Local wins gold, MVP at Ultimate Frisbee nationals

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SURREY – Christie Thomson was instrumental in sparking an ultimate sports comeback.

The Canmore Ultimate Frisbee star’s team, Happy Campers, defeated Mastodon, 14-13, to win gold at the premier 2018 Canadian Ultimate Championships’ mixed master division in Surrey, B.C. on Aug. 25.

Thomson’s feisty defensive prowess and timely four goals earned a fan-voted Finals MVP award.

“It was a good time for a good game,” Thomson said.

Though, things nearly played out much differently for Thomson and the Happy Campers.

Throughout the three-day tournament (Aug. 23-25), Happy Campers, from Victoria, B.C., was the undefeated team to beat in mixed masters (over 30).

The tournament allows up to three out of region players to join a team, which is why the Canmore ringer, who has over 10 years of competitive UF experience, was recruited to bring some magic to nationals.

Mastodon, also from B.C., had lost badly to the Campers earlier in the tournament, but made it to the final to square off against their Victoria rival.

This time around, Mastodon made sure the Happy Campers had nothing to smile about.

“Mastodon showed up in the finals ready to go,” Thomson said. “The day before, they were a totally different team and I think we, to be fair, came out kind of flat.”

The game is played in two halves with seven players on field. The offence’s objective is scoring in the opposing team’s end zone, which is worth one point.

Running with the Frisbee is not allowed, so players advance it by passing to teammates.

A motivated Mastodon team was passing and scoring at will in the beginning, and was quickly up 5-1 when the collapsing Campers called for a timeout.

“They were fast, their women were particularly strong, and we just had to really keep up,” Thomson said. “We started flat, and we dug ourselves a bit of a hole that we had to claw our way out of.”

From there, the team started playing their game – “Camper Style” – which is more relaxed and fun, Thomson said.

The change of pace produced a quick 3-0 run led by a pair of Thomson goals, which forced Mastodon to call a break in the action.

Thomson, a defensive cutter, began asserting her will, making life difficult for Mastodon’s offence with explosive swiftness and by disrupting passes with her length.

The Happy Campers clawed back in the game to tie it at 13 in the second, which brought the game to the universe point – a sudden death goal – with a stressed Thomson watching intently from the sideline.

“We did turn it over, so Mastodon had the opportunity to score, but my teammate Emily McConnell got a massive hand block so it went back in the other direction,” Thomson said.

A few passing plays later and the Happy Campers scored the winning goal.

“It was really exciting, it was really fun, it was quite stressful,” Thomson said.

After initially humming and hawing about joining Happy Campers, Thomson is grateful she did.

“Playing with the Happy Campers reignited my love of the game, we just need to get some more of it in the Bow Valley.”

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Jordan Small