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US virtuoso cops 2012 world air guitar championship

The eventual winner of Finland’s 17th annual air guitar world championships in Oulu copped the title after qualifying via the Dark Horse qualifying round. The only Finnish competitor in Friday night’s international final placed fifth.

Video: Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard lavalla.
Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard is the 2012 air guitar champion.

Representing the United States, Justin “Nordic Thunder” outplayed his competitors to take the 2012 air guitar world championship in Oulu Friday night.

It was Nordic Thunder’s second appearance in the global event, having competed in 2011 as the US champion. He played his way into the final after appearing in the Dark Horse qualifying round Thursday night.

Another American, Matt Burns, competing under the stage name “Airistotle” took second place.  In third place was the Netherlands’ Theun “Tremelo Theun” de Jong.

Finland’s Jaakko “The Colossal” Härkönen was the only finalist to represent the home of the air guitar championship and placed fifth overall.

Air guitar virtuosos from all over the world pitted their skills against each other in a semi final Thursday night that produced 12 finalists from as many different countries, including Japan, the UK, US, Russia, France and the Czech Republic, among others.

An audience of thousands attended the final, and was entertained by a stunning light show, as well as performances by Finnish and French acts.

Once the winner was announced, the evening culminated in a joint performance with all of the finalists air strumming to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

The air guitar competition seeks to promote world peace under the motto “Make air, not war.”

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