The Air Hockey World Championship—yes, you read that right—is coming to the Mile High City this weekend. The pinnacle of the tournament season for a sport that was once a staple of arcades, roller rinks, and bowling alleys will be held at the National Western Complex from Friday, August 1, through Sunday, August 3.
“This is a huge opportunity to build on the local player base here,” says Chris Lee, tournament director and pro player from Lone Tree. Colorado is home to six players who have ranked among the top 20 in the world. All of them except 63-year-old Boulder resident Mark Robbins, who is recovering from a nagging neck injury, will be competing in Denver. There will be fierce competition from outside the state, though: number-one ranked Danny Hynes of Texas. A victory this year will give Hynes 12 total wins—the most world championship titles held by any air hockey player. “It’s always an eye-opener for spectators to see the caliber of air hockey people are capable of,” Lee says.
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What that means: Spectators—including those visiting the Complex for the Denver County Fair—are in for a show and some serious competition. Here’s hoping a Coloradan hoists the trophy at the end.
What to Know
Cost: Admission is included in the $10 entrance fee for the Fair.
Rules: Games are to seven points. A match is seven games, and the tournament is double-elimination.
Colorado Players to Watch: Mark Nizzi, Keith Fletcher, Chris Lee, Chris Wilcox, and Mike Thomas
Other Players to Watch: Danny Hynes, Davis Lee (former world champion), and Billy Stubbs (former world champion)
A Beginner’s Guide to Air Hockey Terminology:
- Drift: the set up to a shot
- Mallet: what you use to hit the puck
- Master: a player who finishes top 10 in a world championship
- Rail: the walls that fence in the air hockey surface
- Release: a player’s motion as he hits the puck