It was about 120 days ago when we first told y’all about the first ever Beard Team USA National Beard and Moustache Championships to be held on Saturday, June 5, 2010, in Bend, Oregon (Get all the Nationals info)… well, it is organized by, like every major bearding themed event in the US, the US Captain at World Beard and Moustache Championships, the father of American competitive bearding overall, and the headlining photo we used for our original story, Mr. Phil Olsen (aka @tahophil).
Phil’s the founder and self-appointed captain of Beard Team USA. His first WBMC was in Ystad, Sweden, in 1999. Noticing that the event was dominated by the Germans who invented the game and that United States was underrepresented, he dedicated himself to making the USA a powerhouse in international facial hair competitions. In 2003, he organized the worlds held in Carson City, Nevada.
Build-a-Beard co-founder El Beardo had the pleasure to meet and mingle with the captain at the recent Magnificent Specimens exhibit by Dave Mead; where they chewed the fat about World Championships, German tears, Jack Passion, the legality of hair spray in competitive bearding, and the potential of El Beardo’s Corporate Beard. Capt. Phil is not a man of many words (though we did spot him with 4 beers at one time at the exhibit… read: our kind of man), and chooses his words carefully (it’s the lawyer background)… but as scores of beard enthusiasts across from the world before us, we heeded his every word… and so should you.
#1) Oh Captain my Captain you are like Moses for the beardos of America (he who brought bearding to us all)… And how did it all begin?! (Hopefully no burning beard sights in the middle of a desert)
I wandered into the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Sweden in 1999. Wow! What an event! But America was underrepresented. And not enough people knew about it. Since then my mission has been to make the WBMC into the world class event it ought to be, with everyone included.
#2) So the Germans have occupied the sport pretty heavily until you came along… do they resent you, or do they welcome the competition (and their loses) with open arms?
Most of the Germans welcome the competition and all of them welcome the camaraderie. They also point out that they did better that us in Alaska when you consider the ratio of trophies to contestants.
#3) We understand that there are still some inconsistencies in the definitions and categories for the World Beard & Mustache Championships… who is the governing board, and have you been able to debate with and convince them in anything, given your lawyer background?
There is no governing body that everyone recognized. The host defines the categories. I have tried hard to address issues with the categories but without much success despite my lawyer background. I am hoping the simplified, inclusive categories at the Nationals will be an improvement.
#4) Well enough about the krauts… let’s talk about you. Yours is a Garibaldi Beard. How long have you had it? When did you decide to start grooming it, or was it never ‘natural’?
For years my beard came and went with the season. I was bearded in the winter and naked in the summer. But since I discovered the WBMC in 1999 I haven't shaved and have barely trimmed. As my beard got longer I gradually developed a method for grooming it that did not involve trimming. Unfortunately, my beard won't get any longer.
#5) What are your top secrets/advice for beardos looking to get past the itchy first few months and get the thickness and mass akin to yours?
Do nothing. Bearding is a great sport for couch potatoes. I have never had itching problems, so I am not sure what to advise. There are some kinds of moisturizers that supposedly work.
#6) The national championships are around the corner… give us your best pitch on why everyone who’s anyone in the world of bearding should be in Bend Oregon on June 5th.
It's THE event of the season. Bend is a great place with spectacular outdoor recreation opportunities, a super hip, welcoming local population, and more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the known world. And five beardsmen are going to go home $1000 richer.
#7) Jack Passion isn’t competing in the national’s so that to give others a chance to place atop the natty beard category… will this hamper the defense of the US title globally?
No, not at all. Like the Pack, Jack will be back. He's Woods, Ali, and Gretzky all in one.
#8) I can totally see Jack on the ice... No stick, he'll just slap the puck around with his beard... Anyway, can you describe the first time you met Jack and his beard, and perhaps comment on how he changed the game of competitive bearding?
I first met Jack when he came on the official BTUSA trip to Berlin for the 2005 worlds. He took third place, but all of the other beards in his category were older than Jack himself. The Euros were astounded that such a young person already had such a great beard.
#9) What is YOUR favorite facial hair style, you’ve surely seen your fair share of amazing chin manes, groomed follicles and elongated staches… is one better than the other?
Facial hair is about individuality. It's hard to say one style is better than another. Everyone has to find a style that fits his look and personality. For me, my favorite is what I have.
#10) Finally, how did my beard look to you at Magnificent Specimens exhibit… do I stand a chance if I enter into freestyle (or any other) category at Bend?
Your beard looked GREAT, Alex. Solid, thick, excellent color. But I doubt you will do well in Freestyle. You don't have enough length to do anything outlandish with your beard. I am expecting some crazy concoctions. And in full beard others beards have much more mass. Unfortunately there is no trophy for best potential. So wait 'til next year BUT remember there is a $1000 prize for a contestant chosen at random. That could be you!
Well Phil, it’s been a pleasure… I’ll see if Dave Mead agrees with your sentiment about my beard and whether I’m indeed a Magnificent Specimen… in the meantime, I WILL ENTER THE FREESTYLE CATEGORY IN BEND, as a Corporate Beard (and the Best Potential Beard)… after all, you are the perennial “also-ran” at these things, so I’ll be in good company at the bottom of the leader board!
Fantastic, Alex. See you soon!