Snow Battle Comes to Vancouver’s Robson Square on Saturday

Photo Credit: http://www.yukigassencanada.com

Photo Credit: Yukigassen Japan

On Saturday from 10am till 4pm Robson Square will transform into a Winter Wonderland to host Vancouver’s Canadian Cancer Society Yukigassen Snow Battle 2015. Not heard of Yukigassen? It’s a Japanese sport which involves an epic three period snow battle with snow balls and flag capturing – and you’re invited to take part this weekend. Nathania Lo, Manager of Asian Giving at the CCS told us more.

Why bring this event to Vancouver?

This is our second year, we first heard about from a colleague who had a connection with Yukigassen, it’s a kind of snowball fight but it’s an actual sport with an international federation, created in Japan in the 1980s. They have huge tournaments there. The Canadian chapter was formed about five years ago and they hold a national championship in Jasper, and the winner goes to compete in Japan. We thought it was a good fit for our programme and a good opportunity to introduce a a new sport into our community.

Photo Credit: Canadian Cancer Society

Photo Credit: Canadian Cancer Society

What happened last year?

Last year we were up on Mount Seymour and there were lots of snowboarders and skiers stopping by. They’d hear the shrieks and laughter and come and see what we were doing and then learn more about the sport and our mission with the Canadian Cancer Society. People love to watch, it’s likely that they’ve never seen it before and they can see the players hiding and running, throwing snowballs and having fun.

What’s the plan for this weekend?

This year we’re in Robson Square, we’re going to get a lot of foot traffic because we’re downtown where the rink usually is, where one of our sponsors is creating a Winter Wonderland. People can come along and sign up for a minimum donation of $5 for a pick-up game, we’ll have refs and coaches there to go through the rules with you. If people want to come and play they need to wear light athletic clothing and shoes they can run in, we’ll provide the helmets.

So what is Yukigassen?

It’s a combination of dodgeball, capture the flag and touch football… played with snowballs. The court is about the size of a basketball court and on the court are shelters, they are big blocks – typically built from snow – but in this case we’ve got wooden structures where you can shelter so you don’t get hit by snowballs. The aim of the game is to knock out your opponents with snowballs or capture their flag, which is usually deep in their end zone.

Photo Credit: Yukigassen Japan

Photo Credit: Yukigassen Japan

So, I’m guessing you’ll be using fake snow?

We always have a back up, a company called Snowtime Anytime have donated fake snowballs to us, they’re made from poly-cotton and we add a little water to them so they’re damp, they feel like snowballs but they don’t disintegrate! When you play with real snow they use a snowball maker with metal moulds which make perfectly round snowballs so everyone is playing with exactly the same size balls.

How long do games last?

Games usually last for three periods of three minutes each, it’s a fast-paced game, but when you’re in it it feels like a lifetime! It’s a double elimination, so if you lose two games  you’re out, but if you win, you just stay on.

How can people get involved?

You can become a sponsor of the event – organisations or people can sign up – or you can put together a team, you need seven players and the deadline for that is Thursday 19th. You can also donate to the cause, we ask all the players to come and play, and enjoy the day but also to fundraise. This is all about raising awareness of the work that we do.

 The Canadian Cancer Society Yukigassen – Snow Battle Vancouver 2015 starts on Saturday 21st at 10am at Robson Square. 

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