The US Open Championships and Convention

By Claire Oakley

This year marks the 3rd annual US Open Ultimate Championships, an international tournament hosted annually by USA Ultimate (USAU), the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), and a local ultimate organization.  It is a premier tournament that kicks off the USAU Triple Crown Tour each year, showcasing top teams from around the world in Mens, Womens, and Mixed ultimate.  In addition to top tier ultimate, the weekend also serves as an annual convention for ultimate players, fans, and organizers around the world.  As USAU describes on their website, it is “more than just a tournament, this event is a celebration of Character, Community, and Competition“.

As a member of Drag’n Thrust in 2012, I was lucky enough to participate in the inaugural year hosted in Colorado Springs, Colorado with Drag’n Thrust. Anytime one has the opportunity to compete at an international competition or event it is exciting, add on the fact that it was the first year ever, and the anticipation was great.  As the tournament week approached, wild fires broke out in the mountains above Colorado Springs, which put years of planning and coordination at risk, as tournament officials analyzed options with safety and health top of mind.  Ultimately a venue change was put in motion, and the tournament was a go.  Despite the logistical changes, the high CO elevation, and a mixture of dry mountain heat and big thunderstorms, the tournament went well.  Drag’n Thrust didn’t leave with the record it hoped for, finishing T-3rd, but we enjoyed being a part of the first US Open Championships and Convention.

 

Photo by ultiphotos.com

Photo by ultiphotos.com

 

In its second year the US Open was held in Raleigh, North Carolina, where many teams returned for their second year, including Drag’n Thrust. The change in setting resulted in a change in environmental factors, swapping high elevation for sea level, and dry heat for sweltering humidity. Excessive rain the days before the tournament led to challenging field conditions varying from standing water to unbelievably hot turf. Drag’n Thrust came out winning the first day, but for the second year in a row T-3rd.  

The 3rd annual US Open is coming up in a couple short weeks hosted here in Blaine, Minnesota! Drag’n Thrust’s own, Jake McKean, worked with local organizers to submit a bid to USAU to host the 2013 US Open, which was ultimately not chosen. After another year of consideration, the Twin Cities and the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN were selected from many other incredible destinations and field complexes to host the 2014 Open.  Organization of the tournament has been ongoing since Minnesota was selected, to create a world class playing event and spectator experience, including a partnership with sport media giant ESPN.

The tournament will host 24 teams from the US, Canada, Great Britain, and Colombia. Included in these teams are all 2013 US Club Championship Semifinalists. The 2014 US Open is expected to be the most elite and competitive tournament ever held. The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday, July 3rd-6th. You are encouraged to come out as a spectator, especially to root on Drag’n Thrust and Minneapolis based men’s team, Sub Zero.

Since its inception, US Open has been an amazing way to spread ultimate to the country and the world. The tournament and convention has undoubtedly increased viewership of ultimate through USAU’s partnership with ESPN and participation at every level of the game from High School to Elite Club level. Ultimately the US Open coming to Minnesota will highlight all the ultimate playing opportunities available in our state and potentially have a great impact on participation.

Minnesota Youth Ultimate, the local organizers of youth ultimate opportunities, is the volunteer organization hosting the event this year with USAU and WFDF. Key leadership has been established and are working hard to make a great event. But they can always use more help! If you like ultimate, can make yourself available for part of the weekend, and want to see the best ultimate in the world, then volunteering is the best way to do so! Register to volunteer today!

As a US Open veteran, a Minnesota resident, and ultimate player and fan of many years, I can personally say I am excited about the premier showcase event coming to our backyard.  I can’t wait to take on the world’s best with my teammates, and shoot for a US Open Championship!  Hope to see you out there!

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