American Crowned Air Guitar World Champ

Created: 2012-08-25 06:47 EST

Category: World > Europe

Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard from the US won the 17th Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland on Friday (August 24).

The Air Guitar World Championships is a three-day event with international contestants that culminates in a Grand Finale at Rotuaari Square in the center of Oulu in Northern Finland.

Around 5,000 people gathered in the city center to watch 18 contestants from around the world battle for the grand prize—a real guitar.

"Everyone is very excited of course since this is a big event and so forth, so everyone is always looking forward to this happening."

The world championships were first organized in Oulu in 1996.

[Aline "Devil's Niece" Westphal from Germany, 2011 Guitar World Champion]:
"The performance this year is very different from the performance last year, it's more girlie style, it's wild, it's rock n roll style and it's not so dramatic as last year and yeah, a little bit more crazy, I think."

In the first round, contestants played a song of their choice. The 10 contestants with the highest score went through to the second round, where they performed 'Loose My Soul' by the Flaming Sideburns.

[Juha Torvinen, Air Guitar Judge and Guitarist]:
"I for myself, I like improvisations. That is the main thing for me, but of course you have to look at the whole performance and I think my heart decides who is the best one. It's that simple and difficult at the same time."

"Nordic Thunder" Howard won the 2011 National Competition in the US and went through the qualifying round to enter this year's final.

[Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard, U.S. Air Guitarist]:
"Going early in a competition is tough because the judges, they are going to be conservative with their scores until they see someone that really pops, so my plan is to come out and be that one that's like 'paah'."

The Air Guitar World Championships aims to promote world peace. "According to the ideology of the Air Guitar, wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear if all the people in the world played Air Guitar", the championships official website states.