The fifth annual Torneo di Pedroni bocce ball finals not only came down to being the Women’s Igloo versus the Men’s Igloo, but also husband versus wife on their 39th birthday.
The Sunday event at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge Bocce Courts is held each May for the Fairbanks Igloos of Alaska Pioneers. About 50 pioneers and their guests showed up to participate in this fun, Italian-themed event named for Felix Pedro, the discoverer of gold in the Fairbanks district in 1902.
During the bracket tournament, the female igloo plays on one side, while the male igloo plays on the other. In the final match, the top woman takes on the top man for the coveted Pike’s Lodge Pedroni Trophy, which will add the winner’s name to their plaques.
This year, the No. 8 Women’s Igloo semi-finalists were Rusty Gesin and Nola Barnes, while the No. 4 Men’s Igloo narrowed it down to George Dalton and PJ Gesin.
The last match for the big trophy and the title of Pioneer Bocce Champion for 2022 was played by Rusty Gesin against her husband PJ Gesin. Rusty’s parents, Robin and Joy McDougall, were scorekeepers for the event, making it a real family affair.
During this last championship match, PJ Gesin found himself faced with a real dilemma: the men’s Igloo was really counting on him to win the trophy for them, and he also wanted to please his wife. In the end, he played his best game against his wife, who really challenged him because she is also an excellent pétanque player.
When the game ended, Rusty and PJ celebrated with a big kiss as the crowd cheered them on.
The day was full of sunshine with a nice breeze and the Pioneers had a great time on the court. Afterwards, they all retired to the Binkley Room to enjoy a fabulous Italian lunch with all the trimmings, prepared by Ursula Groneveld and her stellar staff.
Judge Diane Darnell showed fairness. Darnell is the Official Petanque Judge at the Senior Games held every August in Fairbanks and she has done a great job ensuring the competition doesn’t get out of hand.
Numerous prizes were awarded for the categories of Best Game, Closest Kiss, Worst Throw and Best Victory Dance in the form of unique commemorative coffee mugs that featured an image of Felix Pedro wearing sunglasses. sun, holding a gold saucepan full of petanque. balls, and his arm around a girl in the dance hall.
Pike’s Pedroni Trophy features bocce players in the corners with a large cup rising from the middle of the double-stacked base. It’s some spectacular bling and something Men’s Igloo No. 4 is very proud to call its own for 2022. The trophy will be on display at the Pioneer Museum throughout the year.
Previous Torneo de Pedroni champions have been Wanda Huber in 2017, Annie Colp in 2018, George Lounsbury in 2019, no tournament in 2020 and Colleen Redman in 2021.
Sometimes referred to as “Italian lawn bowling”, bocce has some similarities to curling in that players can use their balls to move balls that have already been thrown by their opponents. A player from one of the two teams throws a target ball and the object is to finish – after four throws each – with a ball closest to the target ball.
Players are allowed to use their balls to bring the boccino closer to other balls or to push balls out of the way. In some variations of the game, additional points are awarded for this.
Petanque courts that have raised edges can also be used by players to their advantage: they can ricochet balls off the side of the court for better positioning or to knock balls out of the way.