Column: Tales From Italy’s Unicycle World Championships

Maxwell Schulze of Los Alamos competing in the UNICON XVI world championships this week in the small mountain village of Lajen in northern Italy. Photo by Roland Schulze
 
Dear Los Alamos,

Some of you may know me as just a unicyclist around Los Alamos. My name is Maxwell Schulze and I grew up in Los Alamos and graduated high school in 2010.

I have been unicycling for around eight or nine years and in January 2010, I traveled to New Zealand for the 2010 15th annual Unicycle World Championships known as UNICON XV.

There I competed in an event known as observed trials, which involves the navigation of technical obstacle courses without falling off the unicycle.

Check out my latest video at: https://vimeo.com/45396724. I practice this style on urban obstacles in and around Los Alamos.

I came home from New Zealand with world champion titles in the trials competition as well as the high jump competition. Since then I have continued to ride and practice for fun.

Competitors getting ready to ride the obstacles. Photo by Roland Schulze

Right now, two years later, I am in northern Italy for the 16th annual world championships: UNICON XVI.
 
This time, however, I am coming back as defending champion in the trials and high jump. Over the next week or so of the event, I will be keeping Los Alamos updated on my achievements here at UNICON.
 
To start off, I arrived one day late in Italy on Friday July 20, after a grueling 48 hours of travel. Thunderstorms in New York delayed our flight and my dad, Roland Schulze and I spent 24 hours in Atlanta.
 
However, we made it in time for me to register. The first competition was the trials starting at 3 p.m. Saturday.
 
I had Friday night to go in and meeting all my unicycle friends that I usually only get to see once a year at unicycle events.
 
I also took a brief look at the obstacle course being set up for the trials competition.
 
The hotel room in Italy where Los Alamos resident Max Schulze is staying while he competes in the UNICON XVI world championships. Photo by Roland Schulze
 
Saturday morning I woke up prepared for a day of competition. Arriving early at the event location I had plenty of time to look at and walk (but not ride on) the obstacles.
 
The competition started a bit after 3 p.m. and it lasted two hours with 60 individuals section.
 
A group of about 50 riders was let into a large indoor hall filled with labeled obstacle section.
 
The objective being, complete as many as possible in the allotted time of two hours.
 
Judges at each section watched competitors to verify completion and recorded completed sections on scorecards the riders carried around.

At the end of the two hours, I had completed 55 of the 60 sections. I tied with a very good rider from Hungary, Mark Fabian.

I do not know if anybody else completed more, but from the other competitors I talked to, it sounded like there weren’t higher scores.

On Monday, official scores will be posted and the top riders will compete in a more difficult but shorter final round Wednesday.

Lajen, Italy. Photo by Roland Schulze

It is still unclear as to how many riders will move on to finals but I have pretty good confidence I will move on.

Photos of the competition arena before and during the event can be viewed at: http://imgur.com/a/L16wU
 
Max
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