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Culture news, 27.07.2007 16:51

More and more Petersburgers are discovering the thrilling and addictive nature of Ultimate Frisbee

Frisbee By Chris Jones

Maybe you’ve seen them playing in parks throughout St. Petersburg. They have names like JuPiter, Dogma and Flying Steps, and yell “Hammer!” “Huck!” and “Layout!” while they chase a little flying disc down a field. Who are these groups, and what are they doing? They are Ultimate Frisbee teams, and they are one of the newest ways people are staying in shape in St. Petersburg.

Ultimate Frisbee (Ultimate for short) is a sport developed in the 1960s in the U.S. It is similar to soccer and American football, but uses a flying disc (the frisbee) to score points. It is usually played on a converted soccer pitch with two teams of seven players. Games last 60-100 minutes — depending on points scored — and are about as physically demanding as a full soccer match.

According to George Fedorov, founder of local team JuPiter, the sport has grown rapidly in Russia because it is a low cost, high fun workout.

“It’s a non-contact sport and we referee ourselves, so the games are friendly — there is a lot of joking and camaraderie between teams,” Fedorov said. “However, the sport is physically demanding, so we also get a great workout.”

Since coming to Russia ten years ago, Ultimate has expanded to almost 20 teams nationwide.

“Most teams are in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Veliky Novgorod and Nizhny Novgorod,” Fedorov said. “In St. Petersburg we have five teams, a women’s team and four open [mixed] teams. There are probably 150 players in St. Petersburg alone.”

The teams compete throughout Northwest Russia, and regularly travel to the Baltic States and Europe to play in European and World championships.

Alina Dunayeva, a member of women’s team Dogma, said several teams have just returned from a tournament in Nizhny Novgorod and this weekend several will play in a regional championship in Pskov.

“In August, the women’s national team will travel to England to play in the European Championships,” Dunayeva said. “We also compete against other teams in St. Petersburg on a regular basis.” The background of players varies widely.

“Some players are experienced former athletes, and compete in every tournament,” Dunayeva said. “Others have little sports background and just play in the St. Petersburg area to stay in shape — it totally depends. I learned to play in the United States, so I have a different background than most players, and I play twice a week.”

Players range in age from their late teens to mid-30s, with most in their early to mid-20s. Most are Russian, and are either students or working professionals.

Kirill Skrygan, the current captain of JuPiter, said the sport is addictive.

“I just discovered Ultimate a year ago and fell in love with the sport. George and his teammates trained me, and now I am captain of our team,” Skrygan said. “It is fun, keeps me in great shape, and I’ve made a lot of good friends — I play every week and can’t get enough!”

According to Fedorov, teams regularly hold open practices for new players.

Do you have a recreational club you want people to know about?

Contact: brown@sptimesrussia.com

FAQ

Can I Play?

Yes! Most teams are actively seeking new players, no experience necessary.

What do I need?

Just bring yourself, a desire to train hard, and a decent pair of sports shoes (cleats if you have them). The teams will teach you and provide any other equipment.

What does it cost?

$2-5 per game for field rental (practices are often free). Eventually you’ll want to buy a Frisbee ($15).

Where do they play?

Teams practice and compete on fields throughout the city. There are also open games on Sundays, on the beach in Solnechnoye in summer and by the main lake at Ozerki during winter.

What team will I play on?

When you contact George or Alina, let them know if you want to play on a men’s, women’s, or mixed team, and your athletic background. They will set you up with the team best matching your experience level and interests.

Do I need to speak Russian?

It helps, but is not necessary. Most teams have several players with good English skills who can get you started.

Where do I sign up?

Here are two local contacts:

George Fedorov – Coordinator, JuPiter Open Team. Tel. 89219921393, e-mail – discman@rol.ru

Alina Dunayeva – Coordinator, Dogma Women’s Team. Tel. 89117166991,

e-mail – alina.dunaeva@gmail.com

News source: times.spb.ru

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