I just got back from the USA's 1997 National Unicycle
Convention being held in St. Paul, Minnesota (it is still going on;
due to work commitments, I could attend only Friday through Sunday).
I had a really great time, and wish I had been able to attend the full
meet. The rest of this message will contain some random recollections
of what I experienced, and a summary of the USA (Unicycling Society of
America) general meeting.
The weather was hot and muggy; quite a change from the cool
coastal overcast in Los Angeles this time of year. I sewated and
sweated, then sweated some more. The gym needed better ventilation;
Racing was a lot of fun for me this year. I missed some races
due to my schedule, but not as many as I feared I would; apparently
the threat (or actuality?) of rain caused postponement of some races
from Thursday to Friday. The racing starts went smoothly, as far as I
saw, but there were the usual delays in the timers' box. I didn't
follow my previous practice of taking photos *while racing*; I guess I
was feeling more competitive this year.
The track had a excellent surface, and was, I thought, quite
ridable Friday morning in spite of the prior night's rain.
Unfortunately, we did have a problem; a serious one, in fact. One of
the female ***age compeitors fell while racing, and broke her wrist
(actually, broke the radius and ulna near the wrist). The USA's EMT
MD, Dr. Nick Messamer, stabilized the injury, and the local hospital
reset the breaks and applied a cast. Since the accident occured on
the straightaway rather than on the curve, and happened later in the
day (I think), I don't think that dampness was a significant
We had a brief discussion at the USA general meeting about the
pros and cons of wrist braces, and whether or not to require them to
be worn during races.
I stayed at the Ramada Inn, which had good room air
conditioning and a very nice pool. The Hamline University dorms were
less expensive and generally much more convenient for attendees, but
apparently were *not* air conditioned. I ate one meal at the campus
cafeteria; it was OK, I wouldn't have minded eating on campus if I
had chosen to stay there.
Attendence at the meet was far smaller than my expectations.
Declining participation is, I think, becoming a serious problem for
the USA. There didn't seem to be much interest by the local general
public, except at the extravangaza (and some radio/TV (?) interviews).
The extravanganza was held in a modern, *very nice* indoor
theater. There was a good mix of unicycling and juggling performances.
There were two showings; the first was nearly sold out. Jay Gilligan
and partner put on an excellent juggling routine, inspite of Jay's
recent severe illness. Get well, Jay!
There were some incredible artistic freestyle performances.
Dana Schneider and Andy Cotter continued their reigns, both
individually and as a pair. However, Dustin Kelm's individual
performance, and his pairs routine with Kristen Donahoo, were also
top-notch. At this high a level of technical difficulty and
presentation, the main discriminating factor seemed to be whether or
not falls were allowed to interrupt the flow of the routine.
Tom Miller, proprietor of tThe Unicycle Factory, arrived at
the NUC on Saturday. He brought with him various toys, including the
unicycle least likely to receive OSHA approval (someone will scan in a
picture, I'm sure). This was Tom's first appearance in several years,
and we were glad to have him join us.
The following summary of the Unicycling Society of
America's General meeting is *not* an official set of minutes.
1) "Tidbits" is a USA publication offering tips and hints for
unicycle riders. A revised edition, "Tidbits 2", is in
2) The Championship Club is a fund-raising drive. Donations
will be used in various ways, such as to buy or rent a good
sound system for NUC use. Contact Susan Sutherland for more
3) There was an error in the closing balance of last year's
Treasurer's report; the USA had a little more money than
originally stated, as some interest income had not been
included. This year's report balance continues to look healthy.
4) Election of Officers:
President: Rick Anderson declined nomination for reelection.
Dirk Iwema was elected.
Vice President: Andy Cotter was reelected.
Secretary: Rick Anderson was elected.
[At this point I remarked that the USA appeared to be
continuing my father's practice of a pre-arranged
officer slate. There seemed to be agreement by those
who would know. :-]
Treasurer: Carol Brichford was reelected.
OOW Editor: Connie Cotter was reelected.
Director: Dustin Kelm declined nomination for reelection.
Beirne Konarski was elected, in a close contest
with Bill Lazarus.
(The three-year Directorships of the USA are elected
on a staggered basis. Nick Messamer and Susan
Sutherland continue to serve the remainders of their
5) Next year's NUC will be hosted in Monrovia, California, by
Jennifer White and the Monroe Unicycle Club. The dates will
be announced as soon as we coordinate with next year's UNICON at
Bottrop, Germany, and next year's IJA at wherever.
Monrovia is a suburb of Los Angeles, CA, to the east of Pasadena,
in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Some events may be
held in the adjacent city of Arcadia. You should expect to be
deluged with related information on the Net and Web in the coming
6) An announcement was made for the CA Muni '97, 20-21 Sep 1997,
at Northstar at Tahoe and at Auburn Recreation Area.
7) An announcement was made for the Western Regional meet to be held
Utal later this week [I just now sent a seperate message about
this]. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone present at the USA
general meeting planned to attend the Utah event. Let's hope
that the Hansens will be willing to try again next year, and
that we can all pull together to do a better job of putting the
8) There was a brief discussion about the pros and cons of wrist
protectors with regard to unicycling. Pro: they should
protect the wrist. Con: other parts of the hand or arm will
break, instead. Case in point: Connie Cotter received a broken
finger when she took a fall while wearing a wrist protector. We
agreed to study the issues involved, and resume the debate at
a later time.
Craig Milo Rogers