Bruce Guettich proved experience and skill sometimes do trump age after the 46-year-old won third place in singles footbag net at the World Footbag Championships held in the Czech Republic last week.
Guettich, who actually won the competition at 45 years before turning 46 on Aug. 4, entered the competition seeded ninth and wound up defeating the Nos. 4, 5 and 8 seeds to capture the bronze trophy.
Montreal's Emmanuel Bouchard and San Francisco's Johnny Leys took first and second, respectively.
Guettich's third-place finish was his best showing since 1982 when he finished third in just his second appearance at the World Championships. It was a long 20 years between podium finishes, but Guettich felt as comfortable on the grass footbag courts this year as he did two decades ago.
"My physical conditioning has helped tremendously," he said. "It's a tough discipline. It's a large court and, obviously, you're by yourself. You spend a lot of time running around and chasing things. It was a nice accomplishment."
There were 36 players in the open professional class of singles footbag net.
Guettich and fellow Steamboat resident and training partner Peter Shunny also competed in the open professional class in doubles footbag net.
Shunny and partner Chris Siebert of Virginia entered the competition as the defending world champions but were unable to hold on to the title, losing in the round of 16.
"They both expected to do much better," Guettich said. "There were a lot of very experienced and well practiced doubles teams in the field. ... Communi-cation is so important."
Living on different sides of the country deters Shunny and Siebert from practicing much together, and they ended up fifth in the competition.
Guettich and his longtime partner Jim Caveney of Brentwood, Calif., finished eighth out of 24 teams.
Guettich and Shunny didn't play each other in the World Championships held at the Slavia Sports Complex in Prague, Guettich said.
Guettich and Shunny are footbag veterans, and each continues to marvel at the technical and physical progression of the sport, particularly in the freestyle discipline.
Both used to compete in net and in freestyle but had to bow out in past years, as younger and younger players started performing tricks the older men could not match.
This year's singles freestyle winner, Vasek Klouda of the Czech Republic, is 16. He won the title last year, as well.
"The level of play in freestyle was just remarkable," Guettich said. "It's always a treat to us to watch. We are both fond of freestyle, just to see where it's going and how the players are taking it to the next level."
Klouda won the competition after performing a routine that links six moves each with an ad, or difficulty level, of six. The most difficult single trick ever completed in any freestyle competition had an ad level of eight.
"It was a high caliber event with really outstanding level of play," Guettich said of the entire World Championships. "It was well represented from a player's standpoint. Prague is a beautiful city, and the historical value of a city like that can't be beat."
--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org