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.

____________________________________

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.

Player Profile

Girl Crush Vol. 1

December 9, 2013
m4s0n501

For those who don’t know, a ‘girl crush’ is kinda like the ladies version of ‘bromance’.  Since Polo is full of bromance, I thought it would be fun to profile some of the killer ladies of polo.  I have broken up the girl crush into five categories with a score given for each just to see how crushable these ladies really are. Let’s start with my first girl crush pick….

JESSI!!!!!!!

398458_10100924087233700_1983045503_n

Huggable Factor: 20/20

You can’t help it.  Even when you try to resist, you get one of Jessi’s adorable smiles and you just gotta wrap your arms around her.  Even on the court when she’s taking the ball away from you, the sudden urge to take your hands off the handlebars and go in for a hug arises and you’re not even upset about it.  It’s almost hypnotic, and I’m now dubbing it the Jessi maneuver.  (Feel free in the future to say things like “I just got Jessied!” or “She’s going in for a Jessi.”)

Intimidation Factor: 13/20

Perhaps you are thinking because of Jessi’s high caliber of play her intimidation factor might be hirer.  Alas, Jessi is just to smiley and positive to be too intimidating (sorry girl).  When attempting to check her into the boards she just smiles and tell you how good you’re doing.  ARGH!!!  I’m supposed to be scaring you with my huge guns Jessi!  She also plays a very clean game with few checks to other players on the court.  The real intimidating factor to Jessi is how much of a girl crush we all have on her!  Even in this photo, I’m not intimidated one bit…
999798_10101660265810930_121361649_n

Scoring Factor: 19/20

Jessi is just like a Stretch Armstrong!:
stretch_armstrong1You may think you have her covered and your front wheel may even be in front of hers, but somehow Jessi stretches her arm out a bit and scores.  WHAAAAAT?!?!?!  How’d that even happen.  Don’t worry dear reader, that’s the reaction a lot of us have when playing against her.  Jessi is the type of player that reminds me that I don’t need to hit the ball as hard as I can into the net (even though I want to cause it’s super fun), and accuracy is key.

Defense Factor: 18/20

Geez Jessi get out of my way!!!!  Just when you think you have shook her off, she comes charging at you and BAM ball is now hers.  (I’m shaking my fist at you right now Jessi!)

Should I be Worried: 20/20

Oh my glory YES!!!!  She may not be all that intimidating but oh glory will she just crush the pants off you and then you will be without pants!  She has been MVP of both the International Ladies Bench AND Ladies Army V, where she selflessly offered her frame prize to Shannon who had her bike stolen that very weekend.  She is definitely one of the top lady players in the World and hot dang that just plain scary.

Crushable score:  90/100

If you didn’t already have a crush on Jessi, well then I sure hope I was able to convince you how totally Girl Crush worthy she is.  I’m focusing on my game for Ladies Army next year in hopes of trying to get to her level, but part of me feels like it’s super futile.

Jessi, you are one Crushable Babe!

1381613_10101560801323560_379556269_n

Product

DZR Talks the Marco

December 5, 2013
Marco2

If you didn’t get enough of Brian Dillman’s pretty face going around yesterday, we have some more of him for you today! As DZR’s hardcourt representative, Dillman gives us some insight into their new bike polo specific shoe, the Marco (not to be confused with the Rustbelt’s bike polo specific frame of the same name). With the shoe due out tomorrow at 12pm PST, he wanted to tell us about the aspects of the shoe that are going to make it the best clipless shoe for our sport (just ask anyone on the Guardians or the Beavers). So before buying a pair, check out the video!

Editorial

Teams Who Feel the Love and Hate

December 4, 2013

10413400496_26d0e50eb8

There was a lot of hate at Worlds this year, not to say that there isn’t plenty of hate most other years.  What’s particularly interesting is why some of the top Teams get more hate and others get nothing but super love. In general, it’s more fun to root for the underdogs but I wanted to take a more in depth look at the love and hate for each of the top teams.

The Beavers
The Beavers got hella hate, at least until the final game, at Worlds. We were even able to witness that magical Dillman moment after they beat the Assassins (see the above photo). This year The Beavers have been on top of their game, dominating North Americans and the Worlds. Many spectators felt that The Beavers came in a little too confident, which really makes people want to roll their eyes instead of support. They had a bit of an ego after winning North Americans and were convinced they would take the Worlds trophy home this year (which I’m pretty sure sat on Kremin’s lap the whole plane ride back to SF…barf).  During the tournament, The Beavers remained focused, with their pop up tent far from the crowd. You won’t typically find them socializing because they are busy talking strategy and broing out over tactics. This is often a turn off to fans who are used to hanging out with top teams like The Guardians throughout the whole tournament.

Call Me Daddy
Call Me Daddy pretty much dominates all of the European Tournaments that they enter, and as I said before, there isn’t a lot of love for Teams who win all the time.  Besides that, while Call Me Daddy play a conservative game, they are total instigators.  I don’t know how many goalies you need to put in the goal to win tournaments, but apparently it’s three.  It’s no mystery that stacking the goal is not fun to watch (can we please institute a crease now?), and Call Me Daddy turned it into their main defensive tactic (or even an art form for that matter). Who can argue if it works for them, even if it’s not the sort of play that is going to put the crowd on your side?  Instigating your opponents will also be a turn off to the crowd.  It was infuriating when Polo tapped Andrew (of The Control) on the head with his mallet after Andrew tried to calm an inciting feud. This caused “Boos” to ring around the court and left a bad taste in the spectators mouths.

The Assassins
It’s no real surprise why The Assassins had a huge following at Worlds.  Not only are they an amazing team to watch (they are the team we should show people to get them interested in polo), but they lost their teammate Evan early in the tournament.  Lucky enough Nick Kruse was able to step in, and boy we were not disappointed with that substitution.  The Assassins are not only humble polo nerds, but they know how to wow a crowd.  For reals, I almost couldn’t heckle their games because my mouth was open and yelling “OH SHIIIIT” or “DAAAAAMN” the whole time. Plus as a lefty, I can’t help but lust after the banging shot of Joe.

The Edisons
I still have The Edisons chant in my head! Since it was so prominent and loud on the last day of the tournament, I imagine that it may have been heard from space. They are definitely in tight contention with The Assassins for the most loved team at Worlds. What can we say, they’re just fun. Fun to watch with bike handling skills that will make even the top players jealous, and fun to hang out with. Also, David playing the whole tournament with a broken toe is just badass. While they may be in the top 5 in most tournaments they enter, you probably wouldn’t get the feeling that they are one of the best by just hanging with them, and it’s that kinda attitude that made many of us fall in love with polo to begin with. I mean come on, look at these faces…

534642_323887594338455_806440757_n

(Thanks to Matt Kabik and Taniuchi Riki for the photos)

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.