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What Hath Duncan Wrought? 

Wednesday, May 13 2009
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At the Bay Area Classic 2009 yo-yo championship, the routines are set to music, and the competitors pick the songs. It could be miraculous, or deadly. We’re here to speculate: miraculous. But first, a preliminary toast to whoever goes “off string,” a trick in which the yo-yo goes off the string. We’d also like to toast anyone wearing a tuxedo. Did you know they now make yo-yos with centrifugal clutch transaxles and free-spinning plastic sleeve linkages? Today, yo-yos have ball bearings; they come with friction stickers, brake pads, and weight pads; they’re made of titanium and tungsten alloys, even bamboo. MIT developed a stealth one you can’t see spinning except under rotating 60-watt fluorescent bulbs. Some don’t even have a string you put your finger into; instead, you hold a counterweight. When did all this happen? Early ’90s. At today’s games, the beauty and pain of high-stakes, competitive yo-yoing is played out “on the line,” as they say (they don’t say that), as top players get five championship divisions to work their particular kung fu. You might also discover which of the yo-yos described here is bullshit.

The Bay Area Classic takes place in the Bandshell.
Sat., May 23, 9 a.m., 2009

About The Author

Michael Leaverton

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