Snowball Fighting: More Than Just Winter Fun
February 10, 2014

Snowball Fighting: More Than Just Winter Fun

One of the things that kids, as well as some adults, look forward to doing in the winter is a good snowball fight. We put on our winter clothes, pack up them little round white balls and throw them at each other.

During these fights snow forts can be built as a means of protection from the bombardment of snowballs. It gets more interesting when several people participate; that’s when the fight can turn into a snowball war. It’s all in good fun though.

However, some people have taken this winter activity and turned it into a competition.

Ever heard of Yukigassen? I never did, until now. It originated in Japan and is a snowball fighting-competition. The name was derived from two Japanese words. “Yuki,” meaning snow, and “kassen,” meaning battle. Therefore, Yukigassen means snow battle.

Presently there are Yukigassen competitions annually all over the world including, Japan, Finland, Norway, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Russia and the United States in Anchorage, Alaska.

The competition consists of two teams of seven players. The battle area has certain measurements and the winner is the team with the most accumulated points. It is sort of like dodge ball where a player is eliminated when hit by a snowball. The teams wear helmets with face shields and are given 90 snowballs that are made in advance.

Here is a brief summary of what Yukigassen consists of. A full description can be seen here.

Image Credit: Gerard LeBlond

Image Credit: Gerard LeBlond

The court shown above is 43.75 yards long and 10.94 yards wide. Each team has a home chateau, flag, and two defense shelters. There is also a center chateau.

The snowballs are made by a machine to be uniformly 2.5 to 2.75 inches in diameter. These snowballs are made prior to the match by the teams under the official’s supervision. Three rounds, with 90 each round, for a total of 270 snowballs can be used.

Age groups for competitions are 9-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-18 and adult (19 plus). Both boys and girls, men and women, can compete in the competitions.

The team consists of seven players, four forwards and three defenders.

The forwards play in the area between their own blue line and the red centerline. If they cross either their own blue line or boundary line after competition begins they are called out. Only three players at a time can be on the opponent’s side of the center line at any given time.

Defensive players are allowed to use the whole court, but if a player steps on a boundary line that player is called out.

The competition begins with a coin toss and the winning team chooses their side. Each player is positioned in their appropriate area with a maximum of two snowballs. The remaining snowballs are in a case behind their home chateau. The official will blow the whistle for play to begin.

The match consists of three periods of three minutes each with a one minute break between each period. The teams switch sides between each period. Play can be stopped by the officials and players must stop play also. The official will signal to resume play after the situation is resolved.

Players may not throw snowballs to teammates; they must be handed or rolled. Players may use a snowball that has been picked up during the match if it is at least two thirds of a whole snowball. A team may not make new snowballs or repair damaged ones. Once play begins, players may carry as many snowballs as they can hold in their hands, but cannot use clothing to carry snowballs.

A player who has been hit by a thrown snowball is called out and must leave the court. If a team loses all the players in a period the period stops and that team loses the period.

Winning a period is done when a team captures their opponent’s flag or eliminates all of their opponents; they will score ten points. If both teams have players left when the period ends, the team will score one point for each player.

Winning the match is done if a team wins both first periods, or if each team wins one a period the winner of the third period wins the match. If the third period ends in a tie, then the team with the highest accumulated points wins.

If the teams are still tied in points, there is a shootout to declare the winner. A target is placed on a home chateau and five chosen players on each team participate. They will stand behind the blue line and the team with the most knockdowns wins. If it is still a tie then, one of the two remaining players on each team throw at the target. The team that knocks the target down wins. If it is still a tie, then the last team member of each team has one turn each to knock down target. If still no winner then each team will pick one player and they will throw at the target until a winner is declared.

So you think snowball fighting is just winter fun. Maybe someday this sport may be part of the Winter Olympics.

Featured Image Credit: Thinkstock

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