State Yo-yo Competition Comes to Erie - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

State Yo-yo Competition Comes to Erie

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Erie hosted it's first Pennsylvania State yo-yoing competition on Saturday at the Avalon Hotel.
It was organized by Fairview's YoYoSam, the largest yo-yo store in the world.

Dizzying spins and extreme loops all synced to fast beats - it's the niche world of competitive yo-yoing.

"The public doesn't realize that yo-yoing has its own subculture. They don't realize that it's evolved into something more modern, and that can be put together as its own art form," said Connor Scholten. Scholten traveled to Erie from Lansing, Michigan for the competition, and has been yo-yoing for 16 years.

Though it's called a state event, competitors from any state are welcome and high scorers can go straight to nationals. More than 30 competitors and 300 spectators packed the Avalon's conference room.

"The turnout is terrific. We've got players from all over, from Ohio, New York, Virginia, Toronto," said Mitch Silver, owner of YoYoSam and organizer of the event. "If they do well here, we submit the scores to a central organization that seats top players in nationals."

There are five categories, 1A to 5A. The acts can vary from double yo-yo's to off-the-string yo-yo performances.

"It's like a major in college - you pick one," Scholten said, explaining how yo-yoers usually specialize in one category.

But Scholten has become proficient in all five categories, attaining the title of "Ironman player." On Saturday, Scholten competed in four and served as a judge for one.

The competition also featured a "kendama" trick contest, a Japanese skill toy that's popular among yo-yoers.

Many even brought their entire yo-yo collections, and gathered in circles to trade.

One interesting note - the crowd was almost entirely male.

"I'd guess the [male to female] ratio is 1,000 to one," said Scholten. "It's hard for a girl to get into the sport, especially when they're surrounded by a counter-culture set of teenage boys," he said.

But the boys there seemed to have a true passion for the hobby.

"There's a big online community. We have a forum to discuss yoyo-ing, and people travel from all over the world to join competitions," said Ben McChesney, a 13-year old yo-yoer from West Virginia who traveled to Erie for the event.

"The World Yo-Yo contest - I went to my first one in August, and it was a dream," said Jumario Simmons, a Cleveland native who's been yo-yoing for seven years. Simmons placed 21st out of more than 400 competitors in Orlando, Florida.

According to the Erie Sports Commission and YoYoSam's Mitch Silver, this won't be the only yo-yo competition - they plan to bring it back to Erie annually.

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