FLAIR SENSATIONS ACROSS NATIONS! Nations 2007 Reviewed Inside & Out

Updated: September 1, 2007

By Colin Griffiths

Well, I am supposed to write the competition review for the finals, but really, finals to me is throwing everything but the kitchen sink to beat off the other 8 phenomenal bartenders that made it.  Everybody at Nations did that one round earlier, so this competition has to start with the qualifying round with more raw Flair talent than I have ever seen at an FBA event.

It really hurts your confidence when you’re in the practice room and you see Tomek Malek (“sick” Flair bartender from Poland that I have heard so much about), Siya (see ya from Korea – thanks Rick – who’s routine you can and should watch on Barwizardstv.com from April’s Roadhouse competition).  Bat (Las Vegas regular and winner of “Flips for Tips” this year) Eiji Narita (Team Japan’s multi time FBA major event finalist).  “The Mad Russian” Paul Trzcianko also went really big in qualifying too.  We saw Terri (winner of best female award), Robyn, Sean Story and peoples champion Joey Torres perform some of their greatest shows ever.  Chris Bridges (a name I think will start cropping up more often) pulling off the most surprising move of the tournament (two bottles, two tins, loads of creativity and a bunch of the worlds best bartenders on their feet cheering for someone they have never seen or heard of).  This is what Flair is all about, and why we all keep coming back.  I didn’t do too badly either.

There are many people that I didn’t see due to practicing and forgetting my music for the 10th competition in a row (no surprises there).  And I apologize to any and all of you who doubtlessly had kick ass rounds.  However, I have already listed 10 bartenders, and there were only nine guaranteed spots.  NONE OF THESE PEOPLE MADE IT! And what’s more, Rodrigo Delpech – the name that all of us put in the finals guaranteed – had his flight cancelled and was really missed by all, we haven’t seen Rodrigo compete in over a couple of months now, so he was sure to push that impossible Flair boundary up another few notches.

They could have taken the next 9 people from that competition and created a Level 3 event!  Wow, is all I have to say!! (Unless I could use profanity in which case I would add a few choice words).

Anyway on with the show;

Nations2007_BGeramiComing in 10th place was Benham Gerami, a big shock to me!  Benham was second to go onstage, had an amazing show, and I ran out of room on my little notes sheet for things to write.  Firstly the music!!!! What the @$*!  That music on its own would have had me putting him in a top spot, I felt like I was watching a movie scene, on the edge of my seat the whole time.

With so many trademark moves, it must be difficult to keep coming up with more and more variations, but every time you see something new.  Where the “roll to stop” used to be there are now, double arm “rolls to stop” with a head stall or with four bottles.  Rolls to pours, to more rolls and pours, and the finishing move full left to right going behind the head!  With the unusual behind the back catches now coming in multiple object sequences, which would be better explained if I understood exactly what it was.  Countless other moves which have been “Benhamified” filled a very exciting Flair round!  I can only imagine that some of the judges either missed or didn’t understand what was going on.

Nations2007_RCaoPlacing 9th was returning champion Rodrigo Cao, putting on an excellent display of extreme difficulty as always.  Rodrigo’s attitude on stage is something I have always aspired to emulate, the constant smile throughout, pretending to be shocked and laughing when the crowd goes nuts for his incredible three and four bottle sequences with behind the back cut-throughs and juggles, head stalls with the new added switch!  In four bottles he now switches the bottle that is balanced on his head with one of the others… twice.  RIDICULOUS!

Rodrigo had some very uncharacteristic drops which really hurt his scores, but it is nice for the rest of us to finally find out that one of the best guys in the world can have a bad day.  (Unfortunately for the rest of us Rodrigo’s worst day in his career still puts him 9th in one of the best Flair line ups that we have seen to date)  Holy Cao!

Nations2007_KKitanoComing in 8th was another new Japanese face Koji Kitano.  These guys have a knack for “bigging up” some of the easiest moves.  Not for anybody else would I laugh and cheer when you hit over the shoulder to a stall.  They must breed showmen in their country; they always look comfortable on stage, and sell their Flair well.  Koji used a cocktail tray in his routine to add some originality, and ended with a nice juggle with a full cheater tin on his head, which he then capped with a regular tin, did swipe throughs to shake it and then poured.

Nations2007_TAlley7th place this year was Tom AlleyTom seems to have been pushing his style more and more.  Every time I see him there is more originality and it is nice to see that the best guys are always pushing in different directions.  Tom is always great to watch.  A very high degree of difficulty throughout his routine, some sweet fakes and some slammin’ tunes made it a very enjoyable routine.  The variety of stuff he can hit within his multiple objects always surprises me.  I’m still rewinding and stealing/borrowing stuff from the last few competitions.

Nations2007_JKeaneJustin Keane was this year’s 6th place competitor.  Always using the “phatest” (damn Americans and their slang) base lines and beats.  Had my chair vibrating, and had everybody having a good time!  Again another bartender who has a collection of his very own moves, with intricate finger rolls in every direction and the reverse forearm stall to behind the head exchange thingy (which I have stolen – thanks mate) and my absolute favorite three bottle sequences at the moment.  I think that it is extremely difficult to come up with innovative, different and original ways to manipulate three bottles, and “Yustin” does exactly that.

Nations2007_LDonaldsonNations 5th place finalist was Levi DonaldsonLevi is definitely one most consistent Flair bartenders of all time.  He has been competing at the top level of the Flair since I can remember.  Being original is what sets us apart from each other and Levi pushes this boundary every time he gets on stage.  He has gone from amazing multiple bottle Flair to now some of my favorite bottle tin.  The hardest working guy on stage and seems to be able to fill seven minutes of Flair with astounding variety… into a six minute routine.  One of his best routines I’ve seen.  Levi had a procedural penalty which cost him a place.

Nations2007_MPosluznyMarek Posluszny was the 4th place finisher.  I had never seen or heard of Marek before and on the third anniversary of the day he started flipping bottles he finished fourth in the world.  Errrr… what!?  Anyway, with a library of moves and grabs worthy of the utmost respect, Marek proceeded to throw everything at this routine.  I’d like to pick out a sequence, but I’m torn between about 8.  He was first to go on stage, and had fantastic presence.  He did use the bongo song however, which I put down to the unbelievable truth that when he started Flairing everyone else had already stopped using it.   Marek also won the Finest Call stall; he hit a clipper (football/soccer trick) up to a hand stall.  He tried it a couple of times at the beginning of his routine but actually hit it in the last seconds at the end of his routine.   See it to believe it.

Nations2007_DOribe3rd Place this year was Kahunaville’s summer signing Danilo Oribe, this guy has single handedly re-written the book on execution, it is very rare that Danilo even bobbles a move let alone drops one.  He performs all of his routines with a degree of perfection that most of us see only once a lifetime.  This alone covers nearly two thirds of all the points available, and when he’s throwing doubles and triples in the mix, and his trademark two tin and bottle sequence, he is extremely hard to beat.  Danilo’s three bottle sequence was amazing, always hitting bigger and bigger moves, making himself harder and harder to beat every time he competes.

Nations2007_CDelpechWhat would a world final be without the pro tour leader and the master himself Mr. Christian DelpechChristian came in second this year, and with only 5 points separating the top three spots, proving that Flair-bartenders are getting ever closer and harder to judge every time they compete.  With his sort after style, this guy really knows how to score points, always on fire, and now every competition he is pushing the difficulty boundary as well.  Moving some of his difficult bottle tin moves into his three bottle sequences and coming up with some new stuff in a very difficult and enjoyable routine.

Nations2007_VBuryanovThe first place grand champion and winner of the $10,000 check this year was the “Ukrazian” Vladymyr Buryanov.  “Crazy” is how this guy competes, if you thought a move was impossible, Vladymyr will make it more difficult.  Doing over the shoulder to an elbow stall with a tin in his left and then the same with a bottle on his right… wow, “Very nice!”, and then flipping the bottle into the tin!!!  Absolutely ludicrous!! With so many variations on misdirections, using hands, elbows and forearms and sometimes his neck.  Then give him three, four and five bottles and try to comprehend the patterns that he is coming up with.  The bottle spin around the head in four is something you have to see to believe, so fast!!  You have to give him points based on what you can see, and sometimes what you can’t see is even more impressive.  A much deserved win, and a big wedge of cash to show for all that obvious hard work!!  Hats off to you buddy!!



By Terri Leeseberg

            As the sport of Flair grows so does the level of the competitions and the amount of great competitors that travel from all over the world to put on the best show they can.   And… as the prize pot grows for each competition so does the ability of the competitors to put on an entertaining show as well as hitting some amazing, original and even harder moves than most of us couldn’t imagine doing even if we could use real magic to help us do so.   Nations was another competition that was no exception to these rules.

            With the competitors list posted a month before the competition occurred all the competitors were able to see who they would be competing against as everyone signed up.   Knowing how difficult the level of competition was going to be, I was curious to find out if this actually affected how the competitors practiced and planned their routines for Nations, so I went ahead and asked the finalists how they prepared for Nations.

            It seemed to me a surprising amount of the finalists were actually worried they may not make the finals.   Most of these competitors are those we all see on finals stages regularly and the couple competitors that were new on the finals stage were only new to most of us because we have never seen them at FBA competitions, at least not in the states.   Everyone that was on that finals stage worked very hard and deserved to be there so it was surprising to me to find out how many of them were actually worried they may not make it.

FBC_LDonaldson2Unfortunately some of the spectators, who only saw the finals routines, didn’t get to see the best shows some of the finalists are able to put on.   Although Levi Donaldson had a good finals routine with a lot of energy, he said he went all out for the qualifiers.   He would normally hold back in the qualifiers for a competition, but after seeing the line up for Nations he knew it would be too risky to take that route so he had to throw everything in the qualifiers.   With competitions getting harder it is almost more worth it to watch the qualifiers these days because not only are we seeing really good rounds from competitors trying to get to finals, we are also able to see more amazing competitors that just barely don’t make it to the finals.

FBC_Keane_Posluzny2Fortunately, Justin Keane was not one of those competitors who didn’t make finals, but he did say that he think he hurt himself in the finals since he trained so hard for the qualifiers and even in the qualifiers he didn’t feel as if he did well.   He was actually surprised he had made finals.   Marek Posluszny from Poland was another competitor who was surprised to be in the finals.   Nations was his first competition in the States and he did really well for himself.   Although he knew the level of difficulty he was going against he didn’t change anything from his normal practice schedule.   He did find out while he was over here though that the level of competition is very hard and he feels as if his place in the Flair world isn’t were he would like it so now he said he knows how much he must practice if he wants to be a good Flair bartender.

FBC_RCao2Last years champion Rodrigo Cao was at least one competitor we would expect to see on the finals stage.   Why wouldn’t we expect him to come out to try and defend his title?   I asked him if he was nervous during the night of finals because of all the pressure that may have been on him to win it again.   He said he was more nervous for the qualifiers.   He felt like making finals was going to be really hard this year, even for him and he thought it would have looked really bad if he came out this year after winning it last year and didn’t even make the finals. He did, however, feel that people were doubting his ability on finals night.   Everyone who kept going up to him and patting him on the back saying, “you can do it again!” made him feel as if they were just saying it to try and sound supportive, but it made him a little nervous because he thought they were only saying it because they didn’t actually believe he could do it.   Lucky for him though, as soon as he got on that finals stage he felt at home and had a lot of fun.   He may not have had the best round of his life, but he enjoyed himself and in the long run that is what should really matter to all of us when we get up there on that stage.

Nations_quote1It seems as if at every competition there are always competitors that are upset with the judges for how they were scored or how other competitors were scored.   It is hard for the judges to score each competitor because of the different styles that each competitor brings to the stage, but when did people become so unsupportive of each other that they would actually go to the judges and complain about their fellow competitors making the finals?   After talking with Behnam, I found out that he feels as if he is singled out because of his style.   Yeah, he does a lot of rolls, but that is his style so why should he be judged so harshly because of that? He pointed out that Rodrigo Delpech does a lot of misdirections, Vladymyr Buryanov does a lot of stalls, and Sebastian Oguic does a lot of finger rolls.   Maybe to the judges these styles look better to them and they prefer to see more misdirections rather than arm rolls, but the arm rolls that Behnam does are original and very difficult so why does he get scored low in the categories of Originality and Difficulty?   On top of being told by the judges he does too many arm rolls it is sort of hard on the spirit to know you work so hard to perfect something and one of your fellow competitors can come up to you and say something along the lines… “I didn’t get to see your routine, but I heard you did well and didn’t just do a bunch of arm rolls.”  Yeah, there are people out there that don’t prefer his style, but Justin Keane had something very nice to say about Behnam’s style “…the only thing that I remember being surprised about was Behnam and the placement that he took.   I think that sometimes the people might not quite be able to understand what he’s doing during his routine… for me he is one of the most original guys who does some of the craziest s***! Not to mention the best music during almost every event this year.”

FBC_DOribe2Danilo, who came in third with yet another almost flawless routine didn’t get to see any of the finals since he was last and spent the whole night warming up.   So, knowing how well he did during his routine he was surprised when he finished third, but he wasn’t upset.   Unfortunately, I was unable to find out how he is able to remain so calm and flawless while being on stage.

FBC_Delpech_Buryanov2As for the Grand Champion, Vladymyr Buryanov, I’m sure we will be seeing him in the finals a lot more in the future.   By the time Nations had arrived he was very prepared for this competition.   He had both his qualifying and finals routines planned out well in advance and after finding out that Rodrigo Delpech was not going to be able to make it to the competition, Vladymyr realized his chances to win were pretty good.   He was very happy to win such a big competition in the states because it helped him to get a work visa for Kahunaville, which is a job he absolutely loves and is so happy to have.   He realizes that Christian beat him overall in the Flair scores, but Vladymyr won it after deductions.   He knows in the future his chances of winning competitions are just as good as they were at Nations, but not certain.   He is constantly coming up with new moves and routines to prepare himself for more competitions, but the top competitors he competes with are doing the same and no one seems to be slowing down so all he really wants for future competitions is to always place in the top five.   I think that is a goal we will definitely be seeing him achieve most of the time if not all of the time.

I would like to say thank you to all the finalists who took the time out to answer my questions, so… Thank you!



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