German Pilots Win World Balloon Championship

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The nine-day-long World Hot-Air Balloon Championships wrapped up this weekend in Australia. Two German pilots, Markus Pieper and Uwe Schneider, finished at the top of the competition, with Australian Paul Gibbs coming in third. "It's a big deal," Gibbs told The Age. "It's like the Olympics coming to your country." It was the first time the event was held in the Southern Hemisphere, and also the first time that a German team has won the top spot. Winds grounded the pilots for several days, but in the end they were able to complete the competition, which drew about 100 pilots from 38 countries. Johnny Petrehn of the U.S. came in fourth. The next championship is set for Japan in 2006. For the final rankings, go to the official Web site.