June 24, 2017 – After seven days of play at the 2017 World Championships of Beach Ultimate (WCBU), the U.S. earned seven medals in Royan, France: six gold and one silver.
The four masters division finals were held yesterday, with the U.S. claiming gold in all four divisions: men’s masters, mixed masters, women’s masters and grand masters. The remaining three competition divisions held their gold-medal games this morning, beginning with the women’s division.
The U.S. women were set to face Russia in the championship game, a rematch of the 2015 WCBU final in Dubai, where the U.S. won on double-game point. Today’s final score line felt pretty familiar. Despite impressive defense from Russia that forced many difficult throws and a few unforced turns, the U.S. was able to go ahead early and maintain their lead until time cap behind great play from Becky Malinowski, Cree Howard, Calise Cardenas, Maggie Ruden and many others. The U.S. was in front 10-6 before Russia held for 10-7 and the cap went on, making it a game to 11. Up to this point, Russia had managed to get just one break. But U.S. turnovers on the ensuing four points gave Russia the chances they needed. The U.S. was unable to get the disc back on those points, and Russia put together an unthinkable comeback with impressive performances from Olga Podolskaia and the Pustovaia sisters, closing out the game on a 5-0 run to win the gold medal 11-10. It was an incredible game, pitting the two biggest powerhouses in the women’s beach division against one another with a world title on the line for a second consecutive time.
The men’s final was up next, with the U.S. taking on Great Britain in a wind that had picked up substantially since the end of the women’s final. As they were in this same position in 2015 in Dubai, the teams were well-matched. Athletic plays and impressive throws were abundant, but was the U.S. taking advantage of their early opportunities that led them to another gold medal on the sand. The stars from Great Britain made their presence felt – Justin Foord, Ashley Yeo and Tom Abrams all had great games. For the U.S., the leaders played their parts, with Jared Inselmann’s throws often leading the way, but the win came from across the board. Great communication on defense made switches easy and throwing lanes difficult to come by for Great Britain, particularly with guys like Walden Nelson and William Katz marking the handlers. Cassidy Rasmussen again found his way into the end zone with impressive frequency, somewhat of a departure from the handler role he often plays with Revolver. He ended up with four goals in the final to go along with one assist. All in all, it was a great display of competition and spirit in the men’s final, with the U.S. taking home gold, 11-8 over Great Britain.
The mixed final was the last game of the 2017 World Championships of Beach Ultimate. The U.S. took on Canada, eager to come away with a better result than when they met in the semifinals in Dubai when Canada won 8-9 in a hotly contested, very windy game, knocking the U.S. to the bronze-medal game. This year, it was again a very competitive game but also a very spirited one – a great way to end the week in Royan. Canada broke to start, setting the tone for the game, but the U.S. was able to get the break back and open a 5-2 lead that was crucial to the game’s outcome. The U.S. stuck to their game, using the strength of the women, with Eli Kerns and Simon Higgins often quarterbacking the offense. Sarah Meckstroth was again a huge presence on the defensive line, taking on the top female match ups, while Jack McShane, Mac Taylor, Byron Liu and Nathan White were given the task of trying to limit the Norden brothers and Cam Burden. In what felt like a perfect end to WCBU 2017, Liza Minor ripped a flick huck to Eli Kerns, who made a great grab to claim the gold medal for the U.S. mixed team.
So in the end, it was a great week in France for the U.S. contingent, winning six of seven divisions and coming home with gold in the men’s, mixed, men’s masters, mixed masters, women’s masters and grand masters divisions. The women’s team took home silver after a hard-fought game against Russia.
Next up for the U.S. National Team is the World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, with games kicking off in less than a month on July 20.