had UNICON VII in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The University of
Minnesota provided great facilities, and the hosts, the Twin Cities Unicycle
Club, provided an assortment of UNICON accessories. Along with the traditional
UNICON T-shirts, they had sweatshirts, polo shirts, and even cycling shorts
emblazoned with the UNICON and IUF logos! Racing champions: Abby Cernkovich
(USA) and Javier Ruiz (Puerto Rico). Individual Freestyle: Abby Cernkovich and
Brett Bernard (USA). Our artistic events get better and better. As the average
skill level among the competitors gets higher, so does their level of
perfection. Among the men, both the first and second place (Jose Roman) riders
performed flawless competition routines. UNICON VII attendees will remember it
for the farewell party, held on a riverboat cruising on the Mississippi River,
where the giant fund-raising raffle was held.

WHAT IS A UNICON LIKE? Most of you readers have never been to a UNICON. This
should help fill in a picture of what they are like. No two UNICONs are alike.
Each has its own flavor, its own unique events, and its own combination of
interesting people from around the world. They also have some things in common.
The main events are track events (racing on a typical running track), artistic
events (held in a gymnasium) team sports, like basketball and hockey, and field
events, which are group rides, group races, or other miscellaneous events.

TRACK EVENTS Track racing consists of the 100 meter sprint, 400m, and 1500m
races. Then there are the 50m One Foot, 30m Wheel Walk, 10m Slow (ride as slow
as possible on a 15cm wide board without stopping), the 4 x 100m International
Relay, and the Obstacle Course (ride the pattern around 10 cones in the fastest
time). Other events may be added.

ARTISTIC EVENTS STANDARD SKILL – single rider and single, regular unicycle;
perform a pre-determined set of skills from the IUF Standard Skills List. Points
are deducted for mistakes. Pure skill in action. INDIVIDUAL FREESTYLE – single
rider and any type and any number of unicycles. Music, costume, and props.
Riders are judged 50% on skill, and 50% on their performance value. PAIRS
FREESTYLE – two riders, same rules as Ind. Freestyle. GROUP FREESTYLE – three
or more riders, sometimes as many as 60!

TEAM SPORTS Basketball has been a part of all UNICONs. The Puerto Rico All Stars
had a stranglehold on the title until last summer, when the Quebec team finally
had their day. Unicycle Hockey was introduced ad UNICON VII, and has proved to
be popular at unicycle clubs, because less proficient riders are able to
participate in this game. Both games have elimination rounds, and groups of
near-total strangers often form teams and play for fun (or for national
dis-honor, depending how bad they are).

FIELD EVENTS COASTING – look ma, no feet! Coast as far as possible from a
starting line. This event gets more participants each time, meaning more people
are learning to coast! DOWNHILL GLIDING (The Downhill) – A mild downhill slope,
with riders using a foot sliding on top of the tire for braking power and
control. This is also an advanced skill, but easier than coasting. The Downhill
has much in common with downhill skiing. Riders are timed over the length of the
course, get two attempts, then wait to see if their competitors go faster. This
event also has the highest speed of any unicycle race. UMX (Cross Country, or
Uni-cross) – a 1-3km course over grass, dirt, mud, sand, or whatever is
available. Usually, most or all riders do this race at the same time, which
makes it more fun to ride than watch, no matter who you are. MARATHON - Usually
5km or more, on a bike path or road. Sometimes ‘unlimited’ unicycles are
allowed, meaning big wheels, geared-up giraffes, or whatever people think will
be fast. These unicycles are timed separately. Everybody rides together, and it
makes a great spectacle for the public if done downtown. OTHER EVENTS – There’s
always room for more.

WHAT ELSE? Each UNICON has also included some form of opening and closing
ceremony; some of which have been very elaborate. There is also a public show,
which is a non-competitive performance of unicyclists, and other types of
artists. UNICON VII combined the Expert-class Individual Freestyle competitors
with their public show, to focus attention on the world’s top Freestyle riders.
What else? There might be parties, extra shows, tours, interesting foods to try,
sights to see, people to meet, and more than you are likely to imagine.

You should not get the idea that a UNICON is just a lot of competitive events.
The competitions are only a small part of what keeps people coming back. First
of all, beginning and novice riders must realize that they can still enter
these events and have fun. There are age divisions that allow both small
children, old parents (or kids), and everyone in between to compete with their
peers. Though there is a core of riders who train hard and are very serious,
most play the game for fun, and have a good time whether they win or lose. The
fun is in the PLAY.

You will meet some incredible people. Who would travel halfway around the world,
often at their own expense, just to ride unicycles? People who really love
unicycling! You will find that it doesn’t matter what language you speak. If you
meet someone who doesn’t speak a word of yours, you can still understand each
other through the medium of the single wheel. You ride, they ride. Probably for
most of the same reasons. See, you understand each other!

WHAT ABOUT UNICON VIII? If you have read this far, you are probably interested
in going to, or at least finding out about, the next UNICON. Where will it be?
When will it be? Will I be able to go? Well, these are questions the IUF is
working on answering. As you can see, UNICON has been in the USA and Canada too
many times. The rest of the world has scarcely been touched by the fun we have
had. We must get UNICON back across the oceans to other parts of the world. In
Europe, unicycling has been steadily growing in popularity. There are unicycle
hockey leagues both in England and Germany. Europe is the logical next place for
UNICON. Japan and the Far East are other possible destinations. Why not Japan?
Well, the JUA is very focused on their domestic events, and they don’t seem to
be interested in hosting another UNICON, at least not until there has been at
least one in Europe.

So far, the groups of people who have been working on getting funding or
facilities for a possible UNICON have not been having any luck. The IUF is
actively seeking new volunteers to host the next UNICON. How does this work? The
host is in charge. They arrange for the facilities and accommodations, and the
IUF provides the rules and the expert people to run the competitive events. The
normal facilities needed are a running track and a large gym, as well as outdoor
areas to hold the other events. Accommodations should be provided at as low a
cost as possible, to help people to afford to come. In the US and Canada,
university dormitories were used. In Japan, most riders spent a little more and
stayed in a hotel at a discount rate, though some stayed in a large community
center and slept on the floor. At UNICON IV in Puerto Rico, the local government
acted as a sponsor and provided most of the facilities for free. At UNICONs V
and VI in Canada, the universities and host cities both helped pay for the
events. This can happen in your area as well.

Can a UNICON make money? Yes, it can. Though most efforts are in covering costs
and keeping expenses to the riders at a minimum, if done right, it’s possible to
make a profit. Since the host takes the financial risks, the host also gains
from any profit that’s left over. The most important thing is to keep it
affordable for the riders. Unless sponsorship can be found to cover travel
expenses (foreign competitors to UNICON III each received about $400 US to cover
travel expenses), most participants will be spending a lot to get to UNICON.
Make sure they’ll be able to afford to eat once they get there.

Yes, if you love unicycling, you might be able to host the next World UNIcycling
CONvention in your area. Remember, the IUF will be able to supply the people
with the knowledge to run and manage the competitive events. You only need to
set up the place to do it, and the equipment for it all to run.

Maybe a UNICON is too big to start with. Don’t give up so easily. If not a
UNICON, then hold a smaller event, but make it as big as possible. This will
give you both the experience of running such an event, and the motivation of the
riders in your local area to practice and be more ready the next time they get
together for a convention.

If you, or anyone you know might be interested in hosting UNICON VIII or a
smaller unicycling convention, please contact me at once. I, and the people
on the IUF-Discuss mailing list, will answer all of your questions and
provide you with all the information you need to get the ball rolling for a
unicycle get-together in your part of the world. The ball is in your court.
Run with it. Take the sport of unicycling up to the next level. Be a part of
unicycling history!

Stay on Top! John Foss, President International Unicycling Federation
unicycle@aol.com

Re: Come to UNICON VII!

John Foss wrote:
|> COME TO WORLD UNICON VIII, THE EIGHTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF UNICYLCING.
|>
|> Held under the auspices of the International Unicycling Federation, Inc.,

I want to congratulate John Foss for the excellent article on the history of
UNICONs. I do hope it encouraged some of you, especially in the UK, to undertake
the challenging and extremely rewarding experience of organizing one.

|> World UNICON III took place in 1987 in Tokyo Japan. It was the largest UNICON
|> to date, with 851 registered riders! It was held in combination with the 10th
|> annual All Japan Unicycle Meet. Overall racing champions were

I was chairman of UNICON III. We were fortunate in that Coca Cola and the
Edogawa Ward government helped finance the event, and pay for part of the
airfares for overseas participants.

Though I was extremely busy for many months, this was a very satisfying and
rewarding experience that was one of the highlights of my life. No words will do
to describe the excitement, the flurry of activity, the stimulation of talking
to unicyclists from such far apart places as Australia and Chile. Last but not
least, the incredible unicycling skills performed before one’s eyes by the
greatest unicyclsts of our planet, and of course the socializing, parties,
touring etc. It is definitely an unforgettable experience.

|>
|> So far, the groups of people who have been working on getting funding or
|> facilities for a possible UNICON have not been having any luck. The IUF is
|> actively seeking new volunteers to host the next UNICON. How does this work?
|> The host is in charge. They arrange for the facilities and accommodations,
|> and the IUF provides the rules and the expert people to run the competitive
|> events. The normal facilities needed are a running track and a large gym, as
|> well as outdoor areas to hold the other events. Accommodations should be

|> Yes, if you love unicycling, you might be able to host the next World
|> UNIcycling CONvention in your area. Remember, the IUF will be able to supply
|> the people with the knowledge to run and manage the competitive events. You
|> only need to set up the place to do it, and the equipment for it all to run.

I really hope that someonoe, preferrably in Germany or the UK, come forward and
take it upon him/herself to make UNICON VIII a reality. I promise you that I and
every former UNICON chairman will do our utmost to help you make it a success.

|> Run with it. Take the sport of unicycling up to the next level. Be a part of
|> unicycling history!

Amen!

Stay on top, Jack Halpern IUF Vice President