With a big Freestyle title and the Overall on the line, Xtehn Titcomb came through with a dynamic and varied freestyle routine to defeat defending champ Art Viger and Freestyle Players Association (FPA) World Championships showcase champ Evan Hanneman at the 1999 World Junior Frisbee disc Championships in Dallas, Texas.
Titcomb’s skills are expanding so fast, it’s hard to keep up. The big combo from his routine would be the envy of most freestylers in the world: a perfectly flat standing gitis pull to a monster catch. Titcomb had only four drops, but three of them were on attempts at the extremely hard move called Twistoflex. He has pulled it off, and we will see him pull off stranger and bigger moves in the future.
Defending champ Viger had a bad round. No, he had a real bad round. Almost every move he tried seemed to make contact with his body and ricochet immediately to the ground. Were it not for a mid-routine flurry of difficulty (double spinning legover pull to spinning scarecrow), his eleven drops might have pushed him lower than second.
Vehro Titcomb seedbusted up to third. He has been working on his game with as much vigor as anyone in his family, and things came together for him in the finals. Vehro Titcomb edged Evan Hanneman, allowing his brother to win the Overall title. Hanneman actually played quite well, completing some very difficult moves including an indigenous take off the throw, a tumbling combo and a turnover to a scarecrow. But with a few drops and a couple major bobbles hurt him andtook him out of the top 3.
Other than Xtehn Titcomb’s victory, the story of the Freestyle event was Zach Montes. Little known until August, Montes showed up at the FPA World Championships to watch the competition and ended up jamming with many of the top players in the world. Montes is an intense 11-year old who wants to do every move in the book and probably has the common sense and talent to learn them all. He was seeded fifth of six players in his prelim pool but turned in such a dynamic and difficult performance that he moved up to second and qualified for the final. As if that wasn’t enough, he turned it on again in the finals, combining his prelim moves into even harder combos and exuding the same energy from the prelims. He seedbusted again, moving up to fifth. It was a huge debut and everyone is looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
It was no upset that Nikki Ross won Freestyle unanimously. She is far ahead of the field, pulling off combinations like a gitis pull to a gitis catch and performing a mostly solo routine for nearly three minutes with only one drop.
The great thing about this year’s Junior Girls Freestyle final was that it was the highest calibre competition that this division has ever seen. Each of the athletes is not only a great Overall player, she is a competitent if not incredible freestyler.
As predicted, Rohre Titcomb made a big splash this year. She has been learning from players at every stop she makes in her international travels. She puts on a great show and is on her way to challenging Nikki Ross in every department. In fact, there’s a rumor she was teaching Ross a move earlier this year.
Molly Montes continues to strengthen her skills and her competitive resolve. Though she had a messier round this year than she would have liked, she clearly loves freestyle and will do battle again. Crystal Brodeur was probably seeded several spots too low, and she used that to inspire her. Brodeur is really into freestyle and also into choreographing performances. As she gets more experience she may be the vanguard of a new East Coast freestyle force. Deanna Ross debuted her Pocahontas routine, complete with a fringe costume and custom choreography. Deanna’s technical skills are still developing but she and her father are able to showcase them in an entertaining way.
Ronnie Turner always put in strong freestyle performances, but there always seemed to be some hotshot ahead of him in the standings. Not this year. Ronnie was clearly the champion. He was on fire. He pulled off extended combos and caught spinning catches with very few errors to take the title.
This division had more energy than any other division. All the guys were pumped and going for their moves. Many times they didn’t pull them off, but when it happened it was big. Zahlen Titcomb was hoping to take the event but started slow, perhaps due to a distracting glitch in the sound system. Then, like a seasoned veteran, he put it behind him and caught a huge China Syndrome quick catch to get back on track.
Bryan Steffen has always been a good freestyler but hasn’t had the results to prove it. He was seeded 8th here but did not let that slow him down. He came out and nailed three minutes of gitises and tip combos – solid and difficult enough to seedbust up to third place.
Chris Horn played arguably as well as Steffen, demonstrating both counter and clock moves, hitting a big scarecrow and some extended delay combos. He missed out on third place by one vote but he can polish his Overall trophy as a consolation prize.
Rob Knapik – where did this guy learn how to freestyle? Where does this guy come from? An unknown before this summer, Knapik set a high standard in his debut and sealed the routine with an attempt to catch the disc while jumping over the event banners lining the field. He’s got an infectious energy.
Matt Oller and Toby Henderson are known for going for big moves. Both of them were determined to bring their A games, but the magic just didn’t happen for either player. Kurt “James” Bond may be new to freestyle,but he’s got showmanship and energy that could take him to much higher levels.
As expected, Lauren Soderland ran away with this one. Her routine, to Prodigy’s “Breathe,” outdistanced the field by several levels. Miroslava Martinez surprised the field with some new moves, including a walkover throw, and moved up to second, bumping last year’s runner up Amber Hoffman down to third.