Of course, it's easy to second-guess. Brunsfeld no doubt lay awake that night wondering why the hell her brain told her to throw one thing when she so obviously should have thrown another. Something like that will eat you alive; one toss of the hand and she would have been on a plane to Vegas. Instead, some floozy with a lucky toss is in Brunsfeld's seat, and one step closer to the winner's purse of can you frickin' believe it? $50,000.
It was an eventful evening at Maryland Yards, a Maryland Heights sports bar. Many flat screens were showing all sorts of sports: hockey, the NIT men's basketball tournament, NBA games, MLB preseason games. But the only live action besides some pool players arrived courtesy of two Bud Girls with striped half-shirts, a whistle and a team of expert RPS champs. Winners from a dozen different preliminary rounds were competing for the Missouri slot in the finals. We were probably supposed to be drinking Bud Light, since they were sponsoring the competition and were doling out free bottles all night long. But hell, Widmer Brothers' gold-medal-winning hefeweizen was on tap, and a truck full of free Bud Lights couldn't have kept us from a few pints of Widmer. (Besides, Anheuser-Busch owns 40 percent of Widmer Brothers, so we weren't being totally unsupportive of the home team.)
Adrenaline was running high. At one point a particularly high-strung member of our table, which consisted of a pack of Brunsfeld-heads, threw a lit cigarette at some dude, directly followed by an ashtray. It was a dumb and unexpected move, which could very well have landed us in the middle of a brawl. Luckily, tempers calmed, and we were able drink our Widmer rather than dump it over someone's head.
Widmer Brothers is a Portland, Oregon-based brewery that has been pouring amazing beers since 1984. They're best known is their beautiful unfiltered wheat, which was awarded the gold medal for American-style hefeweizen at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival. The cloudy brew is the color of a banana, and has an echo of the fruit when sipped. It's also citrusy, but unlike some hefeweizens, it's not cloyingly sweet. The beer shines when garnished with a lemon.
Courtney Brunsfeld shines when she's throwing her rocks around. She arrived at Maryland Yards thinking she'd be done in five minutes, eliminated by some doof who actually took this silliness seriously, who studied the statistics of the game. She nonchalantly tossed, and the non-strategy worked: Brunsfeld roared through the first few rounds, pummeling dudes twice her size with throws that seemed to be tossed from the heavens. Within an hour, she was standing head-to-head with the other finalist the only other woman in the tournament and on the verge of turning this dalliance into a free flight to Vegas with her man Seth.
They went toe-to-toe in the best-of-three match. Her opponent took the first set. Brunsfeld's back was against the wall, and she handled the pressure and evened it up. We drank our Widmer nervously, then sucked on the lemon. In the final set, each had won a game; it was down to the final throw. They threw and tied with rock. They threw again, and tied again. And again. Five times in a row, the duo was brainlocked. The crowd couldn't believe it!
And then, that fateful throw: Paper!!?? Why paper, Courtney? Why? When in doubt, rock! But alas, it was not to be, and it stung. So close to Vegas. So close to glory. Instead, we sat slumped at the loser's table while the victor's crew rejoiced. Oh well. At least we were drinking Widmer.