When Northern Californians start complaining about the rain, you know Soak Grove is truly living up to its reputation. Today, the Wintertime Open rang in the 21st century with a big rainstorm and massive performances by all the freestylers.

The biggest story was the turbo factor. The competition was in fact almost an afterthought as there were continuous mob-ops and jams in the rain all afternoon. At one point, one group seemed have fifteen players scurrying and slipping around the field.

Several golfers bailed out of the freestyle competition, leaving three teams willing to brave Pasadena’s cold, gusty and rainy weather. The players elected to play a shortened, one round, three minute routine format. Playing order was random.

Peter Laubert and Anne Graves played a very clean routine to music from the TV show ER. Their clampers were on. They passed the disc well in unpredictable conditions. Peter snagged a great spinning rain scarecrow. The team ended solid by transitioning from Peter’s patented backroll/juice directly into a gitis by Anne. They put in a winning routine and challenged the other teams to outdo them.

Matt Gauthier teamed up with newly unretired player Carl Dobson and enjoyed a nice gap in the rainstorm. Carl stepped away from the sport for 15 years. Now that he’s back, he should be a solid addition to teams with his consistent against moves, turnovers and double spinning catches. The rain affected Carl in the competition and he dropped a few more than he wanted to.

In three minutes Matt Gauthier caught more gitises than all his mob-opping partners caught the entire day. Matt has been working all winter on his already formidable game. He is stringing together huge technical combos and finishing them with very physical and dynamic catches. The conditions forced him to hold back on his biggest moves, but those who saw him in Santa Monica on Saturday can testify to his elite level of play.

Dave Lewis, Dave Murphy and Arthur Coddington played last as the rain returned. Bad footing had the potential to really undermine all three players’ games, which are dependent on quick reflexes. They started slow, testing the waters with a co-op and a few solid indies. Things seemed okay so they turned on the afterburners. They continued to co-op and got more aggressive on their indies. Murf hit an around the world tooth delay, a big ground roll combo and to the terror of his teammates went for and hit his trademark gitis roll in the slick conditions. Arthur hit a 1080 under the leg pull and a spinning tumble combo. Dave got a 1080 legover pull, a 720 barrel catch and later sealed a phlaud off a pass from Murf. To end the round, Arthur shot a rim guide to a crash and burn gitis by Dave.

There are rumblings of a renovated playing field for the 2001 Wintertime Open, which could revolutionize the level of play at this tournament. If only we could lose the rain…


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