ST. GEORGE — Most of us have played badminton, at least the kind where the net is tied to a couple of trees and competitors have a racket in one hand a piece of fried chicken or watermelon in the other.
But, like most so called “picnic sports,” there’s a competitive side to the racket-and-birdie activity. And most of these seniors playing this week in the badminton event for the Huntsman World Senior Games are pretty darn good.
“I was an athlete in high school, played seven sports,” said Rick Frost from Winnipeg, Manitoba. “There was this girl in my room in grade 10 that was a Canadian badminton champion. Because I was on all these sports, she invited me down to the Winnipeg Badminton Club and kicked my butt.
“I figured I could react one of two ways: What a dumb game if a girl could beat me, or I’m bigger and stronger than she is and she still whooped me, so there must be more to this game than meets the eye.”
Frost, who was competing in several events (singles, doubles, mixed doubles) this week after playing in the softball venue last week, said he hasn’t stopped playing since, and that was 1964.
“If you know what you’re doing, you can make it look easy,” Frost said. “My phys ed teacher in high school used to call it ‘Swat and giggle.’ So I spotted him 14 points and ran him from corner to corner and all of the sudden he had a bit of respect for badminton.”
Event director Doug Jenson, who is a gym teacher at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School where the event was taking place, said badminton can get a bit of a bad rap, given its picnic and barbecue roots.
“The fact that it is easy to pick up makes it attractive at a recreational level — it’s fun to play,” he said. “But to play on a competitive level, there are just so many components to it as far as strategy goes. You come to these tournaments and see so many different styles and techniques. Someone from the Ukraine may have a different technique than someone from Canada. There’s just so much to learn.”
More than 60 players from the United States, Canada and Europe competed this year for medals and fun. Jenson said the numbers are down a bit due to injuries and other commitments, but the sport is still going strong.
“It’s such a fun sport and I wish it had more of a following in southern Utah,” he said. “I teach P.E. here at this school and it is the favorite sport among all the kids here. It’s one of those sports where the girls can compete with the boys and a lot of times are better than the boys. I enjoy playing, but compared to some of these seniors, I’m just a beginner. Some of them are really, really good.”
Mixed doubles players compete Tuesday at Sunset Ridge and at Pine View Middle School. All the other events/brackets are complete. Here are the results:
Gold: Jacqueline Myers
Silver: Clara Wai
Gold: Margaret Chudyk
Silver: Barbara Heaney
Gold: Marian Holoboff
Silver: Barb Biggs
Gold: Mary Blandino
Silver: Liz Pa
Gold: Margot Hurst
Silver: Lorna Hunter
Gold: Dorris Taylor
Silver: Wendy Jerome
Gold: Margaret Chudyk; Denise Vines
Silver: Barbara Heaney; Clara Wai
Gold: Marian Holoboff; Pat Kirk
Silver: Barb Biggs; Rosalynn Thompson
Gold: Liz Parker; Mary Blandino
Silver: Connie Lee; Patricia Ortlepp
Gold: Lorna Hunter, Margot Hurst
Silver: Anne Emberly; Jessie Rogers
Gold: Wendy Jerome; Doris Taylor
Gold: Sergei Kolesnikov
Gold: Guy Tetreault
Silver: Jim Swaydan
Gold: Henry Arthur Paynter
Silver: Pedro Flores Garcia
Gold: Richard Gordon
Silver: Rick Frost
Gold: Jeff Fishback
Silver: Murray Foubister
Gold: Peter Eltgroth
Silver: Phil Brunner
Gold: Tong-man Ong
Gold: Sergei Kolesnikov; Jim Swaydan
Gold: Marcel Leblanc; Guy Tetreault
Silver: Christopher Frei; Stephen Frei
Gold: Michael Martel; Henry Arthur Paynter
Silver: Mike Mitson; Frank Price
Gold: Bill Chudyk; Richard Gordon
Silver: Rick Frost; Gerry Mercier
Gold: Jeff Fishback; Murray Foubister
Silver: Norman Carruthers; Fred Maloney
Gold: Robert Clark; Gordon Pearman
Silver: Peter Eltgroth; Roberto Lee
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