Sunday, April 5, 2020

Knubbing for Cancer

“It’s very exciting to see the number of people who show up – and they’re happy to come back.” - Jason Halvorson, Kasson, on the annual Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament

Those Vikings of old probably played some fun Viking games when they weren’t pillaging and rampaging around Scandinavia.

A modern-day game called Kubb (rhymes with ‘tube’) is also known as Viking Chess.

Hard to believe the burly bearded fellows with the horns had more fun than those who competed Saturday in the Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament at Veterans Memorial Park in Kasson.

It drew 40 two-person teams and 100 or more people from around the Midwest and beyond, seeking to bring home the coveted Russell  Trophy, on which the names of past winners are engraved.

“It’s just very exciting to have so many people participate, both for the fun and raising funds for cancer,” said Jason Halvorson of Kasson, who coordinates the tournament with his wife, Dee Dee. “It’s very exciting to see the number of people who show up – and they’re happy to come back.”

Competitors on 20 pitches (fields) tossed little wooden batons at little wooden blocks – kubbs – while enduring heat and high winds, which toppled a couple of tents.

They had 25 minutes to finish a game. Then players received rankings and went into a bracketing system. Teams from Chaska and Minneapolis were among the last standing in the championship bracket.

There’s strategy involved. Those kubbs are moved around, so your tosses are long or short, in various combinations.

Teams adopt unique names, like Appetite for Destruction, Kubbanite, New Kubbs on the Block, and Lumber Tumblers.

The Halvorsons both work in computers at the Mayo Clinic. Thus they’re the Kubb Nerds. Except during the Relay for Life of Dodge County, when they’re the Nerd Herd.

And don’t forget Kubbin’ Up With The Joneses, featuring Christopher Jones, Minneapolis, and his brother Bryan and their mother, Nancy, of Monroe, Mich.

“We had a little rough go in the beginning, adjusting to the wind, but we managed to win third place in the bronze bracket, so we’re pretty happy with that,” Christopher Jones said. “It’s nice to take something home.”

THE LITTLE-KNOWN sport is gaining popularity – especially in the Midwest, Jason Halvorson said. About half of those who competed in Kasson will join about 128 teams in the U.S. National Kubb Championship in July in Eau Claire, Wis.

This year’s World Championship will be held in early August in Gotland, Sweden.

The international Kubb slogan: “Kubb unites people and creates peace on Earth.”

“Everyone is a good sport,” Halvorson said. “People cheer for the other team. There’s just something different about that. The ‘smack talk’ is only very friendly. And people want to teach each other how to play. Everyone here who’s still left on the field has taught lots of other people how to play.”

Kastpinnar Kings won last year’s Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament. The 88 players raised just more than $3,000 for the Cancer Society, and the Nerd Herd has raised more than $40,000 over the years for the Relay for Life.

Money raised Saturday through registration fees, food sales, silent auction and T-shirt sales will be turned over to the American Cancer Society during this year’s Relay event, Friday, Aug. 4 at the Dodge County Fairgrounds.

It’s a big help, said Nancy Jones, a cancer survivor who had part of her pancreas removed 10 weeks ago.

“It means the world to me,” she said. “Kubbing is my favorite sport. It’s amazing that this many people put it together. I don’t know if I’d be here if it wasn’t for the research that’s been done.”

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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