57th IFT begins today in Calumet

CALUMET – The 57th edition of the annual Coca-Cola International Frisbee Tournament will be a delightful mix of the old and the new this Saturday and Sunday at Agassiz Field in Calumet.

The defending champs Boomtown Saints return, as do the 2012 champs and 2013 runners-up Appleton Assassins. Widely regarded as the top two teams in America, many are hoping for a repeat of their championship clash last summer, a collective display of power and precision and acrobatics rarely seen before in Guts Frisbee.

As for the new, Tournament Director Tom Tikkanen has conspired to bring in freestyle Frisbee duo Erwin and Jens Velasquez to (belatedly) receive their plaque to the International Frisbee and USA Guts Hall of Fame, while also putting on a demo of their skills.

After the Velasquez show, Robert McLeod will be attempting to set the record for longest throw and catch with his dog Davy Whippet.

McLeod and Whippet have played an old-fashioned game of fetch at over 400 feet before, and are hoping to best that distance Saturday across the Calumet football field.

“We kind of wanted to make it like the old Frisbee festivals of yore,” Guts Hall of Fame curator Dennis Walikainen said. “There will be a fastest throw and catch competition, the freestyle show and the a record attempt for the catch. Plus we have raffles and good stuff to win.

“We are hoping the multitude of events will entice people to take a couple hours for your weekend and come see the best Guts Frisbee players in the world.”

“(McLeod and Whippet) are something to see,” Tikkanen said. “His record catch is on Facebook, and it is really amazing.”

The locals will be well represented on the field too.

Long time team Luigi’s is looking to challenge the Boomtown and Appleton dominance.

Plus there will be two new teams this year, looking to break in and establish a tradition.

“We have two mostly rookie teams from the Copper Country, which is very exciting,” Walikainen said. “Look for the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, and Get A Life from Hancock. They are almost exclusively rookies, which is great for the sport.”

Walikainen said they conservatively estimate the IFT will have 16 teams – and possibly 17 or 18 – which demonstrates the long running competition is only getting better with age.

“We’re expecting a really great turnout,” Walikainen said. “The out-of-towners often come back, because they have such a great time.”

The championship is scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m.

If it is anything like last year, you won’t want to miss the follow-up.

“Last year was one of the best in memory,” Walikainen said. “And we have the champs and the runners-up back, plus a lot of teams gunning for them. It’s great for the tournament.”