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REPORTING FROM ... THE ULTIMATE DISC CHAMPIONSHIPS

8/14/2008
Kevin Collier

[Ed's Note: Here at Mag.com, we have an affinity for what some might call Hippie Sports. Recently, we've even covered hacky sack flagging. Thus, we couldn't resist Ultimate Frisbee, played in the quad, or in front of 5,000 people. And there's video!]

Though apparently there's another international multi-sporting competition happening somewhere in the east, the world of team disc sports spent the past week watching the best teams from twenty countries compete at the World Ultimate and Guts Championships in Vancouver.

("Guts" is more of a side event, and it consists of a guy from one team hurling a piece of plastic as hard as he can at five guys standing almost sixteen yards apart. If they catch it without losing teeth, they've done a good job.)

Each time a team medals in one of the seven divisions (say, Junior Women's ultimate), they earn points for their country. The two questions on everybody's mind all week was where the top three countries would end up, and who would win the open (men's) Ultimate final. Canada and the US are dominant at all levels of play anyway, so everyone expected a tight match up between home team Canada and the country that invented the disc and all these fun ways to use it.But upstart Japan, sponsored by Mitsubishi and the Bunka Shutter Company, and therefore the only paid club in Ultimate, has a tendency to send out the fastest teams in every division.

Here's their open team versus Sweden in the quarterfinals:

And against the US in the semis:

Japan played spectacularly well that game, but the US watched enough tape to design an entire defense based on stopping them. That's right, disc scouting exists. The final point in the semis went like this.

Final score: US 14, Japan 10.

The crowd, an unheard of-for-ultimate 5,000+ people, was in full on heckling mode for the open final between the US and Canada. The US faltered due to constant harassment from the Canadian defense and quickly dropped three points in the hole. They staged a late-game comeback that put them a point away from a tie game, but the Canucks' resilience won out and the home team won 16-14.

Sadly, my angst at the Canadaian success didn't allow me to get any impressive video of their play. we were happy to catch them on the podium, however.

Though they lost the showcase game, the US still got golds in Women's, Mixed, Junior Open, and Masters Ultimate, as well as Guts.

So America clings to hegemony. Just like in real life.