The Fur Rendezvous festival introduces a team snowball fight this year. // © 2011 Erik Hill / Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage, Alaska will be hosting its 76th annual Fur Rendezvous, affectionately called the Fur Rondy by locals, from Feb. 25 to March 6. This year, the Alaska winter festival will be adding a new event to the program, called Yukigassen, which literally translates to “snow battle.” The Fur Rondy is known for its wacky, family-friendly events, and Yukigassen should not prove to be any different.
The sport began in Sobetsu, Japan, to revitalize the economy in the winter season. It now draws thousands of spectators to the international championships each year. This year’s Rondy Yukigassen, however, will be the first official Yukigassen tournament in the U.S.
In the Rondy Yukigassen competition, two teams of seven will follow strict game regulations enforced by Yukigassen officials on a rectangular court with chateaus, shelters and flags. Each team packs its own snowballs. Helmets are mandatory, and any type of shield is prohibited. In order to win, a team must capture the opposing team’s flag or hit all members of the opposing team with snowballs.
Visitors are encouraged to get involved with a Yukigassen team. Teams of seven must register and pay a $250 fee that covers T-shirts and a minimum of two games. The Fur Rondy will hold clinics and tournaments leading up to the tournament to familiarize contestants with the sport.