Welcome to the county fair, y’all
by Than Acuff
So, when I was just a freshman in college I was invited by some upperclassmen to participate in an ultimate tournament at the University of Wyoming in Laramie in January. The weather was foul, obviously, but, fortunately, the tournament was indoors as the university has a massive field house complete with AstroTurf.
I thought, what could be cooler? Indoor ultimate at a big school, road trip, kegs, girls… the works. Then came the party that night and I was introduced to the dark side of ultimate and the rituals. Let’s just say at one point a naked person was being passed around with a Frisbee jammed between their butt cheeks. I think it was called Landshark.
But that was then, a cold dark January night in Wyoming and I’m sure none of that will be happening at the annual Crested Butte HAT Tournament on Saturday, August 15.
Ultimate can be tough. Takes massive cardiovascular effort, agility, coordination and a certain fearlessness. Whether it be fearless to run full-tilt and lay out for a diving grab or fearless to dress up like a woman, run full-tilt and lay out for a diving grab and then go to a bar afterwards.
Ultimate in Crested Butte at 9,000 feet can be even tougher and yet each summer a committed crew of players, the CB Lawn Gnomes, come out a couple evenings a week to play pick-up. The turnout often includes an influx of Rocky Mountain Biological Lab folks as well, looking to burn off a little scientific steam.
Each summer they eventually pull together a team to hit a tournament in Boulder or Durango and then rally ultimate players from throughout the Four Corners area, the Front Range and even a player from Michigan to come to Crested Butte for the HAT tournament.
HAT has two meanings—I think the French call it a double entendre. HAT means both High Altitude Tournament and also refers to the style of tournament where people throw their names in a hat and are picked at random to form teams.
This has been going on in Crested Butte for close to 25 years and while the hat has been replaced by an Excel spreadsheet complete with player evaluations, the energy is still the same.
“This kind of tournament is more about getting together and playing a game everybody enjoys,” says CB Lawn Gnome Steven Shea.
In an effort to maintain that same casually competitive tournament nature, the Crested Butte HAT tournament always has a theme. This year’s theme happens to be County Fair.
“Very Americana or Country Western, whatever people think county fair means,” says Shea. “Probably some people dressed up like corn, cotton candy and animals.”
Tournament participants should be rolling into town on Friday and organizers will get together at 5 p.m. at the Brick Oven to go over the list of players and break them into even teams. The tournament opens with breakfast for players Saturday morning at the Rainbow Pavilion with food and coffee provided by Mountain Oven and First Ascent.
“It’ll be like a continental breakfast,” says Shea.
The action starts around 9 a.m. and will continue all day at fields set up at Rainbow and in Town Park until a team emerges as champions, at which point players will feast on food from Teocalli Tamale and then close the one-day festival out at the Talk of the Town.
There are still spots left for ultimate players of any and all abilities and you can register for the tournament online at cbultimate.com or find them on Facebook.