Nice job, guys! West Iron County racers (in the pink shirts) congratulate Crystal Falls’ racers after they raced to first place time in the hose interchange race. Also worth noting: the strong breeze in the treetops at L’Anse’s Waterfront Park.
L’ANSE—After the final race ended at the 119th annual U.P. Firefighters Tournament here Aug. 2, an old tradition was renewed among members of the West Iron County, Crystal Falls and Skandia-West Branch fire departments.
They stood up on a cooler, held up a bottle of something tasty, and toasted each other’s successes and their rivalry.
The rivalry was clearly in very good shape at L’Anse. West Iron County, Crystal Falls and Skandia-West Branch were among the leaders in the point standings.
When the final totals were announced after the final parade Saturday morning, they showed West Iron County had retained its overall U.P. championship—it’s third straight U.P. title.
A rivalry, yes, but a friendly rivalry. The WIC and Crystal Falls racers and team captains talked with each other often, joked around, cheered each other on and commiserated on those rare occasions when things didn’t go right.
Of course, the teams weren’t going against each other. Everyone was battling the stopwatch.
The battle for race honors went down to the final event—the mystery race, which is kept a state secret by the host departments (L’Anse and Baraga) until the fourth race is finished. At that point, Crystal Falls had a big lead, winning three of four races and taking second in the fourth. WIC was right behind them each time—three seconds and a third—and was eight points back.
This year’s mystery race was a simple coupling race with a big twist—five revolutions.
Ever see a “bat race” between innings during a baseball game? That’s what it was: One racer put his forehead on one end of the nozzle, which had the other end on the ground, and had to spin around five times. Then, he dizzily had to run to the end of the hose, put on the nozzle and shoot out the target.
Skandia-West Branch was one of the first to run and kept its balance well enough to finish in 41.79 seconds. A few minutes later, Crystal Falls was up. Dan Surface, their designated spinner, stayed upright, but a breeze coming off nearby L’Anse Bay spun their hose stream off the mark, and their time was 44.90.
A few minutes later, Caspian-Gaastra took the lead from SWB, as Kyle Detterbeck spun his team to a time of 41.11. Moments later, West Iron was up. Kevin Drier spun, then stumbled. But Nate Newby kept him from crashing, pointed him in the right direction, guided him there, and the team finished the task in 39.95—a new leader.
Five teams finished the task in 42.08 or less, but nobody beat WIC’s time. Since Crystal Falls wasn’t in the top five, it got no bonus points for the mystery race—while WIC’s first place was worth 10 bonus points. That gave them a two-point winning margin overall in the races.
Caspian-Gaastra’s second place in the mystery race put it in a third place tie with Skandia-West Branch in the races. The CGFD earned a second, a third and a fourth.
The tournament started Thursday night, when the firefighters were judged in two parades. West Iron tied with Chassell for first in the dress parade, and Skandia-West Branch tied Hancock for third. Firemen were dressed in their best and did their best to march in time.
Later, across the bay in Baraga, was the let-it-all-hang-out shirttail parade, with each department’s float following the tournament theme: “Fire & Ice: Rivals Unite.” SWB was first place with its float, Gladstone was second, and Caspian-Gaastra finished a strong third.
The CGFD float featured Rev. Tom Karvala in front of a church, presiding at a ceremony uniting the L’Anse Purple Hornet and the Baraga Viking, with bubbles blowing up all around. (In fact, some think a L’Anse-Baraga co-op football team is coming—but it won’t happen this year.)
West Iron’s float also featured a wedding ceremony (as did others) but finished out of the top five.
The commercial parade on Saturday morning wrapped up the tournament. Florence earned first place with 89 points, with West Iron County second with 83 and Skandia-West Branch third with 73.
Overall, WIC’s total of 339 points led the field, with SWB second just two points behind at 337 and Forsyth Township 289 just edging Caspian-Gaastra (284.33) for third place. Crystal Falls was eighth overall, and Florence was ninth.
Overall final standings: 1. West Iron County, 339; 2. Skandia-West Branch, 337; 3. Forsyth Township, 289; 4. Caspian-Gaastra, 284.33; 5. Champion, 271.33; 6. Negaunee, 267.32; 7. Richmond Township, 238; 8. Crystal Falls, 236.33; 9. Florence, 235; 10. Gladstone, 227.66.
Dress parade: 1. (tie) Chassell, West Iron County, Wells Township, all 94; 4. (tie) South Range, Hancock, both 93.
Shirttail parade: 1. Skandia-West Branch, 94; 2. Gladstone, 86.66; 3. Caspian-Gaastra, 83.33; 4. Negaunee, 79.32; 5. Forsyth Township, 76.
Commercial parade: 1. Florence, 89; 2. West Iron County, 83; 3. Skandia-West Branch, 81; 4. Forsyth Township, 73; 5. Champion, 56.
Overall races: 1. West Iron County, 90; 2. Crystal Falls, 88; 3. (tie) Caspian-Gaastra, Skandia-West Branch, both 69; 5. Champion, 59; 6. Florence, 57.
Ladder race: 1. Crystal Falls, 17,62 seconds; 2. West Iron County, 19.06; 3. Champion, 19.95; 4. Hurontown, 21.11; 5. Skandia-West Branch, 21.41.
Hose relay: 1. Skandia-West Branch, 42.76; 2. Crystal Falls, 43.99; 3. West Iron County, 44.67; 4. Champion, 45.51; 5. Florence, 47.41.
Coupling race: 1. Crystal Falls, 23.01; 2. West Iron County, 27.99; 3. Caspian-Gaastra, 28.56; 4. Marquette Township, 30.16; 5. Breitung Township, 30.29.
Interchange race: 1. Crystal Falls, 41.24; 2. West Iron County, 43.62; 3. Florence, 45.63; 4. Caspian-Gaastra, 511.06; 5. Munising, 53.70.
Mystery race: 1. West Iron County, 39.95; 2. Caspian-Gaastra, 41.11; 3. Skandia-West Branch, 41.79; 4. Chocolay Township, 42.07; 5. Munising, 42.08.