Defeating teams from 16 other regions, Russia took top honors at the 10th National Geographic World Championship held today at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. Canada, the defending champion, came in second, and Chinese Taipei was third. The biennial competition, in which teams of students answer questions on physical, cultural and economic geography, is organized by the National Geographic Society. Google was the sponsor of this year’s contest.
Russia has entered a team in every National Geographic World Championship since the competition began in 1993. This is the first time the country has won. The Russian team comprised Alexander Bondarchuk, 16, of St. Petersburg; Masha Samoletova, 16, of St. Petersburg; and Egor Shustov, 16, of Sludyanka.
The Canadian team members were Alexander Cohen, 15, of Ottawa, Ontario; Aoife O’Leary, 15, of Surrey, British Columbia; and Alejandro Torres-Lopez, 16, of North Vancouver, British Columbia.
Representing Chinese Taipei were Chen-Luo Cheng, 15, of Taipei; Po-Chen Chu, 14, of Taitung; and Tong-hong Hsu, 14, of Banqiao District, New Taipei City.
In an Olympics-style ceremony, gold, silver and bronze 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.
Russia, Canada and Chinese Taipei qualified for the final round after obtaining the highest combined scores in a written contest on Sunday and in Monday’s preliminary activity that included a hands-on activity at the San Francisco Zoo.
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 14 other teams competing this year were from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
John Fahey, chairman and CEO 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 geo-literacy, international dialogue and understanding, and promotes friendships around the globe,” he said.
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, Fla. 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 States also took first place in the 2001 contest in Vancouver, Canada; in 2003 at Busch Gardens, Fla.; and in 2005 in Budapest, Hungary. The 2007 competition at SeaWorld, San Diego, was won by Mexico. Canada took top honors in 2009 in Mexico City.
Teachers: want to compete next year? Now’s the time to apply for the 2012 U.S. National Geographic Bee.