Zane Krempel doesn’t look like he’s training for a competition, but take a close look at the sides of his face. Those sideburns might at first seem rather normal for a 22-year-old facial hair aficionado, but when Krempel competes in the 9th World Beard and Mustache Championships in Anchorage, Alaska in May 2009, he expects his mutton chops to measure nearly one foot in length.
The WBMCs includes 17 competitive categories involving all types of facial hair, including the Dali (thin mustache with upturned ends), musketeer (pointed beard with pointed mustache), and Krempel’s event, freestyle sideburns where anything goes.
Sprinters run and weight train. Basketball teams practice. Krempel? He’s using extra strengthening conditioner and clipping any split ends to make sure his facial-locks grow true.
“I suppose I could go further and wear a hairnet,” he kids.
Krempel has grown impressive chops before so he understands the maintenance. During his previous involvement with radical facial hair, his sideburns grew so outlandish he landed a gig with Brighton Ski Resort in Utah, which featured him and his whiskers on over 70 advertisements on Salt Lake City buses.
After that he grew bored with the style, he says, and cut them off. He regretted it right away.
“I read an [Associated Press] article with a guy who’d made his beard look like the London Bridge,” Krempel says, shaking his head. News of that astounding feat made him instantly jealous, and propelled him back into the hair fray.
He tried a mustache, but explains that it got in his mouth too much. He tried a beard, but it itched. Two months ago he landed back on the idea of sideburns just like Elvis, Gen. Ambrose Burnside (credited as founding the hairstyle), and Jürgen Burkhardt, the 2007 freestyle sideburns world champion, before him.
More than winning the competition for Missoula and his country, Krempel says he’ll be glad to have a vacation.
“It’s an excuse to go to Alaska. Plus a lot of people don’t appreciate [sideburns] like I do,” Krempel says. “They’ve kind of been out of style since 1890.”