More than just a Ski Town |

More than just a Ski Town


Last Friday and Saturday, the Ski Town Shoot-Out lacrosse tournament spread hordes of youth players across one of Utah’s premier lacrosse hotbeds: Summit County.

In its sixth year, the event drew 84 teams from around the Western U.S. and some of the nation’s most respected youth referees, said organizer Niki Harding. Teams came from Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona and California, as well as right down the road in Park City. The boys’ ranks were limited to eighth grade and lower, while girls of all ages were invited to compete for the first time.

"It’s a celebration of the end of the season," Harding said. "Last year, we had a downpour out here, but you couldn’t have paid for better weather this year."

The event kicked off with opening ceremonies Friday morning at the central plaza at The Canyons, paying a tribute to the Spirit of the Game with Tribal West Lacrosse’s Chief Burning Squirrel, who lit a ceremonial torch.

"It’s a little different from anything else," Harding said. "(Lacrosse) actually originated here. It’s got its own Native American roots."

Girls’ teams played all games at Willow Creek, while boys’ teams faced off at Ecker Hill and Quinn’s Junction. It was the first year the tournament was held at three separate sites. It was confined to Ecker Hill in its inception before expanding to the Quinn’s site.

The Utah Lacrosse Association launched the Shoot-Out in 2005 to give youth teams in the West another summer tournament to add to their schedules.

Pride and respect for the game are emphasized at the tournament, which begins with a demonstration of teamwork. Each referee is given a Hawaiian shirt on the final day to provide a little levity and remind players and spectators that they are human beings, too.

Tournament director Michael O’Malley said Basin Recreation and Park City Recreation have provided crucial support, and voters have ensured that the area has ample field access. The result, he said, is about $600,000 poured into the community each year through the Shoot-Out tournament.

"The support that we get from Park City is incredible, because it makes this tournament something people want to come back to," Harding said. "With 84 teams, we bring about 1,500 players plus their parents and their siblings all to stay in Park City, eat in Park City – and it’s really the support of this community that has allowed us to grow."

Saturday’s heavy traffic on S.R. 224 didn’t interfere too much with the tournament, Michael O’Malley said, and the chaos of the Ragnar relay even had its silver lining.

"We love the fact that there’s a big blinking sign that said, ‘Special event: June 18th-19th,’ because we figured all our participants thought they were talking to them," he said.