Schweizermeisterschaft: Swiss Championships (Ultimate)

ZUF coed and Zuf open

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, when Jeff and I returned to Zürich, we had Swiss Ultimate Championships the next weekend. Ultimate works a little differently in Switzerland than it does in the USA and the UK, which makes sense because of the differing sizes in the communities. Switzerland plays by WFDF rules, as does everyone else but the USA. The structure of the championships is that it is played over 3 weekends, it starts June and the last weekend is in September/October. It starts with pool play, then moves into weighted brackets, and then the top two teams play each other. I think, I’m having trouble remembering. The biggest differences to me is that there is no semi’s or quarters, pool play determines who is in the final, which makes all your games important from the first weekend to the last.

In order to be eligible to play, an individual has to be in Switzerland for 6 months of a year, which in the beginning we weren’t sure if I would qualify because I was hopping around on visas and didn’t know how long I would actually be allowed in Switzerland. They decided I would be alright though.

We entered the final weekend without having been bested by any teams yet. Jeff and I hadn’t played with the team for a long time because we were on vacation, but we were still in okay shape. It was easy for me because we had 7 or 9 women, depending on the game. I had plenty of rest. There was only 6 men though, so Jeff had a much harder time, especially when his hamstring started to hurt. We made it through our games fairly easily until our last game on Saturday against Freespeed from Basel. It was a nail biter of a game, with Basel’s open team being loud and rowdy to cheer them on. Our men’s team was being tragically quiet and somber on our sideline, which didn’t help our moral when the disc was turned over or when Basel scored. We began trading points with Basel, and slowly they were catching up to our small lead. Sometimes we would have points that would last only a minute or two each, and then other points would last 5 to 7 minutes each. The game did not count for us going to finals, our playing up until then had guaranteed us the spot, but the game definitely had this feeling of importance to it.

During the game, I cut deep to the endzone while my teammate Mel had the disc. Women cutting deep on ZUF is difficult because usually a man is back there already, or the men overthrow the women. This could just be for me, I am still a new player for them and we haven’t polished our connections yet. Anyway, Mel threw the huck, like I knew she would because she’s been hucking the whole day, but it was just a pinch to long. I’m sprinting as fast as I can, thinking in my head “it’s too far, I can’t make it.” And then, I don’t remember deciding to do this, but I laid out for the disc and felt my left hand grip the rim. Next thing I know I’m sliding on my stomach with the disc perpendicular to the ground in a Miranda Roth-like style, thinking to myself “huh… that hasn’t happened in awhile.” I got up, my teammates caught up to me, gave me lots of hugs, I made a fool of myself by messing up a soccer-borrowed post-goal celebration (luckily no one but a few teammates noticed) and then a new 7 people got on the line to play defense.

The next couple of points were still hard fought, but ZUF had a new fire with a few great d’s by our Japanese-Swedish teammate Alex, and an inspirational streaking by Sam and Luca from our open team. We ended up winning the game on universal game point.

The next day we only had one game, the final. We played at 13:00 against the coed team from Bern, it wasn’t as close of a game, but it was still the closest final ZUF has had at Swiss Championships. We were lucky in that the weather cleared up from a cold windy rain to a nice cool sunny day for our game. As much glory as I earned from my layout, I promptly lost it during the final, when my recurring backhand problem flared up. I refused to go in on offensive points, which was okay anyway because we had so many women. We won the game 17-13 I belief.

In Switzerland, you never play two games in a row and there has always been a table to buy food and beer at. The food is made by the players from the hosting team (pasta salads and cakes), and someone is grilling sausages and burgers.

ZUF had won the Swiss Championships for the last three years, completely undefeated in Championship play. Since I’ve moved to Basel, and will be traveling to Paris often, I’ve decided to play with ZUF this next season, since I won’t have time to get to know Basel. It may be easier for me to switch to Basel the following year though. There seems to be a healthly rivalry between the Switzerland teams, and from what I can tell most seem to not like ZUF. I’ve never been able to get a straight answer from anyone as to why that is, but I think it has something to do with people always hating the favorite to win. Everyone loves the underdog.

This upcoming year things will be different. Open and coed divisions will be on separate weekends, making it possible for a women’s division and for more men to play coed. This could mean that there will be two ZUF coed teams, which means my little backhand problem had better clear up. I’ve been practicing a little with the Basel team (when I’ve been able too) and I’ve received a very warm welcome, which is nice. I can use all the practice and exercise I can get. While Swiss frisbee isn’t as community driven as frisbee in the states is, I can’t imagine how I would of survived this long in Switzerland without Ultimate.

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