Rumrunners team wins snowball championship

Mike Dunham
People walk past a giant phoenix snow sculpture on Tuesday night, Mar. 1, 2011, that was carved by Team AK Awesome who won first place in the 3-member team competition at Fur Rondy.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Visitors from Wisconsin brave the cold wind during Fur Rondy in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Blanket toss during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Declan Sorich, 5, is launched into the air during the blanket toss at the Rondy Carnival at 3rd Avenue and E Street in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. The walrus blanket being used is over 40-years-old and people will get another chance to try the blanket toss next Friday from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m-4 p.m.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A Percheron draft horse named Bill, from the Horse Drawn Carriage Company, waits to give rides during the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
People flocked to the Rondy Carnival at 3rd Avenue and E Street despite the cold wind in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Spectators watch a dog team finish during the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Kent Schumacher wearing a Alaska gray wolf cape watches the finish of the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Anne Marie Woods of Belfast, Ireland, gives the blanket toss a try during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage Police officer John Daily clears the trail on final day of the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A youngster is lauched into the air during the blanket toss at the Rondy Carnival in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Pullers hang onto the 40-year-old walrus blanket being used at Fur Rondy in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The State of Alaska Hide and Horn Auction took place near the Rondy Carnival Sunday afternoon. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy Queen Desiree Merculief at the finish of the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A youngster is tossed into the air during the blanket toss at the Fur Rondy buttress area in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. The walrus blanket being used is over 40-years-old and people will get another chance to try the blanket toss next Friday from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m-4 p.m.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The State of Alaska Hide and Horn Auction took place near the Rondy Carnival Sunday afternoon. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fur pelts for sale along 4th Avenue during the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy blanket toss in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The Liberty Tax Preparation Service float ducks under a traffic light during the parade. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Ken Lantis of Lantis Fireworks and Lasers worked with others to set up the shells that will launch the Fur Rendezvous fireworks show. Lantis, who says his company has been putting on the Rondy fireworks for more than 30 years, says more than 2,400 shells will be shot during this year's display which happens a 6:45pm on Satuday, February 26, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A Percheron draft horse named Bill, from the Horse Drawn Carriage Company, pulls a carriage at 3rd Avenue and E Street during Fur Rondy in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Fur hats for sale along 4th Avenue during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Beverly Luedke-Chan, left, and Paul Chan cross 4th Avenue in Anchorage while carrying brown bear hides that they purchased during the State of Alaska Hide & Horn Auction during Fur Rondy on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Gladys Johnson and her sister Dorotha Johnson watch the parade pass on 5th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The State of Alaska Hide and Horn Auction took place near the Rondy Carnival Sunday afternoon. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Ethan McPhepridge pulls chains off of the Silver Steak ride at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Great Train Show is on display at the Alaska Railroad Depot. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Cordova Iceworm float makes its way down 6th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A sprint mushing race fan watches a team depart on Sunday. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Jake Berkowitz and his team head down Cordova Street on the second day of racing. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Zack Kemplen chips away at the top of a block of snow as Allen Kemplen shovels at the base on Thursday, February 24, 2011. They were working to create their entry in the GCI Snow Sculpture Competition, an event of Fur Rendezvous 2011. The snow sculpture display is located on Ship Creek Avenue near the Comfort Inn.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers David Alonso and Wade Meade assemble the Tornado ride at the Race Time game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Mike Riordan wears his collection of Rondy pins. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Cotton candy is prepared at the Rondy Carnival. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Thomas Bradish hangs prizes at the Balloon Pop game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Steven Bavilla spread the covering over the merry-go-round at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Ethan McPhepridge shovels snow off of the Silver Steak ride at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Dave Kendall and Steven Bavilla spread the covering over the merry-go-round at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Pirates of Dollar Lake consisted of participants from Big Lake. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A float from Waterworks Spas and Saunas includes a giant duck. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Dave Kendall and Steven Bavilla spread the covering over the merry-go-round at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Mark "The Alaska Bushman" Braaten collected donations for Healing Hearts, an organization for wounded veterans. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Jeff Okuley, top, and Dan Comes assemble the Apollo ride at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Cordova Iceworm float makes its way down 6th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Antique tractors participate in the parade. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Alaska Territorial Cavalry (Motorized) rides down 6th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Isabel Trias hangs stuffed polar bear prizes at the Race Time game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
In the foreground, Ed Bouwens and Charles Whiteley work on their king crab snow sculpture while, at left, Allen Kemplen and Zack Kemplen chip away at a sculpure they're calling "Fairview Pride." The work is part of the GCI Snow Sculpture Competition which is located along Ship Creek Avenue near the Comfort Inn. It's just one of the events of this year's Fur Rendezvous, which kicks into high gear on Friday, February 29 and continues through Sunday, March 6.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Taxidermist Kenneth Morris sells furs downtown. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Desiree Merculief was crowned Miss Rondy Queen at Mayor Dan Sullivan's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011. Merculief is crowned by last years queen Chelsey Homan. At left is Haley Dobis member of her court.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ryan Housler's dog team sprints down Cordova Street. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Lanessa Lopes and Janell Kakaruk hang prizes at the Balloon Pop game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement game prizes at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Isabel Trias and Estelle Patrick hang stuffed polar bear prizes at the Race Time game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage Fur Rondy Lord Trapper Jim Robbins at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Desiree Merculief was crowned Miss Rondy Queen at Mayor Dan Sullivan's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy royalty, left to right, princess Marlise Williams, King Regent Caleb Aldman Miss Rondy Queen Desiree Merculief, queen regent Ginger Zarobsky, princess Haley Dobis and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan at the mayor's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Desiree Merculief was crowned Miss Rondy Queen at Mayor Dan Sullivan's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011. Princess Haley Dobis, Queen Desiree Merculief and Princess Marlise Williams have their photograph made by Clark James Mishler.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage will represent the U.S.A. at the Yukigassen World Championships next year. That is, if the Rumrunners team, which claimed the U.S. national championship on Sunday wants to do it and can afford to get there.

Thirty-two teams signed up. By Sunday morning, they had been winnowed down to four men's division teams and two coed teams.

Action started at 11 a.m., with more participants and officials on hand than spectators in the chilly metal bleachers. Two side-by-side courts were set up on the Delaney Park Strip at 10th Avenue and G Street. The men's finals took place simultaneously -- one of many confusing elements at the event.

In Court Two, Big Test Icicles knocked off Granite Construction in two periods, the last of which involved a wild charge in which the two standing Icycles players plunged into enemy territory where they dodged the fire of four opponents and captured the flag.

Meanwhile, in Court One, in the winner's face-off, Rumrunners beat the Undominable Snowmen, in two periods.

The Icicles now had to take on the Snowmen. They got the edge in hits in the first period. The last Snowman tried a charge against the two remaining Icicles but was cut down before he could reach the flag. In the second period the Snowmen waged a strategic battle, capturing an Icicle shelter before moving in to finish the bout. But the Icicles came back in the final period, double teaming the last Snowman.

That set up the championship round with Rumrunners.

By then maybe 200 people were present, though some have may been just walking by or stopping at the snack wagon for hot dogs. (A bargain at $5.24 -- bigger than the $7.50 hot dogs at Yankee Stadium and made with reindeer meat.)

Yukigassen USA organizer Carrie Ferguson addressed the crowd prior to the finale, asking them not to shout out numbers of players they think have been hit, and thus should be off the court. "It confuses both the players and the referees," she said. "I know it's just a snowball fight, but it's a big one."

The 'Runners shattered the Icicles in two periods heavy on defense. Both sides relied more on sniping than barrages. When the Icicles tried to rush the flag in the first period they were nailed.

The second period saw even more caution. But the 'Runners showed the most accuracy and as the final seconds approached had six players left to the Icicles' three. The Icicles attempted another suicide charge, snatching the flag but not before being nailed and hence "out." The remaining Icicle froze at his chateau as time ran off the clock.

"I'm putting this on my resume!" exulted Edwin Stout, a Rumrunners defender.

The Coed championship playoff was arguably the more exciting affair. The Angry Ball Busters had gone through the tournament undefeated. They faced the Yellow Snow Throwers, who, like the Icicles, had come up the hard way, through the loser's bracket. The Throwers lost their first match to the Amish Assassins last weekend, then battled back game by game until they could face the Assassins again, besting them this time.

In the first period on Sunday, two Throwers players dodged several near-misses in a two-player rush into enemy territory. They won the second period as well with a flag capture. Because they'd gone through the loser's bracket, however, they had to play the Busters one more time.

They took the first with a three-player charge at the flag. The second, however, was a war of attrition, both sides laying down heavy barrages without risking concerted expeditions from their home halves of the court. When the time elapsed, there were more Throwers than Busters.

Diane Kaplan, Rondy's Lady Trapper, handed out the medallions and trophy -- which depicts a snow-flinging hand. Thus ended the first ever officially sanctioned yukigassen tournament on American soil.

A great deal of confusion accompanied the event. Misidentifications from the loudspeaker and sometimes erroneous descriptions of what was happening. Many observers and players accused the referees of not seeing strikes and infractions or making up the rules.

But by the championships, there seemed to be plenty of officials on hand and the calls seemed relatively more consistent than earlier. Many in the stands yearned for replay and a Jumbotron, a time clock, or orange-colored snowballs that might be more visible against the white snow under the gleaming sun.

So perhaps changes are in store when competition resumes at the next Fur Rendezvous. In the meantime, Rumrunners has won the right to represent America next February at the Mount-Shinzan International Yukigassen World Championships in Hokkaido, Japan.

Assuming they can get there.

Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

USA Yukigassen championship teams

Men's division winning team

Rumrunners

Captain: Bob Livingston

Players: Brad Bigelow, Taylor Reed, Justin Bode, Gary Ray, Charlton Ferriera, Edwin Stout, Jeremy Wylie

Coed division winning team

Yellow Snow Throwers

Captain: K.C. Linn

Players: K.C. Linn, Randy Hughes, Rachel Vosburg, Lou Ulmer, Jeremy Guse, Michelle Brittian, Travis Miller


By MIKE DUNHAM
mdunham@adn.com