the digest last time, I thought you all might like to see it.
The Cercle Orleanais d'Escrime and the Banque National de Paris
held the 7th annual BNP Challenge this April 1st in Orleans. I am
far from a world class sabreur, but my coach encouraged me to
enter. Since the entry fee was waived for local fencers, I figured
I had nothing to lose. There were 80 entrants in all. Some of you
may know Chris Roehrs from NYC. Chris has taken a leave of
absence to train in Paris.
I was surprised that there was no weapons check, but apparently
it is not considered necesarry for "just" a World Cup B event.
Shockingly, I was eliminated in the first round of pools; 0-5
with a -17 indicator. I had fun just the same. Just to give you an
idea of the competition, the current Olympic champion and the current
World champion didn't make it to the quarterfinals. Chris Roehrs was
eliminated in the round of 32.
The final of 8 was staged to maximize audience appeal All the strips
were removed except for one raised , spotlit and backed with sh***y.
The event had been well publicized, and a crowd of about 800 people
filled the stands. UNC coach Ron Miller's famous "wacky-whackers"
were selling briskly.
The 8 finalists were introduced with dramatic fanfare. The club's
younger fencers gave a brief demonstration. CEO coach Frank Berthier
and one of his pupils demonstrated the basic cuts and parries with
day-glo painted sabres to make the motions more obvious. Frank then
gave commentary as a few chosen touches from last year's challenge were
shown on a big screen. Once the audience had been 'taught how to watch'
the bouts began. The referee had a mike, and Frank did additional
commentary between touches.
The fencing was very clean. There were not many simultaneous actions.
(Throughout the day, when simuls did occur, the referees often said,
"No, you can't share it.") The fleche has been replaced by a forward
leaning balustre that accomplishes about the same thing. Most of the
fencing was in absence-of-blade, with the fencers covering the length
of the strip several times in each exchange.
I think even the inexperienced members of the audience were able
to follow quite well, thanks to Frank's commentary and the slo-mo
replays of the juicy cuts. The final came down to a very close bout
between Romanian Vilmos Szabo, and Frenchman Jean Duchaix. Despite
the home crowd advantage, Duchaix fell victim to Szabo's wicked stop
cuts. It was a very well organized event, both for athletes and
spectators. It was fun to watch, and even neater to have participated.
Tim Edwards / 7, Rue Albert I / 45000 Orleans, FRANCE