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Getting tricky with yo-yo masters

Quinn Western

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Photograph by Quinn Western Gentry Stein, a senior at Chico High School, winds up his next trick. Stein took first place on Saturday in the 1A division of the 2013 National Yo-Yo Contest.

Photograph by Quinn Western
Gentry Stein, a senior at Chico High School, winds up his next trick. Stein took first place on Saturday in the 1A division of the 2013 National Yo-Yo Contest.

Music blared Saturday throughout City Plaza, where crowds stared in awe as the nation’s top yo-yo players dribbled, flipped and spun yo-yos around their bodies.

The competitors in the 2013 National Yo-Yo Contest weaved the circular disks on a string between their legs, gracefully twirled the yo-yo around their heads and bent in ways that could make yoga masters envious. The contest, an annual staple for downtown Chico, saw toy enthusiasts from across the country compete for the title of national yo-yo champion.

The finalists shared intense looks of concentration as they battled to pull off the riskiest moves. But Gentry Stein, a 17-year-old Chico High School student, grinned during his final performance in the Division 1A freestyle.

“I’m excited to show the trick that’s up next,” Stein said.

Stein, a member of the Chico Yo-Yo Club, first picked up a yo-yo in third grade and, after a brief hiatus, picked it up again. He started competing soon after.

Stein’s favorite trick is whichever one he is learning at that moment.

“I try not to think about the result,” he said.

It’s not like he should be self-conscious, though. His improvisational style resulted in a first-place finish.

Stein took fourth place three years ago, third place the following year and second place last year.

“And now I got first finally, so hopefully I can keep it up,” Stein said.

Other locals included Zac Rubino, who placed second in the 4A finals, Cory Hendon, who took 10th place and Sam Ungerer, a Chico State student.

Bob Malowney, the former director of the competition and current director of the Chico Yo-Yo Museum, said Stein is a world hero.

This win is going to mean so much to young fans around the world who have watched Stein compete for years, Malowney said.

“The young kids see these older players and want to do it,” Malowney said.

The competition began in Chico in 1993 and is the oldest national yo-yo competition of its kind.

Since 1993, more than 20 countries have started national yo-yo competitions. The first international yo-yo contest began in 1998.

Like yo-yos, former competitors find themselves coming back to put the contest on years later.

“We’ve watched them grow,” Malowney said.

Something about the sport keeps people going, Malowney said. Well-known players like Stein inspire the next generation of yo-yo fanatics.

“It switched from most people thinking it’s a toy to a sport,” Malowney said. “It’s relevant to kids today in a way it never was before.”

 

Quinn Western can be reached at [email protected] or @Quinn_Western on Twitter.

 

See the video here:

https://theorion.com/event-2013-chico-national-yo-yo-competition/

 

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Getting tricky with yo-yo masters