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Summer 2007 May 14, 2007

Posted by ultramta in Post WBC.
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So I am still stinging this blog along- though I should create something new for this year, and for the WBC in 2008. I’m nearing the end of school, and looking forward to the first tournament that I’ll get to go to this year- Memorial Day in St. Louis. I’ll be sure to do a write up for it. For now, I’ve been enjoying throwing and getting my arm warmed up for the season. 🙂

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The latest… December 1, 2006

Posted by ultramta in Practice.
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Been a while since I posted anything here. Winter tends to slow down boomerangs a bit when you live in Wisconsin. 😉 I have had projects going on though. I’m putting together a page for a group of young throwers that want to be the US team for 2008 WBC. It happens to include me. Odd, I know.

I’ve also been working on setting up a couple of presentations for schools in the spring. One is a Lutheran middle school in the area, and the other is my alma mater. It is always a great time to share something you love- espeically with kids because they can get so enthused by amazing things. They haven’t learned that its ‘cool’ to be aloof and disdainful. 🙂 At least not well enough to ignore boomerangs.

I’m also helping lay some of the ground work for the 2007 Nationals, which will be right in my hometown of Eau Claire, WI. Lots of work ahead there- but I’m really excited.  For now I’m going to enjoy the holidays, and keep chewing away at the stuff so I don’t get swamped in the spring. Sorry that there is not more of interest in this post- not even a picture. lol.

Nationals September 14, 2006

Posted by ultramta in Post WBC, Tournaments.
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Whew- been pretty busy the last week so it has taken me a bit to post this. 🙂 Nationals went really well- it was pretty warm in Georgia, but not unbearably so. The first day we threw long distance, which is kind of its own tournament. That was really fun, but LD rangs are crazy- being both heavy and very thin. I ended up not scoring due to difficult winds (and just having learned to throw a long distance boom) but it was great fun. I had some out over 120m that almost made it back through the gate. 🙂

The individuals started the next day with trick catch, followed by MTA, fast catch, and endurance. Trick catch the winds were dead calm, and I found out that I don’t have a doubling set for absolute calm. I did ok with 70 pts, considering that I dropped both foot catches (each worth 10.) and a 1 handed behind the back (7 pts). Challenging catches- but I should have been able to make them. I was a bit discouraged with that start (14th place I think), but I was excited about the next event.

The USBA rules for MTA are set up so that the best 3 out of 5 throws add up to an individual competitors score. The event started with winds too strong for composite boomerangs, unless they were really under-powered. I had my first MTA crash, I had thrown a quirl to handle the winds, but they can be a bit finicky to stabilize. As I walked into the 50m circle for my second throw, I felt the wind die. It was like everything paused, and I could feel the heat that shouted, “thermal!” I grabbed my Manu composite boom ran to a good position and yelled to my timers. As soon as I had their eyes on me I threw. The boomerang set up high, and lifted slowly with the rising air. I was worried that it would drift out, so I sprinted down to the 50m line. As it started dropping I moved in, and started to hear other competitors shouting advice. “Don’t milk it!” was the excellent advice from Eric Darnell. So I caught the boom at about chest height for about 70 seconds. What a rush! The longer a boomerang is in the air in competition, the more unnerving the catch is. I was really pleased with my time. My third throw crashed again- the quirl slipped out too high. So I was faced with two throws that I absolutely needed catches for to back up my one good throw. I managed to do it, with two nearly 30 second flights. Harold Stecht gave me a run for my money on his last throw, but most of the other competitors had blown out of the 50m circle when they got big air. This was the first event I won at an individual tournament competing in the advanced division! I got a nice plaque for the 2006 National MTA champion. That was pretty sweet. Also, taking the event moved me into second place overall since most of the people that beat me in trick catch had tough MTA rounds.
awards.jpg

The next event was fast catch, and my experience in Japan really paid off for this event. I completed my first round in just over 21 seconds with 5 consitant throws and safe catches. So the next round I pulled off the rubber bands on the same boom and went for it. I ended up doing my first sub 20 round with a time of 19.99. 🙂 I had bobbled two of the catches and had to reset to throw, but it was still a good time and placed me in fifth for the event.

My endurance round was awful. I had thrown for 2 minutes and had over 20 catches (on pace to win the event) when I had a boomerang slip out a bit high and bounce lightly off the ground. I stopped it so that it didn’t cost much time but when I threw it again it had detuned and instantly crashed into the ground. I scrambled to get it, and went back to throw with the same result. I thought that I had just thrown it incorrectly, but after another throw I tried tuning it with only minor improvement. I finally broke the boom trying to get it to fly correctly and switched to another that I had just in case the wind picked up. I threw the last 30 seconds punching the wind rang out as hard as I could and watching it slowly return. I dove for my last catch and ended the round on the ground- knowing I had blown it with only 33 catches. Guess there’s something to learn every tournament. 🙂

I finished up the day tied for 6th place, but was a bit nervous about Accuracy and Aussie Round the next day- two events that have given me alot of trouble. I set personal bests in both- with an 84 in accuracy and a 72 in Aussie. 84 was a three way tie for second, which was really neat. Aussie was kind of rough- my thows were not that precise, but I made up alot of ground jumping in catches for more points. Had a couple rather brutal landings- but it was well worth it. 🙂 On one of them I landed almost flat on my back from about 4 feet up and later heard that people 100m away felt the ground vibrate! lol.

Ended up finishing the tournament in 6th place- which I was happy with- especially considering my awful endurance round.

The next day we did some demo’s and coaching. We also snuck in some team event practice and the crowd seemed to enjoy that quite a bit. I love 30 meter relay- it has the awesome intensity of head to head competition. Below: Logan Broadbent and I ran head to head in the tie breaker round with perfectly even times.

relay-1.jpg

I’ll get the scoresheet posted when it comes out.

August 22, 2006

Posted by ultramta in Post WBC.
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It has been a while since I got back to the States now. It took a while to process through all that happened in Japan, and I’m still waiting for pictures from other boomerang throwers. What an incredible experience! It has been fun to share stories with my friends and family, and sometimes complete strangers. 🙂 My focus has now switched to 2008, and I’m already working and planning towards being on the US team in Seattle. I’ll be heading down to the US nationals and boomerang expo Labor Day weekend. It will be neat to see Atlanta- and throw again. I’m also really excited about the boomerangs I’ve been making lately- I feel like there is alot of potential in making boomerangs that are just right for my throw.

The local newspaper did an article about my trip- here it is!

Self motivation leads local to world stage
Thrower hopes to increase awareness when national tournament comes to Eau Claire

Dan Johnson discovered boomerangs in middle school after checking out a book on the subject from the public library.

Interested in how they worked, Johnson, 23, immersed himself in throwing, creating and modifying boomerangs throughout high school and college. Finding others who shared his passion was difficult — the closest club was a group of casual throwers in St. Paul.

“It’s a lot of self-motivation to get anywhere in this sport,” Johnson said. “You really have to go for it yourself.”

For his birthday one year, his sister purchased him a United States Boomerang Association membership, which included entry into one tournament.

The St. Paul group convinced him to use the pass for the 2004 National Championships, which were being held in Ohio.

“I fell in love with the sport right there,” Johnson said.

After the tournament, Johnson tried out for the national team the next year as a long shot to make the team.

He ended up earning a spot on Fuijin’s Posse, one of two American teams that competed in the World Boomerang Championships earlier this month in Asahikawa, Japan.

Johnson finished 16th in the individual competition, including a third-place mark in maximum time aloft.

He set personal bests in all six events.

But the biggest thrill for Johnson was seeing the top throwers up close, including Fridolin Frost of Germany, who took home the world championship.

“It was awesome to see the skill level these guys can throw at,” he said.

The Germans took home the team title, placing well ahead of the second-place Americans, who beat out France and Switzerland.

Since only six players can take part, Johnson was forced into a coaching role for the team event, but he said the experience will no doubt help in 2008, when the world tournament is in Seattle.

Rules of the game

Competitive boomerang throwing is much more than just tossing and catching the object.

“Anybody who can throw a baseball can throw a boomerang,” Johnson said. “But it’s a very finesse sport. Throwing it precisely at the right angle is what you really need. Power helps, but without finesse you wouldn’t be able to do anything.”

Participants compete in events, which test specific skills with the boomerang.

Johnson’s best event, the “maximum time aloft,” is just as it sounds. The trick is the thrower has to catch the boomerang.

“Fast-catch” is an event where the thrower tries to make five throws and catches in the least possible time. A high school baseball pitcher in Massachusetts, who completed the throws in less than 15 seconds, holds the record time in this event.

“Endurance” is fast-catch for five minutes, where the thrower tries for the most catches in a time period.

There are other events like “trick catch,” “accuracy” and “Aussie round,” which combines distance, accuracy and catching.

“You really need to be able to read wind,” Johnson said. “You’re always throwing into wind you don’t know. Trying to read that is one of the big skills.”

Johnson said the actual construction of the boomerangs is another piece of the puzzle that is essential. Throwers spend many hours perfecting different boomerangs for different situations.

Raising awareness

Johnson throws regularly at the soccer fields next to the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center and said people come up to him all the time to ask questions and try out the sport.

However, he has yet to get anyone from the area interested on more than just a recreational level.

One reason for thi, he believes, is the rather steep learning curve of the sport.

“Recreational booms are fun, and they’re not hard to throw,” Johnson said. “But when you get into the competition stuff, it can be pretty difficult.”

Johnson hopes awareness will increase next August, when Eau Claire will serve as the host of the United States Boomerang National Championships.

The tournament will feature a weekend of competition and demonstrations by some of the top throwers in the country.

Individuals Day 2 July 21, 2006

Posted by ultramta in Tournaments, WBC.
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Sorry for the delay on this post, I didn’t have computer access for the rest of my time in Japan. I will be updating the last three posts with pictures and more details as soon as I get some time.

The morning of the second day of individual competition started with trick catch. It was kind of tricky wind- it was just blowing hard enough to make doubling difficult. In the singles round I had one drop- my hackey bounced off my foot at a bad angle. I had my wind doublers working well, but missed a couple key catches and ended up with a 75. That kicked me up to 6th place overall. It was a pretty intense round, and I tied my personal best from the team trials.

Accuracy was looking windy during warmups, but it died when the competition started. I did okay with a 67, but missed some opportunities on silly mistakes (i threw a couple with too much layover, and they blew out to the 4pt circle.) I think that was, again, a personal best, however, since it was calm I placed 46th, which dropped me to 18th place. Ouch!

Endurance practice was really windy- which was looking great for me. But the real rounds had perfect winds for almost all the competitors, and there were some big scores. Frido clinched the world champion title with 71 catches. I got 57, with 3 that blew by over my head, and one drop. I love that event- but it didn’t seem at all grueling this time around. I was frusterated by the 3 bad throws, although 5 minutes is a long time not to make a mistake. That put me in 26th place for the event (the same as I had placed in fast catch) which brought me up to 16th overall. Not a bad way to finish my first world championship! I was pretty pumped, and at the same time, I got alot of motivation for 2008 in Seattle.

The awards ceremony was neat- I brought home some hardware. I’ll have to post pics of it on here.

I had photos of my whole trip available online at www.flickr.com

Check em out! 🙂