Kickin' it

Steamboat resident earns net world championship

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— Peter Shunny held out.

Instead of agreeing to play with just anyone in the doubles division at the World Footbag Championships Aug. 5-11, he waited for the perfect player to complement his game.

Fortunately for Shunny, Chris Siebert became available.

Shunny, a resident of Steamboat Springs, paired up with Siebert, a resident of Manassas, Va., one week before the recent competition in San Francisco, leaving them little time to practice.

"Peter wanted the right mix," Bruce Guettich said. "Both were well-matched and well-balanced. Both have done well in doubles with other partners."

In fact, Siebert finished second in last year's doubles competition at the World Championships. With Shunny's help Siebert one-upped that with a world title this time around.

It was Shunny's first net world championship, although he won the overall title as top individual footbag player in 2001.

Shunny was out of town and unavailable for comment, but Guettich, who announced the final match after finishing ninth in the doubles competition with longtime partner Jim Caveney of Brentwood, Calif., said it was an interesting final.

Down nine a large amount in footbag net to singles champion Emmanuel Bouchard of Montreal and his partner, P.T. Lovern of Oakland, Calif., Shunny and Siebert mounted an impressive comeback to win the first in a best-of-three series, 15-13.

"It was a pretty spectacular surge," Guettich said.

In the second game, with the score knotted at one apiece, Lovern injured his knee and was forced to scratch, handing the title to Shunny and Siebert.

"It's not the way to obtain a world title," Guettich said. "But it would have been a little more tainted had they not won that first game."

Guettich said Shunny was thrilled about the championship and that he obtained bragging rights for one year, especially because it was his first-ever title in the net competition.

Shunny also finished fifth in the singles competition after dropping his quarterfinal match but winning his consolation playback.

Guettich, also of Steamboat Springs, ventured to San Francisco with Shunny as well. Blessed with spectacular weather and a competition site near the famed Fisherman's Wharf by the bay, Guettich said it was a great event overall.

"I saw no fog," he said smiling. "And ate great food."

Like Shunny, Guettich also competed in both the doubles and singles competition.

And like Lovern, an injury forced him to withdraw from the tournament. Prior to his quarterfinal match against Bouchard, the eventual champion, Guettich said he pulled his groin but played anyway to see how it would hold up.

He got his answer in an 11-4, 11-0 defeat at the hands or feet of Bouchard.

"Hey," Guettich said. "If you're going to lose, you might as well lose to the eventual champ."

Guettich said he was satisfied with his eighth-place finish all things considered, especially because he knocked off the No. 2-ranked player in the world, Jake Leong of Vancouver, 11-2, 11-7, early in the tournament.

A purse of $10,000 was split between the champions in all divisions of singles and doubles, including men's, women's and mixed.

The winners also received trophies and the rights to call themselves world champions.

Guettich said people competing at the professional level want to see where they measure up.

To do that, he or she has to play his or her best.

For one year at least, Shunny has earned the right to call himself just that.

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