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Jack the Dish II Roundup

December 11, 2013
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Small friendly tournaments are fun, silly, and help remind us just how much we love our bike polo family. As much as giving a cash prize to the winner takes out the friendly element for some players (*cough* Joey *cough cough*), Jack The Dish was a refreshing laid back tournament held by The Fresno Pedal Junkies. The Fresno crew are stoked on polo and it’s always a blast hanging out with them, so making the three hour drive for a one day tournament totally worth it. The tournament was a $5 per person throw in winner takes all;  on top of that it was a potluck, so everyone brought a delicious dish. It was a great way to burn off some calories from all the food I ate on Thanksgiving. With folks coming from Sac, Santa Cruz, SF, San Diego, LA, and Davis we had a great crew of California slayers in attendance!

Schwackers were the stacked team of Joey, Shitty and Rhyno, so it’s no surprise they went undefeated.   Sacramento took second, but I am keeping with my theory that team Mighty Fucks (Kyle, Jackie and Myself) would have been number two if not for the fact that we were overly lubricated with beer by the time we played against them. Bring it gentlemen!

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Insert amazing team photo here:
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Annnnnnnnnd here’s the obligatory group shot:
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Thanks again Fresno!  I will leave you with this…
shitty(From the Instagram of MISSJILLIANROSE: “…Shitty Kyle lost control at the Jack the Dish 2″)

Editorial, Tournaments

Analyzing The 2014 WHBPC Bids

December 10, 2013

100_2901Kiwi and a Baguette, that’s not offensive, right?

At this moment there are two clubs battling to host the 2014 World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship; Montpellier, France and Timaru, New Zealand. Before any one decides to jump on one boat of the other, we thought it would be important to analyze the two bids using League of Bike Polo’s “What’s most important at a flagship tournament?” census. Looking at the census you’ll see that the four characteristics that are most important at major tournaments are Court Surface (20%), Court Boards (16%), Ease of Travel (12%), and Court Size (12%). Using these player picked top characteristics, we will analyze the two nominations.

Court Surface

In the Montpellier bid, they tell us that the courts that they are offering would be built on “perfect asphalt” that is only two years old. From this we can assume that there will be no cracks to worry about, which is the most important thing when worrying about court surface. And if the asphalt is as perfect as they say it is, then we can bet that the most important characteristic on the census can be checked off by the Montpellier folks.

Looking at the Timaru bid we see pretty much the same lingo. On the website for the bid, Timaru Bike Polo tells us that the surface of the courts is the “perfect asphalt for Polo – fast and smooth.” Since they hosted the Australasian Championship on these courts back in March, we can look at footage to see just how “perfect” these courts are. And after carefully studying the video, you can see that it’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Based on this alone, it would be impossible to tell which would be the best spot for the 2014 WHBPC.

Court Boards

Montpellier hosted the hard hitting 2013 French Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship. Watching the footage of the tournament found at the bottom of the bid, you can see that checks were flying all over the place. With the countless shoulders and bikes hitting the walls, you can’t see an ounce of damage to the boards, so it’s no surprise that this club will know what they are doing if the bid falls their way. On top of this, they plan to use the same boards from the FHBPC, so we know they will be using quality lumber.

Just like Montpellier, Timaru is no stranger to quality courts. While looking at the court surface in the video linked above, you can also see that the boards at the 2013 Australasian Championship look just as primo as the surface. Solid 1.2m boards line strong and sturdy pallets. While you don’t see as many checks in the 2013 Australasian Championship video as you do the 2013 FHBPC, you can tell that the structural design is that of which would hold up to the hardest of Nick Kruse shoulder checks.

Again, we see no difference in the two bids based on the top two player picked major tournament characteristics.

Ease of Travel

Montpellier does not have an international airport, but the city is only a three hour train ride from two major cities (Paris and Barcelona) with such amenities. Montpellier does, however, have a small airport in case you are looking to do any traveling before or after the tournament. On top of this, the Airport of Montpellier is only a 30 minute bike ride from the courts!

Timaru also lacks an international airport but they are also close to two international airports: Queenstown, NZ  and Christchurch, NZ. While Queenstown is only a four hour drive from Timaru, the Christchurch International Airport is located only two hours away. Timaru Bike Polo promises to organize transportation from the Christchurch Airport to Timaru for all travelers not interested in renting a car.

Basing “Ease of Travel” simply on proximity to an international airport yields no difference in the two bids, so we will also look at plane tickets from two major airports in the USA (since the USA is on a continent not competing for the bid). We will look up flights from LA’s LAX and NYC’s JFK to Paris and Barcelona in early August and to Christchurch and Queenstown in late November, as these are the approximate times for the tournaments.

  • LA – Paris, August 4 to August 11 = $1074
  • NYC – Paris, August 4 to August 11 = $1011
  • LA – Barcelona, August 4 to August 11 = $1171
  • NYC – Barcelona, August 4 to August 11 = $1104
  • LA – Christchurch, November 17 to November 24 = $1548
  • NYC – Christchurch, November 17 to November 24 = $1948
  • LA – Queenstown, November 17 to November 24 = $1616
  • NYC – Queenstown, November 17 to November 24 = $2966

Before you instantly write off Timaru’s bid, note that these flights are just less than a year away so many airlines have not released flight information this far in advance; as the dates draw closer the prices will go down. Suffice it to say that this is also true for flights to Europe if Montpellier hosts Worlds.

If “Ease of Travel” means ease on your wallet, then Montpellier takes the lead in the bid wars.

Court Size

Montpellier is offering fours courts at 40m x 20x (~ 131′ x 66′), while Timaru is offering three to four courts at 36m x 18m (~ 118′ by 59). Looking at the arguments on LoBP’s “WHBPC 2014 Bids” thread, most North American and European players seem too agree that 40m x 20m is the bare minimum for a major tournament (with many North American players arguing that 40m x 20x is even too small, and would like to see something closer to 44m x 22m (144′ x 72′) like in Weston). Either way, a majority of the poloverse feels that 36m x 18m just wont cut it for a world class tournament.

For the second time in a row, Montpellier’s bid tips the scale.

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If we kept going down the census list, Cheap or Free Housing would be next on the list, but with a lack of solid information about accommodation from either bid, we can’t analyze this characteristic. Following that is Shelter from the Elements, which neither have covered courts but Timaru does have trees to hide under. Rounding out the end is Food, Access/Visibility to the Public, Destination City, and Parties. Both locations are close to many food options and are within popular public areas. The final two, without a doubt, go to Timaru. No one parties like Australia parties, so if they are part of the organization then we know that it will be a good time. And I dare you to watch any Lord of the Rings movie and not fall in love with the New Zealand landscape. I’ve seen Europe, now we want to see New Zealand firsthand!

Looking at a complete rundown, we see that both bids tip the scale in their favor for two characteristics, except Montpellier’s bids offer more of what we expect to find in a major tournament; Ease of Travel and Court Size. So using this analysis alone, we can be expecting to be heading back to Europe in 2014. I would love to see an Australasian bid for 2015 that offers a cheap travel (or maybe they can work out  free housing to offset the plane ticket price) and courts that are several meters larger.

Editorial, Tournaments

NAH’s Proposed Changes for 2014

December 3, 2013

Screen-Shot-2013-12-02-at-9.07.18-PM(Look at the amazing Microsoft Paint job Joe Rstom did on this map!) 

Yesterday the NAH announced their proposed changes for the 2014 qualifying season, and man are some huge things coming from it! To get the whole story head to the NAH website HERE, but for a quick one-two summary, along with my own rants, continue to read our article.

There are only three changes proposed for next year: two major changes and then one change comes as a result of the major change. First, after numerous complaints about last years change, the NAH wants to go back to an open qualifier system. This allows players/teams to compete in any region that they want, but in-region teams get two weeks to sign up for the qualifier before out-of-region teams get a stab at it. One thing from 2012 that they didn’t bring back was the lack of restriction on the number of qualifiers that you could play. In 2012 I traveled to three different qualifiers, mostly because it was an excuse to play real competitive play in other parts of the country, but in 2014, as it was in 2013, you are only allowed to play in one qualifier.

The other big change was the addition of new regions. The Midwest is now split into the Upper Midwest and the Lower Midwest. Along with the split, Kansas and Tennessee join the Lower Midwest and Michigan joins the Upper Midwest. To make room for these additions, the Midwest regions drop Manitoba and the Dakotas. These provinces/states join up with Wyoming, Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan to form the Prairies/Great Plains region. The other new region is formed out of America’s beard. The country of Mexico gains their own region so that they don’t have to attempt to travel to the USA to qualify for North Americans. Other minor changes to note, would be the addition of New Mexico to South Central,  upstate New York and Vermont to the Eastside, and Mississippi to the South East.

Because of these changes, NAH was forced to mold out a new spot allotment for the 2014 North American Championship. Here is the quick run down of proposed allotment:

  • 2013 NA Champions – 1 spot (obviously)
  • Cascadia – 11 spots
  • Eastside – 6 spots
  • Northside – 5 spots
  • Lower Midwest – 5 spots
  • Upper Midwest – 4 spots
  • South Central – 4 spots
  • South West – 3 spots
  • South East – 3 spots
  • Prairies/ Great Plains – 3 spots
  • Mexico – 3 spots

For a grand total of 48 teams heading to North Americans next year. Which, BTW, seems likely to be heading back to Minnesota for it’s potential permanent home (You can read more about that HERE).

These changes are looking being voted on by Club Reps between now and December 15th, so be sure to voice any concerns you may have with your Club Rep so that they can be passed along to the NAH committee. From what I can tell, NAH knocked it out of the park (or possibly “knocked it out of the court and off of a child’s head,” to keep it more polo related) with this proposal. Closed regions was a huge mistake last year. As long as in-region teams get first dibs, there is no reason out-of-region teams cant come play the tournament too. And our regions have needed to be reworked for so long; it’s great to see Kansas in the Midwest. In the grand scheme of things, I see no problems with these changes passing.

The only thing I hope they revise in all of this is the names. Lancaster Polo wrote a CUTE ARTICLE where Kabik gave the regions funny names, but in all seriousness, they need some work. Does one region really need two names? Prairies/Great Plains is annoying enough to write over and over, let alone say it. Let’s just simplify it and call it the Great Plains. Done and Done. And is the NAH really not creative enough to come up with better names than Upper Midwest and Lower Midwest? I know everyone will want to keep there Midwest blood (hell even I like to consider myself a Midwest player even after moving to Cascadia) but those names are boring. Change the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes region. It’s simple and helps explain the region really well. Coming up with a new name for the Lower Midwest is a little more tricky since it spans so much of the country. But surely anything they come up with will be better than Lower Midwest.

Try the Gateway region, as St. Louis is nearly in the center and St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the west. Or possibly the Tornado Alley region, although Oklahoma should be included in that. What about the Ozark region? It may not pertain to Ohio but it still sounds awesome. Middle Earth? Crossroads? Highlanders? Fixcraftia? It doesn’t really matter what the change is, I would just like to see something a little better than Lower Midwest.

Editorial, Tournaments

What’s Important to You at the Majors?

November 6, 2013

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Kevin Walsh, the League of Bike Polo Godfather, set up a poll on his website asking the Poloverse to chime in on one important question. “What are the most important characteristics of a good host location for these ‘flagship’ events?” Since Euros, North Americas and the WHBPC are where the highest teams come together, this simple question has a complicated answer. Kevin gives us ten options to choose from (i.e. Shelter from the elements, Good scoreboards, Court surface, Ease of travel, Food, Cheap or free housing, Court Size, Destination city, Parties, Court boards) and allows us to rank our top five choices in order of importance.

To take the survey, follow this link to the League of Bike Polo. Let’s find out what everyone feels are the most important elements of our highest tournaments so that we can make decision through democracy.

Editorial, Tournaments

We Want a Live Worlds!

October 11, 2013

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I know I do!

As of right now, the gracious Mr. Do and his stream team will be bringing the WHBPC to computers and TVs around the world on Friday and Saturday. While this is going to be when the most intense action is, I know polo players and families around the world would love more. The Worlds organizers want to make sure that everyone watching the live coverage feels completely full at the end of the week.

The 2013 WHBPC organizers have started an online fundraising campaign to help ensure that no one misses a single minute of polo action. With the help of our donations, they are looking to live stream the Wild Card, the first day of the tournament and the first every Ladies Bench tournament. Not only are they looking to bring us complete live coverage, but they want to record EVERY game during the tournament. EVERY GAME! Every game on every court on every day! That is a lot of memory cards that they need to buy, and to buy these they need our help.

It is our duty as particles of the poloverse to make sure that the largest tournament in the sport runs at its utmost potential. Until we get major sponsors, like Chase or Staples or Taco bell, these tournaments run on our blood.

To help, head over to the YouCaring website HERE!