Opening Pull: USAU COVID Policy Update, Club Regular Season Action

USA Ultimate made some key changes to their COVID-19 policy last week, while club teams across the country took the field. And the AUDL marched on towards the postseason.

Linda Morse and AMP took on Sarah Meckstroth and Drag’N Thrust at the AMP Invite. (Photo: Marshall Lian — @MD.Lian on Instagram)

Welcome to Opening Pull! Ultiworld’s Monday wrap-up of the previous week in ultimate has returned, now available both in this space and as an email newsletter. As always, we’ve gathered the news you need to know and highlights you need to see. Check back weekly or subscribe now to receive Opening Pull in your inbox along with a rundown of the previous week’s content on Ultiworld.

USA Ultimate Revises COVID-19 Policy After SFI Outcry

On August 19, USA Ultimate released updated COVID-19 guidelines after the Select Flight Invite West’s competition became narratively overtaken by the organization’s response to a positive test result for a tournament attendee. The governing body also released a statement regarding SFI West, apologizing for a lack of communication and clarifying that no teams were sanctioned for forfeits.

The most notable change in policy: all close contacts of a known COVID-positive person “will be removed from the event regardless of vaccination status.” At SFI West, only unvaccinated close contacts were barred from returning to the event. USAU also will require those who test positive at an event to present a negative PCR test in order to return to future events.

Additionally, USA Ultimate revealed the vaccination rates for the participants at their largest club tournaments. The results were far higher than the national average.

AMP Invite, SMUT, and Elite-Select Challenge Add Texture to Regular Season

It was the busiest weekend yet for USA Ultimate club action, with a weekend of competition that advanced the plot of the season, particularly in the mixed and women’s divisions. And our cameras were out in force to record games for subscribers.

At the AMP Invite, Washington DC Space Heater went 5-0 against a strong field to win the event.

In Spokane Valley, WA, Seattle Mixtape matched Space Heater’s loss column against solid Northwest competition. That’s a good debut for a top team.

Staying in the mixed division, Ann Arbor Hybrid took home the ESC crown with a win over new in-region foe Cleveland Crocs in the final.

We had some of our first looks at top women’s teams, as well. At ESC, Columbus Rival emerged as the winner from the tournament’s odd format. Meanwhile out west, San Francisco Fury (with just 14 players?) proved too much for the opposition at Eugene Reopen, where they faced Riot and Schwa in unsanctioned play, among others.

There’s no official USAU Club Rankings this year, so if our Power Rankings haven’t satisfied you, and you need to know how USAU’s algorithm would arrange teams, is back live.

Canada and Germany Announce World Games Talent Pools

Two World Games 2022 attendees progressed towards finalized rosters for the prestigious mixed competition, which will be hosted in Alabama.

Ultimate Canada announced their 49-person talent pool from which their roster will be decided. Of course, many of the biggest names in Canadian ultimate — Andrew Carroll, Catherine Hui, Jessie Grignon Tomas, Lauren Kimura, Morgan Hibbert — are in the grouping, along with some young up-and-comers. It’s likely they will be considered one of the top challengers to the US delegation for gold.

While not as far in the process, Germany did announce their 80-person tryout list, which will take place across two sessions. Some names might be familiar to American audiences — Levke Walczak, Nici Prien, Nico Müller, Conrad Schlör — although perhaps the biggest surprise might be an absence. Kyoko Hosokawa is a star player, but despite being a popular choice on Eurozone to make the team, was not on the tryout list. Phillip Haas also wasn’t listed. Both may have elected not to apply.

Valeria Cardenas Joins Denver Molly Brown

After a triumphant return to the US as one of the leaders of the Premier Ultimate League’s Medellin Revo Pro, Valeria Cardenas will be back in the US club circuit with Denver Molly Brown. She joins her sister, Manuela Cardenas, to unite on the Denver roster. Valeria spent 2019 with Seattle Riot while Manu played with Molly Brown. The dynamic duo will be back together, giving Denver a wealth of world class handlers.

Coming Up

The postseason begins in the semi-pro leagues!

  • The AUDL has playoff games for the Central and West divisions, and seed-deciding regular season finales in the Atlantic.
  • The Premier Ultimate League’s Central Championship Series will decide the top team between the Columbus Pride, Indy Red, and the new club, the Milwaukee Monarchs.
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