Thursday, August 11, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - days 12 and 13

Ok! I know I said that my series was concluded! But you know what? I can't stop blogging about it!

So day 12 - The competition has ended. It's time for the last goodbyes. Done and...felt. Now a group of kickers has to get to Vienna to travel further. The organization gracefully provides a bus for us. Of course it was intended for more people...but due to the hard World Championships conclusion partyin' a few missed this opportunity.

So most of us survivors make it to the Vienna airport in about an hour and thirty minutes. A little invigorating nap for me to recup for the 1 1/2 hours of sleep I had before leaving... I told you it was a hard party. Thanks to the Mayor of Trnava for organizing it BTW.


At that point I'm travelling with François Depel, Mary Dee et Barthélémy Meridjen. Our mission is to find a connection with our Air B'n'B hostess for the next night.

We chill on a patch of synthetic grass with Eurik, Shirin, Camillo et Jean-Marie, between the airport and the train station.
Finally a connection is established with our short term landlord. Her name is Maria and we get all the info the retrieve the key, in the center of Vienna, in a bar, in the afternoon....

François and Barthélémy got the key, we get to the apartment. Posters of Bob Marley, poster of  Very nice apartment with 3 bedrooms. 

At night, while all the youngsters are passed out, I continue the video acquisition and classification project of my 30th World Footbag Championships. I did all I could that night before falling asleep. But before that I met one of the roomates and showed him some good footbag footage. He liked it. Jakub, tall and hansome fellow with dreads and so cool. We talked about Salzburg...

Vienna Airport bis

So at this point you think, god these idiots didn't see any of Vienna? Well, actually we did, a little bit. We walked after settling down and had the most delicious vegan meal at a restaurant called the Harvest.  We then proceeded to go towards the center. Enough to get a view of the Danube, the mountains in the back on a gloriously sunny day. We walked a bit alongside the water and decided to go back early and rest.

Marilyn and I went on a second walking exploration on that first night to find out exactly where the train station was and as we were there ask about all the info needed for our departure and, of course, we bought our tickets.

On the way back we stopped at a grocery store. The place was packed at 21:30 full night on. We didn't know about having to weight the bananas and got some flack in german for that, from the lady cashier. She wasn't happy!!! Then a younger lady reassured us with a nice comment and a smile. I see a lot of anger in Vienna but also a lot of F......g cool people!

Finally Marilyn and I left the apartment at 7:15. Took the train at 7:45 Airport, well in time, our check-in already done the previous day. First step - Check.

In the air and land and air and land (you choose the melody)

My first flight is to London, a couple of hours, everything goes smoothly with Austrian Airlines. Then 3 hours to kill in Heathrow. No problem.
I finally embark on my flight to Montreal. 7 more hours of flight.

You probably think that this nonsense is over? No way, still take the bus from the Airport, then the Subway with a change of direction. The last step: 7 minutes of walking with all the luggage to carry. This is definitely the hardest part, luckily I decided to be patient as a Sherpa through the whole experience. Finally home! Always good to be home isn't it?

Yes, we saw theVienna Cathedral
In my next article I'll make a recap of this 2016 World Footbag Championships. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 11

What a day did we have to conclude this World Championships in Trnava. I want to take a moment to thank all the people that were involved in making this event happen. Special thanks to Dexter Struz who made my life easier in anyway he could without ever loosing his smile. Having power cords to fire up my cameras instead of operating them with batteries is a life changer when you film 2 days of action non stop. Many thanks to Mr Mayor Peter Brocka to welcome us in his city with a lot of perks.
Also a big thanks to all the support staff for the food, setting up the sites and handling our requests so beautifully. Also thanks for the event directors, on the net side it was Tuomas Karki, for freestyle I'm not sure but thanks anyway. And once again thanks to the generous donators that made my trip possible.

Women doubles

Now back to the action on the courts and in the freestyle arena. In the first match of the day two of our girls from Montreal offered us our sole title for this year in the Women's doubles. Some solid play by Geneviève Bousquet and Maude Landreville lead them to a convincing victory over Lena Mlakar, the little Slovenian dynamo and her partner Piia Tantarimaki, the Finnish powerhouse. Congrats to all of you it's beautiful to see you play.
Maude Landreville and Geneviève Bousquet, happiness after the win in women's doubles

Open doubles 3rd place

Next was the bronze match in Open doubles and it turned into a grueling duel between Americans Walt Houston and Ben Alston versus the French team of Sébastien Maillet and Grischa Tellenbach. Ben and Walt finally won it in the third set after the French mounted a serious comeback fro 5-13 to 14-14. The Americans closed the debate with pain and sweat but overall it was a well deserved win.

Mixed doubles

Following the 3rd place men's match it was time for one of my favorite events, the mixed doubles finals. I love to see a woman and a man work side by side on the court (and everywhere else for that matter). Florian Gotze and Kerstin Anhuth beat Arthur Ledain and Lena Mlakar in a quality match where Arthur seemed a little off. Florian on the other side was...Florian, the greatest net player of the last decade. Well done my friend. 

Freestyle events

There was women the women circle contest. It seemed a little disorganized at times with 6 players, which in my opinion is a bit too much. Win by Tina Aeberli.

In the open team freestyle finals the 2014 and 2015 winners repeated, Martin Sladek and Tomas Tucek are in a class of their own. Nice effort by team Madrid though as Paloma Mayo was obviously hurt and still courageously played with her partner Sergio Garcia. We could see the potential of the routine and the creative flow of these two.

The women singles routines offered some good moments but overall too many drops. Another win by the great Tina Aeberli from Switzerland.

Finally in the Open routines Evan Gatesman from the USA clinched the only titles that he never had before at Worlds. The legend Vasek Klouda came in second. No dropless routine this year in the finals.

Open doubles

The tournament returned to the net court and concluded with the doubles finals, the most awaited net event. After playing against Arthur Ledain in the Mixed doubles finals Florian Gotze partnered with him to face the Finnish team or Matti Pohjola and Janne Uusitalo.

If Arthur was off in the Mixed it was a totally different story in the doubles finals. Flo and him dominated all the aspects of the game, offence, defence and limiting the unforced errors.

Arthur also hit a series of incredible spikes derived from Sepak Takraw a cousin sport from east Asia. Roll spikes, sun backs were numerous and crazily athletic. Florian Gotze although having a more conservative spiking style hit his part of winners and their team demolished the Finns 15-2 in the second game after winning the first set. Big win, big shots and big fun. This is it the 37th World Footbag Championships is over. Of course we had a chance to say goodby with a good party at the end. See you next year in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Arthur Ledain and Florian Gotze celebrating their World doubles title - Photo by Pro Kicker

Friday, August 5, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 10

First day of the grand Finals

Finally we're getting in the main showtime of this World Championships. The first finals of the showcase featured the women singles opponents. In a no show match Piia Tantarimaki defeated Geneviève Bousquet easily. The scores in the 2 first games were tight but Piia dominated the whole time and led the score at every moment. Geneviève had better days, she looked paralyzed by nervousness and fear of loosing. I'm sure she can do better in the future, sometimes taking a beating can be the motivation one needs to continue to improve. Congratulations to Piia for a second title in a row after Copenhagen.
Piia Tantarimaki just after winning Women singles at the 2016 WFC - Photo by Pro Kicker

Open doubles Semi Finals

The much awaited doubles semi finals started with a transcontinental confrontation. Florian Gotze and Arthur Ledain took care of Walt Houston and Ben Alston in the first match not without providing Pro Kicker Production with very nice footage. Ben felt the pressure more than the others, at least in the beginning of the match, and he seemed to be bothered by the gym lights. Florian was imperial, as he is most of the time, and Artur hit some very spectacular shots. Walt and Ben had a few of the own but in the end the better team prevailed.

In the second match the French team of Grischa Tellenbach and Sébastien Maillet offered a very valuable resistance to Finland's #1 team. Matti Pohjola and Janne Uusitalo played a flawless match, cutting the unforced errors to a minimum as per their usual standards. The Finns are returning to the finals for the third time (2011,2015, 2016) let's see if this will be the good one for them. The odds are not in their favor but it's played on the court.
Florian Gotze, to the right wearing the winners smile as gracefully as always - Photo by Pro Kicker

Shred 30 and Circle contest - Freestyle

The day progressed to two freestyle events, shred 30 and circle. I'm no specialist but it seemed that the level of circle was lower than last year's in Copenhagen. The absence of great players such as Vasek Klouda, Milan Benda and Jim Penske was not fully compensated by newer faces but the contests was still interesting. Congratulations to the winners, especially to Evan Gatesman who repeated his presence in the Circle finals, this time with the win.

Open singles Finals

Wow! This was high level footbag net! Walt Houston (Memphis Footworks) the 2014 World Champion met with Tuomas Karki (Team Finland) the 2010 and 2011 World Champ and 2013 and 2015 finalist. These guys talk business and they offered a great show. Big sets, big spikes, big saves and a great science of the court, that's what we were lucky enough to witness live.

Walt Houston took the crown as he finally overpowered his worthy opponent in the fourth set. Pro Kicker Production will be offering this match as well as all the other finals in a virtual DVD around the end of August - beginning of September.

Walt Houston 2016  Open singles World Champion - Photo by Pro Kicker

So there is one more day to go, tomorrow we will have the Women's doubles, Mixed doubles and the much awaited Open doubles finals - Stay tuned

Thursday, August 4, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 9

Day 9 of this trip to Slovakia. First I have to talk about my final results. This year I played only in the Open doubles net event. My partner and I were seeded 12th before the tournament start. Today we played pretty good and secured the tenth spot. Being in top 10 means that you are in very good company in this sport, so I'm very proud of this result. I want to express a very special thank you to all the people who contributed to my crowdfunding campaign and made this possible for me. So great thanks to my partner Kuba Grabarcyck for playing so solid with me, I thought it was great fun bubba! So my tournament is over and it went very well, I'm happy with the result. Starting tomorrow I will be accaparated by filming all the good footbag to come up. Finals in all categories for 2 days.

The next thing was a little relaxation at the pool. Great

Then my filming goal of the day was to catch the singles semi-finals between Walt Houston and Arthur Ledain. This was very spectacular per moments so I'm happy to have it on a memory card. Walt managed to take care of this match beautifully. He showed that this game can be played with a lot of power, both in the service and the spikes that he offered. Can't wait to see the finals. He and Tuomas Kärki will battle it out tomorrow.
Walt Houston showing that he has only one more match to win to be a World Champion again - Photo by Pro Kicker

The last and less joyful subject has nothing to do with footbag and everything to do with Hooliganism.

There was a big soccer game tonight in Trnava. There were also degenerate people on the street just wanting to get in a fight. Some of us ran into these crazy assholes tonight while walking on the street minding our own business and partying with fun and laughs.

You know that I'm from Canada and although we read about his phenomenon in the (virtual) papers and see it on the news it's another story to run directly into this cancer of humanity. 

As our group was walking peacefully to a place to have a last drink we saw a group or 7-8 guys all dressed in black t-shirts. Some of us managed to pass their unfriendly blockade at first but then about 8 players of our group were sucker punched by these animals.

Can you tell me exactly is the interest of beating people up? You go out of your place and that's your goal in life?

Anyhow we managed to retreat without further damage and went back to the school dorms safe and sound. Everybody is OK, just a little shaken by the incident. Luckily these lunatics didn't find a group of unhappy people that would fight with them.

More news tomorrow about the tournament :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 8

4th day of the tournament

Mixed doubles quarter finals

The day started with the quarter finals of Mixed doubles net. Only one Montrealer survived this step. Marilyn Demuy teaming with German partner Yassin Khateeb caused a surprise by upsetting another Germano-Montrealer team formed of Maude Landreville  and Andreas Wolff. You can see the other results here.

Women doubles semi finals

The mixed was followed by the women doubles, they already were at the semi finals step in the draw. The number 1 seed upheld their position easily to advance to the finals. Montrealers Geneviève Bousquet and Maude Landreville defeated the team of Heike Koller from Germany and Plamena Ivanova from Bulgaria. Follow this link for the complete women doubles results.
Geneviève Bousquet and Maude Landreville happy to go to the Women's doubles finals - Photo by Pro Kicker

Open singles quarter finals

The 3rd part of the day went back to the men's side with the singles quarter finals. The most interesting match featured Arthur Ledain from France versus Ben Alston from the USA. 

They fought a marathon match lasting for the whole five sets.  Arthur finally won by 14-16 15-4 12-15 15-7 15-12. What a battle, these two had to go deep into their energy reserves to finalize the match. They showed some awesome skills and they both made some crucial mistakes but in the end one had to win and it was the French.

The other winners are Walt Houston from the US and Tuomas Karki from Finland. Jean-François Lemieux from France, originally from Montreal, also advanced on a forfait by François Depatie-Pelletier on a calf injury. Luckily it seems that François will be OK enough to play the doubles quarter finals tomorrow.

Arthur Ledain blocks Ben Alston's service to wrap up game 2 - Photo by Pro Kicker

Mixed doubles semi finals

The day ended with the mixed doubles semis. Another surprise was on the blocks as the 2014 and 2015 World Champions were defeated by the team of Arthur Ledain and Lena Mlakar. Team Finland, Matti Pohjola and Piia Tantarimaki will now have to fight for the bronze medal.

On the other side of the bracket another strong team was ready to make it to the finals. Florian Gotze and Kerstin Anhuth displayed their best playing abilities just on time in game 3 of a long match against Yassin and Marilyn.

And this concludes the recap for today - Stay tuned the best is still to come.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 7

3rd day of the tournament

My partner and I are facing a very good team and unfortunately we didn't play as good as we did in the pool play. As Jakub was saying we're as good as our opponents pressure. The more they put pressure on us the more our weaknesses show. It's ok though, we will still try to get the best of our consolation matches on Thursday for 9th to 16th place. Stay tuned.

2016 World Footbag Championships Poland - Quebec team - Jakub Grabarcyk and Yves Archambault
On the women's side, Geneviève Bousquet assured her place in the Women's singles finals, she will face 2015's World Champion Piia Tantarimaki from Finland. Gen and Maude Landreville also advanced to the Women doubles semi finals.

Geneviève Bousquet - Happy to advance to the women singles finals at the 2016 World Footbag Championships. #Trnava

Coming back to the Open doubles Jean-François Lemieux and François Depatie-Pelletier couldn't come closer to elimination. With François limping from a calf injury the challenge was enormous against Tuomas Karki and Jyri Llama again from Finland. They trailed 0-6, then after closing that gap, they went back in the hole loosing again by 6-9 and 6-10. hey managed to mount an unlikely comeback, aided by a few very bad mistakes by the Finn team.

The other Montreal men's team also faced a very tough opponent but they prevailed in the 3rd game. Luc Legault and Manu Bouchard will play Walt Houston and Ben Alston in the quarter finals.

Monday, August 1, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 6

Finally kicking in the tournament

Today was long awaited - Finally got to play Footbag in my 30th World Footbag Championships. With my partner Jakub Grabarcyck we played our pool of four teams (2 teams advance to the final draw) It went well for us as we beat the two teams that were seeded lower than us to make sure to get out of our pool. We didn't do so well against our pool leaders Yassin Khateeb and Chris Low, they were 3rd in last year's Championship and they showed us why. We gave them a little scare in the first game coming back from a 2-7 deficit and taking the lead 8-7 but they stopped us there and won this first set by 11-8. I played horrible in the second set missing four service receptions on my right side...Awful. But the most important goal is accomplished, we are still alive. We will play a french team tomorrow at 5 pm.

Other news from Montrealers, Luc Legault and Manu Bouchard advanced and kept their #5 seed. François Depatie-Pelletier and JF Lemieux on the other hand ran into a problem and lost a match to the #1 Polish team of W Debski and W Jamski. After winning the first game easily they slowed their pace down to a stand still and gave all the confidence needed by their opponents. Wiktor Debski finished the second game beautifully with a roll spike, a rare occurence in today's footbag. François are still in the competition for the title but their road is rockier than before.

On the women's side our three representatives played their singles pools and they all won their all their matches. They play their quarter finals and semis tomorrow, a possible clash between Marilyn Demuy and Geneviève Bousquet might happen if they both win their quarter finals.

WFC16 - The Women - Footbag Net - Photo by Maude Landreville
WFC16 The women - Footbag Net - Players meeting - Photo by Kerstin Anhuth
Wojciech Jamski sole push

François Depatie-Pelletier sole slap

François Depatie-Pelletier Shtataff

François Depatie-Pelletier jousts against Wojciech Jamski 

Wiktor Debski flying sole slap

Sunday, July 31, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 5

Montrealers doing well on the first day of competition.

The competition finally started today at the Empire Hotel setup for net. Men singles and Mixed doubles pools were on the menu. Montreal's only representative in singles François Depatie-Pelletier
lost a game but cruised through the match with the second in his pool without further damage and retained his # 5 position to enter the final draw that will be direct elimination. There were no upsets in the top 8 players but the pools 10 and 11 saw some rockin'. In pool 10 the pool head, Tammo Rockel, was upsetted by the # 3 player Benjamin Kanske who also defeated the second Quentin Isaackson. Result Benjamin will have a much better position entering the final phase, Tammo will drop a little but Quentin is out. In pool 11 the pool leader Guillaume Degat is out on injury and the #3 seed in the pool beat # 2. So # 3 Steve Kuntze will move up in the ladder and my doubles partner, Jakub Grabarcyk is still in the contest.

In Mixed doubles our 4 Montrealers are still in the contest. Genevieve Bousquet and Luc Legault won their pool and will move up to # 3 seed in the main draw because of an upset in pool 3. Maude Landreville from Montreal and Andreas Wolff from Frankfurt, Germany beat # 3 seed Arthur Ledain (France) and Lena Mlakar (Slovenia) to advance in the main draw in the top 4 position. In pool 4 again Geneviève and Luc had to defeat Marilyn Demuy (Montreal) and Yassin Khateeb (Germany) that went well and Marilyn and Yassin also advance in the main draw.

As for me I finally got some kicks in in preparation for tomorrow's start of the competition in Open doubles. I played 5 pick up games and feel ready to rock.

Curiosities from Trnava

Now some curiosities from Trnava, I don't know if you've ever seen children parks like that but this one looks awesome to me, I would have had a blast having that in my neighboorhood as a kid.

Children park with aerials in Trnava, Slovakia

Trampoline in the park, Trnava, Slovakia

Better get secured before playing in this park, Trnava, Slovakia

Strong structures to entertain the kids in Trnava, Slovakia
And also another curiosity that I picked during a walk in the city, I like these old cars.

Old car in a backyard, Trnava, Slovakia

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 4

Players check in

Today was the beginning of the check in for the players so Team Montreal is all complete by now. Maude Landreville, Marilyn Demuy, Geneviève Bousquet the three women superstar of footbag net are in the house as well as François Depatie-Pelletier, Luc Legault, Manu Bouchard and I. Lots of Germans, the french teams from Paris and Nantes arrived and Team Finland, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, USA and Switzerland are all safely in Trnava.

With Jan ''Dexter'' Struz, the tournament director and volunteer Nama at the players check in

In the afternoon, as it was so hot I went to the pool, a bit of hot tub to rub the muscles. It's all good.

Opening ceremony

At 8 pm we had the official ceremony at Trnava's town hall. As you probably know by now the mayor of the city is an ex footbag player and he is a major reason why the tournament is here. The city was very intrumental in providing the facilities that we're gonna use this week and by facilitating the sponsorship contacts.
Group of players enthusiastically listening to the opening ceremony's allocution

Jan Struz tournament director - Peter Brocka - Trnava mayor - Wiktor Debski president players association

After the brief ceremony, where the city provided a drink to everyone, we moved on outside to take a group picture near the #Trnava sign that's planted in the middle of the city.
#Trnava - 2016 World Footbag Championships first players in.

Tomorrow the plan is to get some kicks in with my partner after he completes his singles pool, which is one of the earliest. I will also watch my teammates play.
The 3 girls will be in action as well as François.  So tomorrow is the big start of the competition whereas the doubles will start on Monday, I can't wait.

Photos of the ceremony and #Trnava by the tournament organization

Friday, July 29, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - day 3

July 29th, 2 days away for the start of the tournament, well for me three as I won't play in singles. Today had a theme: Relaxation. So I got up very late, had some sleep to catch up, and then after a brief encounter with the tournament staff preparing the check in, I went to spot the gym were we will play the prelims. It's cool in there so we won't suffer from the heat but sometimes I feel looser when it's warm, we'll see how it goes.

Then in phase 2 I went to the Relax Spa for a massage. 1 hour of nice rubbing helps take the plane and train pains away. Then in the hot tub, sauna and pools. It felt great, I will go back
I came back to the students residences close to 9 pm just to meet with a bunch of newly arrived players including Marilyn Demuy my good friend from Montreal, Quentin from Paris, Heike Koller from Frankfurt and so on. We went to get some food, pretty inexpensive pizza here, and drinks
and then walked a bit around town.

Then back to the droms, I checked to see if the order of the matches was posted. So on Monday the open doubles net action will start with the pool play at 3h15 pm, not too bad considering that I don't like to play early - Here's the link to the schedule of our pool.

We are seeded 2nd in the pool and if we manage to keep this position by the end of pool play we will be up for the real battle as 2 teams advance to the main draw. We have the 3rd place finishers from last year's World Championship and they should be untouchable but you never know, the pressure will be on them, not us. Then we have a Polish team and a French-Finnish team. Let's hope that we can keep our focus high at every turn.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My 30th World Footbag Championships travel diary - days 1 and 2

Oh boy, this was a long trip! I left the house on the 27th (Montreal, Canada) at 2:30 pm, arrived at the airport at 3:45 where a first disagreement was waiting. I travelled on SWISS airlines but booked my ticket with Air Canada, both are members of the airline group Star Alliance. The people at the counter couldn't find my trip's second leg, Zurich to Vienna. It took them more than half an hour to resolve the issue and as I was later than usual to show up at the airport this made my stress level go pretty high. 

The first flight out of Montreal to Zurich was late so, of course it made me miss my connection to Vienna in Zurich. Lost almost 4 hours there, Plus add 6 hours of jet lag and very little sleep on the plane, a baby cried for the whole duration of the trip, and the body was starting to get weaker. I got a few minutes of sleep on a bench at the Zurich airport though, but you know what airport sleep can be, not the best with all the noise around.

The plane to Vienna was also a little late, good thing that I'm arrving 3 days before the event starts!

In Vienna I had to take a train to the main train station from the airport, from there I had to wait close to an hour to hop on a train to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, change train there to Trnava, add another 2 hours for this part. I finally arrived in Trnava at 4h15. A short taxi cab later I was at the university residence where most of us will stay for the duration of the tournament. I turned around quite a bit asking people about it, including to the man who was in charge of receiving me, and got sent to a few wrong turns before I finally could get a shower after 20 hours of travelling. The guy at the counter spoke very little english and couldn't find my name on his reservations list although one of the organizers told him I was coming just a couple hours before that! I finally got my room, just had time to get a shower before they switched me 5 stories higher when he finally realized which group I was part of. 

A little later I had my first meal in Trnava, I was totally hungry. I then visited a little. Trnava is a charming little city, here's a few first impressions in pictures: 

The tournament starts on the 31 st so I have 2 more days to adjust to the jet lag and the environment, glad I did arrive early.

My Crowdfunding campaign is still alive you can donate at: