Beach Diaries, Masters (Wilken) 8/25/11

Posted: August 27, 2011 02:39 PM

9 games into this week long competition, with three to go, there are several things that stand out as different and special about this tournament when compared to a regular tourney in the States. 

The format is a little more laid back, with only two or three 45 minute games a day, each spread out by several, if not many hours.  With so much time down time, teams can indulge in both meals and naps between games, allowing for smaller rosters to remain strong and competitive throughout the entire week.  Since the heat has been so intense all week, this has probably helped to prevent more than a few heat related illnesses. 

Each country brings a different style to the game, and it’s great to see the many ways that Ultimate has been cultivated around the world.  It’s all basically the same, but some teams make cuts and throws that others may consider ‘bad’, but if it works, it works.  There have been several occasions where I considered myself in perfect downfield position, only to be proven wrong by a seemingly terrible swilly throw.  After the second time, though, you realize that’s what they meant to do…  

While the games are very spread out, it’s still a very long and grueling tournament, with hydration and food being only half the battle. Games are short, only 45 minutes, and there’s not a lot of time for comebacks if you get down.  You have to be fully up to speed from the first pull, requiring a full physical warm up and mental preparation before each and every game.  This is probably the biggest reason it’s hard for ANY team to go undefeated.  Teams have good games and bad games, that’s sports.  The secret is to find a consistency that can carry throughout the whole tournament. 

Going into our game against Austria late Wednesday evening, we knew that they would be a tough team, but each of the points mentioned above proved to work against us.  Austria brought a small & very talented team that played a defense we hadn’t seen yet, and threw passes that would be looked down upon by most elite teams in the States.  While we were physically ready, I think we had a bit of a mental lapse in the early points of this game, giving them a couple easy breaks.  This pumped them up and we found ourselves in a dog fight.  We fought back, and ended up tied as the timecap went on, with us pulling on Universe Point.  Despite some strong defense on our part, a couple stall 9 hammers proved to be enough for an Austrian victory. 

Despite the intense heated play of the game, as soon as the match was over we all met on the center of the pitch to congratulate each other on the well played game while gifting souvenirs to the various game MVPs on either team.  This spirit is something that isn’t often found coupled with such high level competition, and I have to say it’s somewhat refreshing, even if it’s bittersweet after such a close loss.  This sense of camaraderie is only strengthened by the fact that all teams are staying at the same giant dorm complex, with events every night down at the beach.  Unlike a weekend tourney that can easily fly by without much intermingling with other teams, this Beach World Championship almost forces everyone to get to know each other a bit. 

Tomorrow we gear up against the Czech Republic before our semifinal match, assumedly against Spain.  If my calculations are correct, Austria will face a strong French team in the other semi, in a rematch of their only loss so far.   If we can repeat our strong performance against Spain, we will find ourselves in the Finals on Saturday.  (All Finals will be streamed live.  Check out  I’m hoping that we can meet Austria again, this time on the Arena field.  If so, it stands to be an exciting game for the spectators, with many plays just waiting to be made. 

Team USA Beach Diaries

Some members of Team USA will be submitting diary entries during the event to keep everyone posted on their experience in Italy.

  Grand Masters
Mixed Masters