Joy, Hardship And Ultimate Frisbee: Ivan Xu’s Unique Ride Across Europe

2014 August- About to start the day to cycle in Nancy France
Back in June, we brought your attention to the adventures of Ivan Xu, a Chinese youth who planned to bike alone around Europe for 100 days for Ultimate Frisbee and charity. He ended up cycling across 14 countries and visiting 11 high-level Ultimate Frisbee clubs* from June 18 to September 25, beginning in Brest, Belarus and ending in Berlin. His adventures have been profiled by media around the world, including CCTV-4,, Pärnu Postimees, Belarusian CTV, Russia-Belarus TPO TV and OHT TV, so what follows is hardly an exclusive. But here's an update anyway.

A Project Worth Your Attention: Ivan Xu’s Ride For Ultimate Frisbee And Charity

Iavn Xu featured image
In a recent discussion held as part of the inaugural Lean In Beijing Mentorship Event, a college student in my circle noted, “In China, it’s so difficult to stand out sometimes. We all pursue the same goals, we all do the same things, we all study hard and we all have similar experiences and ideas. In order for us to stand out and be unique, I really think we have to be unafraid to be different.” It’s true, especially in a country of 1.4 billion people. But it’s not common to see young Chinese doing what's necessary to stand out: pushing themselves to their limits and going beyond their comfort zone. Which is why Ivan Xu's project, the Ultimate Ride, is interesting:

Good Laowai In Tianjin Lend A Dozen Helping Hands

Ultimate Frisbee players help move van
Sometimes, when life throws you an obstacle, simply call on a dozen people to move said obstacle out of the way. In Tianjin on Sunday morning, a van parked in front of a building blocked a coach bus from leaving the enclosed lot via the only road out. That bus happened to be carrying more than two dozen Beijing Ultimate Frisbee players who were in town for a tournament. They had an idea.

BON TV Also Reports On China Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee on BON TV
Just when you thought the media coverage would stop, Blue Ocean Network steps up. This six-minute news feature on Ultimate Frisbee, centered around last month's Beijing-hosted China Nationals tournament, is one of the better segments on the sport I've seen anywhere (kudos to Howard Pan, who listened closely to tournament director Alicia). For an additional 38 seconds of bonus footage, click here.

China Ultimate’s String Of Good Press Defies All Odds By Continuing

China Ultimate featured image
Ultimate Frisbee in the US, despite having a professional league, would kill for the type of publicity China Ultimate has been getting recently. (Recap: CCTV, Hennessy, Sports Illustrated China, Beijing Today.) So why wouldn't a creative company called Niurenku, for which BJC contributor Zozo works, produce a five-minute video about China Ultimate and China Nationals?

Watch: Hennessy’s Online Ad Featuring Ultimate Frisbee Players In Beijing

Ultimate Frisbee Hennessey ad
We spent 10 hours filming in a chilly underground parking garage off East Fourth Ring Road last month to produce the 30-second clip you see above (and after the jump, on Youku for those in China). We tossed around a regulation Discraft disc rigged with lights along the inside of the rim and in the middle. At one point, we played a mini game, a three on two within the confines of parking garage columns, and it was a damn miracle that none of us collided with the extras going back and forth on the skateboard and mountain bike. Goddamn skateboarders and mountain bicyclists, always ruining a game of Ultimate Frisbee. It's like Central Park pickup all over again.

Ultimate Frisbee As Reported On China Central Television

Ultimate Frisbee on CCTV
For those of you who play Ultimate Frisbee (disclosure: I do), you'll be interested to know that Chinese state media's sports channel, CCTV-5, came by and did a piece on the Beijing tournament over the weekend that was organized by BJC contributor Alicia. More than 400 players and 24 teams were part of the sixth annual China Nationals, won by Speed, a team of college students from Tianjin Sports University.

China’s Biggest Ultimate Frisbee Tournament Is In Beijing This Weekend

Zahlen Ultimate Frisbee
This weekend marks the sixth annual China Nationals tournament, organized by Alicia (disclosure: I'm her assistant), and the fifth year it's been in Beijing. While Ultimate Frisbee may be of negative interest to most of you, realize that Sports Illustrated China, Blue Ocean Network, film companies from Beijing and Tianjin, CCTV-5, and Beijing Today will all be there, interested. In other words, this tournament is getting more media coverage than every Ultimate tournament from 1968 to circa 2009 in the U.S. combined.