CityBeat Blogs - Air Hockey http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-38-71.html <![CDATA[Live Webcam of Air Hockey World Championship]]>

The Air Hockey World Championship brackets have been announced in Las Vegas, and the first-round is underway as of 4:30 p.m. The USAA is streaming the matches live at airhockeyworld.com.

The 65-man bracket has Jason Cornell as the 54 seed and Jeff Huisman the 56. They will be matched up against the 11th and 9th seeds, respectively.

A live chatroom is also up and running, so get in there and support the local air hockey dudes. Cornell's opponend is a left-handed 57-year-old air hockey veteran with two national championships under his belt.

Go dudes go! Hit that puck hard!---

UPDATE (5:03 P.M.): Huisman lost his first round match, 4 games to 1. According to Cornell, the referree said he was surprised that Huisman even took one game from his highly ranked opponent.Huisman will now move onto the loser's bracket. 

UPDATE (5:27 P.M.): Cornell lost his opening match, 4-0. Most of the early-round games were 4-0, as the top seeds mostly dominated the new players. Cornell says his opponent's lefty shots were tough. He got a few scores past but couldn't take any of the games. Huisman's one opening-round win is looking more impressive as the best players in the world separate themselves from the pack.

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<![CDATA[Air Hockey Duo Arrives in Vegas]]>

Cincinnati’s hometown-hero air hockey players are safe and sound in Las Vegas, preparing for Saturday’s first round of the Air Hockey World Championships.

Jason Cornell and Jeff Huisman left Cincinnati at 3 a.m. Friday to catch their 6:45 a.m. flight, then enjoyed breakfast with Huisman’s parents in Las Vegas, who flew in from Seattle to celebrate Mom’s birthday.

After breakfast they checked out the tables and competition area at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, running into USAA President Michael Rosen, who said he will introduce the competition’s only participants from Ohio during the opening ceremony.---

“He said he’s going to introduce us even though there are other people that are new,” Cornell said, “just because we brought a little hype to the tournament from Cincinnati.”

Cornell and Huisman don’t seem too phased by the players they’ve seen at the practice tables so far. Cornell says the other pros don’t seem to be doing anything out of the norm, just using some fancy puck-dribbling methods that haven’t really worried the rookies.

Huisman, who underwent air hockey-related wrist and elbow surgery Feb. 26, is back in action but not completely free of pain, as he was only recently allowed to resume full air-hockey activities.

“He says his elbow feels great, which is where most of his power comes from,” Cornell says. “We feel confident in his elbow being healthy.”

The guys are staying at Bally’s, which has a regulation air hockey table in its arcade where they plan to practice tonight and warm up tomorrow. Cornell says he hasn’t felt any residual effects from staying up all night before the trip to Las Vegas, and around 5 p.m. he said he and Jeff were going to get some hot dogs and check out the sports betting situation.

All matches of the 2009 Air Hockey World Championships will be streamed live at airhockeyworld.com. CityBeat will update this story once the brackets are created on Saturday.

UPDATE (9:08 P.M.): Since checking in with CityBeat this afternoon, Cornell and Huisman have witnessed a second round of professional air hockey practice that was somewhat more intimidating. A Cornall text message reads: "Registering and looking at the guys here now ... uhhh pretty good ... definitely sharper than the earlier crowd."

Cornell and Huisman will learn their places in the Air Hockey World Championships singles bracket on Saturday.


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<![CDATA[Basement Dwelling and Surgery Hinder Air Hockey Duo]]>

The CityBeat-endorsed air hockey duo of Jason Cornell and and Jeff Huisman had to put their dreams on the back burner this week, as real life interfered with their World Championship aspirations. You may recall last week’s “Air Hockey Blog — The Injury,” when Huisman dropped a bombshell, admitting that recent rumors were true regarding his wrist injuries pending surgery. This, just a couple weeks before the biggest professional match of his career, seemed to be a devastating blow to his chances. But the Feb. 26 procedure was successful, according to Huisman, who expects to be ready to compete two weeks from today.---

Cornell, who really doesn’t have a good excuse for not practicing feels pretty good about his game at this point, spent the week preparing to move out of his West side apartment. Though the soon-to-be-professional athlete says he looks forward to his new three-bedroom house in Colerain, recent reports have revealed that the home is actually occupied by his parents and he has been shunned to the basement like it’s 1998 all over again. When asked how the new living arrangements might affect his self-esteem training, Cornell said, “Hey, it’s a quick shot on 275 over to Buster’s for practice, but if they try to charge me rent I’m fucking out of here.” To further add to his excuses challenges this week, Cornell also had a programming exam Thursday night as he completes his college degree as an air hockey backup plan.

Overall, the duo claims to remain mentally focused despite these recent setbacks. Cornell plans to resume training if he can find someone up for the challenge, and Huisman plans to self medicate in order to get through the next two weeks and be as close to 100 percent as possible for the World Championships.

As the story of these two local athletes continues to evolve leading up to the March 13 event in Las Vegas, CityBeat will continue to follow their story, whether these jackasses actually do something worth noting or continue to hurt themselves and lesson their quality of life.


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<![CDATA[Air Hockey Blog — The Injury]]>

Well, this is it. The aspiring Air Hockey World Champion's blog. Seriously. Air hockey.

Why air hockey? As Jason points out in the Air Hockey Blog intro, he kicked my ass at Pop-A-Shot on a regular basis and I got tired of it. I challenged him to a game of air hockey ... and let me tell you, our lives changed. Air Hockey is an incredible game of strategy, skill, power and geometry? Yes ... geometry. Knowing the angles helps win games. Hitting your angles ... that's a little harder. ---

At this point we're 23 days away from tournament time and I have a non-functioning arm. Apparently playing 200 games of air hockey in two months does a lot more damage to your arm than you would think. I first noticed some discomfort in my right arm as early as December. It progressively got worse through January to the point that I took some precautions with a "tennis elbow" strap that is supposed to help prevent these types of injuries. I iced it down a few times when the pain was significant and swelling occurred. The big blowout occurred the night of Jan. 21 — half price game day at Dave and Busters. 

Half price air hockey is a great thing. I earned an entire Gold Card at Dave and Buster's from only playing Air Hockey. For those of you not in the know, a Gold Card is obtained when you waste an exuberant amount of money charging the fucking thing, but you get 10 percent off each game once the Gold status is obtained. Air hockey is an expensive game so any chance we have to save money playing we will eagerly take. Especially in this economy. I'm pretty sure D&B's will be able to send two of their employee's children through college on the amount of money we've spent on those damn tables.

We had a frenzy that day, Jan. 21. We played 10 games against each other at lunch, followed by 18 more games after work. This was after playing 19 games on Monday and 10 more on Tuesday. After the 28th game of the day, we called it quits and headed our own separate ways. I was already in pain and knew I'd be heading home for a good long icing as it was, but what happened next caught me a little by surprise. I sat in my car in the driver's seat and reached back to grab my bag from the back seat. Upon grabbing the bag there was a large nasty POP in my elbow and my arm instantly went numb. I knew at that point I was screwed and only hoped it wouldn't be something to derail the dream. I honestly thought for a few minutes that I may not ever again be able to play the game I had come to love.

I have compressed nerves in both my wrist an elbow on my right arm, which unfortunately is my air hockey arm. Just found out that surgery is scheduled for Feb. 26. They will make incisions in my wrist (pinky side) and under my elbow to release the tension and nerve compression within. I have damage to both the median and ulnar nerves. This type of injury is very similar to very severe case of carpal tunnel. Generally, the surgery is accompanied by two weeks of recovery time, which unless my math is wrong, gives me one day of clearance until it's go time. At this point, most people would decide to pull out of tournament.  But I'm not most people, I'm a frickin' gamer ... this is just a bump in the road. Playing at 75 percent strength is still better than the 10-15 percent I have now.

There is less than a week left before they cut me, but the dream lives on...

Jason Cornell and Jeff Huisman blog about their quest to become World Air Hockey Champion in Las Vegas March 13-15.

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<![CDATA[Air Hockey Blog — Time to Turn Pro]]>

Seven long months ago, I was what many in the office would consider an urban legend. I was the self-proclaimed Dave and Busters “Pop-A-Shot” king. Unbeaten in more than 20 straight head-to-head matches, I managed to frustrate my fellow co-workers with my Larry Bird-like skills. This, of course, led to a lot of bragging and maybe just a little inflation of my head. Ultimately, this discomfort in defeat had my fellow cohorts in a scramble to find something they could beat me at. And they finally found one — a sport in which quick reflexes, precision angle shots and diligent goal defense are the trademarks of a weathered veteran. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Air Hockey.---

Air Hockey is a sport with an underground past. During the mid-70’s and 80’s the premiere manufacturer of air hockey tables was Brunswick. Engineers were working to create a frictionless surface and ended up spending most of their time whacking shit across it, thus creating the air hockey table. The game was most commonly found in bowling alleys bearing the Brunswick name until the arcade boom of the mid-80’s. The United States Air Hockey Association (USAA) was founded in 1975 and remains intact today as the official governing body of professional Air Hockey. The USAA maintains the rules and regulations for competitive air hockey and is the only recognized body for air hockey in the world.

It was merely blind fate that brought me to the air hockey table. I lost seven straight matches before capturing my first win. The tables had effectively been turned on this one time Pop-A-Shot king. I knew in order to win I would need to do more than just bang the puck around in an aimless fashion — I would need to know the strategy involved with setting up the best shots and effective methods of defending my goal. It was apparent to my colleague Jeff and me that air hockey was an underrated game of skill, talent and athletic ability, and we wanted to become the best we could be at playing it.

At first, Jeff and I were convinced that we were going to be the first “professional” air hockey players in the world. We discussed a Web site, the rules and how we would be officially sponsored by the biggest name in air hockey today, Dynamo. We envisioned matches on ESPN “The Ocho” following the international league of lawn darts and extreme foosball. To our goddamn amazement, the USAA was already there for us. So, for 2009 we made a pact to play air hockey at the highest level and obtain national rankings as recognized by the official body of professional air hockey. We were on our way to becoming professional athletes.

The more we played the more we discovered about the game, its history and players. This video on YouTube describes a little bit of that history and follows some current day players such as Danny Hynes, an assistant manager at Sears and a seven-time World Air Hockey Champion. The members of the USAA have been kind enough to extend the offer to play in this year’s World Air Hockey Championship even though Jeff and I had no professionally recorded bouts. In November of 2008, we started recording our games and now have each have played in more than 150 official games. Jeff had the initial edge, winning roughly two out of every three games. Things have began to level somewhat, and now we are close to 50/50 in games played over the past month.

So begins the trek to Vegas, for two amateur Cincinnati players — Jason “T Rex” Cornell and Jeff “Knuckles” Huisman — looking to make their professional debuts on the grandest stage of all March 13-15 at the Riveria Hotel & Resort Casino. And for the first time in CityBeat history, two soon-to-be professional athletes will keep a blog of the events and training leading up to the big event. This behind-the-scenes journey will display the heart and dedication to a thankless sport with little-to-no financial reward or fame or notoriety. Stay tuned for the updates, the heartaches and tough breaks during our journey to the elite level of air hockey.

Jason Cornell will update the Air Hockey Blog leading up to and during the championships in Las Vegas. Stay tuned for the story of the duo's first injury and subsequent surgery.


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