Saturday, July 17, 2010

Innsbruck, Austria

My first view of the awesome Alps.

Innsbruck, Austria. Find the ski jump in the hazy skies.

I arrived in Innsbruck completely exhausted from a mostly self imposed train ride from hell, Tait and I had both found a 7 hour option that would get me in at 8:30, but that option did not actually exist. Even after getting there two hours early, the best I could do is get in at midnight. At Linz, I jumped a train to Salzburg instead of Innsbruck and had to change trains again. My new train did not arrive until 4am. Major kudos to my brother who came to pick me up at 4am. I told him I was happy to sleep in the station and figured I would see him at breakfast in the awesome hillside hotel that Jill found. Too bad, I was only there for five hours.

A mountain hut high above Innsbruck on the Nordkette, reached lazily via the Hungerburgbahn.

An endearing elderly couple taking in the view.

After four short hours sleep, it was time to explore Innsbruck. I was over city stuff so taking the gondola up to the top of a nearby mountain sounded fantastic. I found out later that we could have hiked it, but coming off Worlds and a little banged up, I could use a few lazy days. The gondola is broken into three parts, the first of which you can take from town, which is great if you do not have a car. Otherwise, you would be walking up to hill to catch a ride up the hill which seems a little counterintuitive.

Tait and Jill drink at altitude.

The steepest downhill mountain bike trail I have ever seen. The guys riding this had motocross helmets.
I would guess that we spent two hours on the mountain. We got to hear a high school band play a song, Pachelbel's Canon in D Major, that I only know because Sheetal introduced it to me. While we heard them play, we saw some hanggliders get ready to take off. I cannot imagine how many more aerial sports would occur in the US if we had the easy access to the top of mountains that the Austrians seem to have. I believe a lot of the aerial adrenaline sports come from Europe. I suspect that also has to do with liability laws in the US too.

An inn in Innsbruck. Yes that was just to make an alliteration.

Once we got down the mountain, it was time to head out. I did not need to explore another city. Also, Tait and Jill did not like it that much anyway. I suspect it was just because they could not get their beers fast enough at the biergarten. Next stop, the Krimmel falls at Hohe Tauren National Park.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Prague

Strahov Stadium

After some of the day's games, I would try to join Tait and Jill for some more Prague sight seeing. Some days it worked. Some days it didn't if I was too tired or hurting from laying out poorly.

Old synagogue in Prague.

Another synagogue in Prague.

We explored the Jewish quarter, Old City, the main square, and a couple other areas that are evading me right now. It was nice. As usual, hanging out with different people took me to areas that I would normally not go, which was great. I think they liked the cafes where they could get a cold beer for cheaper than water were their favorites.

Pissing Fountain

Charles Bridge.

Old road up to the castle.

One of the most curious places that we went was the Medievil Torture Museum. It was novel. We were there. It was there. We figured why not. I heard about three museums that I should consider checking out in Prague, the torture one, the sex toy one, and the Barbie one in the castle. I only made it to one out of three though. The others will have to wait for my next visit in . . . .

Tait and I on the Charles Bridge.

Tait's contemplates midievil torture devices.

I contemplate what is wrong with us to create this stuff.

I grabbed this last picture on my way home from Strahov Stadium. The stadium is on the same hill as the castle and has a great overlook of the city. From the city, you get to walk up and unbelievably steep and beautiful park. I was surprised how many people were using. I feel like in the states such a steep park would never be used.

Prague castle.

Prague castle at night. Photo by Tait./>

Prague castle at night. Photo by Tait.

Club Worlds, Prague, Czech Republic

Team huddle before our first scrimmage.

My first Club Worlds has come and gone. It was an experience that I'll treasure for a long time to come. It is also like a first marathon, where you are left wanting to go back and do it again, but better.

Spence and Emma.


My team, Credo out of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, was seeded 14th. We opened up big against Estonia and the Czech team. Unfortunately, day two was a little rougher for us. We had a double game point loss to Newcastle, Australia and a four point loss to a team out of Montana, USA. While the teams were good, we mostly beat ourselves by making errors. We were improving with every game, but too little too late to get the wins. The Australia game was especially tough since we had fought back from being down by 4-5 points to tie it up before losing it by one. On the other hand, an En Sabah Nur player, Robert Dulabon, was on their team. It was great to see him play so well.

Warming up sumo style.

After pool play, we were 2-2. That kept us alive and in six team power pools (3 from our pool, 3 from another). The top four from power pools would advance to the top 16. We played teams from Philadelphia, USA, the UK champion from Brighton, and Austria. We didn't bring our best game and dropped the first two. We finally started to play well again against Austria and beat them by two. This put us in a 3-way tie for 4th which could advance us to the top 16. We lost that tie. The team we beat got 4th and went on to quarterfinals. We'd like to think we would have done the same, but what ifs don't count.

Arnie makes a tough catch.

Karl gets the poach layout D.

We were regulated to the 21st place bracket where we were playing well again. We beat teams from the Canary Islands in Spain, Netherlands, and Bologna, Italy. That left us at 6-4 for the weekend and in 21st place. We finished playing well. We finished on a win. We finished smiling and having fun. I think we were all pretty happy about it even though we missed our team goal.

I use poor form to layout and land on my knee. Boo!

My personal play was lacking. I came out too jittery for my first game at Worlds and played poorly. I think that shook my confidence and affected my other games. When I was finally getting myself back, I tore something in my shoulder on a layout in the fourth game. I didn't play much in the 5th game, but was back and ready for 6 and 7 where I used my worse layout form in two years to land on my knee which pretty much ended my tournament. I played a couple points on it to let other players rest, but I wasn't able to be the impact and utility player on the team that I was supposed to be. I just wanted to give a lot more, but luckily it is a team sport and others were able to pick up my slack. I'm sure the other guys were happy for the extra playing time too.

Karl and Arnie celebrate a return to our winning ways.

Strahov stadium, the second biggest in the world.

Karl wants this throw back.

On a more important and memorable note, Worlds is amazing. There are a lot of good arguments about how US nationals is actually more competitive (every US team was seeded 12th or higher and I believe they did win every division). However, worlds is something more. It builds community. It brings together different ultimate styles. We learn from each other. From trade night, to spirit circles, to celebrating our individual countries, so much about worlds is different than US nationals. It has more spirit. It is more fun, though I do enjoy the hard play at US nationals more. I can't recommend it enough.

Playing against Canary Islands, Spain at Strahov Stadium.

Mike goes in for the catch.

Columbia gets down.

I feel so fortunate to have been given the chance to help represent Canterbury, NZ, especially after I had planned to retire. Lucky for me, they suckered me back into this game and reminded me I love it enough to dedicate most of this year to training for and playing at Worlds. A special thank you to Mike and Mel for pressuring me into playing New Zealand nationals back in 2008 and then organizing our team's Worlds bid this year. An extra thank you to all of the members of my team who made Worlds so unique, so special, so New Zealand.

Pin markers for all the teams at Club Worlds.

The showcase stadium at Versovice.