Friday, April 17, 2009

Paganello - Day 2, 3, 4 (and 5)

As could be expected in retrospect, I was unable to do a daily reenactment of my first Paganello. It all started to run together towards the end. Suffice it to say, losing in the finals was frustrating although considering what we had done that entire weekend, not entirely deserved.

On Friday we won our original pool, never really being challenged past 5-5 of any game. This got us into a 6-team power pool, Pool P. Our last game the previous night had been the last round at 7PM and it was COLD!. Almost needed to play in socks. We gritted through it, then went out even bigger than the previous night. Unfortunately the first round was at 10AM this morning instead of after 12. Everyone shuffled down to make the morning buffet before getting out to the fields no more than 15-20 minutes before gametime. Our first game was against Hattiwatit a finnish team who had lost at double game point to Friselis from France the day before. This game started out VERY close as we traded to 5-5 before we pulled away to a far more comfortable 13-7 victory. After a lunch break including a trip back to the hotel to try and nap, we had a second game at 2ish against Bigez, I think from Germany. This game was not close at all, and I'm not sure why. We won 14-3 and we were up maybe 7 or 8 to 1. This set up a shorter break before our 5PM game against UTI in the stadium field. This was the first tournament where the stadium field was SO ridiculously different in size from every other field. The main field was almost twice as large in both length and width as the non stadium fields. And we were playing a young, large, and hungry team which didn't help things. The game was neck and neck the whole way with us finally pulling at 10-10 double game point. After some tremendous defensive pressure, they were trapped on the far sideline and threw a bladey forehand dump towards our goalline for a turnover. We only had about 12 yards to go and fortunately it was a single pass to Big Jim who caught it and contorted to land one foot in the goal. Victory! Personal highlights were uncorking a 60 yard trailing long backhand that Jim caught for a goal, and... still no turnovers on the weekend.

Clearly it was time to celebrate after winning our big game of the pool. And thus we did. Tonight was team dinner night and after searching far and wide for a restaurant that would take us (more about the previous night's search later), we found one and waited for about 15 minutes to get seated. Once seated, we ordered some pizzas to tide us over, white and red wine carafes, and started the smack talking. Large orders of food later, and it was time to pay the bill. While I had heard about this before, this was the first time I had seen it in action. We played credit card roulette. Fortunately, it was voluntary. Whoever wanted to pay what they thought they owed was able to do so. If you didn't want to, you had to put your credit card into the pot. Once everyone had chosen, all the cards were put into a basket and one of the women was selected to make the card choices. There were 6 cards out of maybe 14 people. The first card selected was for $. Fortunately for him, he was eliminated. The main philosophy was once you were down to two cards left, the 2nd to last card would pocket all the cash, while the final card left would pay the ENTIRE bill. It so happened that it came down to Jim and JZ. It was Jim's first time in the pool. Lo and behold, after HUGE buildup, the card was picked, and Jim lost while JZ walked away with 145 euros. The bill ended up being 268 euros for roughly a $500 swing. Ouch!

Tonight was the first tourney party not in the main tent but in a disco even nearer to our hotel (oy!). Jim and I headed over at 10:15 and we were the ONLY people at the disco so we headed back to the Barge to hang out with the team. Went back around midnight and all of a sudden, the 7 or so rooms were so packed you could barely move. I guess this is it means to be a Euroxxx (starting to party VERY late).

Sunday morning our first game is at 9:15. Again we stumble out of the hotel, a quick buffet breakfast and coffee wolfed down before getting to the field 10 minutes before game time. Now it is the final power pool play game against a French team, the Friselis. And for the 3rd straight day we were missing at least one teammate for the first game, slightly more reasonable with the early start time. Even though this game didn't matter, we didn't want to be down going into the quarters. VERY tight all game before we pull away to win by something close. Another 3 hour gap between games so we all head back to the hotel... again for a nap. Again I screw up by having had coffee for breakfast so I can't nap but we all head back to the hotel regardless. (I finally learned this by Monday...). We make it out to our 2PM quarterfinal against Iznogoud, another French team. By this team, we are finally fresh and we take it to them. Not close. They have the semifinals staggered on the huge stadium field, first the 2 women's games, then the 2 men's game, and we are the second men's game, so yet again back to the hotel. Although not for long, as I finally head back to catch most of the first men's semi between UTI and Stinks from Sweden. VERY exciting game with huge hucks from both teams. Very spectator friendly. UTI finally pulls away for a 2-3 point victory, but Stinks had a late lead (prophetic as we shall see). This brings up our semifinal against Sexxxpensive, an international all-star team. They had taken down the defending champions Scandal (from Chicago) in the quarterfinals in a not so close game.

This game was nothing like the first semifinal. Neither team played particularly well, it was just that we played not particularly well better than they did. The score was not very close, and after the game, I was interviewed by SkyTV (or something like that, definitely not Blockstack), and pretty much my party line was that 1) our game was definitely not as pretty/exciting as the previous semi, and 2) we just played less badly than the other team. In our post-game huddle we talked about the finals the following day. The game wasn't going to be until 4PM. At one point Hollywood paused and I figured he was going to talk about taking it easy, but no, we concluded we should go with what brung us (to that point). Uh, mistake. Back to the rooms to shower up, cocktails, Barge, party, etc., etc. Another 4AM night.

The biggest problem with the next day, other than not having a game PRIOR to the finals to help clear our heads, was, well, that. Another breakfast followed by back up to the room for a nap. Made it out to the fields around 12:30 to catch some of the women's final, then the co-ed final. At maybe 2PM, we were astounded to see behind the stands UTI warming up pretty heavily, sprinting back and forth, running, etc. After the coed game was over there was a juniors game of 13 and under composed of two local teams from Rimini. Then there was some sort of roman fighting reenactment on the field. During the last 20 minutes before the game, we were all lolling on one goalline, sitting and lying down on the sand. On the other end, UTI was doing drills, throwing running. When I watched the coverage of the finals, they riffed on us tremendously, talking about how UTI's warmup was very retro and that we had discovered the latest type of warmup. I can't begin to do it justice but they worked us for like 3 minutes of coverage.

FINALLY the game started around 4:20. We started on D and got 2 quick turnovers. Unfortunately we gave them both back, including burying the second one into the sand right in front of one our players in the endzone. UTI scored, we scored, and we end up trading for awhile until we finally get broken when Cash throws a pass behind me as we are fast breaking up the field (picture below). I lay out and get a hand on it but am unable to hold it. They score to take a 2 point lead and we get it back before they take half 7-6. We score coming out of half and then get the big break to go up 8-7. We get yet another turnover before we give it back and they tie it at 8's. THEN the wheels come off. UTI proceeds to score the next 5 points to take the game 13-8. I don't think we got the disc back once. Hard to believe we had the disc to go up 9-7 before losing 13-8. While I had no expectations going into the tournament, once you are in the finals, it sucks to lose. As an observer mentioned, 'if you win paga, but don't bring it, it doesn't count for shit'. Well, hopefully Los Tigres can do slightly better next year and bring it on home.

So, post game huddle, blah blah blah, and then back to the hotel to shower up and go to the closing ceremonies. Those were kind of cool as they actually called up EVERY team at the tournament. We got their maybe 20 minutes before they called us up as they called the top 3 in each division at the end. For our efforts we received a free tourney disc so it was a good thing I didn't buy one... And then the team split up. 8 of the 12 had a morning flight into Milan so they grabbed an 8:30 train after a final stop at the barge. This left Cash, JZ, Jim and I to amuse ourselves. We went to a nice dinner at the 900 (or something like that), and then alternated between the final tournament party and the Barge. Jim and I had a 6AM train to Bologna to catch a 10AM flight home. We kept checking our watches, and finally at 4AM we gave up. The party was still going strong so we just stayed at the Barge until the end. We left around 5AM and the party was still going strong. Back to the hotel, pick up the bags, get a cab to the train, and then pass out. Longest travel day ever and then we finally got back to Boston at around 3PM, roughly 15 hours later. Ugh. So, it was my first Paganello, and hopefully not my last, although I am starting pretty late...

And now the photo montage.

The architect of our discontent

Tournament site from my balcony - Stadium far left, party central far right, and then the Barge smack dab in the middle (pink bottom, white top).

Still annoyed I didn't catch this.

I poached off on this long pass and swung at it and caught a faceful of sand. I couldn't believe I missed it.

What was amazing is that I didn't touch the sand until the last game of the day Saturday and then it was all over. Probably layed out 6 or 7 times the rest of the tournament. In the one below which was maybe to make it 12-8, the guy caught the hammer and then accidentally kicked sand in my face/eye, so bad that I had to take out my contacts and toss'em walking off the field.

The happy faces.

Packed stands! Had to be at least 1000 people watching.

A familiar sight...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Paganello - Day 1

Day 1 of actual play. So this is my first time playing 'high-level' beach ultimate. Oh, btw we ended up with a starting 5 on the regurgitation team and they started the last game against the Italians. While they were game, we won like 17-1.

So, first round at 12:15 (thank god). We have 10 out of 11 for the first game. It was against Tailspin, a team from Sweden. Beach ultimate is a very different game from ultimate. It is really hard to make up space on someone, so the offense runs very differently. It's more of a German offense throwing to space. We were turnover free in the first half but fell apart in the second. JZ had a bunch of firsts in that game. First turnover, later first point block. After his 3rd turnover, someone else finally joined him on the turnover list. Jimmy P 'had some bad pancakes' and joined us for game 2 against UFO from Holland. However, Woody didn't wake up from his nap until maybe 5 minutes left in the game, so we had only 10 again. They went up 4-3 on us before we got our act in gear and went up 10-5. Served out for the win as the second 'half' got ugly again (there are no halves, you just keep playing until time, then +2 cap). Even longer break now, 3 rounds between this game and the next one. Watched the freestyle competition for awhile. Then Hollywood, Jim and I went to a cafe for an hour+ to get out of the wind and drink some coffee. Finally, game 3 against an Italian team that scored one point on us. Shockingly I ended up with no turnovers on the day. Mike Z said he didn't either but I don't believe him...

And now another Calva and seven...

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Paganello - Day 0

Safely arrived in Rimini, I am blogging on my balcony of the Hotel Bikini looking down at the beach and the frisbee central tents. It is somewhat windy, sunny, and pretty chilly, maybe reaching 60, but that is a reach.

Jim and I met at Logan airport for our 5:30 flight yesterday to CDG (Paris). 6.5 hours, an hour of heavy turbulence, 1.5 ambien, on and off sleep later, we arrived in Paris at 6AM. After we landed, we discovered that Jessica from Lady Godiva was also on our flight along with Sasha from North Carolina who had flown through Boston (talk about a long day). A REALLY long walk to terminal 2D to our next plane and we arrived with no problem in Bologna at 9AM. Jim, Sasha and I hadn't checked bags so we quickwalked to the bus to center town, caught it just as it was leaving and made the 10AM train to Rimini which arrived around 11:30AM. It seemed like we were the first people here. We walked everywhere and it was a total ghost town. After having lunch at an Indian restaurant (had to compare their chicken korma to Punjab in Arlington, very different but also good), we separated and Jim and I relaxed back at the hotel. After hearing that trains might be sold out going back to Bologna Tuesday, we walked to the train station to buy tickets for the 6AM train (it is going to be a LONG day) and then headed out to the beach for the Juniors clinic where we did drills with local Italian youth interested in ultimate. Back to the hotel, showered, and now ready to party. Part of the team requirement was for each person to pick up a bottle of alcohol in duty free. Naturally, I got a bottle of Calvados, of which I'm sipping a very small glass right now. Separately, I started the latest Ender novel, Ender in Exile, and finished it on the train and lent it to Sasha who has the same return flights through Boston again. Off to the opening ceremonies.

Well, I wasn't able to post this last night because I lost the internet connection, so now I can add last night's details. We started at the hotel making various mixed drinks with the duty-free booze. 7-up ended up being a great mixer for Calvados. We went out to the beach around 7PM only to find out that the party/dinner/free wine wasn't happening until 9. To make a long story short, free wine at the expo, pasta dinner, The Barge (bar between the hotel and the party). 2 out of 11 people had problems with regurgitation (so far, we haven't checked in with the other two rooms), none of which was me. Good thing we don't have a game until 12:30PM...

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Friday, April 03, 2009

The bucket list continues...

After seeing my nom de plume mentioned on rsd about blogs, I realized that I had been just as guilty as everyone else out there, taking the winter off. So to fill the void, here we go.

When last we met, I was just returned from Hawaii participating in my first Kaimana Klassic. About a month prior I had received an invite to play with a US team at Paganello the second weekend in April. I had to defer because I had a monster mainframe conversion scheduled for the last weekend of March, and for people in the know, you know you have at least a couple of weeks to a month of fallout after something like that, so there was no way I was going to be able to run off to Italy a week later. And it had already been postponed a couple of times. We joked that deadlines get pushed all the time but I had zero faith because of the high level visibility and the fact that we had already delayed twice (although not because of us). Well, lo and behold we got pushed out to the end of April. I immediately checked airfares and they were sitting around $630 to Bologna, maybe $560 to Milan. The difference in train fares made it a wash flying into Bologna, and since I had been to Milan before, I went with Bologna. I checked in to confirm there was still space on the squad and booked my flight for Wed afternoon-Tue morning.

Imagine my horror when Jim pinged me a week later to say that flights were now ~$400 and he was contemplating going (primary horror on the ticket price, secondary horror on Jim coming...). I went back to my Orbitz reservation to see what it would cost to change the ticket, and they have a $250 change fee! It would have ended up costing me another $50. So imagine my surprise when I saw Orbitz price guarantee which said that if someone else buys your EXACT ticket for less, you will get the difference refunded to you. So after I saw that, I worked on Jim to go and he eventually got approval from the man of the house. I had to send him my exact itinerary because of the mix of airlines (and it showed up like 30th on Orbitz, so no one would have picked it by chance), paid him $20 for the extra $20 it cost, and 2 weeks later I got an email from Orbitz saying that I would be getting a check for $221.40 30 days after the completion of travel. Woohoo!

I was last in Italy maybe 13 years ago, passing through briefly and spending a day in Venice, a day in Milan, and a day in Portofino. I have missed all of the standard spectacular sights in Florence, Rome, Tuscany, and guess what, I'm going to miss them this time also. We get into Bologna Thursday morning, and I suspect we will jump right on the train to Rimini. After that it is tournament Fri-Mon, then EARLY train Tuesday morning and a 10AM flight home from Bologna. I expect that I will be a complete wreck Tuesday night, with 4 days/nights of ultimate and partying and jetlag under my belt.

Another interesting experience this season has been that I have been more aware of the 'cost' of being injured then ever in the past. As in, I never ever thought about it before, even when I was getting calf problems. It never changed how I played the game. Or that I ever thought about it while I was playing. With the Hawaii tourney and now Paganello, which one could consider once in a lifetime opportunities (especially at my age) AND tournaments with large upfront costs, getting injured before the tournament would SUCK. This winter/spring I have been playing a lot of goaltimate, and while I haven't consciously changed any of my play, I think about getting injured periodically. And I imagine even the thought of it is probably changing how I play, which of course makes it more likely that I WILL get injured because it is no longer instinctual. Ah well. Interestingly enough, I have one more round of Goalty this Sunday, and as I'm writing this, I'm thinking that I won't post it until Monday. I can't figure out which would be worse luck. Posting it or not posting it before playing (but writing it). Well, I'm posting it Sunday afternoon after just getting back from Goaltimate. I tweaked my hamstring at yoga and got a nice charley horse from Jeff Graham at Goalty, but I should be good for Paga.

The Paga team is called Los Ox, which I have NO idea what it stands for, and is composed of a bunch of Jam players, 5 Boston players from Ironsides and DoG, and $ from Bravo/Machine/Revolver, hell, wonder which team will be next for him. I'm looking forward to playing with a high octane team, hopefully one which has its act together more than the Southern Dandies did in Hawaii. I expect that it will because of the much smaller squad size.

I did a quick check of the major travel booking sites and it appears that Orbitz is the only one with a price guarantee like this. I have to admit, based on personal results, I may have to let Kayak guide me there going forward if Orbitz is one of the selections. I'm just sayin'...

We are staying at a pretty swanky place, the Hotel Bikini, which is apparently right near the fields/beach. They have wireless internet access, so now the debate is whether I bring my real laptop, or just use the stunt crappy laptop (without wireless) that I was going to use so that I could stuff it in my backpack and have two carry on bags and no checked baggage. Decisions, decisions.

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