String fling: Statewide yo-yo championship comes to Coney Island

String fling: Statewide yo-yo championship comes to Coney Island
Isaac Michalowski

Welcome to the spin zone!

Dozens of high-strung competitors will swing down to Coney Island this weekend for the New York State Yo-Yo Contest. The competition on Dec. 8 will bring together the best yo-yoers from the borough and beyond to compete for the prestigious title of New York State Yo-Yo Champion. The event is open to anyone willing to risk the ups and downs of competition, and the top spin doctors can advance to higher stakes contests, according to one of its organizers.

“Anyone can take part, and if you win, you automatically get into the regional contest, then the national and international circuit,” said Justin Weber, a Sunset Park resident who performs with yo-yo shows and circus acts around the country.

The contest has three divisions, with a winner for each, Weber said.

The first division, known as a sports ladder, requires a group of contestants to perform a series of progressively more difficult yo-yo tricks, such as “Rock The Baby,” “Walk the Dog”, “Around the World,” and “Eiffel Tower.” Any mistakes lead to elimination, and the last remaining contestant wins.

In the second, and most popular division, known as 1A, contestants perform with backing music of their choice in front of three judges and show off string tricks, such as “Boingy Boing,” “Mach Five,” and “Kamikaze,” said Weber.

The third division, called the X-Division, is a more freestyle performance, and it allows the use of obscure yo-yo styles, including yo-yos with counterweights and Chinese yo-yos, he said.

The prizes are still being determined by the event’s sponsors, but previous competitions featured high-end yo-yos or cash prizes for the winner

Weber performs regularly with the Coney Island Sideshow, and hosted his yo-yo based fairy tale “Wacky of Wallabazoo” at the Coney Island USA stage, and began pulling string to hold the annual contest at the seaside.

“I thought it would be a great place to hold a contest in their theater,” he said.

The yo-yo scene is mostly guys between the ages of 5 and 30, according to Weber, who is also a member of the New York YoYo Club.

The club has around 15 regular members who meet to exchange tricks, tips, and trade yo-yos, which Weber said is the best way to learn the craft.

“Since it’s a rare skill, everybody who does it wants to see other people do it too, everybody helps each other out, because they know difficult it can be to learn from videos and books,” he said.

“The New York State Yo-Yo Contest” at Sideshows by the Seashore [1208 Surf Ave., at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372–5159, www.coneyisland.com]. Dec. 8; noon–6 pm; after party at 6 pm. $25 competitors, $10 spectators ($5 for kids under 12).

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Intricate spinning: New York YoYo Club member Simon Feher shows off his skills.
New York YoYo Club