Denmark’s Ragnarok took third at last year’s European Ultimate Championships and is consistently among the continent’s best competitors. Mads Bakkegaard joined Ragnarok in 1994, its inaugural year, and along with Daniel Ocariz, he has been with the Copenhagen-based club ever since. Ragnarok began tryouts for the 2013 season in April and is entering a sweet spot in its season: after Windmill Windup, they’ll head to Raleigh, North Carolina to compete in the US Open, the first leg of USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour.
This isn’t Bakkegaard’s first US Open: he and Ragnarok’s Faissoil M’Bae played with Doublewide at the inaugural US Open last year after spending time with the Texas team in 2011. Bakkegaard says his time with Doublewide spurred growth for Ragnarok.
Faiss and I tryed out for and made Doublewide in the 2011 club season. Unfortunately Faiss was unable to play because of an ACL injury during Europeans. I moved the family to Austin and practiced with the team for a couple of months.
It was a great experience to play with DW, they are a for sure great guys. It was also great fun to play in the USA Ultimate league. In general I think that high level ultimate in US is more physical than high level ultimate in Europe.
It raises Ragnaroks level for sure. We have worked on a lot of stuff: for example our handler movements are influenced [by what I saw in the States]. We have also incorporated other aspects using it as supplements to our own playing style.
Travelling to both Amsterdam and North Carolina is a lot: it’s far, it’s expensive, and it’s time consuming. But it’s also par for Ragnarok’s course, and a valuable part of the team’s goal to take the European crown.
We are used to playing two or three foreign tournaments in the spring, and most years there is also a big tournament in July like Club Worlds or WUGC. The 2013 season in particular is a big commitment for the team. Nearly the entire roster is playing at Windmill and US Open. We are trying to get sponsors for the team, but for now the players are covering all expenses themselves.
In the fall our goal is the Europeans. This year we are going for the gold. The Europeans structure is somewhat similar to the US structure. You have to qualify for the Europeans in your nation, then you go to European Regionals, which is in late August If you qualify, you go to the European Finals in late September.