2. Yukigassen (“snow battle” in Japanese) is an annual tournament held in Japan. Teams from different countries put on snowsuits, goggles, and helmets and whip snowballs at each other for two days. Canadian teams have competed before, but never won.
Yukigassen is a mix of capture the flag and dodgeball. You can win the match in three ways:
- Hit all of the opposing team’s players with snowballs, thereby eliminating them.
- Capture their team flag.
- Have more players remaining on your side when the time runs out.
3. When BuzzFeed Canada caught up with Thomson by phone to talk about his chances this year, he said he was “at the gym getting the old guns sculpted for when they have to chuck snowballs.” He and his teammates first heard about Yukigassen several years ago.
“First, we were like, ‘How have we not heard of this?.’ Second, we wondered how is Canada not dominating this sport given that we live in snow six months of the year?”
4. Yukigassen Canada holds the national championships to qualify a team to go compete in Japan. Thomson’s team won the first nationals in 2011, but they weren’t able to make the trip to Japan. Now, five years later, they have the funds.
“They held over a spot in honour of the fact that we are the first winners [in Canada],” he said.
5. They also partnered with a production company and are turning their trip to Japan into a web series and feature-length documentary, Yukigassen: Road To Glory. It looks like a mix of Dodgeball and Fubar, and they have a Kickstarter for it.
They will be filmed hanging out with sumo wrestlers, singing karaoke and partaking in other Japanese cultural traditions, all while playing the role of fish-out-of-water hosers in Japan.
Thomson is “really stoked” about singing karaoke in Japan.
“My all-time standard jam is ‘Let’s Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye,” he said, and then starting belting it out.
6. But Thomson also insists they’re taking their training and the competition seriously.They work out in a Saskatoon gym and watch videos of past winners.
“When we won the national championship we were playing more of a run-and-gun style offense, but the Japanese seem to play more of a tactical game,” Thomson said. “So it’s more of a matter of a war of attrition. We’ve had to adapt our strategy a bit and play a bit more of a tactical snowball game.”