The 2017 USAA Worlds held at Rice University Oct. 20-22 truly represented a changing of the guard. All eyes were on 18-year-old phenom Colin Cummings of Beaumont, TX. Colin had dominated air hockey for the past 2 and a half years, winning all major tournaments he competed in, including two USAA World championships. Could ANYONE mount a serious challenge to Colin? And would 11-time World Champ Danny Hynes make the Finals again… possibly setting a new USAA record by capturing his 12th title?
All the expert predictions for this tournament went by the wayside because Colin couldn’t even get to the Finals… finishing 3rd. He was defeated twice by surprise finalist Vadim Chiznevskiy of Moscow, Russia. Vadim had finished just outside the top 10 two years earlier. But at Friday night’s Doubles event, it became clear that Vadim was a new force to be reckoned with. Tremendous defense… great puck possession… lightning quick wrist action and releases.
Vadim made it to the Finals against another surprise finalist… Jacob Weissman of Houston. Jacob had always been a strong member of the “next generation” of air hockey competitors, but over the last few years he was overshadowed by Colin’s phenomenal rise to greatness. But this was a different Jacob. Confident… powerful… and with a much improved defense. And screaming right-wall unders that matched those of his famous father in his prime – 10-time USAA champion Tim Weissman.
So 21-year-old Jacob Weissman dispensed with Vadim in the first set of the Finals, 4-0, to win his first major championship, and first World title! Danny Hynes, one of the few remaining members of the “New Old Guard” which had dominated air hockey in the 21st century, ended up 7th. Veteran top-10 player Brian Accrocco of Houston finished 4th, with Dan Meyer of Chicago taking 5th.
The Doubles competition went to Calculated Intensity – Danny Hynes and Brian Accrocco. The Women’s Champion (top finishing female) was Lilo Daher of the University of Houston.
Below are some photos from the tournament, including Vadim and Jacob with the USAA championship belt!