Tourneys, Forums, and Products (Oh My!)
Let’s start this column with a look at some of the upcoming tourneys in April, shall we?
On the West Coast and out of San Francisco comes the SF Survivor Bench Weekend (April 6th and 7th) . Featuring everything you’d expect out of San Fran (Friday pickup, a poker party, potluck BBQ, knife fights) along with prizes and otherwise interesting hilarity. If you’re in the area it’s a good way to get into the groove of the season, no doubt.
Next on the ol’ agenda, we have Bike Polo Spring Break (BPSB) out of Lexington, KY (Also April 6th and 7th). If the poster is any indication of what to expect, people can expect rainbows and pixilated mohawked gentlemen trying to pick up pixilated women at the beach, and dolphins riding jetskis. However, if you know anything about Lexington Bike Polo, you’ll know that they put on one heck of a shindig and it’s definitely worth your time and effort to be there.
Another hot number comes the April 13th weekend: Battle For The Midwest 2, which features (now get this) a $40 dollar fee per player, which includes beer all weekend, 3 meals Saturday, and at least 2 meals on Sunday. That’s what I’m talking about, Midwest! As of me writing this, there is space for 1 more team, and I’d suggest pulling at least 7 of your buddies together to go to this one – if nothing else just to see if you can make your money back in beer alone. I know you can, Baby Cake. This is another bench format tourney as well. Lots of sponsors, probably lot of awesome.
And that VERY SAME WEEKEND (April 13th) we have the Eastside Regional Qualifier out of Boston. The Eastside Regional Qualifier holds a special place in my heart, and while I haven’t been able to form up a team for it (I only write about bike polo well enough, I don’t play it so well enough), I might just make an appearance up there to document the happenings. The fee is sixty bucks registration plus 10 bucks to the NAH for their contingency fund (which you can read about here). So that’s a seventy spot for your team to head up to Hockey Town and get your game on. Boston brings the heat when it comes to an event like this (God knows the weather typically doesn’t, am I right?), so you’ll be in good hands.
And that’s my upcoming tourney wrap up (yes Southwest Regional Qualifier, I see you there – next time).
So now that you know what tourneys are upcoming and have a reason to start packing for all points, let’s talk about what bike polo as a whole has been discussing, and from a quick glance at the LoBP (ALL HAIL) forum, it looks like the most recent conversation is on mallet hooking the goalie to force a footdown or a roll-out. As most people in the forum thread accurately point out, this is a perfectly legal move and a very effective one at that. However, the gem of this thread comes from a very important clarification that many bike polo players fail to grasp: the difference between a hack (or slash) and a hook.
A hack or slash is when there is a forceful movement of your mallet against your opponents in (generally) a downward or sideways motion. A hook is when you make contact with the opponents mallet first, and then lift or push away. This is obviously a simplified explanation, but it’s an effective one, I find. If you roll up to another player and swordfight with them, you’re doing it wrong.
One of the most discussed forums I’ve seen is one dealing with moving picks and interference rules. I’ll leave you to get the little details, but it comes down to this: how should moving picks be handled in bike polo of the future, and should there be penalties for offensive and defensive interference.
I was having a hard time understanding most of what was said (surprising, no?), until Kev of Toronto posted this video and noted that around 16:55 there is a great example of “off-ball body checking” that should be made illegal for fairer play (or at least for less violent play). I watched the video and saw how and argument could be made for offensive picks being not so great. But from that point on the conversation spins into somewhat veiled personal attacks, quotes to simply dissect semantics, and other adventures in saying the same thing over and over again.
You know, typical board stuff.
Let’s finish off with something near and dear to all polo player’s hearts: new stuff round up.
Arena Bike Polo has come out with some shiny new bike polo shafts and mallet heads, and I must say that I’m a fan of both. The shaft just looks great and feels light in the hand while still maintaining strength, and the Alchemy head is basically the economy (don’t take that as slight in any way) version of the M.I.L.K. head out of Geneva. It’s peppy, well-constructed, and currently one of my go-to mallets. I haven’t done a full review of it on Lancaster Polo yet, but I will very soon. You can check out their fine products right here.
Next we have a newer entry into the bike polo equipment game, this being Modifide. The piece of equipment in particular is the ARC mallet head, made of Canadian UHMW and built with the curves previously unseen in the sport. I played with one for a day so far, and I am impressed with how the shape controls the ball. The price is high here in the states (40 bucks or so with shipping included), but I guess that’s the price you pay for engineering and…stuff… Check out their Facebook page for more on the ARC. I have a full “first day” review of this mallet head on lancasterpolo.com right now, if you’re so inclined.
Finally we have Northern Standard coming out with a suspiciously similar-to-the-ARC mallet head and a new shaft to go along with it (which has the same basic shape as their honeycomb mallet a little while back). I can’t speak much to either the shaft or the head as I haven’t tried them out, but if past performance is any indication of future projects, I think we’ll have some fine additions to put your wallet toward. Most notably is the end of the mallet shaft: Four-toothed for your mallet head’s pleasure, though that doesn’t seem to be on the site quite yet. The price is $28 Canadian dollars, which is something close to $28 American dollars as of this writing. Add $10 dollars shipping to that and you’re looking at about the same price point as the Modifide. Here is the NS website for you to gander wares.
So that’s the polo update from your humble columnist. I hope the beginning of your season is going well, and I look forward to seeing you crazy polokins at the tourneys!