Midwest Semifinals: riffs, rifts

Every millennia or two an event is so magical that it takes this blog a week or two to catch up.  For we realize from that day forward, and also backward, the space-time continuum is eternally fucked.


Great Scott!


Such was the case at the 2014 Chicago Semifinal, and also for this wormholed wrap-up, and of course for all the talent that came out to play for each other as much as they did the crowd.


THUNDERGLAND (Matt Barats) stole the show with his 3rd Semifinal Championship title, followed closely by FLYING FINN (Andrew Finn), ROCKY RHOADS (Gina Czarkowski), and DRY ICE (Aaron Alonzo).  Check out another brilliant Storify from our very own Camille Barichello for more on them.


Thundergland cozies up to the judges in a referee uniform. I mean unitard.


Indeed, Finland hurled some harsh rebukes after USAG advanced the three top scores instead of the three top performers to the National Finals in Kansas City.  According to the Bylaws, I think an air-off should have been used to settle the 2nd and 3rd spots, leaving one performer behind in Chicago.  But that’s the sort of thing that happens when you hire 2012 World Champion Nordic Thunder – “the thinking man’s Neanderthal” – to do the math. (In truth, it wasn’t Nordic who botched the call but rather USAG Corp; mid-level corruption, it’s what we do.)

Thundergland, pained by official scoring mishaps.


Perennial second-placer and mensch of the year, Flying Finn, has seen his share of ups and downs in his nine years of competition.  After the show he told us what advancing to KC means to him.  “Getting to the National Finals, for me, is . . . not for the validation of my own hard work, but validation for my friends and family who have supported me in this crazy sport. Earning a spot at Nationals is a way for me to say thank you to them.”


Flying Finn


What separated Finn, and even more so Thundergland, from the others was their fearless round two performances in the face of a challenging and probably terrible compulsory edit borrowed from the vault of our dear friend, SHREDDY FUCKING MERCURY (Seth Leibowitz).


Earlier in the evening, Chicago’s WTF award went to SPARKLE HOOF (Tetrad), who made the rookie mistake of shredding with a mask on – thus losing significant points for facial expressions – before complete redemption of the entire performance by ending his routine with a three-foot banner which read “friendship.”


Sparkle Hoof


Unanimously, Chicago’s wet nightmare award went to NOCHE (Nicole Massett), who stole my heart then ate it in front of me while I watched it beat.




Most people were surprised not to see USAG wunderkind MARQUIS (Rob Messel) advanced to Kansas City, which probably has more to do with the compulsory edit than with his chops.  Also surprising was no one – especially no one but especially THUNDERBALL (Nick-Nielsen Nacis) – who won the previous KC qualifier advanced outright the KC Finals.  It’s noteworthy that Thunderball gets shafted as often as Flying Finn comes in second and not once has he gotten pissed off about it.


Finn and Thunderball's co-mensch, MARTY McSUPERFLY (Colin Bach), probably got screwed out of a few tenths of a point in round one which could have made the difference in advancing him to KC.  After the show he told me that for him it didn’t matter who advanced and who didn’t, and also that he thought the judges got it right.


Do yourself a favor and notice McSuperfly’s attention to detail in this routine, from the subtle Earth Angel hand fade to his seamless transition into “–but your kids are gonna love it.” Vairisimilitude indeed.  You can him me later.


–In the future.