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Montreal 2003: Day Four
Added: August 15 2004

Saturday, August 16, 2003.

Granted our slightly late return from the Cactus Cafe, 7:30am felt a little early. Again.

Knowing that Saturday is the day for the main tournament bracket, the other Head Observer and I are expecting a full day. Oddly, we end up free during the first two rounds of the day.

Two players admire the trophies, while two Observers
wait for their first game. (Pic: Damon Holmes)

Let me stop here for a second. If you've read this far, you're probably thinking, "How on earth can Chris remember all of these details a year after the fact?" Here's where I come clean: I wrote the bulk of everything up to this point within a couple of days of returning home. I was still really excited about the trip, and wanted to document everything while it was fresh. Unfortunately, I never got around to finishing the other days. From here on out, I'm working on year-old memories, so some details may be marginally inaccurate.

One random note about the mornings: the tournament provides bagels and fruit at Disc Central, mostly in the morning, but sometimes lasting through the afternoon. They make for a nice quick munch, especially in the morning. One thing that caught my interest: in America, if they provide jelly/jam at all for the bagels, it's usually grape. Here, it was all raspberry. And, frankly, I like raspberry better. I can't tell if it's just a coincidence or not, but it seems like there are more raspberry options in Canada than I'm used to seeing.

The only problem: the bees like the raspberry. I'd be surprised if nobody's eaten a bee over the course of the tournament.

During the week, while hanging out at Disc Central, I keep meandering over to the Merch table to see if I want to buy a souvenir of some kind. I keep staring at shirts and such, but keep figuring that the Observer yellow and the Red volunteer shirt should be enough. Maybe a frisbee.

While staring at Merch, one of the tournament staff comes over and greets me. "Hey, Chris, how are you? Did you hear about the fight last night?" Me: "Fight?" Her: "Yeah, apparently, a player and an Observer got into it." Uh oh. Turns out the incident from last night is making the rounds, and, the story she tells is far more interesting. I casually explain what happened, and she's supportive.

I head back over to the tables where I usually hang out, and the Head Tournament Director walks over. He spots me: "Hey, Chris, I'd like to have a word with you when you have a chance." Oh geez. And, the way he says it, I'm fearing the worst.

He's heard about what happened and notes: "I simply can't have players treating my volunteers like that." I have to admit, that makes me feel better. He says the Board is having a meeting about it and may ask me for a written statement of what happened. I tell him that sounds fine, just to let me know.

The first game we're called to work is a Masters semifinal. In this case, the teams simply want to play with Observers in preparation for the final, which is set to take place later that afternoon. The Masters teams generally have good spirit, so there's really not a whole lot we have to do.

I've been given another meal ticket for lunch, but the timeframe that the cafeteria is open almost exactly covers the timeslot of the Masters semi. After the game ends, I start to head over, figuring if I run, I can make it to the cafeteria, get some grub, and make it back in time for the next round. I start to head over, get about half way there, and take another look at my watch. Fifteen minutes isn't going to be enough time. Granted that meal tickets are in short supply, I run back to Disc Central and hand it back to the TD in charge of them for her to give to another volunteer. Another Powerbar lunch for me.

The next round, we're scheduled to work a Mixed semi, featuring the team who's played in every Mixed game I've worked. As I walk onto the side of the field, I can't help but notice that the far sideline (where I'm positioned) is a little odd. There apparently just wasn't enough room to fit the entire field, so the back corner is chopped off. Literally, they've painted the field line in the back of one end-zone like the edge of a stop sign.

Granted that we've reached the weekend, there are far more spectators than the first two days. Not long into the game, a group of spectators calls to me: "Hey, you know you're on the field?" I casually explain that I'm an Observer, and I'm supposed to be. "Oh."

Five minutes later, a new group arrives. "Hey, you know you're on the field?" Um, yeah. (I get this off and on the rest of the day.)

About halfway through the game, we get a call from another field. Another game has deteriorated somewhat, and they need Observers. Lost, we stare at each other and try to figure out how to make it work. Our other experienced Observer is playing in a game that round, so he's not available. Two of our other volunteers are finishing games as well. Fortunately, the other volunteer is available, so he and the other Head Observer head over to that game while I stick around to finish our original game.

Our game finishes, and I head over to where the other Observers are working to see how we're going to sort out the rest of the day. They've still got half of their game left, plus we're scheduled to work the Masters and Juniors finals. The other Head Observer decides that he and one of our volunteers should finish that game, and that myself and the other volunteer should work the Masters final. He and our other experienced Observer (who will have finished playing by then) will work the Juniors final. This seems reasonable, even if it means that he'll be putting in more work-time than I will.

For the Masters final, our volunteer decides to stick to the true one-Observer / one-Linesperson system. Basically, this system means that I, as the Observer, stay behind the player with the disc the whole time, while the Linesperson stays downfield. This seems okay to me, until I start to watch it in action. Our volunteer has just completed two games worth of play, and proceeds to do full-sprints up and down the field with each turnover. I'm stunned. Seriously, I don't know that I've run as much the entire weekend as he does during this game.

The frustrating part about working the Masters game is that the players aren't used to us being there, especially since this system means that I have to stay on the field rather than watch from the sideline. I constantly get yelled at by players complaining that I'm blocking the lane (if they need to get rid of the disc), even though I'm careful not to interfere with the play.

Fortunately, the game is well-played and good-spirited, and finishes without incident. I head back to Disc Central to meet up with the other Observers.

Since I'm finished for the day, I decide to try and hunt down some food to cover for that lunch I didn't have. The food vendors have stopped selling food, and the cafeteria is closed, so I head over to the ice arena to check the vending machines. I grab another Orange Crush, then munch on a piece of who-knows-how-old raspberry cake. (There's that raspberry again.) It's surprisingly tasty, so I buy the other one in the machine and head back towards the fields.

While the Juniors game is taking place, one of the tournament sponsors (Daredevil Discs) is having a "most time aloft" competition. The idea is to throw a disc into the air, see how long you can keep it up there, then catch it when it comes back down. For some reason, I think I have a good shot at this, until I give it my best try and absolutely suck.

The Juniors final ends up being a fun game to watch. The very last throw of the game is a toss over the head of one team's female player. She stops, reaches up to grab it, but it's just over her head. She falls backwards, snagging it on the way down, and lands on her back with her feet in the air. Everybody goes nuts. Just a perfect finish to the game.

Juniors player makes an amazing grab to win the game.
(Pic: Scobel Wiggins/UltiMarketing)

It's now past 8:00pm, and the tournament events scheduled for Saint-Jean are finished. We're supposed to shift up to Montreal proper, where the tournament party is scheduled for later that night. One problem: no transportation. The guys who drove us to Saint-Jean have already left. Many of the volunteers and several of the tournament staff are already in Montreal to set up for the party.

While we're waiting, the other Head Observer and I reflect on the day, and he hits me with a bombshell. It turns out that he's had a treatment for skin cancer in the weeks leading up to the tournament, and technically isn't supposed to be exerting himself for another couple of days. I'm flabbergasted. I know about the skin cancer - he bought a long-sleeve shirt the first day - but the rest of that stuns me.

Finally, one of the TD's tells us that a couple of the volunteers are on their way out, and would be happy to give us a ride. He and I climb into the back of a rather small compact, and we're on our way.

The drive to Montreal turns out to be one that I won't forget for a long time. In this little compact, we're going extremely fast and making a boatload of random lane changes. At the same time, the two ladies up front are having a rather animated conversation. We end up missing the turn for Autoroute 10, so the driver decides to try a "short cut" that ends up taking us a couple of miles out of the way. Finally, she turns us around, and we go back where we came, get on the Autoroute, and head into Montreal.

Having only seen a glimpse of the city while heading down to Saint-Jean, I'm amazed by the view at night while we're driving in.

They drop us off at the Holiday Inn (which he and I are extremely happy to see at this point). We hop into the line to check in. It seems like forever, but we end up getting our keys and hitting the rather busy elevator up to our floor (an "executive floor" near the top of the building).

Upon arrival at our room, I run the key through the lock. Nothing. He tries. Nothing. I volunteer to head back down the (rather busy) elevator. Downstairs, after a brief wait, I get new room keys and head back up the (rather busy) elevator. Finally, we're in the room. We clean up and discuss whether we should grab food before we leave for the party. Realizing that it's almost 11:00pm, we decide to hope that they're serving some kind of finger food at the party. We head down the (rather busy) elevator and, after a brief wait, board a bus.

It turns out that the tournament organizers have gone the whole nine meters, and have rented out the chalet on Mount Royal, which is the one mountain on the island of Montreal. The bus quickly climbs the (surprisingly curvy) road up the mountain, and drops us off at a traffic circle. We think we're there, but we're wrong. There's a dirt and gravel path leading up to the chalet. Granted how our day has been, it seems like an eternity of walking before we finally arrive at the chalet.

We head into the party and find: no food. Beer only. Desperate, I wander around and find a vending machine and buy a three-pack of Reese's peanut butter cups. Problem: the chalet has no air-conditioning. I open up the pack and find a gooey mess of peanut butter and chocolate. At this point, it doesn't matter, and I basically end up licking it off the wrapper. Bleah.

There's a band and a slideshow going on inside the party, but it's a little loud and hot for me, so I end up spending most of the party outside. The view from the chalet is absolutely phenomenal. You can see all of the city of Montreal from there.

Montreal from Mount Royal (Pic: unknown)

Montreal from Mount Royal (Pic: MJ Van Gool)

I end up having a lengthy conversation with one of the tournament volunteers. We've had several conversations during the tournament, but, here, for a while, he queries me about becoming an observer. I try to offer advice: play a lot, read the rules, become knowledgable, then work every tournament you can. (In my mind, I'm thinking: respond to an ad for help at a major tournament and get thrown into it trial-by-fire.)

It hits about 1:30am, and I'm starting to feel a combination of exhaustion and cold (it's the coolest it's been all weekend, with some help of the winds at that elevation), so I decide to bail out and start heading down the dirt and gravel path. I get to the traffic circle, and start waiting for the bus with a group of players. While we're waiting, a pair of police cars goes screaming by. Not much later, they come screaming back, heading up the dirt and gravel path toward the chalet. The group of us collectively starts wandering closer to the circle (in a non-chalant "we have nothing to do with whatever's going on up there" kind of way). Fortunately, the bus arrives, and it's another harrowing bus ride back to the Holiday Inn.

At the hotel, I notice that the other Head Observer hasn't returned yet, so I decide to turn in. (He let me have the bed in Saint-Jean, saying that the mattress was too soft for him, so in Montreal, he gets the bed and I get the sofa.) I awake partially when he finally arrives, but figure I'll get the details tomorrow.

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Montreal 2003: Day Three
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Montreal 2003: Day Five