Budapest Fencing Traditions: Fatale, Missed Super Bowls and the “You Pay Now” Woman

The first time I traveled to Budapest for the men’s saber fencing world cup was in 2001 with Herby Raynaud, Keeth Smart, Ivan Lee, Akhi Spencer-El and a few other fencers now retired.

The Hotel Stadion  (now called Hotel Arena) is a place everyone who has ever been on a team or tried to make a team has likely stayed.   It hosts world cups in every weapon, different age brackets and they are all at the same location.   A building connected to the Hungarian National fencing training center ,and a short 10 minute walk through a large sports area with multiple stadiums and buildings. 

They’re is usually another competition happening in another sport.    For many years it was speed skating.  I remember meeting Apollo Ohno during one of the trips, and the past two years a mixed marital arts competition has been going on the same time.  

The first thing that happens when you arrive at the hotel after the 10+ hour flight is a blonde woman says “YOU PAY NOW” in a thick Hungarian accent and after a moment of disbelief/protest you realize you must “pay now” or not have  room.  

To add insult to injury, for a long time you were required to pay in cash, which meant trekking out into the snow and cold to the cash machine at the train station a few blocks away to get money!  Ahh, the charms and traditions of life on the road.

For the past 8 years I have missed most of the Super Bowls.  We’re usually here during that weekend and the game starts at 3am Hungarian time since we’re 6 hours ahead.   A few times we’ll trek out to bar and try to watch it, but most times we’re relegated to checking the score in the morning.  Plus, they don’t get the commercials here and that’s half the fun!

Anyway, during that first trip, Herby Raynaud, a three-time national team member, piled everyone into cabs and we went out to dinner at a place called Fatale.    This is perhaps my favorite tradition of all the world cup locations.  It has been a destination for team USA saber fencing for at least 15+ years now.   Huge plates of meat and good times.  The Fatale dish, which sadly, no ordered this year, is a ridiculous amount of meat, but most of the dishes are large!

Fatale is a place I’ve shared some of my favorite conversations with my teammates and coaches over the years at the end of the competition.   I’m happy to keep it alive now that those fencers who first introduced me are gone.  It’s somewhat nostalgic for me to think that US Fencers have been sharing these experiences for years. 

Here’s to tradition!  (And large plates of food!)

Where in the World is Men’s Saber? (A: Budapest World Cup 2010!)

In case you were wondering, the US men’s saber team is now in Budapest, Hungary for the first Grand Prix of the season!  Just arrived today and competing tomorrow!

James Williams, Ben Igoe, Daryl Homer, Mike Etropolski, Andrew Fischl, Jeff Spear and myself make up the 8-man US contingent.   We arrived today, checked our equipment and just finished eating dinner down the street from our hotel.  Already in bed and preparing for battle!

There are 141 competitors from around the globe.   This is usually the hardest world cup of the season and pretty much everyone is here from China, Korea, France, Russia, Italy etc.  

This is the 2nd of 11 world cups for team USA to decide the US National Team which will compete at the World Championships in November in Paris, France.  The team is based on points accumulated at these events.  

Alexey Yakimenko  (former world #1) of Russia is still out with an injured knee and will not compete.

Ben Igoe , currently ranked 16 in the world, finished 3rd here last year and will need to have a strong result to maintain that ranking since this competition is making up a large portion of his international points.

Andrew Fischl is making his Grand Prix debut for Team USA.

Ben Igoe (ranked 16th) and Tim Morehouse (ranked 15th) have a bye from day 1 competition

Former World Champion Lukashenko of Ukraine is coaching the Japanese team.

 ** Tomorrow is the first day of competition and there will be 3 rounds of pools at 9am, 10:30am and noon followed by direct elimination bouts to determine 48 competitors moving onto the second day and who will join the worlds top-16.   Sunday is team event.

I will be twittering live action at:

Lontay and Lapkes Attack Videos

Dmitri Lapkes
Dmitri Lapkes

Hello, this is Andrew Fischl. I have come out with two new compilation videos, both focused on the attacks of Olympic fencers. The first one is on Balasz Karoly Lontay of Hungary and the second is of Dmitri Lapkes of Belarus. Enjoy.

My Favorite Beijing Picture Taken During our Today Show Visit

Pictures 007

This was taken the day after we won our medal when we appeared on the Today Show in Beijing.   

The Anniversary of our medal winning just passed on August 18th.  I can’t believe it’s been a year already…we now have 35 days until we leave for World Championships in Turkey!

On another note, I really could use some sun! 🙂