Not only does the weekend have Stanford Invite and other tournaments going on, but taking a look at safety in the sport, and a couple of announcements that hit the ultimate world during the week.
1. Recapping Last Weekend
Last weekend there was Trouble in Vegas, in Vegas, and Uprising 2013 in New York, both having been talked about in the previous ‘Seven On’. At Trouble in Vegas, Florida was the show-stopper, as they rolled through pool play and cruised to a tournament victory over Canada’s U-23 squad. The Canadians biggest challenge outside of the Gators was the upstart team from Arizona State. Biggest surprise in my opinion was Claremont dropping so far, by not making quarterfinals and getting bounced quickly from the 9th place bracket. Over in New York at Uprising, it was SUNY-Geneseo that took the game. While SUNY-Fredonia was able to take their pool, it seems the high wind of Saratoga Springs, NY that held them back along with what I hear is a team on the rise in SUNY-Geneseo – as their being led by a new member of the Rochester Dragons AUDL team.
2. Stanford Invite
This is the biggest tournament of the weekend, featuring NexGen coverage and a good look at teams that are all at least thought to be in the fight for qualifying for Nationals, if not winning it all. In Pool A, Oregon and CUT is obviously the marquee matchup. But they shouldn’t look past both Stanford and Washington, two teams looking to build on their Nationals appearance last season. Pool B starts with Wisconsin, the best team in the nation right now in my opinion, and a pack that could finish in any order thanks to the final team in the pool – Whitman. Reigning champion Pittsburgh should face some trouble in Pool C, as the three other teams in the pool have looked dangerous at times this season. Look for UNC to pull the upset over Pitt in their final pool play game of the day. Pool D is once again aptly the ‘pool of death’, with Arizona and Texas both playing strongly this season and Tufts and UNC-W in different places than they were this time last season – Tufts possibly on the way down, and UNC-W building on two straight tournament wins. Final four teams come Sunday morning will be CUT, Wisconsin, Pitt, and UNC; I think Oregon loses to CUT in pool play, and won’t be able to get past Wisco come quarters. However it turns out, going to be very exciting.
3. Huck Finn XVII
Not the biggest tournament this weekend, or are the biggest names attending Huck Finn this weekend, but it will be very important to see how the three of the #1 seeds finish this weekend, as it will give us a much clearer look at how their regions will turn out. I’m talking of course about Luther (A1) and Iowa (C1), and the North Central region, and Illinois (B1), and the Great Lakes region. All three of these teams were victims of a previously cancelled tournament, and we’re just now getting a look at them in the first weekend of March. Luther and Iowa will need to get the North Central a strength bid if they’d like to make Nationals this season, Wisconsin has been shown to be too powerful already this season to dethrone. But Illinois sits in a very winnable Great Lakes region, though a strength bid wouldn’t be too bad either as Michigan may have room to grow.
4. Safety and Equipment in Ultimate
If you haven’t noticed reading the blog, I’m a big hockey fan. A Rangers fan in fact, and this past week I saw two injuries against the Blueshirts, first was the Patrick Kaleta hit on Brad Richards and then Marc Staal taking a puck to the eye. Both players now seem to be okay, but at first both looked very bad for those players. While the Richards injury was a result of a purely dirty hit, Staal was hit in the eye by a deflecting puck, off a point shot. And when you play defense in the NHL, you’re bound to get hit by a deflecting puck probably at least once a night. But Staal also wasn’t wearing a visor on his helmet, which if you didn’t know is a clear piece of plastic that covers your eyes from things like sticks, blades and… pucks. As a result, there has been a lot of debate this week over NHL players being made to wear visors, and other protective equipment such as Kevlar socks. Arguments against these have ranged from, ‘they don’t look good’, ‘they’re uncomfortable’, and others. And as such, they probably won’t be mandated anytime soon. These arguments though sound a lot like the arguments used against goalie masks, or other protective equipment that decades ago, weren’t worn in hockey. This reminded me of this Skyd Magazine article on mouth guards in ultimate. The problem is almost identical. Some people have suffered from concussions, and dental injuries in the sport, yet you don’t see people wearing mouth guards at most, if not all, ultimate tournaments you attend. The benefits from wearing this simple piece of equipment though are mind-blowing compared to the possible outcome from not. I can’t help but wonder if, say ten years from now, both ultimate and hockey will look at this time and think ‘what they hell were they thinking?’
5. USAU Announces Triple Crown Tour Field
We already know some of the tournaments the big names such as Ironside , Revolver, and defending club champions Doublewide will be attending next spring, as USAU announced the Triple Crown Tour Field for summer of 2013. This is of course the USAU response to the MLU and AUDL, in an effort to both grow their name and the sport. It will be very interesting to see which International squads are brought in for the U.S. Open in Raleigh, NC – just not sure which clubs internationally could keep with the four finalists from this past season through an entire tournament. In the other tournaments, Terminus, Colorado Cup and the Bay Area Invite, it is the ‘Elite-Flight’ teams which will really need to work. But also don’t be surprised if the ‘Select-Flight’ teams help shore up their path to Nationals at Colorado Cup either.
6. USA All-Star Team
Earlier this week, the ‘Everything-Ultimate’ page announced a group of USA All-Star’s which will be heading to Japan next week for the 2013 Dream Cup. What is the Dream Cup? It seems to be a tournament held by a company in Tokyo, and the tournament’s official name is ‘2013 Club Junior Ultimate Dream Cup’. The roster features plenty of big names, Brodie Smith, George Stubbs, Jimmy Mickle and Dylan Freechild, but may be a bit Doublewide heavy; though we do have no idea how this roster was chosen. It’ll be very interesting to see how the team finishes for sure, even if we aren’t totally sure of their opponents.
7. Tally Classic VIII
Lastly this weekend is the Tally Classic, a usual spring break tournament. While I have no idea how many of these teams will be competing during their break, the results will still count and could have some bid implications as every team in attendance was hoping to earn their region an extra bid this spring to Nationals. Georgia and Florida State are perhaps the strongest teams in attendance, with both having had strong springs thus far. Carnegie-Mellon shouldn’t be looked past though, only having lost to eventual tournament champs UNC-W at Hellfish Bonanza.