Yes, you heard right, "Y U K I G A S S E N". I also had to read this word a few times before I memorised it. I'd never heard of this Japanese folk sport before, and I think you might feel the same way. 😊 For all of you who are now shaking your heads and thinking: "What's that again?", stay tuned. Because this Japanese tradition is now meeting the Austro-winter in Filzmoos: the mountain village is hosting the first Yukigassen Championships in Austria, in fact it's the first Yukigassen tournament in Central Europe.
If you literally translate the word Yukigassen from Japanese, it means "snow battle". It is a Japanese team sport based on the principle of a snowball fight. Imagine a snowball fight between two teams, but with precise rules, lots of strategy and standardised snowballs (yes, every Yukigassen snowball is exactly 7 cm in diameter). Still sounds like a joke? But it's not.
The sport originated in Japan in the 1980s and has since spread internationally, particularly in Asia, North America and Scandinavia. The official world championships are held in Japan every year, while the European championships are also held annually in Finland. The headquarters of the World Association, the "International Allicance of sports Yukigasssen" is in Hokkaido (Japan) and the Austrian Yukigassen Association has been based in Filzmoos since the end of last year, right in the snow-white heart of Salzburg.
In a Yukigassen match, two teams of seven players face each other on a snow-covered pitch. Each team has 90 snowballs at their disposal. The teams throw snowballs at each other. There are small protective walls on the pitch behind which the players can hide from their opponents' balls. For safety reasons, all participants play with helmets. Anyone who is hit must leave the playing field. The winner is the player with the most players left at the end of the game (a set only lasts 3 minutes). However, possession of the opponent's flag can also lead to victory.
Why not try something new? Do you want to take part in the "snowball fight with rules"? Then sign up right now. Because the great thing is, anyone aged 13 and over can play! So, you only need (at least) 6 players and you're ready to go. The first International Austrian Yukigassen Championships will be held in Filzmoos from 21st to 23rd March 2024.
Registration and further information at:
Since 2013, the sport has even been organised in a world association, which has set itself the goal of having Yukigassen recognised as an official discipline of the Winter Olympics. Who knows, maybe you'll soon have the chance to take part in the Olympic Games? 😉
Bildnachweis: Yukigassen Filzmoos