Total precipitation in Las Vegas in 2008: 2.64 inches
Rain on February 7, 2009 -- a record for that day: 0.58 inches
As you can see from the numbers above, my trip with the ultimate team to Las Vegas did not exactly come through with the expected beautiful weather, with rainfall on Saturday accumulating to over 1/5 of the total rainfall for all of 2008. The forecasts had been predicting this in the week leading up to the tournament, but as I was greeted in Vegas with clear skies and warm weather on Thursday night, I continued to hold out hope that the forecasters were wrong. (As a side note, don't fly US Airways if you can avoid it. They did not even give us one free drink on an over 4 hour flight from Pittsburgh to Vegas.) Sure enough, though, the sky was gray and overcast on Friday morning when I woke up for the first game of the day. And then as we pulled up to the fields, something happened that would emerge as a trend for all three days of the tournament: the sun managed to show up for the first game of the day. With no wind and sunny skies, we easily handled New Mexico and went on to face UCLA when another trend emerged: bad weather. The wind really picked up after a couple points of that game, and whoever's reading this probably hasn't played ultimate, but you can imagine the havoc that heavy wind wreaks on a frisbee. UCLA was up 6-4 when the hard cap went on (basically, the game ends after 1 more point because it's taking too long), and scored the last point to win 7-4 after 80 minutes of game play. For reference, the games were being played to 13, and we had just beaten New Mexico in about an hour. The final two games of the day were even worse, because the fields were turned so that they were going in the same direction as the wind, but we did (somehow) manage a couple upwind breaks in each game and beat Whitworth and New Mexico (yes, we had to play the same team twice in the largest ultimate tournament in the country with about 120 teams).
After the first day of games, I made my first trip to In-N-Out, which I've heard many people rave about. I'm not a big fan of burgers, so I wasn't too surprised that it wasn't my favorite place. It was good, but certainly not something that you should go out of your way to get. After dinner, I went to bed early in preparations for the first round of games at 8 AM the next morning. Once again, the day started off warm and clear, as we trounced Chico State in the opener. At this point we were still alive for the championship, needing 7 straight wins on Saturday to get into the championship bracket on Sunday. Of course, as we walked over to a different field to face off against Virginia Tech, a team that had already beaten us twice in the fall, the skies opened up. At first it was just a drizzle, but as the game wore on the already dirt fields turned to mud and it really began to pour. The players who were in were getting soaked, and those on the sideline were all huddled together with garbage bags on. Eventually Va Tech finished the game off, and we hurried back to the tents to see what the rest of our wet day would look like. Then, for the first time at one of these tournaments, I was happy to hear the following news: we were done for the day. As we piled back into the van and headed for the hotel, rain continued to fall and didn't stop until the night. Since we had finished at 11 am, there was plenty of time to make my first trip down to the strip (we were staying in "old" Vegas for monetary reasons, which is like a 10 minute drive). The entire team went searching for a never-to-be-found $10 buffet that someone had told us about, but we eventually got (a late) lunch at a $13 buffet in the Imperial Palace. As is the case with Leo's, most people thought it was bad, but I really enjoyed my meal there. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, and I almost did some work until I found out that it was only my room that lacked ESPN. Most everyone went out that night, but I stayed in because we had another early morning start on Sunday.
Sunday morning came, and not many people were excited to wake up at 6:30 and head to the fields. For most, it was because it had been a late night for them, but for me, it was because I was thinking about the swamps that we'd be playing in. Sure enough, when we got back to the tournament, there wasn't much in the way of fields; it was all mud. The fields were so bad that for once I actually was not that excited to play ultimate. However, the sun was out all day, and though it got a little windy after the first game, it wasn't that bad and Sunday was the best day of the three. Our first game was against the university in whose hospital I was born, the University of Vermont. We dominated the first half and then went back and forth with them in the second to win by a few points. The next two games were against MIT and Minnesota-Duluth. We dominated MIT in much the same manner that we dispatched with Princeton in the Maryland tournament in the fall, and then held on to a 1 or 2 point victory in a low-scoring affair against Minnesota-Duluth.
All in all, the trip was not as good as I expected as a result of the weather, but it was still fun and I'd do it again next year if I get the chance. The plane ride back was uneventful, though I did realize that Pittsburgh seems to be the only airport with reasonable food prices (by the way, there's a great Seinfeld bit about airport prices) and I got my first ever glance of Chitown during my layover at O'Hare. Of course, United gave us drinks and TV on the way back (I even noticed 30 Rock on once when I woke up), but I slept the entire time and didn't get to take advantage of it.
Picture of the mountains surrounding the fields.