Photo courtesy of Demian Moore.
SCANDIA, Minn. — The second annual Kubb Society Vinterfest Kubb Scramble kicked off this weekend at 10 a.m. in Scandia on the grounds of Meister’s Bar and Grill. Just a short 45 minute drive north of St. Paul, Meister’s is the area’s mecca for Kubb—now hosting both a winter a summertime tournament.*
St. Paul Kubb Society Tournament Director Tim Motzko had the pitches set up and the snow packed down for practice by 9 a.m. The background was filled with the sounds of local youth hockey, as this year’s tournament coincided with Hockey Day 2018.
Thirty-two players participated in the day-long scramble-format tournament, including a strong contingent of Eau Claire, Wisconsin players and one dedicated soul who made the trek up from Kasson, Minnesota. Meister’s Owner Scot Taylor and some of his co-workers participated, as well as many other Scandians. Well-known kubb personality Mark Peterson also brought along a group of family and friends from nearby Chisago, Minnesota.
The scramble format is especially conducive to the open, friendly, get-to-know-each-other-and-the-game format that Motzko likes to promote at his tournaments and through the St. Paul Kubb Society. Single players are randomly matched with one another on teams of three or four to play a single 25 minute match. Then the random shuffling is repeated to create an entirely new slate of teams, for a total of six morning matches. This allows for players of all skill levels to get to know each other and have a good time while getting a taste for the game (and hopefully win a couple of matches!).
All members of each winning team receive three points. One point is awarded for any ties. This was a “drop the batons” tournament, meaning that when time was called, the match was over (no one finishes their turn, regardless of which team started the match or if one side still has batons to throw). A full three points is awarded to the team that has knocked down the most baseline kubbs.
After a break for lunch to sample the famous Meisterburger and local cheese curds, and to share some libations and a few Packers jokes, the morning’s point tally was used to seed all players for the afternoon’s champion-determining matches. Eau Claire’s Brian Winistorfer was the top morning-point-getter with 18 total points—meaning he was part on the winning team for all of his six morning matches (it’s math, people). Winistorfer joked that he had won only a single match at last year’s tournament. Tim “Crazy Eyes” Motzko and Steve “The Professor” Dolan rounded out the top three players from the morning, with 16 and 15 total points, respectively.
From that point, the championship round teams were set throughout the remainder of the tournament. Those teams were created based on each player’s seeding points earned in their morning play. The seedings did reward the more successful players by teaming them with players that had also been fairly successful, but it wasn’t a straight-up pairing of the best with the best. For example,number one seeded Winistorfer was teamed with the number five and number nine seeds, number two seeded Motzko was teamed with number six and 10 seeds, and so on. Due to the number of pitches and participants, there were also two teams of four.
When the slush settled and the points were tallied after four more matches under the afternoon fixed-team format, Winistorfer emerged as the wire-to-wire winner with a final point total of 34 for the day. St. Paul’s own Stevie D finished up in second (30 points), and Scandia native and kubb-newbie Todd LeGare took third (28 points). Winistorfer and LeGare were teammates throughout the afternoon round, and Dolan graciously recognized the contributions of Jason Halvorson and Josh Carpenter to his second place finish. Carpenter and Halvorson finished just out of the money, tied for fourth place with 27 points.
The top three players received a bounty of rewards, including beautifully adorned Vinterfest championship bibs, an artfully painted kubb-hammer trophy for the first place finisher, and choices of local brew for all three. Two randomly selected participants also received prizes—kubb magnets, a set of kubbs, and a bottle of homemade amaretto (thanks Jenna!) were doled out to Emily from Eau Claire and Curt Bennett who admits to a connection with the Peterson kubb-crew.
The second annual Vinterfest kubb tournament was a great success. Lots of locals stopped by to ask what was going on, and a number of them chucked a few batons during breaks in the action. With a bonfire crackling in the background, great food and drink aplenty, wonderful friends—new and old, and the familiar sounds of outdoor hockey in the background, it is difficult to imagine a more perfect afternoon of wintertime kubb. Thanks and congratulations to Motzko and his helpers Jenna and Elaina for organizing and putting on yet another great tournament!
*This year’s kubb tournament was held a week earlier than Scandia’s actual Vinterfest celebration. The 2018 Vinterfest conflicts with Captain Ken’s Loppet Kubb tournament.