Photo courtesy of Aaron Hultquist.
AMANA, Iowa — With a backdrop of rural Iowa and a beautiful summer day in Amana, it felt like we had stepped into the “Field of Dreams” version of kubb. The Amana Colonies are a national historical landmark that was built by a mostly German Pietist religious group known as the Community of True Inspiration in 1855. The Old World charm of the colonies brings in visitors from all over the world and you could see and feel the pre-Oktoberfest preparations beginning in the community that will bring in thousands of visitors in early October to this small rural community approximately 20 miles southwest of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The tournament was hosted by Amana-based Kolonie Kubb with support from Kubb United Inc and was part of the Summer Iowa Games series of events. The tournament used the U.S. Kubb Open Rules for Open Play that include painted pitches and seven rounds of the Klassic tournament format.
There were eight teams that played in this inaugural event. Four of the teams included a past or present U.S. National Kubb Championship team member. After the qualification rounds, Kubbvfefe with Josh “Dobbie” Feathers from Des Moines and Pat Rupp from Elberon, Iowa were 7-0 and took the number one seed into the championship bracket. After a close battle with number four seed Rhymes With Tube (Dave Giese from Fitchburg, Wisconsin and Cody Glorioso from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin), Kubbvefe was able to win 2-0 and move into the finals. In the other semifinal game, number two seeded Seek And Destroy composed of two of the winningest players in kubb in 2017—Darren Finger of Waukesha, Wisconsin and Brian Winistorfer of Minneapolis—played near perfect kubb and defeated the husband and wife team of Michelle and Evan Fitzgerald (Roscoe, Illinois) called Skolly Rollors in two games.
The highly anticipated finals featured two teams that could have been featured in any two-player tournament anywhere in the world. Each team was anchored by the only multiple winners of the top inkastare award at the U.S. National Kubb Championships. Both teams came out uncharacteristically cold on 8 meters in the first two rounds, but after trading leads between rounds two through five, Finger stacked up a Neighbor Rule kubb (AKA Elevated Award) in round six. After Seek and Destroy analyzed their different possibilities for placing the Award Kubb, they chose to put it in front of one of their two remaining baseline kubbs. Winistorfer showed why he is clearly one of the top players in the country by hammering the pile and clearing the six clustered field kubbs in two throws. Darren followed up with knocking down the award kubb and baseline in one throw and then hitting their last remaining baseline kubb with his second, leaving his remaining baton to knock down the king for game one. Game two was even quicker. Seek and Destroy opened by knocking down one baseline. Kubbvfefe uncharacteristically went 0-3 on their return baseline attempts and Seek and Destroy made them pay for that mistake by showing why they are two of the best 8 meter players in the game today. They went four-for-four on their 8 meter shots and Winistorfer toppled the king to be the first ever Kolonie Kubb champions.
In a competitive third place game where the lead traded hands every round, the Skolly Rollors were able to clear nine field kubbs with three batons. Evan cleared the final baseline kubb followed by Michelle knocking down the king to win the bronze medal.
The consolation final featured two new players that each played their first tournament game less than a year ago. It was evident in the qualifier rounds and the consolation final game that Aaron Hultquist of Belle Plaine, Iowa on the Iowa River Arsenal and Ole Olson of Ankeny, Iowa of Team Shish Kubbob are two up and coming players. They each displayed all around strong kubb skills. The Iowa River Arsenal was able to win the consolation gold.
The Amana Furniture & Clock Shop built beautiful king shaped walnut engraved trophies for the top three finishers and Iowa Games supplied high quality gold, silver, and bronze medals.
“I believed the tournament was successful, as the teams playing showed sportsmanship every game, and the championship was great to watch. Their skill really showed why they were playing for the championship.” —Ron Heitmann, tournament director
While we all know that the number of teams wasn’t where the tournament organizers hoped it would be, all of the participants were very thankful to Kolonie Kubb for a well-organized, competitive, and most importantly fun event. There was a lot of discussion with the organizers and participants about what steps are needed to build on this event and some other promising ideas that can take place around the state. A popular motto in Iowa is it’s “a place to grow” and it’s hoped this tournament is a seed that can help spring up the next generation of kubb players in the state of Iowa.