To beard or not to beard in Norway

THE World Beard and Moustache Championships, the premier event in the international sport of bearding, brings the owners of the world’s most elaborate facial hair together every two years.

A panel of distinguished judges chooses the best of the best in a variety of categories ranging from the most delicate of moustaches to the elaborate anything-goes freestyle full beard.

Although the Italian delegation claims that the first worlds took place in Italy in the 1970’s, most credible pogonohistorians agree that the current world championships trace their roots to a celebration held the small Black Forest village of Höfen/Enz in the early 1990’s.

Competitors at the inaugural event represented several beard clubs concentrated in the southwestern corner of Germany.

With the advent of the internet, the WBMC has now grown to a multi-national, multi-cultural, spectator-friendly event.

Having invented the sport, defined the categories, and hosted by far the largest number of championships, Germany long dominated the sport.

In 2009, however, when the competition took place in Alaska, an upstart squad of Americans established the USA as the new facial hair world superpower.

Some of the Germans insist that, despite the results of the Alaska event, Germany still has the world’s best beards and moustaches, noting that German beat America when handicapped according to either number-of-trophies-per-contestant or number-of-trophies-per-kilometer-travelled averages.

The next worlds promise to be a nostalgic throwback to the past, when the WBMC was a more intimate affair primarily for the members of the elite moustache clubs (some of which discriminate against beards) in various Northern European countries and their counterparts from Germany.

The host, the Norwegian Moustache Club, which hosted the first WBMC outside of Germany, plans to hold the event at its home pub which has seating for but 250 contestants, friends and fans, just like it did in 1997.

The World Beard Championships are on May 14, 2011, in Trondheim, Norway.

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