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2019 Edmonton Cup of the North

Cup of the North! The words conjure freezing temperatures, snow, poutine, ice, and polo! I’ve enjoyed playing locally and at Nationals on a variety of teams, but have never ventured to Edmonton for Cup of the North. This year, that changed.

 With the excellent organization of Marc and Catherine in Victoria taking care of logistics, registration and lodging was a breeze. Thanks very much! But what I was really worried about were 2 things - 1) how would we stack up against the Canadian teams, and 2) would I freeze to death???

With 2 paddles, a helmet, and all my arctic clothing, I flew from Seattle to Edmonton on the Thursday evening before the tournament. I saw another polo player getting his boat in the airport, and easily rented a car and drove into town. So far so good. 

Friday has been games and training in the past, but not this year. I spent the day exploring North America’s largest mall (who knew!?) and will definitely bring a proper swimsuit to spend the day in the ENORMOUS WATERPARK there next year. By afternoon, the rest of the crew from Portland, Vancouver, and Victoria had arrived, and we toured the mall before getting some food and heading to the venue to get our kit sorted. 

A too-brief night of sleep, then play started Saturday. What fun! We’d split into 2 combined teams; the advantage was that we had a great time playing together and getting to know each other. The downside was we hadn’t played together before. 

I was on a team with players from Vancouver and Victoria, led by the ever-positive and extremely capable Catherine O’Brien. Our first game was against the US Women, and we were proud to hold them to only winning by one point, 3-2. Excellent defensive work from our team. The rest of the games started to blur together as the day wore on. The B division in Canada was very strong, with a good range of physicality and coordination to test us. And between our games, watching the A division was an excellent clinic as well. And everyone was so nice! 

Can I just say what fun it is to play against good and better teams? It was a blast to jostle against the young guns and Canadian women and see how well I stacked up. They didn’t make it easy for us, and I came away with a lot of personal and team skills I am looking forward to working on back home. Hopefully we’ll even have a proper Seattle team next year!

My last game (fittingly) was against the other PNW team, and they really came alive, showing excellent team spirit and physicality to take the win.

I had to fly out before the last game, but am looking forward to playing with my new friends locally and back in Edmonton next year! I can hardly think of a more fun way to spend a cold winter weekend. Til the next Cup of the North,

Chris
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