What a weekend! A friend of T and mine is working in Zurich, whom I will refer to as E, and who had actually joined us for dinner in Zurich on the promenade which I neglected to write last time. Together, we drove Friday evening with a colleague of E’s to a small town in northwestern Austria not far from Vaduz – just to show how far west we were. I learned many things from this colleague, from Austrian politics to the appointment of ministers of Switzerland according to a party’s representation in the latest elections. Basically, Switzerland is very advanced in bridging western beliefs with a closed society, as compared to Austria. Both political systems are too complicated for me to describe here, for it would detract from the recounting of the weekend’s main event: our first hat tournament.
Side note: in Austria if a town has more than 15,000 residents, it is apparently considered a city. I guess everything must scale to the size of the country.
The tournament was centered at the soccer stadium of the town and hosted by the Rhine Divers Ultimate team. We camped, ate, showered, played, and partied here. .
This tournament was nineties themed, from the music during the day to the team names. T was on the SpiceGirls team. E and I were on the Bloodhound Gang team. Other groups were Backstreet Boys, the Kelly Family, Echt, Tic Tac Toe, and Vengaboys. We were given strips of colored t-shirts to identify our teammates. Bloodhound gang was purple.
E looking at the sunset, edited to embody a 90s atmosphere:
Games started at 9:00 AM on Saturday, 40 minutes each. It was a very strange feeling, to play Ultimate after a two month hiatus. Familiar and foreign at the same time. I was very fortunate to have a very strong team. Even though some folks had only played for two years, they had fully committed themselves to the sport (at some point or another) and were excellent, dynamic players, using one and others strength. We were four girls and seven guys though one guy was injured on the first day. All my teammates were extremely positive but set high goals for themselves and the teams. We had a few awesome sprinters, sick sky-ers, excellent handlers, and almost all of us got on the ground at some point.
After four hard-fought and won games along with a beer race, all 80ish of us headed to the Rhine for a dip, which probably lead to record levels of sunscreen in the river. With E we swam to the other side of the Rhine (Switzerland) and were greeted by a small school of Swiss fish. Unfortunately we didn’t have our cameras on hand.
After a delicious spaghetti dinner, the party started. “Macarena” motivated enough people to come onto the floor and from there the night was a loud and continuous affair of drinking and dancing. Some drinks offered were Klopfer shot things that you shake then down. Another popular one that I did not catch the name of involved dumping half a packet of sugary powder before downing a shot and swishing it in your mouth. Bizarre and noteworthy. The party apparently lasted till 3 AM, but only T made it to the end – I was out at 12:30.
Here’s a playlist of songs: nineties partyy.
Games started at 9:00 AM the next day. It was tough to move at first, but we gradually got our heads in the game and won the two semifinals games.
The final game was against the Backstreet Boys at 14h00. The wind picked up, other teams began to gather to watch – if mountain westerns were a genre, this would be the buildup. Though the game was only 40 minutes, each point was between 7 and 10 minutes, and super intense. The disc was swung across the field very rapidly but the zone defense of each team did not tire easily. People were laying out right and left. So much so that one Backstreet guy slipped as he ran onto the pavement and somersaulted into a trashcan. He came away relatively unscathed, amazingly!
T says I should mention my layout, though I must preface it by stating that I am neglecting to mention all of the amazing jumps, grabs, hucks, swings, and layouts of all my team members and that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to catch the disc if I had not played with my teammates. Here’s the scenario: the Backstreet Gang is playing zone defense someone hucks the disc toward the end zone. Another teammate catches it on the line and signals that it is not in. So I sprint to the end zone and apparently lay out and catch the disc, proceeding to also somersault and earn some nice turf burns, though my only recollection is flailing my limbs. It was the moment where I felt that I really contributed meaningfully to this team of such advanced players. One teammate picked me up and put me across his shoulders like a potato sac, and I got congratulatory pats from everyone.
We won with a score of 4-2, and it felt like an accomplishment we had really poured all our energy, effort, and heart into. It was a bittersweet goodbye to my teammates, sad to see them go but happy to see their glee. Couldn’t have asked for a better team!
We managed to catch a ride with someone from the tourney – people from Augsburg driving a red Volkswagen minibus (mini for European standards which means a Chevrolet SUV is much bigger). We had a wonderful chat about Ultimate, differences between US and Europe, and funny words in German. Example: squirrel’s tail = Eichhörnchenschwanz.
Side story: Lake Constance is shared by Austria, Switzerland and Germany. There is a submarine in the lake which is operated jointly by the three countries. Currently, it is used for research purposes but it COULD be weaponized. So that’s what Austria’s navy resources go toward. Probably Switzerland’s too.
We arrived safely just outside of Munich, sweaty and bruised up, and were warmly welcomed by T’s family. We had homemade fries and delicious grilled meat, which came from the butcher’s vending machine, designed so that on Sundays the butcher does not have to man his store, but just periodically check the stock.
We drove to see the sunset and Munich skyline, before sleeping for our next trip the following Monday morning.