DECORAH, Iowa — Decorah’s Nordic Fest is a large weekend festival that takes over the town, and starting in 2011, there’s also been a kubb tournament. After the parade this year, 24 teams took part in a single-elimination bracket. With the extremely hot and sunny weather (feels-like temperatures reaching 104 degrees), no one seemed to mind a slightly faster-than-normal tournament format. Teams were guaranteed at least four games with a cascading number of consolation brackets. The field of teams included many local teams and a few traveling teams.
The top four teams included kubb circuit regulars Berzerkers (Clint Childers, Coleman Rydie), Chaska Blue (Matt Braa, Tyler Patterson) Drill Pickles (Christopher Jones, Demian Moore), and last year’s champion, Gunnar (Pat Rupp, Cody Walter).
For the semi-finals, the format switched from single game to best-of-three. The Drill Pickles and Gunnar matched up on one side, with the Drill Pickles taking it 2-0. The other match between Chaska Blue and Berzerkers lasted a little longer. After a few missed kings on the Berzerkers’ part and a hard-fought battle by all, Chaska Blue emerged victorious.
In the first game of the finals, Jones of the Drill Pickles had a bad bounce of a re-thrown kubb, turning it into a penalty. Chaska Blue opted for the classic behind the king placement. With only three kubbs in play, this should not have been much trouble, but Moore’s baton hit the ground a little early and collided with the king, ending the game prematurely.
In game two, both teams were playing well and it wasn’t long before there were nine kubbs in play. The Drill Pickles would ultimately walk away with the win and force a game three.
Game three started out with a little back-and-forth progress on both baselines. A few turns in, Braa struggled with some blasting, which left Patterson without any batons to continue the progress. The Drill Pickles took advantage, jumping into the lead. With seven kubbs in play, the Drill Pickles just needed to clear their field kubbs and the king. Unfortunately, Jones inkasted a penalty, which was placed at near 8 meters, making it a harder turn than anticipated. Jones cleared in three, leaving Moore with the math to take down the penalty kubb and the king. He missed his first attempt at the penalty, but made solid contact the second time. He then lined up and slayed the king, making the Drill Pickles the 2019 Nordic Fest champions!
Photos courtesy of Jason Larson.