by Brennen Lutz | January 7th, 2013
In the midst of winter break, many players have returned home from school looking to find more quidditch-related fun. Some have returned to snow in the North and others have returned to sun in the South. Be it hot, cold or rainy, the weather heavily affects the strategy of quidditch teams everywhere.
University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON) and Ives Pond (Buffalo, NY) square off during the 2012 Ives Pond Invitational. Photo credit: Tegan Bridge
The bitter cold – felt during last year’s World Cup V in New York, and the recent Snow Cup III – causes bludgers to sting more upon impact, and brooms and hoops to break more easily. Despite these problems, the cold also offers significant advantages. Snow is among the best of the benefits of cold-weather quidditch. With snow, players enjoy a rugged experience, and snowballs have been seen flying in place of bludgers at many northern team practices.
Despite the fun that snow brings to a quidditch match, it does have a few downsides. Tournament officials need to watch for icy patches on the pitch, because tackling a player on ice can be dangerous. Another danger of playing in snow is hidden hazards on the pitch, such as sprinkler heads and holes in the ground. Players also need to be sure to bring warm clothes to fight the cold. During matches, players need to be more careful about cramps because their muscles cool much more rapidly after exercising in cold weather.
In snowy conditions, players tend to find success by passing the quaffle more often, as footwork can be impeded in the weather. Passing can be difficult with cold fingers, though. When playing in cold weather, dexterity suffers and seekers in particular can have a hard time grabbing the snitch. Some seekers wear running gloves to solve the problem, but it is not yet entirely clear whether this is helpful or detrimental to their play in cold weather.
Slipping and Sliding
Even if it’s not freezing out, quidditch players and fans can be faced with rain. Rain is perhaps the most common and most detrimental environmental challenge a quidditch tournament can face. Rain makes balls slippery and can lead to low-scoring games. Also, rain makes the receiving gloves commonly worn by players useless.
When faced with rain, it is best for players to take off their gloves, prepare to pass less often, and to keep the passes that they do make short. Also important for players to remember is that during rain, seekers are more slippery than usual and the snitch is often caught more quickly. The slightly increased difficulty that snitches have in pushing away seekers means that teams should not rely on grabbing the snitch in order to win during rain. Impaired visibility also hurts games played in the rain, and players wearing goggles are sure to suffer. Beaters also should try to get close to their targets because the rain often contributes to rebounds at strange angles.
(Broom)stick in the Mud
After a rainstorm, many pitches become muddy. Some of the most fun quidditch tournaments are played in veritable mud pits. Players enjoy the mud simply because it is fun to get dirty. At last year’s the River City Invitational in Richmond, players were seen sliding through the mud after games just for kicks. Tim Suddeth, a Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond,VA) seeker and chaser said, “It was a surreal and cinematic moment that was challenging to chase in.”
Mud can also be a great detriment to speedy players because it can suck at their shoes, leading to more tackles. Being tackled in muddy situations is less painful than on dry ground because the mud cushions the impact and makes both players dirty. For beaters, bludgers are easier to recover in muddy fields because the balls do not roll as far as they normally would on a pitch.
Despite the fun of playing quidditch in mud, there are dangers associated with the conditions. Mud shares many of the problems associated with snow like hiding holes and divots on the pitch. Twisted ankles happen more often on muddy pitches. In order to play well in mud, teams need to focus on sharp passes that allow them to advance the ball without having to rely as much on getting around opponents. It also can become a problem for referees when jerseys become caked in mud, making it difficult to distinguish between teams, numbers and headbands.
Sun ‘n’ Fun
Another weather condition teams need to prepare for is the simple sunny day. Sun is the most common of all weather conditions for quidditch tournaments. Even on a regular, sunny day, a number of complications can afflict players and fans. Sunburns are most common at these times, although players can still burn when it is cloudy.
Sunny days are often hot days. In hot weather, players can suffer from heat exhaustion. It is always important for teams to bring water for their players, but especially so on hot days. Teams ought to bring water that can be accessed by the whole team because there are always a few players who forget to bring water.
Wind can be a huge environmental challenge to quidditch. Quaffles are not particularly heavy balls, so wind can greatly affect the trajectory of throws. Chasers will notice wind more quickly than beaters because bludgers are typically heavier than quaffles. There is not much players can do to combat wind, either. The best players can hope for is to be aware of what direction the wind is blowing in and try to adjust accordingly. Keeping passes shorter can also help a lot.
Quidditch is an outdoor sport. It is best to know what the forecast is and prepare accordingly. Whether it is sunny, snowing or raining, the game will be played. Gryffindor keeper Oliver Wood said it best: “You can’t cancel quidditch!”