BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (July 14, 2005)–Beating teams from 17 other regions, the United States took top honors at the seventh National Geographic World Championship, held today at the Palace of the Arts, in Budapest, Hungary. The team from Russia came second, and Canada was third. The United States was the defending champion. Organized by the National Geographic Society, the competition was sponsored by the Hungarian National Tourist Office.
The United States team included Karan S. Takhar, 14, North Attleboro, Massachusetts; Jesse R. Weinberg, 14, Coral Gables, Florida; Andrew T. Wojtanik, 15, Overland Park, Kansas. The Russian team members were Vera Aleksandronova Efremova, 16, Sterlitamak, Bashkortostan; Temirgaleev Renat Faritovich, 15, Orenburg, Orenburgskaya; Ivan Alexandrovich Prokhorov, 15, Murmansk, Murmanskaya. The Canadian team comprised Nathan H.C. Friedman, 15, Kamloops, British Columbia; Daniel V. Siracusa, 15, Burnaby, British Columbia; Weiyang (John) Yao, 13, North York, Ontario.
In an Olympics-style ceremony, medals were awarded to the first-, second- and third-placed teams. Alex Trebek, host of the U.S. television quiz show “Jeopardy!”, moderated today’s finals.
The United States, Russia and Canada qualified for the final round after obtaining the highest combined scores — a three-way tie — in a written contest on Monday and in Tuesday’s preliminary activity that included an outdoor map-reading course at the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Students were eligible to take part in the World Championship competition by winning or being a top finisher in the national competitions of their home regions. The 15 other teams that competed this year were from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Spain and United Kingdom.
Teams taking part for the first time were Chinese Taipei and Spain.
John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society, said the competition was a great way for talented young geographers around the world to match wits against each other and to enjoy a rewarding cross-cultural exchange. “The competition enhances international dialogue and understanding and promotes friendships around the globe,” he added.
The World Championship is held every two years. The first contest, held in London in 1993, was won by the United States, which beat teams from the United Kingdom and Russia. The Australians, competing against four other teams, won the 1995 competition in Orlando, Florida. The third championship, held in 1997 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., was won by Canada, which bested eight other teams. The United States won the fourth competition against 11 teams in Toronto, Canada, in 1999. The United Sates also took first place in the 2001 contest, against 12 other teams, in Vancouver, Canada, and in the 2003 contest, against 17 other teams, at Busch Gardens, Florida.