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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 19:57 GMT
German crowned world beard champion
Overall Grand Champion Karl Heinz Hille of Berlin, Germany
Hille won by a whisker
A German sporting thick white sideburns arching from his ears to his chin has been crowned World Beard and Moustache Champion in the US state of Nevada.

"I feel as happy as a pig in mud," said Berliner Karl Heinz Hille, who beat 130 contestants for the coveted title.

Men sporting anything from classic Euro moustaches to "free-style" shapes were up before the judges in 17 categories.

Hirsute competitors came from 10 nations for the sixth biennial event in Carson City.

It was the first time the competition had been held outside Europe and was once again dominated by Germany, which fielded 56 entrants.

"In Germany, we have the best knowledge of styling," said Jurgen Burkhardt of Leinfelden-Echterdingen, a former world champion.

'Beard Olympics'

Contestants were judged on moustaches, goatees, partial and full beards, with styles ranging from "natural" and "English", to "Fu Manchu" and "Garibaldi".

Umberto DiLauro of Corvico, Italy
17 categories of beard and moustache
Contestants from 10 nations
Held every other year since 1990

Grown men were reduced to hairy jelly, some rising long before dawn in their desperation to wax, tweak and blow-dry massive whiskers into the stuff of legend. "I'm very nervous - I didn't sleep last night," said contestant Lutz Giese of Berlin, bristling with nerves.

Kai Cofer of Los Angeles, the possessor of a freestyle, knee-length, small-braid beard, said the competition was "the Olympics of beards".

Americans made a stronger showing than expected, capturing four titles.

Dave Traver of Anchorage, Alaska, won second runner-up in the overall grand championship.

"I'm ecstatic," said a beaming Mr Traver, Alaska's 2000 Mr Fur Face.

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