Sweat dripped, paddles swung and ping-pong balls whizzed through the air last week for UAA’s Winterfest Table Tennis Tournament. The event was set up by Donny Dormandy and run in part by the Alaska Table Tennis Club. Most of the athletes were UAA students, but a few determined visitors came to play.
Twenty competitors and a few alternates arrived at the Student Union last Tuesday evening. All were in hopes of winning the ultimate prize: a beautiful gold trophy and movie tickets. Dormandy said Student Union gift cards were also awarded to second and third place.
Early on, competitors predicted who would win.
“I don’t have a doubt he’s gonna win,” competitor Aaron Densmore said regarding his mentor, Andrew Kim. Densmore said Kim introduced him to the sport two years ago. He wasn’t the only person to point out Kim’s talent, though.
“My main competition is Andrew Kim. … I mean, he’s alright,” said contestant Josh Kwon.
Despite these predictions, not everyone intended to take home the gold. Some came just for fun. Biological sciences major Mary Haupman said she “would play at lunch” while serving in the Coast Guard.
Her idol was very unique and contrasted most contestants’ response, Swedish Olympic superstar Jan-Ove Waldner.
“This guy (a fellow Coast Guardsman) would watch TV and play with his left hand,” Haupman said, laughing.
Community member Gzkooyxi Li, a part-time table tennis competitor and part-time feminist, said, “We play for the audience’s amusement — oh, and I support equal pay,” during one of his games.
Haupman and Li may not have been serious about the competition, but there were a few foreigners who were.
According to the Alaska Table Tennis Club, the tournament attracted competitors from “Sweden, Norway, Korea, China, Honduras, Thailand, South and North America.”
Hannah Slotte, a skier and physical education major, came from Sweden to attend UAA this semester. She is an old friend of University of Colorado Boulder skier Emil Johansson, who visited Anchorage last week for a ski meet. Both competed in the table tennis tournament. Other CU Boulder students cheered players them along.
Out of all the games, Johansson’s match against Aaron Densmore was definitely the most intense and the sweatiest. Johansson took third place in the tournament.
“This is the best one to date … at least in the past six years,” Karl Augestad said.
Ryan Royce placed second and Jacob Wingard placed fourth. As predicted by some, Kim took home the gold.
Augestad said Kim competed in the Arctic Winter Games of 2014 and took home a bronze medal while representing Alaska in table tennis. Augestad and Kim are both members of the Alaska Table Tennis Club, or AKTTC, and will be at the club’s Winter Open Tournament on March 7.
For more information about the Alaska Table Tennis Club, visit http://akttc.com.