Next up, another tournament in Western Canada. They often try to have the Pacific International (Vancouver/Abbotsford) and the Edmonton International on adjacent weekends, but not this year, due to Pacific International scheduling woes. Had they been adjacent this year, I would have been in COVID isolation after Pacific and unable to make it to Edmonton. So that was good for me.
My referee colleagues had some travel drama, including a cancelled Porter flight (travel agent fixed it, I’m not sure how) and an Air Canada downguage. Me, I used the snowstorm’s revised ticketing conditions to get onto the 3pm flight instead of the 5pm flight I was originally on. Good thing too: the 5pm flight was delayed and eventually got in at midnight. I took a taxi to YYZ to make it on time; 3pm is ambitious after a lecture that ends at 1pm. And, I don’t have winter tires installed (revised ticketing conditions are for a reason), and also can’t use the HOV lane.
I had looked up possibilities for getting from the YEG airport to the West Edmonton Mall, which was the tounament venue. It’s pretty far. Walking the 30km was not going to be an option given the amount of time I had and carrying a gi and a suit. It’s the usual set of options: bus (cheap, but takes two hours); taxi; rental car (both not cheap). In the end, a fellow referee arranged a ride from a local referee; and then when i arrived 30 minutes late, his wife was kind enough to drive me. As usual, leaving the venue is always easy, since everyone leaves at pretty much the same time.
This was the first time I’d refereed in Edmonton. I competed there in 2012 (bronze) and 2015, but had never gotten around to refereeing. There was a referee clinic where they had us wear judogis (which I could make it to after changing my flight), but maybe the being-in-judogi part wasn’t so useful for most participants and involved lugging a judogi cross-country. Fine for me, expensive if taking Flair.
Quebec has a lot of high-level referees (over 20 IJF/Continental/National A) referees, but they don’t travel a lot. At this tournament there was just Eric, as well as two Quebec diaspora, me now representing Ontario and Louis representing Manitoba. It was nice to chat a bit with Louis; I also see him at the Quebec Open but there are heaps of referees there and lots going on. Edmonton is smaller.
They had the Junior Referees (sub-National-level) do the U10 and U12 matches and we started around noon with the U14s, going for about 7 hours. They still summoned us all in the morning. Sure, team solidarity.
Should the U10s and U12s be part of this tournament? They cap those entries to 200, so that it only takes 3 hours. And the kids really like it. Ideally there would be more surfaces so that we could get more parallelization, but the ice rink that holds the mats won’t hold any more surfaces. I guess I’ll just say that it’s complicated.
Apart from that, not much to say about the tournament itself. It ran smoothly, i.e. with no unnecessary waiting times. Not something that is obvious except in its absence, but I notice and appreciate it! Air quality in the mall was also excellent. It really is built for this many people, unlike smaller enclosed spaces.
I didn’t see much of the mall, either. We did go out for drinks on Saturday night after the tournament. Tournament organizers supplied us with pizza since the tournament ended at 7, so I just shared some nachos. I am going to name and shame the pub 1st And at the West Edmonton Mall, which included an “optional tip” and then also the machine suggested an extra 18%. Being a bit of a pain in the ass, I noticed it after paying and got the server to give me back $4. Double charging is not right.
And, after the tournament, I could congratulate Anne-Laurence, our Judo Ontario referee chair, on passing her National A referee evaluation. A necessary step in rebuilding the referee corps in Ontario.
It’s really hard to get back to Toronto the day of the tournament when the tournament is in Western Canada. In this case, I managed to leave at the end of the tournament, and land at Pearson around midnight. Because I had to take a taxi to Pearson, and because I arrived back at Pearson late, I also had to take a taxi back to Waterloo, arriving at 1:15am. At least I got a full night of sleep in my own bed, unlike when coming back from Vancouver. The red-eye from Vancouver is brutal and only half of a full night’s sleep; surely that didn’t help my immune system.