Oct 24, 2023 - News

St. Petersburg's puck dynasty continues with Shuffleboard World Championships

an old postcard showing shuffleboarders at night

Nightly scene at the shuffleboard courts in Mirror Lake Park - Saint Petersburg, Florida. 1900 (circa). State Archives of Florida

St. Petersburg was once known as "God's waiting room" β€” a sleepy town for seniors. So it's only fitting that the International Shuffleboard Association and the global rules for the game were started there.

Why it matters: St. Pete is now one of the nation's hottest up-and-coming cities and, after nearly a century, shuffleboard has gotten a similar rebrand.

  • "Back in the 70s and 80s the perception of shuffleboard was pretty much the perception of St. Petersburg: for older people, not very exciting," Shuffleboard Club executive director Christine Page told Axios. "We have grown and modernized right along with St. Petersburg."

Driving the news: The club hosts ISA's 40th World Championships this week β€” the "Wimbledon of shuffleboard" as Page calls it β€” bringing players and fans from around the world to downtown St. Pete.

  • The last time the city hosted the championships was 10 years ago, when the club had 300 members. It now has 2,600.

State of shuffle: 100 players are representing Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, the U.K. and the U.S. in the tournament that started Monday and runs through Friday.

  • The U.S. team includes local members as well as players from New York and Chicago.
  • ISA will post daily replays on YouTube through next week, where Friday's first-place matches will be livestreamed.

Players to watch: Norwegian Mats Graff-Wang, who won the 2019 men's championship; 2015 championship winner Bob Jones Jr., from Ohio; Missy Kayko from Brooklyn, the top ranked player in last year's world team championships; and Torben Hussmann, who at 16-years-old took 2nd place at the 2011 championship are all in town hoping to bring home another win.

  • Local player Thanh Seybold is expected to reign as queen of the court, Page said.

Catch up quick: Shuffleboard Club members standardized the game's global rules in St. Pete in 1928, four years after it was founded, Page said.

  • Its home, the world's longest-running and largest shuffleboard club, was designated a historic landmark in 1994. But by then, the club had shrunk to mostly seniors.
  • In 2005, a new era began. The club teamed up with local artists to host free play on Friday nights, turning the game from a seniors-only sport into a hipster party with beer, pizza and live music.

If you go: The matches are free to attend as well as Friday's post-game afterparty, which will have a DJ, cake, games and galactic shuffleboard.


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