The US qualification rounds are some of the most anticipated on the Cigar Smoking World Championship circuit. In 2022 there were a total of 17 throughout the summer, but this year they were only four. On the same day.
At four different BURN by Rocky Patel lounges at the end of July slow smokers from all over the US gathered with the common goal of making it to the final in Split. It was supposed to be five, but the one in Naples, Florida never happened.
Although some of the favorites delivered – three of the winners won a qualifier last year as well – the times performed weren’t that impressive, to be honest.
None of the winners made it into the top 20 of the season, but in Indianapolis, Indiana, Barrett Johnson improved his winning time with more than half an hour, coming in at 1 hour 36 minutes and 22 seconds.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1 hour 6 minutes and 15 seconds was enough for the big upset of 2022, Drew Emch, when he reiterated his achievement of qualifying for the national final. A very modest performance compared to last year’s final, though, when he shocked everyone and won at 3 hours 19 minutes and 24 seconds. It was even the best time of the season until Borys Szkodzik beat Emch’s time by 39 seconds in the Grand Final. The hopes for Emch are still big as he smoked for more than three hours in Split as well; proving his performance in the US final wasn’t just a one-time thing.
In Atlanta, Georgia Mose Ramieh, ranked 16th on the all-time slow smoking list, had a similar winning time at 1 hour 6 minutes and 21 seconds, six seconds more than Emch and 36 minutes shorter than his qualification performance in 2022.
The only new winner was in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Dan Thorson smoked for 1 hour 28 minutes and 50 seconds.
The winners will now meet up at BURN by Rocky Patel in Atlanta, Georgia on August 6 to decide who gets to represent the US at the Grand Final in Split in the beginning of September.
Indianapolis: Barrett Johnson, 1:36:22
Pittsburgh: Drew Emch, 1:06:15
Oklahoma City: Dan Thorson, 1:28:50
Atlanta: Mose Ramieh, 1:06:21