This story is brought to you by the Canadian Rockies Snow Battle, November 24th & 25th in Jasper, Alberta. Register now.
JASPER, AB - My assignment was to write an article that answered the question, “Why register a team for the upcoming Yukigassen tournament in Jasper?” But first, I needed to find out what the heck a Yukigassen tournament was. Now that I know, I’m thinking it might be my new favourite winter sport.
Yukigassen is Japanese for “Snow Battle,” so basically, it’s one giant snowball fight. Two teams of seven try to either capture the opposing team’s flag, or knock out their players by hitting them with snowballs. Now that sounds like far too much fun.
The Japanese have been playing this game for about 25 years, but as Canadians, we’re still new to the sport. Last year, Jasper hosted the first annual Canadian Rockies Snow Battle and it was so successful, they signed on to host the Yukigassen Canada National Championships each November for the next five years.
|In Yukigassen teams of seven players are outfitted with helmets and facemasks or shields to do battle with snowballs the size of baseballs.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Jasper
Canada joins Japan, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Australia and the United States as official hosts of these tournaments. This year’s tournament will take place from Nov. 24 to 25 at Centennial Park in Jasper.
This is not a free-for-all snowball fight though; there are rules, standards and strategies. Each player is required to wear a CSA approved hockey helmet with a full face mask or shield. The snowballs must be about the size of a baseball in diameter and no shields are allowed at any time.
As for strategic game play, last year’s winning team captain, Matt Smith, says you pick up the ins and outs of the game as you play, but he also has a bit of advice.
“There are a few guidelines to follow, like don’t make a target of yourself by standing straight up. Plus, you’re playing on snow and hiding behind white shelters, so it’s probably a good idea to wear white.”
When asked why someone should play the game, Smith says, “It’s a really good team sport and you don’t need a whole lot of equipment. Plus you get to throw snowballs at people, and who doesn’t want to do that?”
Seems like lots of people are interested in hurling little balls of snow at each other. Don Helm, afternoon announcer at The Eagle radio station, participated in last year’s tournament and called it “the most fun you can have in snow.” Helm couldn’t say how many opposing players he took out personally, but said, “We had a good team and almost made it to the finals.”
|Don't like the idea of having snowballs flung at you? You can always register as a referee or volunteer.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Jasper
The winning team qualifies to attend the Showa-Shinzan International Yukigassen World Championships in Japan. As a winter country that knows more about snow sports than most, we should kick some international butt.
So gather up seven fun-loving folks, visit www.CanadianRockiesSnowBattle.ca and register your team today. It’s $280 per team, and this year, Tourism Jasper will donate 20 per cent of the registration fee to the MS Society of Canada.
If you want to participate but don’t want to compete, you can also referee or volunteer. You’ll get all the training you need plus a few perks. Contact email@example.com to help out.
So to answer the question, “Why register a team for the Yukigassen Canadian Rockies Snow Battle? How about because it’s fun, inexpensive and supports a good cause. And be sure to pick out a really cool team name. I think we’ll be Fists of Flurry.
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