Monday, November 19, 2012

'Snow Battle' Yukigassen Wasaga Beach 2013

Yukigassen, Japanese for "Snow Battle", is a truly Canadian sport, perfect for all ages and skill levels. The sport has been around for nearly 25 years in Japan, but it is just hitting Canada and I think it would be a perfect winter event (Snowman Mania?) for Wasaga Beach.

*Be sure to watch the short video at the bottom of this post.

Part Snowball Fight. Part Dodgeball. Part Paint Ball. Part Capture the Flag.
(Read the Yukigassen Canada official rules and regulations pdf. book here)

Jasper has signed on to host the Canadian National tournament for the next five years, with the winning team earning a place at the World Championships in Japan. 

After 20 years in Japan, this energetic, competitive sport 
has finally crossed the ocean and made it to the winter tundra of Canada!

Yukigassen, Japanese for "Snow Battle" is a sport for all ages and skill levels which, could not be more perfectly defined as "truly Canadian in nature".

This dynamic game is played on a snow court 40 meters long by 10 metres wide. Each team of seven battles the opposing team with 90 snowballs per period attempting to eliminate the opposing team with the snowballs or capturing their flag. All snowballs are made to specific standards in the machines provided so the game is fair and safe. Please see RULES for a complete set of rules and regulations in Canada.
It has become the perfect sport for co-workers and businesses to put teams together – embracing the community spirit while raising camaraderie in the workplace. It's ideal for friends, classmates and teammates from other sports to get together to compete and enjoy the winter. It is a sport where the entire community comes together to have fun, compete and experience the outdoor spirit of Canadian winters. Take a look at the most recent GALLERY photos from our partners at Yukigassen Japan.
Yukigassen Canada Inc. is the governing body for the sport in Canada and will be launching a series of events across Canada. National Championships will be held annually to determine one women’s and one men’s team who will have the opportunity to represent Canada at the World Championships in Japan. Please go to EVENTS to see the upcoming events in your area to REGISTERyour team!

This game is very serious business. An official international federation exists with a strong sponsorship backing. A few of the sponsors are the major media outlets NHK, HBC, Yomiuri, Mainichi, Asahi Shimbun Presses, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan Airlines, and Sapporo Beer(!). There are many Japanese men who dedicate their lives to this sport, training themselves everyday for the big games that only occur for a couple days out of the year. Some even forgo having spouses and raising a family due to all the time required to dedicate themselves to perfecting the throwing strike or volley.
The sport isn’t limited to inside the borders of Japan. Many countries participate in the games, many of which have their own leagues and tournaments: Finland,NorwaySwedenCanada, and the USA.

The idea came about in 1987 by a small, sub-3,000 population Hokkaido town called Sobetsu. At the time, Sobetsu’s claim to fame was a summer tourist town. Nearby is Mt. Showa-Shinzan, the main attraction for many visitors.
During the long, snow-filled winters, tourism halted to a stand-still. The town’s young, aspiring population saw a need to improve Sobetsu’s economy during the long winters. Forming an ideas committee, they began brainstorming methods of luring in tourists. They already knew that their idea had to be unique and not have been implemented elsewhere in order to fully realize their goal. Days went by with no home-run idea in sight. What began to be an optimistic search to improve their town slowly spiraled into the thought that in reality they might have to settle to just being a summer town. Then the fateful day finally came.
Members of the committee took noticed that tourists were having playful sessions of snowball fighting around town. The flashing light bulb appeared in the minds of the committee, and the rest was history. The first Yukigassen tournament was held the following winter, which brought in 7,000 visitors and 70 teams for the event. Twenty-three Showa-Shinzan Yukigassen tournaments later, the event is now drawing in an annual average of 25,000 visitors, with a set 128 coed and 24 female participating teams.

As mentioned earlier, a game of Yukigassen is played out with two teams of seven on-field players each. Each team can have two additional back-up players and a captain, making it a total of ten players.
In a tournament style setting, three teams are grouped together and pitted against each other round-robin style. Games are played best two out of three, where each game’s length is a maximum of three minutes. Victor is decided when either
  1. The enemies flag is in possession of the opposing team
  2. All players on the opposing team are knocked out (one hit from a snowball is considered out; doesn’t matter where the source of the snowball came from, either the enemy, your teammate, or even yourself), or
  3. The time runs out one team has more remaining players than the other team.
The team with the best record moves on to face the other victors. This continues until one team comes out on top.
The map of the battlefield is pictured above.
See more info here.

Patti Friday, Photojourno, reporting from inside 'The Art Dept.' at the international 'Embassy of Ideas'.

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