Canada swept in ‘tug’

Heather Latter

The weather may have co-operated this year for the annual “Pulling for Peace” international tug-of-war yesterday, but it was not the outcome Canada wanted.
The Canadian side was beaten by the Americans in all three matches—the “celebrity” pull, the “community” pull, and then the “power” pull, which is for the trophy.
“We have to rescind the trophy but we’ll get it back next year,” vowed Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis.
“We fought hard,” he added. “We had a good turnout, good pullers, but we just didn’t have quite enough to win.”
The unique event, which sees a 1,500-foot rope stretched between the two countries, was first held in 2006 in celebration of the friendly border they share.
The “celebrity” pull sees 22 celebrities take part on each side, then each celebrity picks a male and a female to participate in the “community” pull.
But it’s the “power” pull—featuring 28 males and 16 females on each side—that’s for the trophy and bragging rights for a year.
“It’s really exciting,” enthused Jackie Lampi-Hughes, who co-ordinated this year’s “power” pull for the Fort Frances side.
“It went really well and it really does bring people together,” she remarked.
“Everyone was so excited,” Lampi-Hughes added. “There was a lot of great energy.”
But everyone seemed dumbfounded as to why Canada couldn’t pull out a win this year.
“How did we lose?” wondered Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, who was not pulling this year but in the boat with the starting flag.
When asked what the Americans did differently to win, Travis Rob, who refereed the “tug” on the American side, could only respond with, “I don’t know.”
And Lampi-Hughes couldn’t come up with a reason, either.
“Everyone did what they were supposed to do,” she noted, adding she even had sent an e-mail to the “power” pull competitors with tips on how to win a tug-of-war.
These included locking your elbows, using your legs, and leaning back your body weight.
“Then you have to get that momentum and pull together, moving backwards with
baby steps,” Lampi-Hughes explained. “And that’s exactly what they were doing.
“I thought we had it,” she admitted. “They were walking backwards and all of a sudden something changed.
“I don’t know what happened.”
But in preparation for next year, Lampi-Hughes said the participants will take part in a one-month training session prior to the pull.
“We’ll get the trophy back next year,” she vowed. “It’s a great event that really brings our two countries together.
“It’s a great that we can have a friendly event like this.”
After the “tug,” the trophy—bearing the 2013 “International Falls” plaque—made its way by boat to International Falls, where Mayor Avis presented it to International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson and team captain Greg Coleman, a Minnesota Viking alumnus.
“We accept this trophy with great pride,” Mayor Anderson said.
“It certainly is a great day for International Falls with a sweep of all three [pulls],” he added.
“We take great pride in having the trophy back with us.”
Mayor Anderson also thanked Jamshed Merchant, the Canadian Counsel General based in Minneapolis, for attending the event while Coleman praised the two communities for their peaceful border and friendly tug-of-war event.
Keeping with tradition, the mayors of the communities had a bet—with the loser having to wear the other team’s jersey to a council meeting.
But it seems Mayor Anderson would like Coun. Wiedenhoeft to wear the Bronco jersey to the next meeting.
“We’ll have to see,” said Coun. Wiedenhoeft. “I think the mayor should wear it.”
Regardless of the outcome, the event was deemed a success—especially after last year, which never took place due to a severe storm that rolled through the area.
And Mayor Avis also indicated we still have one more win than the Americans, with the overall record now sitting at 3-2 for Canada.
Fort Frances won in 2006 and 2007, then the tug-of-war wasn’t held again until 2010, when International Falls captured the trophy.
Fort Frances was again victorious in 2011, with last year’s event cancelled.
“It was a good event. We’re looking forward to next year,” Mayor Avis said.