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Finnish Woman Picks Her Way To Air-Guitar Title

Updated 1:15 AM ET August 29, 1999

OULU, Finland (Reuters) - A 27-year-old Finnish woman won the fourth annual air-guitar world championships in the northern Finnish town of Oulu, beating mostly male competitors from around the world.

Dressed in an English school uniform in homage to AC/DC guitarist Angus Young, Johanna Ala-Siurua's breathtaking, mimed guitar licks and stage presence to the track "Let There Be Rock" proved an unbeatable combination.

"She has that certain something that separates mere winners from champions," the jury said in awarding her the title Friday night.

Most of the 10 contestants agreed that the discipline is at its finest when mimicking intricate guitar solos with hands alone.

"Using tennis racquets or other paraphernalia is an affront to God and nature," said Paul Shapiro, a 30-year-old London-based music journalist, who failed to make the top three.

New world champion Ala-Siurua agreed, scorning the use of cardboard guitars by some heavy metal enthusiasts.

"I had a plectrum with me which I think is acceptable," she told Reuters.

Finland plays host to a number of off-beat summer events, including championships in wife-carrying, swamp football, mosquito killing and kissing.

(submitted by Barry Golin-U.K.)