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Ye ole’ toy-sword fight won by Durango fencing instructor

I Challenge Ye To A Duel was a new addition to this year’s Snowdown festivities
Chris Bartlett, left, wins the I Challenge Ye To A Duel sword fight Wednesday at Starlight Lounge as Snowdown 2023 gets down Shakespeare style. (Garret Jaros/Durango Herald)
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Alcohol – adrenaline – and swords. What could go wrong?

“I’m gonna stab people,” said Chris Bartlett of Durango prior to the I Challenge Ye to A Duel competition Wednesday at the Starlight Lounge. The event was advertised as a fight with plastic swords but there was no doubt the rapier at Bartlett’s belt was steel. “A couple of drinks wouldn’t hurt.”

Somebody was going to put somebody’s eye out without a doubt. The sign taped to the window on the door leading to the patio-chair-decked arena read “Icy Conditions Exist.”

Eighteen competitors squared off – but there could be only one’eth.

“Aim and slay,” one of the spectators advised before ye ole’ MC and Starlight co-owner Matt McDermot outfitted the first two competitors with sensor-armed breastplates and toy swords.

“With enough wine in me I can probably sword fight,” said spectator Tonya Roth of Durango. “We’re getting more right now so we’ll see.”

And then, with the merry musicians of old – Tupac and Snoop Dogg – laying down not so Shakespearean beats over the sound system – it was time to fight.

“No kicking, no punching, no biting and no takedowns!” McDermot shouted over the roar of the crowd. “Aim for the sensor in the middle and when the thing says you’re dead, you’re dead.”

The first round went to a ringer, one of several fencing club members from yon local shire.

“Josh and Tanner are next up!” McDermot cried out. “Oh my, two white boys – what do you know.”

The bouts moved fast’eth and furious’eth after that as combatants lunged, stabbed, poked and flailed their way to the second and final round.

Mindy Walck of Durango – known in the arena as “the lady with the hair” fought her way through the first round, high-heels and all, before pausing to ask if her opponent was OK after an errant jab, only to have her mercy rewarded with a stab to the heart in answer. (Garret Jaros/Durango Herald)

“The next two requested to fight each other,” McDermot called out. “We got a grudge match.”

The match ended with an accidental suicide strike.

“You killed yourself, you Hari Kari(d),” McDermot said. “But it was an honorable fight.”

Next up was “Captain Morgan” who elicited big cheers from the pin-cushion-poised crowd.

“We got a crowd favorite!” McDermot shouted. “Ready, steady, kill each other!”

The final faceoff came down to Bartlett, the metal sword-wearing man with a plan to stab (and ye local fencing instructor) and a young upstart visiting from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lunge, parley, stab, block, lunge, stab – victory!

“Great fight,” said Bartlett after the duel. “A lot of great contenders. I look forward to doing this again next year – and winning again.”


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