Sunday, August 17, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
The Himalayas are the world’s tallest mountain range, driven upwards by the force of the Indian sub-continent slamming into Eurasia.
It seems like a good analogy for Australian efforts in international frisser. Like Everest, Worlds, in all its forms, is a long way away (even when it was held in Australia). Getting there is a major undertaking, requiring time, money, lost passports, lost players, and every kind of drama and mischief.
Everest represents the pinnacle of both mountains and mountaineering…but can also be experienced, at least from afar, by relative newbies. In retrospect, the tours before my generation (rookie in 1996) really were breathless walks on the tourist trails. Andy Morris remembers an early tour when players were stunned to see other teams throw forehands…the next tour everyone could do it. In 1996, after a few years of Jim Garvey, Stu Marcoon and Doug Bergensen teaching us how to stack, hold the mark and throw hammers, we were better, but still got no further than Base Camp.
By degrees we’ve ascended higher and higher, becoming more skilful, stronger, better organised, more focused and more strategic. In some divisions, for the last decade, we could make a case for being the ‘best of the rest’…the leading challengers to North American, and particularly US, dominance. To extend the analogy we have been successfully reaching higher and higher camps on the way to the peak.
I’ve day-dreamed for some time about signing off from competitive frisbee with a speech hailing a successful summit – not necessarily by winning and planting the flag, but by being competitive with the best…by seeing the frisbee world all around us…from above.
We performed brilliantly this tourney, fully utilising our limited preparation time, capitalising on our strong seeding and benefiting from the shortened tournament structure (which made the power-pool a virtual knock-out round). We have ended up above Iron Side and all Japanese, Canadian and European teams, not to mention the other Australian teams. The frisbee world knows our name.
Our path to the semis was certainly made easier by Phoenix sending Buzz Bullets to the other side of the draw to battle Ironside…and by Heidees knocking out both Mephisto (15-13) and Phoenix (14-11). But the score sheet shows that besides the chippy Italians, the teams we played until day 5 could not stay with us. I can’t find point by point stats, but I think they would show we won first half for our first 7 games…mostly easily…a huge credit to the D team.
Lucky Grass (Rus)
CUS Bologna (Ita)
Nomadic Tribe (Jap)
Johnny Bravo (US)
But the dream is unfulfilled, the summit not reached. Like Masters in 2012 and the Crocs in 2013, we won against other teams but were not competitive against the Seps. Maybe I’ve got this wrong but I think Sockeye broke us at 2-2 and then must have had a 12 point run from 4-3 to 16-3.
We recovered pride in the 3-4 playoff and the score sheet reflects some great play, but we didn’t really threaten Bravo, still clearly deflated from a close loss to Revolver.
The Marngrook Footy show covers Australian football from an Aboriginal perspective. In most respects it is like other footy shows but it has an interesting segment where they interview former AFL legends. Some are doing well, some just alright, but when asked what they miss about the big time, they all say the same thing: ‘just hanging out with the boys’.
It goes without saying that we did some quality hanging out with the boys. There is a rich Aussie tour history and this fortnight has added to it out of all proportion.
Schnitzel and apfelwein, Cupcake’s Drought, northern evenings, the music festival, the Alpine reveal, cheese soup, The Isola of San Guilio, The Inside Flick of Saint Julio, Tommy Lamar’s first overseas vacation, the triumphant return of Mike Neild, Magneto (Oli D), doppelkopf, Casa Angolo (times 6), Gus’ moustache, Will’s moustache, all the other moustaches, the return of Gus’ angry cutting, Vidler retiring expectedly, Pillar retiring unexpectedly and a party with many moments too memorable to be committed to type.
It was a great campaign. But the job ain’t done.
The dead zone
Everest is big business now. You can buy a chance of a summit for $25k if a reasonable mountaineer, $40-60k if a gumbie needing more support. About 500 make it.
But it’s still tough. It’s very cold, very exposed, quite steep and air pressure is 1/3 sea level. Above 8,000m climbers can only survive three days maintaining enough energy to manage the descent, even hiding form the weather in a tent. 10 to 15 punters die each season…and few bodies can be retrieved. Tourists trudge through a narrow grave yard.
Many have failed where you must succeed. To get to the top you’re going to have to plan very carefully, get very fit, be ready to adapt to new developments at a moment’s notice, and continue to work well as a team…including the leadership which is a team within the team.
I’m sure the young frisbee-frothers can add to this list, but to my eyes the top US teams:
- are a bit faster and stronger
o you can easily make too much of this…though it’s certainly true that without threatening speed, a savage chop step (or a handlebar moustache set to angry) you simply can’t get away from these guys
o all round strength and flexibility is important…but their dudes look ripped rather than huge…go easy on the big weights cvnts…it’s still 90% free running and turning and only 10% basketball wrestling
- throw better (all the way down the line)
o rather than having a handful of top throwers who are throwing near the margin of their capability, they have 7 great throwers on field at all time throwing well within their limits
- are better drilled on
o quickly breaking the mark (both insides and around backhands…and lefties and overheads to a lesser extent), and
o quickly hucking…which allows brief opportunities for movement and big gainers to be capitalised on;
o drills include:
§ really long (50m!!) thrower-marker
§ upline breakforce dump drill
§ leading pass down line breakforce drill
- are more physical defending against cutter
o sockeye drill:
§ defense player maintains contact with offense - ‘offense’ player has to spin and weave to break contact in order to cut
- have thought more about structures to maximise offensive opportunities - revolver particularly maintained regenerative movement and flow with an arrangement of cutters that is not a simple stack
- played with a relentless discipline, especially when it was tight.
Work out your list for personal and team capabilities. Share it with all Aussie (and Kiwi?) club management and let anyone who’s interested in Dingos or Mundies know.
You’ve got 2 years including 2 nats campaigns to prepare yourselves for your next few days in the dead zone…days 5, 6 and 7 of world champs 2016.
Friday, August 8, 2014
David, the mythical fighter of giants, immortalized in Micheal Angelo's David. A fine specimen of the human form, in perfect proportion even though the statue stands at 5m tall. But one has to wonder what drives a man to take on a giant? Courage? Maybe but its most likely lunacy. Yep, let's face it David was a can short of a six pack.
So after the short tour and musings about great Italian masterpieces, I'll get on to the games we had today. First up was Ragnarok, a Danish team with a few american pickups. Unfortunately I don't usually take to much notice of what's happening on the field (those mountains are pretty distracting) so this will be brief but what I do know is this was a day for D. They stepped it up and we took down the Danes even with a few miss steps from O. 14-8.
Next up was the Italians from Bologna. We knew these boys would be fired up playing on their home ground and especially after we snubbed playing them in Heilbronn. So, a little background on Italian ultimate frisbee. From past match ups we knew they have their own David, or as they pronounce it Davide. Like the statue he has a great physical form and like the myth he has a screw loose .... or maybe 5.
The game started well, D was on fire, soon we were up by 5 breaks. Unfortunately then O got on the field and the Italians started to come back. Next came the calls ... and Davide with screws definitely loose. Shua (abra's bro) was translating his spiel, something about 'you', 'butts' and '@#!!%'. Good thing he left the slingshot at home. Game ended 11-8 after time cap, too much talking to get anymore points in. After a memorable spirit circle with references to fishing we bid the Italians 'arrividiece'. On to day 4 and round of 16. Boom.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014
Day (2) 1 at WUCC with Colony. Here is Konrad to tell us all about it.
Konrad here. After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel we cruised over to the fields in the Colony bus. Hype was building and the lads were ready to froth. Mark and Konrad had finally been dethroned from an epic Fussball winning streak by Rory and Julio, Rory however needing to either celebrate the victory or circum to the heat by removing his upper body undergarments as we clambered onto the bus. As the fields got closer the nervous sense of excitement building from the fact we were to play our actual first game at worlds came to a head. It’s that first look at the fields of day 1 (well, 2 in our case) as the bus swings round the last corner that goes straight to our veins. The fields are vast, this tournament is big. The fields are also water logged. Apparently vacuum water pumps and helicopters can only do so much. As they always say though, every team is in the same boat and we still have a job to do: beat the Finnish on the Showcase field and kick off our WUCC tournament with a bang.
It’s warm, the sun is out, there is no wind and the field is trash. Large mud patches are being temporarily salvaged by piles of sand as we start to throw and fill our water bottles. Our time draws closer and we loudly pump out our best warm-up yet. The noise, the intensity and that special glint can be seen and felt around the team. It felt good and I was stoked to be here with this awesome team and group of guys. We were also introduced to a very professional seeming ‘game advisor’ who ran us through his role and gave us a watered-down taste of playing under the USAU style of observer. A few cracks of the whip on some off-side calls aside, all went smoothly.
Our opponents are a team called Otso from Finland. They are seeded second in our pool so will likely be our toughest opponents of the 3 initial games, but like the other teams we really don’t know anything about them. The wise gem from the brains trust warns of a tradition of inside breaks to downfield targets, so with the adjustment in mind a fired-up man D-line takes the field.
We generate turns early with big blocks from Julio, Jimmy and Nick D, and set a dominant tone for the game. On the way to finding our grove we unleash a couple of wayward decisions but ultimately the O lines proves itself too strong and holds on to resist getting broken.
Some early hucks from the Finnish demand some slight adjustments, but tight D around the muddy field consistently creates the pressure we need to get the disc and score breaks. Cupcake and Julio serve up some dimes to our big boys deeps, Sweet As having a cracker with 3 huck goals. Our Yank Tommy Lamar also found a versatile role throwing a hammer for a goal and laying out big late in the game to block one going the other way.
O line faced an interesting poachy/zone look but were solid and patient working the disc in using all their members. Henry popped up regularly when we needed him and helped deliver the disc downfield. Marky cruised around downfield getting some goals including a hammer and massive exciting laser backhand from Cal. Joel and Abra and Oli Jung rocked it as usual.
It was a solid 15-7 victory and start to Worlds and the lads are in a good space. After the game we enjoyed a pretty decent serving of tournament food and were able to sneak in some further game viewing as Rogue went down to Bristol after some vigorous sideline passion from Pete and Joel regarding a dicey call from the Brits on an up line cut for a goal. Sarah Hammer proudly kept her cool.
In mixed, Roadkill took on some Germans on one of the more terrible fields and some hearty sideline banter was had. Over at the Hippo/Black Sheep game a bunch of the boys cheered and heckled members on both sides in what developed into a bit of a huck-fest.
Hard to say no to your first day at worlds. It’s good to be here!
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Colony have been fortunate to be joined by nexgen super star, North Carolina scum bag and general top bloke Tommy Lamar. Tommy has been great to have around and he has some interesting insight into his new team. Here is the man and his thoughts.
The trip of a lifetime. For me, it's hard to describe this experience any other way. The combination of wild personalities, remarkable views, and unending adventures has, at times, made it hard to explain how ridiculously amazing this trip has been. This writeup can't possibly do it justice, but here is a brief summary of what it's like to be a part of the WUCC pretour.
First, I'll start with the wild and welcoming personalities which most of you reading probably already know. After arriving in Frankfurt, Mark and I made our way to "the meeting spot " for the team. There we found Will, Calan, and Rory. While throwing back a couple of beers we chatted it up a bit and got to know each other. They let us in on their 3 day biking trek on cheap rental bikes in pouring down rain. My immediate thoughts were, "Why the hell would you go on a 3 day biking tour before wucc and before playing warmup games in 2 days?" Although, after standing butt naked on top of a rainy mountain in the Alps with 7 other guys, it really doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea anymore. After a lot of waiting around and small talk we went to the park to throw for while, ate some schnitzel and waited some more. Finally, Henry shows up next and we do some more chatting, beer drinking, and waiting. After realizing no one else is actually going to show up we moved to the next rendezvous point. The atmosphere of this quaint romantic looking restaurant quickly turned to a raging Australian get together. Mark was quick to warn me of Sacha, the food efficienado, who would order you the entire menu if you didn't back out quickly enough. Before I knew it, we were all chowing down on authentic German appetizers and pitchers of disgustingly sour cider. Our group was pretty full from the schnitzel we just devoured about an hour ago, but Sacha wasn't going to let us miss out on the greatest schnitzel in all of Germany. Before we knew it there were schnitzels all around. All it took was some rounds of beers and the finest schnitzel in the land for these guys to warm up. The rest of the restaurant stared with looks of disapproval as if we completely ruined some special dinner they had been planning for the past few months and the waiter started ignoring the table, but we were having a blast and it didn't really matter. I
knew right away this was a ridiculous group of guys, and this trip was going to be out of control. This type of thing happened pretty much everywhere we went and the theme of, "I dont care we're having a blast" was consistent throughout the whole trip.
I'll preclude the part about amazing views with the fact that I have never been to Europe or anywhere overseas before, but I'm pretty sure that there is no tour guide in the world that could give you an experience like this. I don't know if it was intentional but, to me, the trip has been exponentially getting more and more spectacular. Its started with the terraced toilets in Germany that were mind blowing to both Americans and Australians. On the way to the fields, the winding German country roads were lined with cornfields, apple trees, and grape vines that made for a nice drive to the our field site. Once we made it to Bern, Switzerland the real sight seeing began. The town was filled with cobblestone roads, old fountains, a big talking clocktower, and a massive bridge overlooking the raging brown river below. From there the Swiss Alps. Bright green grass, waterfalls, castles, and one lane roads that seemed undrivable for a 9 person van. After a car train ride and a gondala, we eventually ended up in the clouds. Heavenly.
Next was lago d'orta. This place was absurd. An island in the middle of a crystal clear lake surrounded by mountains. The house we stayed in was more amazing than the island itself. A midevil maze of stone walls and staircases that were never ending. I tried to go through every room and somehow missed the library and dungeon; not to mention the entire other side of the mansion that we weren't allowed in. Each room was filled with historic antiques and artwork that definitely belongs in a musuem. There is really no way to put into words how incredible this place was. I'd be surprised if any of us ever stay in a place as historic amd amazing as this for the rest of our lives.
Finally, the adventures. It can pretty much be summed up by our gps. 1 hour before returning the rental car we determined that the gps had been set on avoid main roads aka "adventure mode" the entire time. At one point after burning out and moving backwards, we literally had to all get out of the van and start pushing while Joel floored it up this sketchy one lane Italian road. There was always a basic plan in place, but it never seemed like it was thought all the way through. It was perfect. Hence how we ended up on the car train, looked for "the only gondala in Switzerland," met the nicest old Italian woman with the hospitality of a saint, took a solo boat ride in reverse to pickup JP and his kids, etc... the stories could go on forever. I know I will remember this trip for the rest of my life, and I'm sure everyone else will, as well. It's a crazy group of guys, a hell of an adventure, and a trip we will never forget.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Monday, July 28, 2014
The second day of games continued at the same lovely venue. The two lush green playing fields sit at the bottom of a medium sized hill that is coated in early season grapes. The aesthetically pleasing relationship between the order and geometric nature of the rows of vines and the unruly organic flow of the hillside creates a beautiful backdrop. Looking up at a vineyard from a frisbee field also taps into the imagination, and draws the mind towards playing in Italy.
The fields are flanked on their other side by a wide river, and crowned by a long two lane bridge that spans the fields and river alike. Complete with schnitzel serving club house and crisp painted lines, this was an excellent location for a mini pre-tournament tournament. Congratulations to Stephan and the local teams for hosting a quality opportunity for the six teams to prepare.
In the morning we played another Swiss team called Freespeed. From their own evaluation they played better than the day before, it seems all the teams are excited by the opportunity to play a team from Australia. The game was close the whole way through with a few micro swings of momentum. It probably felt fairly in control for the majority of the time, and we closed it out at 17 - 15.
The second game of the day was marked by the arrival of another Colony traveller, Lado competed an epic fourteen hour overnight rail trek from the Juniors tournament in Lecco to arrive just in time for a late lunch and the final game.
Picture this if you will; the whole Colony team is spread out in a post lunch/pre game sprawl in the location previously described. Guys are lying down with their heads on bags, some in the shade, some in the sun with hats on faces. There is a bit of chat going on, however in general it is a pretty casual scene. In the middle of all this classic frisbee mess is one guy sitting upright on the grass with a large porcelain plate, metal knife and fork and a generous chicken schnitzel and chips. Lado had arrived and was rejoining the team in solid German style.
The game began not long after against the local team Bad Skid. They are young and drilled and were looking pretty keen for the game. The Colony D line got a block in the first point through some tight early pressure and aerial agency of Ollie D. We failed to convert and then the O line turned a huck in the next point and we were in a 2-0 hole pretty quickly.
The first half continued in that vein with their O scoring quickly and ours struggling, the half time score was 9 to 5 Bad Skid. Though some affective, but possibly a little slow adjustments we began to gain some traction on D and some fluency on O. After a few chances to get back to even we ended up going down 15 to 17. It was a good win for those enthusiastic guys, and for us either a required wake up call or a strong cue that we should go to bed.
The feeling is pretty good in the team, it is great to have clear ideas about what we need to work on. This is always a key goal of any pre-tournament game play, and it feels like we will be better at Worlds for our games here in Germany.
We finished the weekend by attending a large festival in town, some live music and plenty to eat and drink. The Sonntag festival attracted over 300 000 people over the weekend. Our local fixer and scrap catching O line handler Ollie J has been on fire herding this team of strong opinions and loose behaviour around.
Next we spend a final day here in Karlsruhe before we head up into the snow caps and green grass of the Swiss hills. It should be a nice relaxing time for the team.
Oh, also Ollie jumped off the bridge into the river, he is still alive.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
For Tulett and Dousett I think it could almost be described as literally. Tom ran from the car after getting off a train that carried Ollie and he from the plane. He was in time for the first warm up, impressive.
We played two games today, first against some plucky Germans in team Heidees. These guys were fired right up and managed to stay tight and then return a break to take the game to double game point, 16 all. What is the deal with games to 17 at worlds? Long games hey.
Anyway we started on O and worked it around for a bit before Tulett pulled the trigger on a spectator and we won our first game. The result was pleasing however the learning, refining and general preparing was the real point of value.
The second game was against the Flying Angels of Bern. It also started pretty tight before the D team got a good hold and found some systems to turn up the pressure. The final score got out to something like 17 to 8. It was a pretty good effort.
Big Tommy from North Carolina had a strong first day with the team, and it was very good to have Mark back in the Colony again. Pretty good contributors across the team today, and tonight as the fatigue and refreshments take hold I think most of the boys can drift off feeling pretty happy about their day and about being here with the team.
Back at it tomorrow with some more Swiss and some more Germans to play. Feels pretty good.
And isn't that just one of life's truths? The bulk of the Colony team met in Frankfurt yesterday. For the most part the day was like a pleasant drive on the Autobahn, cruising at European highway speed as we collected ourselves together throughout the day.
However much like Joel twelve hour drive from Milano to meet the team with a van, there were plenty of dead still, bumper to bumper moments. Here are some of the minor calamitous moments:
British airways fails to deliver Sacha's bags and box of team hoodies to the continent.
The end of school term Friday afternoon traffic added multiple hours to the eta of Joel and Gus with the team vans.
Joel arrived in Germany with the team shorts, Mark arrived with team hats, however no one arrived with the team shirts.
Abra lost his important bag with lap top, personal delicates, etc. He then found it under the next bench in the pub.
Finally and most significantly, Tom 'Cupcake' Tulett and Ollie 'O.D. Overdose' Dousset found themselves stranded in London through some combination extremely cheep flight purchasing and peak summer travel chaos.
These were the bumper to bumper grid lock moments of the day, however there was plenty of 170km an hour sections. Walking in the sun down by the river. German beer for lunch, life changing schnitzel for dinner, Sacha has been talking these up since 2004.
There was plenty of laughs and good times and through the good work of Sacha, Joel and Ollie Jung pretty much everything got sorted out. We'll see if those clowns make it over from London this morning.
Today we play. The Bad Skid boys from Heilbronn are hosting a tournament and we are getting pretty pumped to play. That is it from the Colony in Europe for now. Plenty more to com, to the Autobahn!