This is the second of two parts. Read part one.
World Championship Saturday (Day Two)
Chaska Kubb was up bright and early to get ready for their next round of group play. This group of four consisted of Famous K, who qualified from 2017 to be there. The other three teams qualified on Friday. One of the three teams requested the six baton start as a strategy to get out early on Chaska. The other two teams both wanted a two-four-six start as did Chaska. Chaska continued to play well and controlled all three matches, taking down six more kings for a total of 14 at this point. Ten more kings were needed, as Chaska was now qualified for the round of 32.
In the round of 32, Chaska would take on the infamous Inglorious Whiskeyboys of Switzerland. Chaska had found their stride and took both games with only one baseline kubb taken from their own end. They now had 16 kings down, a 16-0 record, and eight kings left to go.
In the round of 16, Chaska would take on local team Kubbmeisters. This team consisted of all 20-something year old players who were a lot of fun. Several of their players threw extremely hard and could smoke kubbs like you’ve never seen before. On one of their 8 meter shots, Simon Petterson threw so hard that the baton struck an unopened beverage can well off the pitch and it exploded. Chaska was careful not to get hit in the shins. Chaska quickly won game one but had to grind a few extra rounds to win game two. With 18 kings down, there were six left to go. The Kubbmeisters would go on to be some of Chaska’s biggest fans. They followed along and lead the crowd chants the rest of the way.
In the quarterfinals (AKA eight-final), Chaska was up against one of the heaviest hitters in all of the kubb world. The Kubb’Ings/Gipfelsturmer are two teams combined out of Germany and have collected three world titles since 2013. Chaska has been watching these two teams on YouTube for 5 years, and longed for the opportunity to play the guys that they look up to the most. Mark and John Oman had the opportunity to pair up with Robert Harnack (and Björn Görlitz) at U.S. National Kubb Championship in 2017 and had a great experience. Chaska knew it was time to relax like it was their own backyard and play their game.
Chaska won the king toss, chose side and the game was on. During the four baton turn, Chaska got four shots at the baseline. Dickinson, John Oman, and Erdman connected to go up 3-0. Kubb’Ings/Gipfelsturmer returned two more off the baseline on their next turn. Erdman drilled five kubbs in a nice pile for Ford Rolfrud’s right-handed snow plow throw. He cleared four with one remaining. Larson cleaned up the final field kubb. Chaska was in the red zone with three targets left and four batons available. Dickinson and John Oman connected at 8 meters and Erdman hit the king in the face. King number 19 was down using just 10 batons.
In game two, the two teams would trade leads four times to bring the match to a 4-4 tie. Chaska would take over from here. Erdman drilled eight, Larson chipped off two slightly loose kubs on the left to tighten the remaining group of six. Rolfsrud plowed five of the six. The sixth kubb had been his target, which he hit but it did not fall. Dickinson would go on to make the shot of the tournament. He hit the remaining 4 meter kubb and his baton rolled smoothly like a rolling pin to the baseline to take down the final base kubb. John Oman would snow plow the king for the win. King number 20 was down and a trip to “The Cage” lay ahead.
At this point, Chaska had a lot of momentum but had to wait about an hour for the other three matches to finish. They took a stroll to the cage area which was roped off and the stands were full of spectators wanting a view of the action. The crowd’s chanting and cheering were already in full swing. Fans were finishing off their beverages and throwing them down from the stands towards the garbage can below just for fun. Cheers for shots made, and shaming for misses were heard loudly around the grounds. One thing was for sure—Europeans know how to have fun at a kubb tournament. A much needed thunderstorm moved in causing a 20-minute delay and wet conditions for the start of the cage matches. Chaska would take on Horstbrod of Switzerland while the K.P. Wildogs of Switzerland faced Vroska of the Czech Republic. Chaska had played in these conditions before and were feeling prepared.
Upon returning to the pitches after the storm, the people were greeted with full semicircle rainbow to the east. It was a sign of good things to come. Chaska and Horstrbrod opened up big and were in a 4-4 game one virtual tie after two rounds each. Chaska was able to close it out on its fourteenth baton and king 21 was down. Game two was a grinder back-and-forth. Eventually, Chaska had to drill nine kubbs and needed to pick up the last baseline to go to the finals. A nice group along the midline was set up and Chaska made some good shots but kubbs were not falling easily on this turn. The sixth baton was thrown by Mark Oman, who was facing elevated debris in front of his field kubb target. He hit the pile and scattered it. However, one debris kubb prevented that standing kubb from toppling. Their first advantage line was handed out in their twenty-second game of the tournament. Horstbrod took full advantage and tied the match, and took it the game three. Chaska came out and took a 4-2 lead, and appeared to be headed to the finals. Horstbrod put together their greatest performance of the tournament weekend as they cleared the field in two batons, went three-for-three at 8 meters and closed it out on the king. The K.P. Wildogs had just reached the final themselves and rushed the pitched to greet their fellow Swiss countrymen. It would be an all-Swiss final where K.P. Wildogs won in two games.
Chaska went on to the bronze match, where they faced Vroska of the Czech Republic. It was a similar three game match to the semi-finals. Chaska came out big in game one, knocked down their twenty-second and final king. Game two was a grinder. Game three was tied at 4-4 when the Vroska closed and earned the bronze medal. Chaska ended their tournament run just two kings shy of their goal of 24 and the world title. The European kubb world would go on to party until 3 a.m. in the big tent.
Chaska Kubb’s memorable journey had come to a close. One of the tournament directors commented to the team about how they felt Chaska had changed the culture of kubb in Europe during their time on the island. Instead of kubb being an “us versus them” concept, it was all about togetherness and community. For that, he thanked the Chaska boys for all they had done. All six members made sure to get to know opponents or anyone else they could during their precious time on Gotland. One week later, the Kubbmeisters could still be heard chanting “Ooh aah Chaska Kubb” on Facebook Live during their own podium ceremony appearance at the Swedish Championship. The Chaska guys were smiling back home in the United States.
The Chaska guys reflected about their experience nearly two weeks later over a conference call. A few of them mentioned that they were still on a natural high from this wonderful experience. The crowd chanting in the cage, the meaningful conversations had with hundreds of Europeans, and the hospitality returned to them made it all worth it. They were certainly hoping to win the tournament and came close but the quality of the experience replaced the sting of the losses. They hope to return someday and do it all over again.
Chaska Kubb would like to invite anyone interested in celebrating with them to a viewing party for a documentary video that is currently being made. The viewing will take place on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Chaska at a time and place to be determined. This will be on the eve of the 1v1 tournament held the next day at Fireman’s Park in downtown Chaska. Check out the documentary teaser video on YouTube.