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More etc - Sept 21/09

Left-handed throws, bootless hammers, shotgunned beer and general revelry. Thus is the way of the Paul Sim. Happy 50th, big man! In other news, the Calgary Results are up. Writeup to that and many others to follow. Plus tons of pics/video. I have a lot to do.

- Sean

Paul Sim, etc - Sept 13/09

Ok, so we're doing it this year on the man himself's birthday, his FIFTIETH no less, on September 19th. Also, I am slowly gathering all the results for Calgary and will start the great postarama soon. Add to that the fact that I actually WANT to finish off all the writeups and add a ton of pics and it's going to take a bit. Be patient. I also need the local Masters and Women's results for the whole completeness thing.

Oh and if I could have those planning to attend drop me an email HERE!, that'd be awesome. I need to know how much food to have on the ready!

- Sean

Year Endish Stuff - Sept 7/09

Gotta give a huge thanks to Gord Walsh and the Calgary United Scottish Games Association for putting on a World Class event. Awesome stuff. We were treated like kings and everything rolled along amazingly. Great venue, too. I'll be slapping up more about that later. For now, here are the High River Results. Writeup to come.

- Sean

Calgary Information - August 25/09

First off, here's the information on the Meet and Greet on Friday, Sept 4: Calgary Athletes Meet and Greet

And a message from your AD, Gordie Walsh:

Evening Gents,

Entrance to Foothills Athletic Park

I will need a full list of Athletes to give your names to the gate personal. ONLY ATHLETES ON THE LIST will be entered free of charge!! Family members are required to pay! Please be mindful I have to answer to questions at meetings with the Executive as to how many people from Heavy Events are throwing or just accompanying throwers. Please be respectful and pay the fee for the family.

Parking

To my knowledge there will be sufficient parking at McMahon Stadium/Various Parking lots around the Athletic Fields.

Gear Delivery

Please consolidate gear into one vehicle/truck. I am not sure where we will have access to get the gear to the field. I will update later when I get to measure the field again and check which gate we can deliver to. I expect it will be drop off and then go park the trucks outside the field area.

Meet and Greet- Friday Evening

All athletes and significant other are welcome to join in for some social chat and food at the Village Park Inn from 6:30--9:30 Friday Night. I will forward Sean the invitation with the RSVP info. Maybe he can post on the web page.

CSAF Meeting

All athletes are welcome to attend and participate in the annual CSAF meeting to be held at the Village Park Inn from 4:30-6:30 on Friday Sept 4.

Thanks
Gwalsh

Oh, you want your numbers, Bobby? - Aug 24/09

You wanted them, Pretty Boy? Here's your verdammt results. Writeup to come. But you know. SOME PEOPLE JUST AREN'T PATIENT ENOUGH.

- Sean

Games Registration Stuff - Aug 3/09

If you haven't paid your membership by now, registration for High River and Calgary are $20/each. It's a shockingly short list of the guys who HAVE paid this year and I know who they are. I have some exceptions due to out of towners, etc, but if you're a usual suspect, be ready to fork it over so I can make sure you're covered under our insurance.

- Sean

Calgary's Full - Aug 2/09

Ok. We now have 30 athletes PLUS the Canadian Masters. Until further notice, I'm closing up the registration for Cowtown. Gord and I have to ensure we can get through everything in a timely manner and safely to boot. If anything changes, I'll let you know but other than that, if you haven't confirmed by now to me, you're probably S.O.L.

- Sean

More Updates - July 31/09

Ok, so I updated a bit of 2006 results (more to come) and the Pro class of the 2008 Calgary games is up. Lots more work to do, but I'm trying to catch us up. Gordie Walsh is working on the patterning for Calgary but I'd prep for a long day and multiple trigs, kids. We'll have fun, it'll just be a bit of a gong show is all :)

- Sean

Ft. Ed Results and Writeup - July 29/09

Done. And yeah, I know. Ellerslie is still messed up. Working on it. Keep checking here for updates.

- Sean

High River and Cowtown - July 27/09

Ok, I know I have emails galore from everyone coming to the last two, but I'm putting out a call for confirmations so I know exactly how many people we're going to have and how we're going to have to organize this mess. I'll keep track of this on the main page, so if you don't see your name, hit me here with the info!:

High River
AmateursMastersOpen
Aaron AndronykBob BrownJason Johnston
Wes RadstaakTerry HuntSean Langford
Dan LoebMike GilpinDave Roe
Mike KelbertJeff ThomasRob Young
Paul KueflerJaimie Waine*Dave Laidlaw
Chris ParulskiMegan Melham*Wilson Burnett
Matt AndrewsGord Walsh
Mike DesiletsJoe Taylor
Dale MacDonald
*women's competitors
Calgary
AmateursMastersOpen
Aaron AndronykTerry HuntSean Langford
Wes RadstaakMike GilpinRob Young
Dean RichardsTony SnyderDave Laidlaw
Ray SiochowiczJeff ThomasWilson Burnett
Thomas FyvieJamie Waine*Dave Roe
Mike KelbertMegan Melham*Joe Taylor
Paul KueflerNorm LittleLance Barusch
Kelly StrachanTanya Little*Matt Doherty
Mike DesiletsTasha Little*
Norm Pilon
Chris Parulski
Matt Andrews
Dan Loeb
Dale MacDonald
*women's competitors

And NEW U200 Champion of the World...

Our own Bob Brown managed to keep with his consistent ways in the biggest class of the MWC, snagging 2nd in the LH and OS, top honours in the caber and then choking a bit on his money event with a 4th in the HW. The overall result of such a performance?



HUGE congrats to our newest Masters WORLD Champion. Way to represent, Bobby.

World Masters Report - July 18/09

Our own Bobby Brown has been feeding me the information from the U200 Masters group:

Looks to me like our boy is in first at the end of Day 1.

- Sean

Ft. Ed Start Time - July 7/09

Ok! So the decision has been made. Just because we have nearly 20 athletes, we'll split it up as follows:

AM events (8:30-11:30) - AMs/Ladies
PM events (11:30-) - Masters/Open

Plan accordingly. As always, I'll be in there bright and early.

- Sean

Ft. Ed Athletes List - June 30/09

Thus far:

Ams

Chris
Matt
Paul
Wes
Mike K
Aaron

Masters

Terry
Bobby
Mike
Jeff T
Todd

Wimmins

Colleen
Megan

Open

Sean
Joey
Dave R
Davey L
Rob

Keep'em coming, kids.

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - June 29/09

Ouch. Lots of stuff to input for RD/Ellerslie. AND the results for GP on top of that. But, for organizations' sake, drop me a line here and let me know if you're planning on attending Ft. Edmonton. It'll help me plan for how many parking passes and gate passes we need as well as start time. I'll post the athlete's list up here for reference.

- Sean

Red Deer/Ellerslie - June 25/09

Dual trigs. Probably a 9:30 start time. Athletes should be around for 9am at the latest. We'll discuss Ellerslie on Saturday. :)

- Sean

GP - June 16/09

Much like High River, this one is one of my favorites. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some throwing but really, this one is a lot about the trip up, the guys that make that trek and the crowd at GP. All top notch stuff. Saturday started off much as this one does every year, with Bobby picking me up and then us heading into Edmonton to pick up a certain JT Money. Keep in mind that Joey had no intention of doing this games because he was still in the process of rehabbing the knee he ripped apart last year. But, as with most of us, the allure of the games won out over common sense and he obsessed about it enough over the course of the week that he finally called me up and asked if there was room for him up there. And there's ALWAYS room for Joey Taylor. Monster Mike Staal, Dangerous Dave, Wildman Wes, Pugilist Pauly and the intrepid Terry J. Hunt had made it up over the course of the day and some of us gathered again at Madhatters to watch men punch each other in the face and to have a few pops before the games the next day. Noone was happier than Mr. Bobby Brown to do that after weighing in JUST under the 200# weight limit he was making a dry run for at 199.90# fully hydrated and stripped down to his boxers. We didn't have to get rid of his necklace or break out the Nair or anything. Or even hit the sauna except for giggles and to shoot the breeze. The World Masters website specifies that the athlete has to make weight the night before or morning of the games, so bam.

With only 8 of us total, we got to start the day at a leisurely 10:30ish and with full intentions of doing every REAL event known to highland games. Read that as "no stinking sheaf". Mike likes his slight insanity, so we had a bit of a tweak to the braemar stone: we used half of a 50# hex dumbell. Came out to 24.5# on our official scale, not too bad to throw. The Boy would have loved it. On the Master's side of things, Mike jumped into an early lead on Bobby with Terry trailing behind. By the end of Round 2, Bob had the edge on Mike, which Mike immediately tied up on his third and final at 28'4". With a bit of smack talk and with Bob last in the rotation, he dug a little deeper and just edged Mike out with 28'6".

The Open class was much less of a race for this one. Wes' first pop out at 23'8" would stand as his best, beating out Paul's #2 throw of 21'7" by a solid 2 feet. Considering Joey hadn't even so much as given the implements a dirty look since July of 2008, his push of 26'8" was pretty respectable. I'd have to have a pretty solid day to beat Davey in a standing stone and today wasn't going to be any different. He dropped me like third period French, getting 2' on me with 31'1". All it cost me was some pride and some shooting pain for the elbow tendonitus.

Next up we decided to hit the heavy weights. This, as it turns out, would be our big news for the day. So anyway Terry started it off with a solid, if a little slow 31'2". His third one was a lot faster though, and he lobbed that thing out 34' even. Not too bad for a 49 year old man. Mike's first one was his best and a great arc as it lobbed out 37'. And now, let's talk about Bobby.

You see, there was another reason we wanted Bobby to make sure he could make weight. I mean the big one is to get him comfortably down to 200# as a routine competition weight, what with World Masters coming up in a month. The other is that his heavy weight has been going VERY well lately. So we had grabbed the 42 this Saturday before we left, measured the length of the implement (including cramming it into the vice and making sure it was UNDER 18" total), weighed that bad boy in at 42.4# (bless Bobby Dodd weights for never being underweight) just to make sure everything was legit. We weren't so lucky with the 56 :) Sure, it was 18" and all but it's that ugly block thing and the links weren't exactly allowing for decent rotation. But everyone was on the same playing field, so who cares?

So Bobby steps up for his opener, relaxed and cool as a cucumber. Good spins, good acceleration and then a huge reach and full extension. Didn't even look like he was trying too hard. We measure that thing out, fully expecting a high 30s throw. Did I mention that the current WR for the U200 40-49 class is 40'3"? Because on Bob's OPENER, he nailed a solid 41'. So for those of you playing from home, that's a World Record by 9 inches. It would stand as his best as he started trying too hard after that but there's more in there. Much more. Bodes very well for Worlds, don't you think?

The Open side was a bit less exciting. Paul dragged the snot out of his first throw but cleaned that up on attempt #2 for a best of the day at 22'8", just edging out Wes and his 22'1" opener. Again, the extent of Joey's practice this year was having to move the weights when he cleaned the garage up but he looked better than I'd seen him in a while and managed 28'7" for 3rd spot. And he never even drove for the trig and ended up 2' back of it to boot. There's lots more in there this year. Dave was dragging his weight a little but mass moves mass and big Dave still managed a flat 30' shot that grabbed him second. I managed to win with 32'5" but it didn't feel good in the slightest. Lots of stuff to fix yet.

Moving in a continuously mixed up order, we moved into the pancake-like 16.4# open stone. Terry's 27'6" opener would stand as his best for the day and despite everything he keeps saying, one of these days we're going to teach him to use his legs. Bob opened up at 35'11" and popped that out a whole other whopping inch for an even 36', up by 8" on Mike. Right up until Mike's last one. When you leave the door open, sometimes unsavoury characters wander through and Mike Staal was VERY unsavoury this day. 36'9" got him the event win when he needed it.

If we were playing for accuracy, Wes would have had this one wrapped up as all 3 of his shots landed within 2" of each other, ending with a best of 29'2". Paul actually looked like he wanted that rock to go somewhere today as he OPENED with a PR at 29'8" and then finally busted that 30' barrier with 30'6" to claim 4th spot. Nice work, Paul! Hunting PRs is why we do this. We'll do something about Joey's stones one of these days but today his 34'10" shoulder-throw was enough for 3rd. Dave's opening spin was a travesty in motion so he opted to stand for the next two and we had a beer on the line if he could beat me like that. He couldn't. But he got pretty close with 39'10" for 2nd. My first was an agonizing 40'7" and my next one just hurt my elbow more, so I passed on the third and hoped Dave wouldn't beat me. A little voodoo later and I still got first.

The hammers. Ugh. Noone through particularly well here. Well, one guy did and I'll talk about him in a minute. The 22# started off well enough, I suppose. Mike only went 80'11", so quite a bit off his pace here and Bob was in second at a pretty solid 72'4". Wasn't the best throws I've seen out of him but it's steady enough. Terry reached enough on #2 for a 66'4" and third spot. Fair enough. Joey was actually nervous walking into this event as this was the one that torqued his knee but he dug in and threw anyway. He managed a really solid 84'7"/109'6" when all was said and done for 2nd and 1st respectively. He traded off with Dave who went 85'5"/103'4". My hammers were garbage. Let's just leave it at that. Bobby's light hammer was a travesty and Paul and Wes didn't exactly burn down the house either. I'll let those who are interested check the results (when they're up). It wasn't pretty.

The light weight was a bit more of a high point. By this time, the sun was really blazing and the crowd had very nicely settled in. With the field moved to a new location closer to the play park, I think it allowed the little ones a chance to run themselves silly while the parents relaxed and watched the show. It was a darn fine deal, in truth. Terry had some good snap off the first one and it carried to a solid 45'6" (more legs!). His second one had the Captain Morgan factor, so it didn't count and the third didn't have quite as much sauce on it. As with most of us, Mike's first one was relaxed, smooth and went the furthest. 55'3" would snag him 2nd because Bobby was once again on fire on the weights. His first one at 57'9" was a solid one and near PR levels but when the next TWO are 59'1" and 59'2", it's hard to complain. Although he still did. He was looking for that 60' mark in competition. He just has to remember to actually extend his legs. Still, great speed and release.

I started this event off with a reasonable enough 64' shot that held out for top spot until Dave's last attempt where he was more or less completely willing to sacrifice a lung or a spleen for the throw and snag me by 7". Bob was already smack talking Joe about being out thrown by a little old man. Really, the smack talk should wait until AFTER a man's last attempt. 59'9" for Joe AND he was still 2' back of the trig. Rediculous. Wes looked seriously like he was fast-tracking for a PR when he opened with 49' and he WOULD end up extending it a bit but only by 5". Still some good stuff but I know he wants 50' to be all day any day. Paul, too, was looking like it was going to be nothing but PRs for this one, but he rushed the last pull and could never quite get that lift and speed he needed. Still, 44'3" was a pretty good toss out of the man from Edmonton.

The cursed caber. I really need something to get my caber mojo back because it's been stolen. Everyone did their level best to make the 17'4", 105# stiff as a board monstrosity look WAY harder than it actually is but only Mike Staal could close the deal. For the second year running. The crowd was, of course, very appreciative of the whole thing. But having to deal with the shame of a no turn AND the appropriate gloating from Mike is hard on a man's soul.

The WOB didn't lessen the pain any. Mike had adjusted the standards to account for Matty, so the start height was now 11'. No big deal. Wes and Paul were close but that's a rude shot for a first games. I came in at 11' just to stay warm and sadly it was probably my best pull of the day. Everyone else jumped in at 12. With no misses there, up we went to 13'. Joe took all three attempts to find his groove and then it went over easy, with Dave and I slapping it over first shot. 13'6" put a stop to the open class (sigh) but all the Masters were still in. 14' saw Mike over in 1, Bob over in 2 and Terry dig really deep to pop it over on his last attempt. And that's from the guy who was going to just wave off after 13'6". Bobby took 3 very solid pulls at 14'6" for the PR, but it was not to be this day. 15' will go, though, with a few more tweaks. Terry was game too but the day was starting to wear on everyone. Only Mike was up and over and he was more than willing to call it there. But we cajoled him, the crowd cheered him on and up he went to 16'. And so the guy who didn't even WANT to go above 14'6" stepped up and one shotted it over 16' for the cheering crowd. 16'6" was a bit high today but I think it's in there.

A great day, a great crowd. Some bumps throwing but a bad games is still better than a good day at work, so why complain? A quick stop off at BPs fed us some victory soda and then off we hit the road for home. Despite our best efforts we never did manage to run over the seagulls in the McD's parking lot but it's important to note that we at least took the shot.

Red Deer in 2 weeks!

- Sean

Victoria Highland Games - May 25/09

Yeah, it happened LAST weekend, but get over it. I need results before I can start my yakkins. Results that our charming AD Carl kindly provided me. Now it's no secret that I love the Victoria games. Jim and the boys spoil us rotten, it's a great field (a bit modified due to some resodding this year) and it's usually a beautiful weekend to boot. Add in the evil Greg Bell and the Alberta travelling highland locusts and the weekend is usually a complete gong show. This year, my friends, was no different. The best part about this one? The fact that I had no worries about doing well. Because it didn't matter. The beautiful part about playing against the Canadian champ and World Champ is that you KNOW you're going to get killed. It takes the pressure right off. In truth, I felt kinda bad for Greg Hadley. As the lead of Team Canada, he had a lot of bums backing him up in the form of me, Davey and Adam O. Meanwhile, the yankees had Sean Betz, Andrew Hobson, Greg Bell (who is lethal even with only 1 attached leg) and new Pacific Northwest killer John Odden. To say that Greg was carrying the team is a gross understatement.

I rolled into town around 1:30ish, picked up by first timer and master Fred. We did a quick tour of the field and then headed to the hotel. After some initial confusion, I found the room and Dave was already passed out in it. After kicking him awake, we headed to Boston Pizza for some yam fries and beer ( a common theme for the remainder of the weekend) and on the way back, we ran into Mr. Bell. Greg was suffering from the plague or swine flu or something and I had some brief hopes that my placing would go up through his eventual demise but he ended up mixing a Nyquil cocktail that night after we shared some Johnny Walker Red and was almost fully operational in the morning, the bastard. Somewhere in there we also met Sean Betz and Andrew Hobson as well. Andrew easily won the "Best Inadvertent Cheap Shot" award when he asked me and Dave if we were throwing in the morning (with the Am Bs). I didn't stop laughing about that for a long time. Ouch. On the plus side, I would have had a great chance of winning that one. The athletes get together was that night at the Armoury, so that made for a pretty good chance to see some history and to catch up with the guys. Again, have to thank Jim Maxwell for treating us so nicely.

Breakfast was an amusing little affair where we got to meet John and his lovely wife Brianna and watch as even the waitress took a cheap shot at Bell. That's how you know all is right with the world. Hadley had the hoodie up and was already in the zone and Adam still looked like he was made out of bowling balls, but a little more svelte than last year. The sun was up, we were fed, so it was time to meander to the field. Dave had his 'off to the gallows' comments, so we all were in the right frame of mind for the beatdown.

Starting off the day was more or less my least favorite of all the events, the braemar stone. They alternated with an American and Canadian and put Betz up first and me in last. Which looked great until I realized that meant Sean was following me ALL WEEKEND LONG. Suffice it to say, I made him look AWESOME by comparison. And he didn't need the help on that score. Nice rock, 22 and something pounds, flatish. Our judge was none other than big Bobby Dodd and he'd made up some purely fantastic weights for the Victoria games. Seriously fancy and really nice to throw. More on that later. I knew the beating was going to be bad on the stone, but just how bad I got an inkling of when Betz opened with over 40'. Sean later extended that to 41'6.75" and locked up first nicely. Greg was the only guy near him at 39'4" on his opener. One-legged Greg Bell was consistent at 36 something on all three and his best of 36'9.75 served as his best and got him 3rd. Adam actually got edged out of 4th by Andrew by a whopping .25" as they went 34'10" and 34'10.25" respectively. Dave was actually in that fight too, less than half a foot back at 34'5.5". John and I brought up the rear with 33'4.25 and 32'5.75". I don't know about John, but that was actually a pretty decent shove for me and it got me a serious beating. Off to a flying start!

The nicest part about starting at noonish is that the HW doesn't feel quite so horrible as it does at say, 9am. Greg H. got to open this bad boy up and did it with a 39'6.75". He would go further later but let's discuss young Greg for a moment. Now the vast majority of us have a problem in that we can't get things going fast enough to really travel. Greg, in truth, has exactly the opposite problem. He's pretty much too damn fast. On his opener, he completely blew through his power position and it still nearly hit 40'. This, folks, is the reason he's the Canadian record holder for this one. When he DOES hit his power position right, that's another 5 feet on that monster. Andrew would actually take first after the first round, being the first guy to go over 40'. On Greg's second one, he showed more patience and it went out a big 42'.75", which kept him in the lead until Andrew's final shot which had a ton of hang time (and I mean a ton. Things that high up should have a stewardess on it) and edged Greg out by less than 2" at 42'2.5". Sean "only" went out 41'10.5", so your top 3 guys were separated by a whopping 4". Now let me tell you about John Odden.

John's about 6'1"-6'2" and maybe 245-250 if he's had a big breakfast. Very athletic and very explosive but let's face it, on a HG field, he's a little fella. John opened up with a 34'11.75" and looked kind of disappointed. He'd told me his practice was going well and his PR from 2008 was 35' something. So hitting nearly that on an opener is, in my opinion, a darn fine indication of things to come. Well, his second one, he found his groove a bit more and it went out a whopping 37'9". A big PR and a pretty throw to boot. So we all told him to go crazy on #3 because he already had in a PR and was sitting pretty. His last one was beautiful. Seriously. Watching a 245# guy hit every position and accelerate that monster like that is a sight to behold. After that thing hung in the air forever, it finally dropped down at 39'8.5". ANOTHER PR and just shy of 40', which is huge anyway you look at it. Much less from one of the smallest guys on the field. Great, great skill and speed there, guys. He's going to be a guy to watch in the future. I actually thought I had Bell for a bit. He wasn't turning worth anything because his one knee was killing him, so he had some serious foul problems. He fixed it enough to knock out a 35'4" which bumped out my best of 33'10" by tons. Damn dirty Greg Bell anyway. Did I mention that I beat him in Enumclaw one year? Good times.

I personally think that the best thing we could do for both Adam and Dave would be to keep masks over their heads until just before their throws, then let them loose without letting them think. They both were throwing way better in warmups than they did in the trig. That's what happens when your huge brain gets in the way, kids. Don't think! It can only hurt the team.

Speaking of hurting the team, the light hammer was up next. Now my hammers have felt like an unfolding lawn chair all year and Victoria would be no exception to the rule. Others, however, would find success. Andrew started us off with 121'.75" and that would stick him in 3rd right from go so I kind of knew what was coming. It would get worse, though. That dirty Greg Bell managed to tie Andrew also on his first one but again, big kudos had to go out to Johnny Odden as he hit yet another PR by nailing 120'6.5" on his third. That would earn him 5th. Adam, stumpy little arms and all, still managed to open them up way more than I did and got 108'1.25". Good for early in the season. Gotta love playing with the big kids. Speaking of which, let's go back to Sean and Greg H. Sean's first one was only 24' past mine at 125'8.25" and Greg did him a little better with 128'4.75". Sean's next one was 128+, so Greg knocked it up to 129'6.75". The rest of us were just watching now. So Sean wanders up for #3 and bombs out a 134'7.25". Now I would never call Sean's hammer throw pretty but damn is it ever moving and those arms are LONG. Greg had a great whip on his last too, but fell just shy again with 133'. You know...ONLY 133'. Sheesh. Sean put on a clinic after that in extras, finally settling on 137'7.25" for a new field record. Dave and I had issues. Many issues.

Weight for height. I at least rested easy knowing I was going to get a long break for this one. Kindly, they started the height at 12'. Most of the guys passed, with Dave, Adam and I all in. Up we went to 13' and this time John, Andrew, Sean and Greg Bell hopped in to warm up. Dave was doing that goonie rocking on his toes thing that I'm going to beat out of him eventually but he got it on his 3rd. 14 feet came and Adam, Dave and I didn't quite have it. Hadley finally came in and snapped it WAY over. I haven't seen his WOB look that good ever. If you could call it that, it was his only weak point. If that's settled up, he's golden. Anyway, Greg B took 2 shots at it because he loves how that feels on his knee and up everyone but the dross (hey guys!) went to 15. It was here that Bell sat down with the rest of us and everyone else made it look stupid easy. 4 guys in, so 16 it was. John was willing to sell his soul for 16, but it looks like he (or Bree more accurately) gets to keep it for at least another competition. Greg also started jumping the gun a little on his pulls but the way he's looking, 16 is going to become a regular occurance sooner rather than later. Sean and Andrew had no issues at all with 16, so 16'6" was our next one. Sean actually nailed the bar all three times but couldn't get the rollover. Andrew rang the bell a couple times but overall it proved to be just outside this time around. Sean took a practice extra, reached a bit more and left it out front. At about 17'6". The snap that guy gets is unbelievable. Overall, Andrew won it because up until 16'6", he didn't miss a single shot. That's how you get the big points, kids. Don't miss.

Carl, in his infinite wisdom, actually decided to score the keg toss this year and what a gong show that was. In truth, it was the best overall throwing we'd ever seen out of this thing with everyone going at least 38'+. A few years ago, that would have won it. Not surprisingly, however, the World Champ and Canadian Champ led the way with 47'3.5" and 45'3.5" respectively. Johnny Odden learned fast and ended up with 41'4" and 3rd place, overtaking big Greg Bell on his final shot. Greg had 40'9" and 4th, squeaking past Mr. Hobson by a half inch. The other three placings were spread out over a whopping foot and a half. Tight race.

Day the second started off similarly to Day 1 with the stone. Open, this time. 16.6# rock. Actually kinda nice to throw. Again, not that it mattered personally. Davey got us started, opening up just under 40' with 39'10". It would stick as his best because he had a tendancy to flop around in the trig sadly, but it WAS a spectacle. Both John and I opened with our bests for the day and my best overall event placing as 41'5.25" got me 5th. Andrew was next up with a very high flying 44' and then the madness started. Hadley popped out a huge 48'7" shot on his #3 throw when he waited for it to hit the right position but Greg Bell got some mad on and topped him by a few inches at literally just shy of 49' at 48'11.75". Me? I might have given him the 1/4" on that. Big push. But this event was all Sean Betz as he opened with 50', extended it to 51'7" and then to 53' for the event win and knocking the field record out a bit more to 54'1.5" on extras. Speaking as the guy he followed, it looks a lot further out than 41' does.

The 22# started off hideously for me when I couldn't let the stupid thing go but it wouldn't even improve my position any throwing it right, so let's just move on from there. Dave had more on his, beating me by better than a foot but again, in this crowd it might as well have been an inch. Adam was in the same boat. Then we took a BIG leap in distance up to 5th where Andrew bombed out a 100'5.5" shot. Huge. On any other day. Johnny was having the games he wanted when he threw 2 PRs and ended with a best of 101'3.75". Massive. Greg couldn't stand for that (or really much of anything on that knee) so he saved his best for last and just beat John by going 102'8.5". Greg started off huge with 110'10.25" and that stayed as his best and the field best until Betz stepped up on his third and bombed out a 112'11.5" toss that would reset the field record and get him another event win. Unreal throwing.

Anyone else seeing the pattern of abuse yet? Yeah, well, the LWFD didn't change that. Let's skip the prelims and say that me, Dave and Adam weren't throwing what we wanted to and even if we did, we wouldn't be impressing anyone and leave it at that. Greg was none too happy about his own throwing for this one either and his opener of 70'2.5" was well off what I'm used to seeing from that guy in the last couple of years. Injury does that. John lit it up again, bombing out a solid 74'4" for 4th spot. He looks so fast going through that stuff. Great positioning. Andrew looked almost effortless lobbing out his last throw of 75'0.25 although he still had that look on his face like he was looking for more. I KNOW Hadley was wanting more out of his 75'11.75" but sometimes the problem with being ALL fast-twitch muscle is that you're going so fast it's hard to catch the weight at the right time. His timing will clear up and then it's 80+ all over again. Speaking of which, have you met Sean Betz? His OPENER was 81+. He'd extended that thing to 85'0.75 by his third and then on extras he bombed out a massive 87'4.75" shell! And let me tell you, that is a long, long way out there.

Carl and co had been kind enough to cut down a new, whippy, 19'6" 127# stick that still dripped sap and hate for us to play with. Early on, there was a lot of talk of wondering if it was going to need to be cut down but I looked it over and said "Hadley will flip it." I wasn't wrong. In fact, I was so right he was the ONLY guy who flipped it. AND to add insult to injury, he made it look stupid easy. He got his caber mojo back and that's an impressive display. The rest of us had varying degrees of "pick-run-FAIL!" so not much changed on that score. Greg only took 2 attempts and then saved himself for that monster challenge stick that noone's managed to flip yet. And still noone's managed to flip it yet. Horrid thing.

When the dust settled and the tears had stopped, it was all Sean Betz at the top of the leader board with Greg right behind him. Unfortunately, the rest of Team Canada didn't help Hadley out much so we got beat like rented mules. Some drinks and lies followed the competition and Greg and I went for a nice walk to grab more after that. Overall, a great weekend and I can't say enough nice stuff about Carl and the Victoria Highland Games Association and how they treated us and ran the games. Solid stuff and they'll do great for Worlds next year.

- Sean

Grande Prairie and RD - June 4/09

Would you believe I have a writeup for Victoria about 90% done and just haven't finished it off? Terrible. But, seeing as it's in two weeks and all, who's coming up for GP? Always an awesome games and a UFC night on Saturday to boot. I haven't discussed it with Mr. Staal but if I had to guess, we're looking at a 10:30-11:00 start time. So far, I believe it's the usual suspects: Me, Bobby, Dave, Mike, Paul. Anyone else feel like signing up for this mess?

While we're on the subject, I really need to know who's coming to Red Deer on the 27th and I need to know by the 14th apparently in order to get it into the program. So, for both of them, drop me a line here: slangfor@telus.net. I promise I'll even start reading my emails again. Mostly.

- Sean

Welcome to 2009 - April 26/09

Man alive, you guys have the laziest web administrator in the world. Winter was long and cold and full of a lot of shovelling. Spring has sort of arrived and I hope everyone is getting a chance to go out and knock off some seasonal rust. Terry, Colleen and I did just that the hard way: by competing. Of course, competing in Hawaii isn't exactly a hardship. Both Terry and Colleen looked fit and were throwing very well. I'd like to say I was too, but that would be a bit of a lie. Still, it was Hawaii so why complain?

The schedule should be up to date so far but if anyone has a correction or the like, feel free to drop me a line.

May has it's fun coming up and I highly recommend a trip to Saskatchewan to support the Regina boys. JJ puts on a solid competition. That can be checked out here: http://www.reginahighlandgames.org/heavyevents.htm. See you guys very soon.

PSBIR - September 18/08

Never let it be said that I don't pander to the masses. Due to overwhelming nagging on the forum, short notice or not, the Annual Paul Sim Birthday Invitational and Regatta will be this Saturday, September 20 at 11-3 for the stupidity followed by BBQ afterward. Drop me a line right here! and let me know if you're coming up. Bring your own boat!

Calgary Stuff - August 26/08

Alright, kids. If you're coming and not on the list below, I need to know. Also, there is a social gathering on Friday night for the throwers. Just the throwers. It's with our lovely patrons from CUSGA and I would highly recommend attendance if you can pull it off. It's at the Hotel Arts in downtown Calgary from 6:30 to 9. Meet lovely folks from Scotland, the US and even as far away as Eastern Canada! Drop me a line so we can get a list to the powers that be. Right here.

Oh yeah and for those of us on the ASAA side, it's a 9:00 start.

Slowly - July 30/08

Starting to add some pics to the Red Deer gallery. Lots more to go through and edit. Be patient!

Oh Yeah! - July 28/08

Seeing as we have that really long break between Ft. Ed and High River, August 9 will be the Beaumont Throwerama and BBQ! Drop me a line if you're interested!

Calgary and High River - July 28/08

As we all know, Calgary and HR are pretty much the only ASAA games left on the roster. What this means is that we need to know who's coming to dinner for it. Now Calgary has the big boys coming out to play on the main stage but we intrepid ramblers of the usual sort will still be active and ready to fly, so the big question is: How many of us are there? Let's keep track of this stuff thus:
High River
Calgary
Ams
Paul Kuefler
Wes Radstaak
Mike Kelbert
Ams
Wes Radstaak
Mike Kelbert
Rob Young
Masters
Bob Brown
Terry Hunt
Aaron Andronyk
Mike Gilpin
Masters
Bob Brown
Terry Hunt
Aaron Andronyk
Mike Staal
Bob Owens
JR
Open
Matt Doherty
Wilson Barnett
Sean Langford
Dave Roe
Dave Laidlaw
Joel Thiessen
Gord Walsh
Open
Wilson Barnett
Sean Langford
Dave Laidlaw
Joe Taylor
Gord Walsh
Dave Roe
Drop me a line right here if you want to be added to the list.

Ft. Ed Writeup and Results - July 23/08

Finally done. And yeah, I know. I'm not done Ellerslie yet. Anyway, you can check it out here or just follow the links from the results page to get there. More information coming up soon about High River and Calgary, so if your intentions are to throw at one or either, send me a shout out.

Ft. Edmonton - July 8/08

We gots our athletes, kids. Throwing as one big group. Be ready to throw at 9:30 (even if we start at 10 ;) ). We'll keep results for the separate classes but we're not separating out flights.

Ft. Edmonton - July 3/08

Just a quick note that I need a decent list of who's coming to Ft. Ed on the 12th of July. This is really important as it's the only way into the park for free. Drop me a line here!

RD Update - June 16/08

Got a couple more names up there and since we're low on Ams/Masters we'll start at 9:30, like I said, but just do the single trig thing. Ams/Masters at 9:30-12:30 or 1:00 and then the Open class can boogie while the Ams drink themselves silly.

Red Deer/Ellerslie - June 14/08

Ok, there's some more updates and I'm still working on video from GP (highlight reel. Maybe a lowlight reel, too :)) but let's talk RD/Elle, shall we? We're aiming for a 9:30 start on Saturday and, like last year, we'll have two trigs going full bore because my early estimates are something near 20 athletes. Because this year seems to be coming up so much faster, fees can be paid on the field but it has to be BEFORE first throw. Mostly because I don't want to deal with people handing me cheques when I'm supposed to be dealing with marking and announcing. K? Further to that, I've heard a lot of rumour about who is showing up for this, so PLEASE, if you haven't already, let me know here if you're going to make it up.

The guys I know for sure are here: Now I've heard rumblings from half a dozen more guys but I'd love some solid numbers, kids. We'll base the Ellerslie start times on who is making it to both.

Peace Out!

Grande Prairie - June 8/08

Back after the long ride and what a day. Equal parts cruddy and amazing in terms of throwing but beautiful weather and I can't say enough nice things about the good folks from The Grande Prairie Highland Games and how they treat us every year. And a big thanks to Mike Staal for dealing with the details of the heavy events. Thanks, folks! But I know what you're looking for, so check here for results.

Comox/Victoria - May 20/08

Hey, I know what you're thinking: "Sean, 6 months is a totally acceptable time to wait between posts. So why do this one?" Want to know why? Because I love the Comox/Victoria weekend. Why is that? Because the BC boys treat the athletes like kings, the games are in fantastic areas, have great crowds and it's a laundry list of guys that make me laugh my self hoarse. That's why. Now, sadly enough I don't have the results in front of me but suffice it to say right off the top that I suck. Like badly. Davey, however, made up for my travesty of throwing. I'll probably give a little more details later but for now we'll start with the general amusement.

I shouldn't even go into the magic of my travel plans and the fact that I voluntarily had originally planned to hop through the US to get to Victoria. Didn't need to on the way there but ended up stuck in Vancouver for a lot longer than I was supposed to. Blissfully, Dave and Jeff Ingram were kings about waiting for me. In any case, we got that settled up and we were on our way despite a waiter that was slightly light in the loafers while we waited for the ferry to drop by. An amusing drive followed by dinner and Ironman was the bulk of Friday night.

Saturday was nice enough to start off with beautiful weather and a mildly locked up back. No worries. Some Ibuprofin, Tiger Balm and disregard of personal safety and away we go. In their infinite cruelty, the folks running Comox decided that starting with the heavy hammer and the sheaf is a great way to warm up the lower back, so while we twirled that heavy bastard around, the B's were testing their bicep attachments. Good plan, Delore! There must have been something in the water, though, because I think everyone but Dave and Bobby Owens was kinda lobbing garbage out there (some of us FAR more than others). Adam at least got to get his first games of the season nerves out when we all looked like crap, so that was a plus. The Brothers Kuefler hit the island and it looks like that'll become a serious family affair as time goes on. I'll get individual marks and the like up later but when the smoke cleared, Joel had taken top spot. By one point. Because of the caber.

I know what you're thinking! "I can't live in a world where Smilin' Joel T is the caber champ!" Well, congrats bucko! You're in Bizarro World now! By this point many of us were approaching social retardation in the beer tent with the promise of a 3.5 hour trip back to Victoria. At least I couldn't feel my back. And Dave couldn't feel the impending doom creeping up on him, either.

Which segues nicely into the next morning at, say, 5am. The first thing I become aware of, beyond the light coming in, is Dave saying something to the tune of "Uh-oh." You see, Mr. Laidlaw had been wearing a sleeveless shirt all day Saturday. In the direct sun. At 28 degrees C. So the line of dark on his arms more or less looked like he currently had detachable limbs. And, considering how he was acting, I can only assume it felt like liquid fire was running over his skin. Me? I had a different problem as I laid there and thought to myself "This is the best I'm going to feel all day." My back was locked up tighter than a snare drum and I had a complete crisis of faith that Greg Bell, Dave and even my wife had to talk me down from the roof from. Some soaking and stretching in the hottub and a fist full of anti-inflams had me "good" to go for the next day.

Mr. Ingram took a different approach as he'd managed to tear a hamstring in the HW the previous day so he used hate and rage to keep him going and managed to actually throw better on day 2 than day 1. That's some macho stuff right there. He pushed big Brett the whole way all morning despite no small amount of injury. That's why they make MP3 players. Focused hate right there. Delore and Greg Bell also had pretty solid days but I know Greg was looking for a bit more as his practices had been going better than that. I don't even know if Delore trains but I was wearing his boot print on my backside all weekend.

The real plus of Victoria is getting to watch Ryan Vierra throw. Ryan's a little different from most pros for a lot of reasons but most notably: 1) He's won world's a LOT more than anyone else. Really. 2) He really LOVES highland games. Like seriously. As in he doesn't do it because he's awesome. He's awesome because he loves it. Very friendly, great sense of humour and a strictly awesome technician. He made us look like bums with things like a 45' HW, an 85' LW, 134' in the hammer, 48' stone, etc etc but even he said that Dave was the star of the show. So let's explore that, shall we?

Dave was a mess. Hung over, burnt, mind on other stuff, hasn't slept well due to work in months. All in all, the last thing Davey was thinking about was throwing. And therein was his mojo. Now Davey had PR'd like 3 times on Saturday. He went 1 better than that and ended up with 4 lifetime PRs by the day's end with a 44'6" stone, a 66' LW, 108' hammer and a 35' Braemar. And that #4 doesn't even include the fact that I think all of his stone throws were PRs. Ryan figured this was exactly the way it was supposed to be. You're so focused on how damaged you are that you can't even think about getting tense for throws. Everything's relaxed, loose and ready to fly. Hard to argue with the results, I suppose.

Mr. 5 Time World Champ wiped us out pretty easily and I got another hit to my ego when someone in the beer tent pointed their wobbly finger at me and said "Hey, you're not Ryan. You're that 220 guy!" Ouch. To his credit, Bell didn't laugh out loud at me. But he did help perpetuate the mistaken identity thing with Ryan. With my tail thoroughly lodged between my legs, we crawled back to the hotel and geared up for some food and social gathering with a lot of Alberta boys, Greg, Brett and Ryan. Good times, a lot of lies and then the magic of getting up at 3:30 to be at the airport at 4:30am. I won't bore you with tales of my 19 hour stay in the airports and airplanes of Vancouver. Needless to say, my back did not appreciate it.

Anyway, Grande Prairie is coming up guys! Remember, it's June 8 which is SUNDAY and NOT SATURDAY. NOT SATURDAY! Sheesh. You guys think you can keep this straight? Everything's a little early this year as Red Deer and Ellerslie are up and running on June 21/22 this year. Oh, can I get a quick headcount of who's coming to RD/Elle this year? They're both looking for athlete lists for programs. Thanks! Drop me a line at the new email addy for this stuff!.

I know! I know! - September 17/07

Yeah, I know I'm still missing a writeup for Calgary, some video up for both Cowtown and HR plus some pics of Ft. Ed to conglomerate. I haven't forgotten. But just as a quick note, if you're planning on attending the Paul Sim this weekend (Sept 22/07), let me know right here assuming you haven't elsewhere.

- Sean

Helter Stelter! - August 15/07

Stettler writeup and results can be found here. Video will be up soon, I hope!

- Sean

North American Championships - July 30/07

I just wanted to give a huge congrats to Matt and Joel who placed 3rd and 5th respectively at the North American championships against a very big field of competitors. Awesome work, guys and I hope we can snag a writeup off you!

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - July 28/07

The writeup is finally done, although the results have been up for a while. I suddenly realize I forgot the women's and juniors but that will be rectified before evening is up. My apologies to Colleen, Cale and Colton for the oversight. Mike Gilpin apparently has some great pics, too, so hopefully the gallery will be filled out soon, although I need to get my photoshop working properly again anyway. Fort Edmonton

- Sean

Ellerslie HG - July 11/07

Ooof. Really long delay here. Sorry gang. This should do ithere or right here for the direct link. I'll get the stuff into the CSAF database as soon as I can.

- Sean

Red Deer HG - June 27/07

Sorry it's taking so long but the home computer is all kinds of messed up, so it's kind of a do it at lunch hour thing right now. Once again, I'm going to point you to this page here or this page here here here for the direct link to the writeup and the competition results. Hope it all works!

- Sean

Grande Prairie HG - June 14/07

You don't know it yet, but the website's under construction. So I'm kind of playing around with a lot of stuff. Be that as it may, I'm going to point you to this page right here for Bobby Brown's writeup and the competition results from GP. Hope it all works!

- Sean

Victoria (Western Canadian Championships) - May 23/07

I'll say this for Victoria: when they decide to have miserable weather they don't fool around. Despite the weather, though, I think we had something to the tune of 25 athletes going over the course of the day. Huge thanks to Carl Jensen and the Victoria games folks for organizing this mess. I understand that we're a pile of princesses, so having us taken care of so well is a huge plus. I'll have to let Jim or that foreigner from oregon write about the morning's entertainment. I do know that Greg went over 100' in the HH and otherwise dominated but I didn't see much beyond that. For all that I bust on him during a games, I have nothing but respect for his abilities as a thrower. I know Jim wasn't entirely tickled by his performance on the weekend, but it does show the promise of things to come.

The weather ALMOST looked like it was going to clear up but then hard reality clicked back in, so we all tossed on a couple extra shirts, grabbed towels to deal with the implements and got to work. The setup this year for the games was great and we had tons of room to play. With that Ryan Vierra fella hanging around to get in some early season marks, the 2007 Western Canadian Championships were underway.

The braemar stone was up first and I was tempted to steal both it and the open stone and haul them back to Alberta with me but I figured Joel would take a hammer to my knees. Nice little 23# rock. In any case, the top three in the event were Joel, Matt and Jason at 37'4.5", 37'3.5" and 36'1.75" respectively. Not too shocking in terms of placement but I know neither Joel or Matty were too terribly impressed with their own performances here. Jason is looking very snappy on his standing throws. That young Vierra fella did ok, too. 38' something. With the exception of Delore and his freakish 35' throw on his last attempt, the rest of us toiled in obscurity between 30 and 32'. Big bad Bob Owens took 5th here with 32'6.5". Inches made a lot of difference here below that mark.

I had to feel for Jeff Ingram on Sunday. His neck isn't exactly problem free under the best of conditions and here he was announcing in the cold and the rain the day after throwing. He was walking around like he was wearing the Batman suit pretty much all day. Sucks, but I'm glad he was out.

More stone madness continued with the almost perfect 16.4# stone Joel must have sold his soul for to find. A quick note about Joel: again, I felt almost a twinge of remorse (or would have if I had human feelings) because I was on that guy's back all day about something or other. I figured he's one of us now and has the driver's licence to prove it, so I might as well abuse him as much as I abuse everyone else. Maybe even a little more. Just for giggles. But I did see him smile. Or grimace. One of the two.

The open stone was all Matt who opened with his best at 50'3.5". I know he wanted a little more but this was day 2 and wet, so it just wasn't snapping out where he wanted. He'll have some big numbers this year if his track stuff is any indication. Joel wasn't quite hitting his positions but managed to snag second with a 44'5" shot. Young Gord Walsh was out and looking very fit (national level volleyball will do that to you) and was about a foot behind at 43'4.5". Delore was just under the 42' mark at 41'11" and that knocked me down a spot and took me by half a foot. JJ did all of his standing and took 6th spot. I also think it was somewhere around here when Ryan came back with a big smile on his face from the whiskey tasting.

He more than made that up on the HWFD, though, looking nothing but controlled the whole time and ending with a monstrous 38'11" and first spot, bumping Joel off by 6". JJ's going to go 40' this year and it's going to be sooner than later. Speaking of 40 footers, despite having some serious, serious back issues in the past couple of months, Ryan nailed 42' something and made it look easy. Matt got 3rd with a 32' throw and I was the only other guy out over 30' with 31'5.5". Not my best effort, I will say. Like with the braemar stone, about 6" made a 3 point difference here with a lot of guys.

Speaking of smiling, I actually saw JJ smile during a competition. I mean granted, it could have been gas or something, but I'm pretty sure it was a smile. He even lent me his towel to clean off an implement. A day to remember.

The LW was up and more of the same, but Joel took top spot this time with 72'5". He looked good, fast and snappy but the weight just wasn't carrying the way he wanted I know. JJ had that same feeling and managed about 71'10". Matt went 66'3.75" and I was 63' something with Gord rounding out the top 5 at 61'6.5". Ryan schooled us again with a casual looking 76' throw. Did I mention the pouring rain? Good. In retrospect, it was kind of mean of me to start cheering Marc when I had a lung full of helium but Mike Staal had handed me the baloon and I can never turn down an opportunity. You know I still love you, Marc! :)

Everyone's favorite event in the rain was next with the heavy hammer. Joel was denied 100' with a 99'10.5" but it was enough for top honours. JJ didn't really get the hammer going exactly the way he wanted and again took second with 93'6". Granted, I think his abdominal wall was starting to talk a little dirty to him during this one. That should hopefully heal up before his next competition. Gord Walsh was up to his usual shenanigans and was only 5" behind JJ for a 93'1". My first would be my best at 89' and Matty rounded out the top 5 with 86'10.5". In cleats. In the rain. It's so easy to dislike this kid sometimes. Because I know you'll ask, Ryan was over 102' or so. This was the event he was kind of worried about, too. Oh and I'd just like to pass on condolences to Harrison Bailey. Campfire talk is that he ended up with a torn bicep the day before on the heavy hammer. Heal up quick, HBIII!

Ah, the weight for height. Probably one of the more entertaining portions of the day as Delore and I continued our usual dog and pony show for the crowd. Neither of us was there to particularly impress the crowd, but I think we amused them. 12' was the stopping mark for better than half the field and then Delore, Ryan and I dropped out after 13', leaving the 3 big dogs to play. On the plus side, I didn't attempt to catch the weight this time around. Joel decided to have some fun and take as many attempts as he could at each height but finally settled on 16' as his mark. JJ nailed 15' and hit the bar at 16' so I think on a nice warm day, that'll die this year too. Matt's timing was a bit off so he got his 14' but was denied 15' for now. Joel took some game attempts at 16'4" but again, I think that's going to have to wait for a warmer day.

The caber was a nice taperless 19', 95# of varnished wood (and no, I'm not kidding about that). On a better day, I think a lot of us would have put up a better effort. As it stood, only JJ and Matt managed a turn (well, and Ryan) with 11:00 and 10:00 respectively, if memory serves. I think Ryan nailed it, but I can't for the life of me remember. We had a couple of scares when the caber slipped and the guys (Joel and JJ) couldn't pull their hands apart to let go of it because of all the tacky. Joel took a swipe at his manhood and JJ took a shot in the ribs and hip but noone was really damaged from it, fortunately. She was slick by this point.

When the smoke cleared, our Western Canadian champion was none other than Joel Thiessen by a narrow margin over Jason Johnston. The boy took 3rd spot and I managed 4th through trickery and deceit. Bobby Owens and Gord Walsh tied for 5th spot to round out our "win-place-show" categories. So congrats to Joel and JJ for a tight battle.

To Jim Maxwell and the rest of the folks in the Victoria games exec, a HUGE thanks. You guys treated us like princes and it was much appreciated. The laughs and fun at the beer tent after were always welcome and dinner that evening was a real treat too. I especially loved hearing Greg Bell telling his wife that he "won it all, even the dancing" and was now the "New Brunswick Provincial Weight for Caber Champion". You can't BUY that kind of entertainment. Looking forward to next year and remember everyone: 2010: The Worlds.

- Sean

Comox Valley - May 22/07

Damaged world champions, solid parenting advice and the mystery of Len LaRue: these are the things that make up the Victoria Day long weekend of throwing. Above all my other comments, I really have to give a big thanks to the folks running the Pacific Northwest Scottish Association, the Comox HG and the Victoria HG. They treat us like kings and really make the athletes feel at home and at ease for the whole weekend. Huge ups, folks!

Continuing on, let me just say that having seen how the other half (specifically MY other half) lives, the dancing judges are spoiled princesses. Except for that whole "sitting still in the cold for 8 hours" thing they kept complaining about. Women. There was a ton of stuff going on this weekend including a novice clinic and the like, but *I* wasn't there for that so we're going to start with Comox. First off, let me say that wandering around the town on Friday did nothing to dissuade my opinion that British Columbia is actually nothing more than a state-sponsored grow op. The sweet smeel wafted out of a hippy coffee shop (obviously), a mountain bike store (expected) and what I think was a cop shop (slightly more unusual). Delore's blood-shot eyes don't help. We met up with everyone that night at BPs but it was pretty subdued. Bob Owens said he was tired from staying up late the night before, but I assumed he meant staying up chewing through a metal bar, throwing cars over bridges and swimming with a ferry tied to him to "toughen up for the games". If he gets any bigger and stands still for too long, he's going to have 14 year old kids spray painting his back. Some time during the day we also found out that the boy (Matt) apparently has enough money now that he can sleep through flights and then just buy new ones, so if you're looking for cash, I'd drop him a line and don't take 'no' for an answer.

The Saturday started rainy but settled up well enough before the games that we all had some pretty high hopes. Unfortunately, some of us would have those hopes dashed by the hard reality known as "throwing". As I don't have the full results in front of me, I can't give you my standard blow by blow reporting but here's what I know: we started off with that horrid granite ball they like in BC so much for a braemar stone. Big Greg Bell and young Matthew were all over that thing going 33'+ and 35'+ respectively. Jim Garrick and Bobby O also manhandled it and only a quarter inch separated the two of them over 31'. My good friend Jeff Ingram had made the trek out for the weekend and saved himself some flight money by netting a bunch of Manitoba mosquitos and then painting an Air Canada number on the side of the bag. He ended up just a few inches behind Bob and Jim. Delore and Davey L were the next pairing to be separated by very little distance and were both just over 30', leaving Marc and I to toil in obscurity below that. With me WAY below that. Junk. Hardly an auspicious beginning to my day.

The open stone was more of the same with Matt and Greg leading the charge at 50'+ and 46'7 ish and Jeff Ingram waiting for his third to go 40'11" and take 3rd spot with the 17# stone. Only Delore would be the other of us to go over 40' and the rest of the dismal performance continued from there. I won't bore you with the comical details.

On the note of comical details, however, let me emphasize that I'm not sure I've laughed that hard at a games in years. I hear Greg's got his own HBO series coming up and with me not having to expend any energy throwing well I had lots left over to be a jerk. But at least I was entertaining myself if noone else.

The LWFD showed a little more promise than the stones but still nothing to really write home about. With the two leaders deciding that fouling out a lot was a plus, I managed to sneak into third behind their 65' and 63'with a 62' something and edge Jim by like 3" or something. Bob was the only other guy over 60', scaring the weight out to a solid 61' throw. He must have been taking it more serious this year as he wasn't in sandles. Marc and Delore were denied 60' by a few inches and Dave and Jeff rounded out the field at 53' and 51'.

The light hammer continued Greg's charge with him opening up with 123'. I decided to give that one to him and only throw 110'. I didn't want to shatter his world view or anything. I know he's quit his job to throw full time and all. Matt hadn't even so much as given a dirty look to any of the highland games implements before this and still went 106'. Bob continued his solid performances and was the only other guy over 100' at 101'. The rest of the guys were all over 90' and Jeff only took one pull because of that "searing pain and partial paralysis of my left arm" excuse. The big sissy.

The WOB had nothing special to it from anyone except maybe Bob who opened up with 16' when the bar was at 12'. Might have something to do with the 675# deadlift he had on his camera. My cleans are slower than that lift was. Scary. Oh, I also had a slight case of "stupidity" when I decided to see if Gary's heart was still capable of taking massive shocks by catching the weight on my sternum on the way down. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell I was thinking there. 10 years and I've never done anything that dumb. In the games and sober anyway.

After that was the 37 hour sheafer madness. After dropping out early, I decided to revel in the feeling of my back getting colder and stiffer because I figured it would feel better to throw the caber like that. If memory serves, it was right around here where we found out Greg will be writing a book entitled "You know what you are?". It's a children's book and I, for one, can't wait for the illustrated version. I think Bell won this event with Delore and Marc both over 26' but I honestly wasn't paying that much attention by then. Wonderful event, the sheaf.

Now I promised Jimmy I'd make a point of this so here it is: Jim Garrick won the caber. That's 5 words I really never assumed I'd have to string together. He was consistent, though, managing a pair of noons and an 11:45. I had to admire Gary for the judging here. He told us that he didn't judge closer than 15 minutes and he stuck to it. So if you weren't dead-on, you were 15 off. The stick in question was a pretty sturdy 17' 97# stick but it was going over pretty regularly for most of the guys. Bob O captured second with a pair of 12s and a drop and I stole third on my last one with a 12:00. Not that it really mattered to me for the overall but it was nice to do it anyway.

When the smoke cleared and when we were all settled in the beer tent we discovered that Greg had taken top spot with Matt close behind. Jim took 3rd if you can believe that, with Bob and Delore taking 4th and 5th. The rest of us were bums, so it doesn't matter much beyond that. With several vehicles full of rancid men, we stopped in Nanaimo at the BPs there and helped big Dan Loeb collect at least SOME of the cash the proprietor of the establishment owed him and stuffed our faces, carrying on to Victoria after that. Then with only a slight misadventure of my wife and I potentially spending the night with a guy noone had heard of before, that pretty much wrapped things up until the next day. Which I will continue in my next installment.

- Sean

Another quick one - May 5/07

Happy Cinqo de Mayo, freaks! Anyway, we actually have some members now. All 3 of us. We're also 2 weeks away from the always stylin Regina HG and the double shot of Comox and the Westerns in Victoria. Hope everyone's better prepared than I am for it. The usual rules apply for the year, guys, so get in that membership info. Some small updates to the upcoming competitions section. I'm hopiong to get a full site update in soon, but life's pretty busy in general, so who knows. Keep in touch!

- Sean

Sheesh - February 7/07

2007 already, huh? Been a LONG while since an update and I still have a ton of work to do. Lots of records to be updated, news bits, etc. I'll have to get to that later, though. The magic of real life and young kids. But seeing as guys could start the almighty registration business almost anytime, I'll give this update/reminder from our last AGM: the cost of the association has moved up to $100. Before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, this was voted on by a vast majority and if you weren't there at the AGM, you waived your right to piss and moan. Beyond that, $25 of the registration is also fully refunded after you volunteer for 2 games. We found that it has long been the same crew doing the lion's share of the work and if that's the case, some compensation or at least equalization should be forthcoming. Remember that it's still mostly a "family business" setup here, guys and many hands make light work. More to come in the future. Drop me a line if you feel like talking about it or have questions specific to your situation.

- Sean

Western Canadian HG Championships - September 5/06

For the past 3 years, Calgary has played host to some very big throws and some great contests and this year was no exception. We had 13 of the best athletes in Western Canada out for a solid 7 event day and although we were missing the #1 ranked guy in both the West and in Canada, I think the Calgary HG proved that there is a lot of depth out here and it's just really the beginning of what's to come.

We started fairly traditionally with the open stone or "rebel stone" as we've come to call it here in Alberta with our own venerable Gordie Walsh taking first attempt and starting conservatively-ish with 40'8.5". That survived most of the first round with only British Columbia's Delore Lakusta and myself going over 40. Well, of course, until the boy stepped up. He popped out an easy 45'6.5" on his first shot and that would prove to be more than the rest of us had that day. Jim Garrick had opened solidly at 38'11.5" and on his third attempt managed a 40'10" shot that he aaaaaalllllmost hung onto, but he stepped over the trig and negated it. Tough luck. Manitoba's Marc Morin was hideously consistent with 3 shots within an inch and a half of his best of 39'5.5". The Mike Staal of Auld stepped up on his second attempt to knock out a season's best of 41' and Delore ended up getting him by 6.5" and fouling out his third one, more's the pity. Gordie got close to Matt on his final with a snappy 43'9.5" that I couldn't quite match at 43'5" and JJ saved himself a couple of points on his last attempt with a PR 41'5" for 5th spot. Matty had expanded his best with 46'9.5" and took a couple of extras but without anyone to really push him they lacked some of his usual snap. I suppose we can forgive him as he's competed somewhere between 25 and 30 times since January in olympic lifting, indoor and outdoor track and highland games. Long season for our young star.

Mixing it up a little, we moved into the LWFD and there were a few of us looking for some big marks here. Davey Laidlaw walked out of the trig on his first one, but managed to get a bit of snap going out on his last one and went 62'. What did that get him? 10th. Damn. Delore looked almost surprised by his own throws and went steadily up from his opener, ending with a big 66'0.5" and 4th. He's going to be disturbing next season when he actually starts training seriously again. Mike Staal and Marc both looked a little disappointed by their efforts at 60'2.5" and 62'3.5" respectively and Al's opener of 63'0.5" stuck as his best and was good enough for 8th. Yow! Both Dave Roe and Gordie Walsh were in the 63' range with their openers, with Dave's 63'3" sticking as his top mark and Gord extending his to 63'9" by his second. 5th spot went to big Jim Garrick though, when he dropped a monster 64'8" PB. He's been looking steadily more solid as the season's gone on. Looks like exercise might actually help huh, Jimmy? I was smooth, but uninspired and managed 67'10.5" for 3rd, losing second by half an inch to JJ's 67'11" on the only throw he didn't foul. Miserable flatlander. The boy saved his best for last and hit the 69'2" he needed to win and then extending that in extras to 71'1" and finally 72'7" for a big PR and new Alberta record! Awesome work, Matthew!

The heavy hammer mixed things up a little bit. Ish. Lots of the guys stepped this one up a bit with Joey T hitting out 81'6" on his second for 9th place. 9th. See what I mean about the depth of field? Dave L was having fun by this point I think and relaxed enough for 8th spot with 83'6" on his second attempt. Delore used all his bicep power to grab 85'4.5" on his first attempt. Personally, I think he needs to bench his hammers out more. Matty only grabbed 6th spot here with 86'3.5", but it's hard to badmouth him considering he does it with both heels against the trig and with cleats on. 5th spot took 88'4.5" from Mike Staal and Marc's 89'0.5" only grabbed him 4th. Hitting par all day was me at 89'11" for third and JJ was actually in the lead halfway through the second round with his monster 94'6" with I think was a 5' PR. But Gord Walsh didn't earn his hammer king title by accident or by getting nervous. His second attempt of 95'8.5" stole first place from JJ and would stand as his best from there.

We joined the Ams for the WOB and brought the crowd in nice and tight. We had a lot of people hanging out and Delore was doing a fantastic job of entertaining and educating the folks while the Ams got things under way. On the Open side, we had an interesting little development with the top 4 guys of Gord, JJ, myself and Matt being at 9, 9, 9 and 8 points respectively. Jimmy, Marc, Al and Bob all hopped in at 11 to get some groove going. JJ, Mike and Matty didn't bother coming in until 13. Jim finally got that monkey off his back with his third shot at 13'. 13'6" stopped everyone but Mike, myself and JJ while the boy sat it out until 14. I decided to just throw it straight up and down for that one and Mike had similar success. Matt and JJ took a pair of shots to clear 14 and then up they went to 15. Double J got no love for that today and Matthew was up and over easy on his second. Matt even took a few shots at 16', but that continued to elude him for another day.

Since we already had heavy weight on the brain, we tossed the HWFD after moving the crowd back reasonably again. This event did mix things up even more than the WOB in the long run. Delore started us off with 32'9", which I think was season's best that he extended to 33'1" on his second AND third attempt. Jimmy Garrick continued a streak of solidity with a best of 32'4.5" for 6th spot. Actually, the depth again was shown when Marc got 30'8.5" and only placed 9th for his troubles. I think he's busy looking at buying some Bobby Dodd weights. Alistair cranked out 31'5" as a best and that netted him 7th and I had all kinds of issues and managed 33'2.5". Anyone remember when that was my good event? I do. Dave Roe once again showed that when he's facing the right way, he's really good at this event as he bombed out a 35'1.5" shot and that got him 3rd. JJ used the half-inch to his advantage again to claim second with 35'2" and The Boy once again saved his best for last and took himself from 8th to first with a 36'4.5" bomb from the hip. So he continued to extend his lead at this point.

We were actually keeping up a great pace all day and it was reasonably early and the guys kind of settled themselves out on the stands with the crowd, which was fantastic. Markie Marc opened up with a big 110'3.5" that he later extended to 111'2" for 4th spot. I know he was looking for more of the 120'+ action he'd seen on the east coast but today wasn't the day, unfortunately. Mike Staal started off with a pretty reasonable 107'2" but he missed the power pull on the last one and only extended it by 8" at the end of the day. His second shot where it kind of went "just a bit outside" was pretty entertaining, though. I thought the cabers were doomed. And how about a moment for Dave Roe. Now to say that the hammers have long been a source of frustration for Davey is an understatement, but talk about being torn. I mean a 5' PR is awesome, but being an inch shy of 100'? Man, that'll eat at your guts. And his ALMOST 100' toss netted him a whopping 9th. Jimmy must have also had something click in his thick, overly large skull when he managed a big 97'7" for a 5 or so foot PR. Davey L was in that mix at 98'3.5" and Joey managed a nice 104'9" bomb for 8th! 104'9" was 8th. Think about that. 5th spot went to JJ with 110'8" and third was Matty Doherty with another PR at 114'3.5". I was hoping for more, but had to be happy with a slight PR at 114'10" and second spot. Gordie came out on top with this one too, hitting 117'2.5" on his first and then nailing 120'1.5" for a half inch PR and Alberta record in extra throws. Someone needs to remind Gordie that he's a master and he isn't supposed to be killing us in this event.

The crowd was called back in because, let's face it, this is what they came to see anyway. Caber time. At 19'6" and 90#, she's a tall thing without any serious taper to it and a little warble at the top. 6 out of the field actually managed to turn it, so I suppose that means we'll probably retire it or shave it to 18' and make it a solid Am technique stick. I got to have the honour of being the first to turn it and managed an 11:45. Dave Roe had it stand up and fall to the side enough for 9:15 and JJ followed suit with a solid flip, but he'd turned his body just before the pull. Matty dropped the hammer with a 12:15 and that would stand as his best. With 2 efforts, Gord managed a 12:30 and so did Delore on his first, improving to 11:45 on his second and making it look easy despite that slow, casual walk of his. Must come from running a grow op like everyone in BC does. On his last attempt, JJ managed a 12:10 to edge me out by 5 minutes and take the win. So JJ, myself and Delore made up the top 3 with Matt, Gord and Dave taking 4-6th. The rest of the guys had varying degrees of success standing it up and the side judging made the difference here.

That finished the day off nicely and with 4 event wins and the rest of us battling it out, the 2006 Western Canadian Champion was none other than Alberta's own Matt Doherty. A couple of Alberta records fell and some big personal milestones were met and JJ and I were right back of Matt's 17 points with 19 and 20, respectively. Inches or even half inches made big differences, as it should in a proper competition. I've got to take a minute to thank Wendy Brown for putting up with us all day and doing a fantastic job of scorekeeping and a big thanks to her parents and Jim and Joanne Garrick for whipping up the excellent bag lunches all the competitors but like me and Jimmy had. I hear the sandwiches were excellent. I think Dan Loeb ate mine. And 2 other peoples. But he made up for it by hosting the Calgary after party, which was a gas, gas, gas. It was worth going just to see JJ in that mesh shirt. The Littles came by, too. It's been years since I had the pleasure and I hope they aren't strangers to Alberta games after this. And wonder of wonders, Matty himself even showed up to an after party. Careful, Matthew. It's habit forming. Things started to turn when Al MacFarlane showed up but my mother-in-law came and hauled my wife and I away before the serious tomfoolery began.

But I've heard stories.

Paul Sim on the 23rd, kids. It's not going to make sense, so I wouldn't bother training for it.

- Sean

High River - August 29/06

The highland games travelling road show continued. A quick note of huge thanks to the lovely folks who sponsored this section of the heavy events tour 2006: High River Rentals, Allister's Auto, Lutes Building Supplies, Home Hardware, Highwood Distillers (woo!), Coonie Farm Service and Highwood Dental Centre. This is a community that backs its games, lemme tellya. And now onto the tossing!

Open Class

First off: Joel Thiessen. Who invited this guy anyway? Sheesh. Plus, I'd also like to thank Dave Roe. High River almost requires there to be an injured Dave involved and it was nice of him to take the spot over for Mr. Laidlaw who has taken that responsibility almost since Day 1. Way to go, Davey!

But I digress. The open stone was up first. Nice little 16.5# stone (so HIGHLY controversial), good shape, fit well...and most of us couldn't toss it worth crap. I got the mess going and it felt heavier than it should have. And went a whopping 40'5". Whoop-dee-do. I managed to extend it to a mighty 41'7", but that ain't gonna impress anyone. Marc followed me all day and started his assault on the left side of the throwing area early with a 41'4". I think he might have been the only guy to hit grass on that side. Gordie Walsh wasn't far behind him with a 41'2" and Delore Lakusta (with a "k") had made the trip out to triumphantly hit 43'4" on his last one to beat me. Of course, none of us were anywhere near Joel, who seemed to be the only guy completely unaffected by the stone and knocked out a big 47'8".

The heavy weight was up next. It felt heavy, too. The writing was starting to be on the wall for me early on. Jimmy Garrick actually popped out a solid looking 31'8" on his first that would stand as his best and net him 5th. Evil Al MacFarlane improved on that shot by a foot and some change with a 33'1" and I edged him out of there by 3.5" at 33'4.5". Ugh. Did I mention that Marc Morin beat me in the heavy weight with a d-handle? No? Because everyone else mentioned it to me. Marc had a great looking pull out at 34'10" for a season's best and just under a lifetime PR. Good on him. I know Davey Roe wasn't too nuts about his 31'3.5" and 30' even only earned Gordie 7th. Joel continued his utter subjugation of the Alberta crew with a monster 42'3" for a season's best. High River, it would seem, agrees with Joel.

The light weight was more of the same with Jim scoring a solid 5th on a 62'10" and Gord ahead of him by a foot with 63'10". Marc snuck in between there with 63'3" and I managed to snag second with a 65'2" that felt a whole lot better than it went. The only other two guys over 60 were Delore and Al at 60'9" and 60'1" respectively. Well, you know. Except Joel. Who bombed out a monster 79'3" for a win by only a 14' margin. He really edged us there. Oh, new field record there, too.

Because Matt wasn't around, we decided to do both stones because, well, it's funnier that way. This thing didn't want to really go anywhere either. Bob took Davey R. out 27'8" to 27'1" and Gord, Al and Jim were within 6" of each other in the range of 28'7" to 29'1". Davey L took Jim by another 6" on top of that at 29'7" and I edged out Marc by 3" 31'6" to 31'9". Delore smoked us by 3' with 34'10" and Joel knocked out another PR (with this rock anyway) and field record at 37' even. I think we should have another stone championship competition in Alberta. Sometime when Matty's out of province or something. You know...because it's funnier that way.

The hammers were up next and everyone was fairly consistent in their placings. Delore wanted to cancel the hammers altogether and went 82'1"/100'8" in the heavy and light for 5th in both. 4th spot on both went to Marc who looked less than thrilled with his 89'10"/106'11" attempts. I wasn't a lot happier with 90'8"/113'2" because something just felt...off. Gotta hate that. Gordie, however, looks well set for the hammers for next week with a huge 97'5"/118'4" combo. I believe the 97'5" was a season's best. He might be killing his own provincial record this weekend if the trend continues. Joel put out every attempt in the heavy hammer to 103'1". Like ALL of them. But the light hammer was a cannon shot way way out to 129'11" for a big season's best and new field record. Monster. I think it was at this point where we all got the searing visual of Joel on his side with one leg over and Aaron grinding away on his hip. Please Lord, let it have been his hip he was working on.

The WOB was next beast up and I was nervous. This event has not been treating me well. Actually, it's been treating me like a baby treats a diaper. Still, I've practiced like...twice with it since last time and was hoping for something. 12' saw a few guys drop out, as Al, Bob, Marc and Jim had issues. You had to really feel for Jim, too, because the weight was going 13' straight up. Just missing that finish to roll it over. Delore pulled something similar at 13', going up and down probably 14' up. Davey R. was starting to suffer by this point and he couldn't quite muster enough oomph to carry it over. Gord was stymied by 14', although he had some real honest shots at it and I one shotted it over and got the monkey off my back a bit. Joel actually left it out in front on his first at 14' so I loudly announced that I was winning. I should have stuck with my original plan of moving the bar up to 18', though, because he cleared 15' by lots and I, well, didn't. He gave 16'4" a really good few pulls, especially his first which sat on the bar for a second before flopping back forward. Man, that's a long way up there.

The comp caber was the 19'6" 95# affair we had in Ft. Edmonton. A good skill and timing stick and 3 of us managed to turn it this time. Bobby actually had a couple great pulls on that beast, but needed a little more foot speed to get it going over. Al was in a similar boat and Marc's last pull looked like it had some potential as it went up 80 degrees before coming back down. Oh, did I mention that at this point, the bugs decided for a full-on assault of anyone touching the caber. It was really pleasant. Davey Roe was in serious turmoil at this point as his spine was killing him but he loves himself some caber. He managed an 80 as well but his body just couldn't drive up enough to get the ball rolling. My first one went nowhere and meanwhile Delore and Gord made it look easy with 12:30 and 11:30 respectively. My second one got me a 2:00 while Delore and Gord went 12:00 and 11:00 to continue to make it look like practice to them. I managed to edge Gordie out on my last one when it went up, up, slooooowwwwwly UP....and fell over to 11:45, to which Joel proclaimed that I was the only guy who would have that happen because it would have fallen back on anyone else. Delore was still the champ though, with his 12:00 taking top spot. But I beat Joel in the caber and that was enough for me.

They "let" us try the 17' HONEST 140# challenge caber, but none of the three of us were even close. I gave up after 2 attempts and the other 2 geniuses decided they needed a workout and tried all three times. Top pull might have been 55-60 degrees. That was a Doug MacDonald caber, pure and simple.

The day was done and the dust had settled and Bob, Jim, Dave L and Al covered the 10th through 6th spots. The top 5 spots had been pretty consistent all day, so no shocking surprises here as Delore managed a solid 5th overall with Marc just edging him into 4th. Gordie solidly took 3rd and there was something to be said for consistency as I snagged second. Having a great day and really looking good going into World's was Joel with a few season's bests and an easy, easy win in ALMOST every event. Although the BC crew did manage to take home all the fancy hardware when it was all said and done.

Am side coming up.

- Sean

Amateur Class

But wait! There's more! There's the poor bastards who had to wake up early and come and throw just so we could go through 10 guys and 8 events in the afternoon. Let's see what happened there. First off, lets thank big Carl Jensen for making the trek to compete with us. Good guy and had some PRs for the day so good on him. Anyway, off to the races.

The open stone was the same one we'd end up using in the afternoon and it seemed pretty reasonable in the morning. Wes started with a good-looking 29'1" opener, but his big push ended up fouling so it stuck as his best. Aaron's battle cry was a little too much like the sound you'd make when your arm is falling out of the joint but he gutted it enough for a 28'1". Dangerous Dan shoved his out a casual 28'10" almost flat and Paul got into a good position on all his shots but had issues with not pushing the rock into the ground so his best went about 25'6". Carl really got those big legs under him on his last shot to go 31'6" for what I believe was a PR and second spot but Mike had pretty much demoralized everyone on his first one when he went 33'7" on his opener. He's starting to get it back.

Our juniors have been out in force this year. A force of 2! But that doesn't mean they aren't putting on a show of their own. Cale had Connor by a foot after the first round and second round he extended that almost 5 inches. Despite his last one going out almost another foot and netting Cale 26'7.5", Connor came back and snapped out a nice 27'4" on his last one to take the event. 14 and 16. Man, do they ever have time.

The lucky guys got to go into the HW after that and Aaron "Flintstone Shuffled" his way to a 22'3.5" on his last one to take 3rd. Carl crushed out a 20'7" which I think was another PR for him but Wes had edged him by 9 inches or so at 21'4". I know the weights have been frustrating Wes a bit as his practices have been higher than that consistently. Trust me, man. We all do it. Mikey G has pulled out a big 24'2.5" on his second and later extended it to 24'4" but it was big Dan Loeb who killed out the winner at 25'3". Noone looked more surprised than Dan. It was a sweet looking single spin, too. The juniors had the 42 well in hand with Connor taking the early lead at 22'11" and then extending that to 24' even to win, although Cale added 2 feet from his first to his second to end at 22' even. Big pulls.

The light weight was up next and it almost looked like it was going to be a repeat performance for big Dan as he opened the event with a PR 44'9" which held up through the entire first round. When his second one only went 38'6", he actually said "THAT'S more like it." On his third, though, he was back up over 44. Paul lost a little power on his finish and went out 34'7" with Carl powering out a 40' for 5th. Aaron got him by 8" on his second and then Mike stepped up and crushed out a big 47'6" which would stick as the mark to beat. Dan almost had second wrapped up until Wes got his groove back on the third attempt and improved 6' from his second attempt to go 46'10" and steal second from him. The juniors were tossing the same implement and had some big marks to show, with both of them waiting for the 3rd round to drop the bombs out at 37'7" and 35'9" for Connor and Cale respectively. Not bad for a couple of punks.

Sorry Dan...only one hammer. This went a little better than it had in Stettler and probably even in Beaumont. Paul was tossing for accuracy, nailing 68'4" twice as his best to edge out Carl's best of 66'8". Wes' opener stood as his best attempt at 75'9.5" and then we had a big jump as Mikey let an 86'6" fly and that managed to get him 3rd. Aaron had opened pretty conservatively with 82+ but nailed a bit more speed on #2 to grab second with 89'6". Big Dan had some groove back and hit another PR at 91'0.5" on his first one. Also proving it wasn't a fluke, his second one was over 90 as well. Although we consider this the junior's heavy hammer, they were right in there too with Connor going 58'10" with a total worm-burner and big Cale smashing out a big 67'3.5" on his last one! 14 years old, folks. Awesome.

The almighty WOB was next. Carl struggled with this one, but being that thick doesn't help with the big reach and pull, so he came up a little shy on 10'. Paul decided he needed a workout, so he took all three attempts to clear it and Aaron took 2 with everyone else one shotting it and Dan just passing. The juniors were up and over without any problems either. 11' was the stopping ground, though. Mike had lots of height but decided to just go straight up and down 3x. Dan one-timed it and claimed his victory. With the 42 and the juniors, Cale took 3 attempts but he knocked it over pretty handily. Dan took 3 shots at 12'6" for the PR, but it was not to be this day.

Funny thing about the caber. Last time we brought this one out, like 2 guys turned it. This time? Shootout. Sheesh. Wes started it off with a big turn of 12:20 but Danny made everyone's day on the first round byt nailing 12:00. Dan Loeb...12:00. He solidified his lead later on and kept first on countbacks. Who'da thunk? Aaron had some "issues" on the first one (how's the leg Aaron?) but came back to nail 12:00 on the second. Paul was just about 5 minutes off the pace and same with Mike Gilpin, who would take Paul's 3rd spot on countbacks in the third round. Carl powered the hell out of it at about 12:30 on his second and unfortunately that managed to be last spot. Even Connor got into the action with a decent pick and run and a slow, evil turn to 2:58. His first caber, though. Good on him.

So with that done and Dan Loeb as caber champ (that almost hurt to type), the totals came in pretty much as they had the whole day. Paul and Carl were 1 point apart with Carl getting the nod. That second place in the stone really helped out. Wes was only a point and a half behind Aaron in 3rd, 23.5 to 22 and then the #1 and #2 spots were for Mikey G and Dan Loeb respectively, 12.5 to 15. The last two then retired to the beer tent for the afternoon and we didn't see them for many, many hours. The sweet taste of victory, I guess. Connor managed a win over his cousin Cale by a few points and both of them just keep getting better each games. I am under the assumption that they were NOT at the beer tent. That is, of course, unconfirmed.

Sets everything up nicely for Calgary, don't you think? See you in a week.

- Sean

Beaumont! - August 23/06

Hooboy, what a gong-show! Don't get me wrong, it was a great day for competition and some of the guys put out some big big marks, but everyone was definitely a little off the wall on Saturday and it made for a lot of fun all day. Once we were done walking around with cordless drills to put together the stage for the dancers, we actually started to warm up and get ready for the day. There were those who were throwing, those who were lifting and a few nutcases doing both. Here's how it went down:

As is typical, we started the day off with the open stone. Nice little rock that Matty had "appropriated" from other sources. Aaron was up first and started less than spectacularly, but he extended it to 29'7" by his third. PatZ mostly just stood and delivered and managed 31'9" on that score with Wes hitting some PR action to be one place behind him with 30'8". Bobby cannoned out a 38'8" and that got him 5th. Sheesh. Al couldn't leave that alone so he hit 38'9" to beat him by an inch. Mike Staal and Dave Laidlaw were within inches of each other at 39'4" and 39'6" respectively for 3rd and 2nd. I'll also take the time to mention that the last 3 guys were the ones doing both events. Crazy.

The big show here, of course, was young Matt. The boy casually opened with 50'10" so we knew things were afoot. His next one was a sideline foul that went out 53'3". Ouch. That's twice he's done that. The last one was 51' even. Of course he wasn't going to let things sit like that, so he took some extras (seeing as he'd won the event by 11') and the next one up was a freakin missile at 53'2". Everyone watching knew what that one was all about. So we immediately tossed the rock into the AD's car and weighed it later that day. 16.2#. Nice and legal. Beautiful.

Which lead us into the farmer's walk. 200#/hand, 150' with a turn at 75. I got things started with 20.54 seconds which would be enough for 3rd and Jimmy was next up with a solid 21.25. Joey was another half a second back at 21.72. Mikey Gilpin was the lightest guy doing the strongman and he managed a nice PR of 25.03 with no drops. Sweet. Dave Laidlaw had some grip issues, but never even bothered resetting before picking the implements up every time. Looked like he was carrying his groceries. 37.31 for him. Mike Staal showed us he's still an animal by nailing the course in a blistering 19.91! But it was big Al MacFarlane by a nose taking the win when he managed a 19.75. I didn't think he could make the course that fast WITHOUT the weights in his hands. Nice.

And then we got into some hot, hot HW action while we reset and the dancers danced. Gotta thank the Beaumont School of Highland Dancers for coming out for this one. Thanks, ladies! PatZ had some trouble staying on his feet for this one, but still managed an 18'1" PR on his second shot. Young Connor and Wes tied up in next slot with 18'10". Connor has some real potential for this sport as he's knocking this stuff out but leaving a lot of technique on the table. I think Wes was a might frustrated by his efforts, however. Aaron "Twinkle-Toes" Andronyk danced his way to a 22'11" best, with mighty Todd one-spinning a 23'2" on his third, improving on every attempt. Bobby cranked out a season's best with a flat but snappy 27'5" and the other 2 attempts over 26'. Nice. Dave L. opened with 30'0.5" and then had some "I can't stay in the trig" issues after that. Al was next in line with his 31' snappy first shot and Mikey S. finally drove the weight OUT more than UP (how many of us do THAT?) and nailed a big season's best of 32'5.75" for second. The Boy also liked walking the line a bit too much, but managed 34'10" on the one he kept in for the event win. I guess when you're that fast, it's hard to stay legal.

The stupidity continued with the Tire Flip. We originally thought this was a 500-550 tire but according to the manufacturer its about 670 new. Still, it's short and fat so it don't kill you. Dave L had to start the beast off and he assaulted the course in 22.52 seconds. Mike G went up after that and had a couple of slips and it cost him with 33.16s. He was right that we should have extended the course, though. I think the guys doing both appreciated the 50' verses the 75, however. Mean Joe Taylor grabbed 22.40 which held for 3rd and Jimmy was .01 seconds behind him if you can imagine that. Nasty. I was up next and nailed 21.47 and could have shaved her a little more but I slipped on my second last flip. Nertz. Mike Staal was hundreths ahead of JT at 22.35 and Al was only slightly off the pace at 23.10. I think next year we'll add some distance to that to space out the times more.

And away we light weight! Wes opened up the show with 44'6" and later extended that to 45'8". I know he's a bit frustrated, though because he's been hunting for 50' in competition all year. PatZ took him by a foot and some change with a 47'1" snap. Todd continued the same pattern he had with the HW by improving every attempt and finally nailing 50'8" on his third. Nice. Mike S. was a little all over the place and finally managed to keep a high flier in at 56'1". Davey edged him out by a couple of inches at 56'3" and big Bobby really cranked out a big one for a season's best of 57'10". Nice to see that burst of speed from his first to his second spin again.

And then there was Al. Al was definitely in high spirits so he started letting his background show as he spun the LW twice over his head and then went into his spins. The result? 63'3" and a season's best. Sheesh. He then put on a couple of demos of what NOT to do and promptly fouled out both quite on purpose. Matt managed to side foul 2 attempts (big bombs, too) and then just went up and nailed 67'7" for the win. Punk.

Log press was next. 200#, 8" log. reps in 75 seconds. Mike G was up first and got 2 before he called her a day. Short arms don't help the log when you're not used to it. Dave L got 3 and then said enough was enough. Al went into this competition saying he was gonna do 5 reps and that is exactly what he did and then he walked away. Jim stepped up and did a lot of hard bicep curls instead of cleans and then made the press look stupid. 7 reps. Joey hit 5 and didn't quite have the sauce for another. Mike Staal actually cranked out 6 but didn't wait for the down signal (His quote: "There was a down signal?") on one of them so he only got credit for 5. I pounded out 7 reps to tie Jim but had nothing left in the tank so I didn't even attempt another one. I think I was out of breath for the rest of the day.

I've seen better light hammers out of most of this group and when Bobby's 89'7" gets him 3rd, it really hammers that home. No pun intended. So I won't go into great detail here. Watching Frodo (Dave Laidlaw) throw completely barefoot was amusing, though. The boy was a little off here and his first at 105'5" would stay as his best. Mikey dialed it up a bit on his last one, however and nailed 110'9.5" for a season's best and field record. Not bad for a guy doing 2 contests.

Off to the 2" deadlift for max weight! I honestly didn't expect the kind of numbers the guys were ready to pull out so I was glad I grabbed some extra weights. At 450#, everyone was still in this, so we skipped 475 and hit 500. Mike G and Todd (who came in for this bad boy) were our only casualties here. 530 saw Al drop off while Jim kept saying "But I'm a bad deadlifter!" and Joe, Mike S, Jim and I all cleared 550 too. Only Joe and I hit 575 and neither of us could clear 600 although I had it up before it blew out of my hand.

The caber treated the usual suspects well. Aaron managed a 5th with 10:30 and Bobby was not far off noon with 12:15. Al edged him by 5 minutes with 11:50 (thanks, judge!) and the top two fought over placings with 12:00s. It was decided by an hour on countbacks. Matty won out over Mikey Staal in the end.

Ending the strongman was the medley: run a 150# keg 20', load a 185# sandbag, then a 220# keg and a 265# atlas stone (no tacky!) to 51" and then drag the 600# chain 20'. Ugh. Mike G. was up first and really earned that 220# keg, shuffling for position and never letting it touch the ground again. The stone stonewalled him, though. Next time. Al was similar, but faster and the stone was a no go. 39.05 for 3. Jim was up next and was first guy to finish the whole thing at 57.98. Awesome! Mike Staal went up after that and FLEW through the first 3 objects, fought the stone a little bit and then pounded out the chain. 35.40 seconds. Joe Taylor and I did the traditional "scissors-paper-rock" to figure out who would go next between us and he ended up getting covered by paper, so off he went. A great pace and didn't look like he fought for anything, making it look easy. 42.66seconds. I was up last and fought the keg for longer than Mike, but made fast work of the stone (still slipped once, though). When I first pulled on the chain it went nowhere, but I finally managed to finish it up. 35.91seconds or second to Mike Staal. Nice and close.

At this point, it was getting dark out with the clouds and everyone felt a little wrecked. Still, the WOB was up and the boys were game. 10' saw everyone past it one way or another and 11' stripped off Aaron, Wes and Todd. Connor had the height with the 42, but left it out front. We're gonna teach that kid how to keep his back straight and then watch out. 12' saw Dave L, Mike Staal and Al go past and the boy was still passing at this point. 13' was only Mike and Matt and after 14', there was only 1. Having one the event, Matt nailed 14'6" and then went up to 15'9" for some PR attempts. Close, very close, but not today. Still, an awesome finish to a great games.

So when the dust settled, Matty had dominated the heavy events with Mike Staal in second, Al MacFarlane in 3rd and Bobby Brown in 4th with a slightly damaged Dave Lailaw finishing the top 5. On the strongman end of things Mike and Dave tied for 6th, Al was in 5th and jim and Joe tied for 3rd with Joe getting the nod for event placings. Second was mighty Mike Staal and I'd placed consistently enough to win the overall. A lot of fun in that comp. Who knows what next year will bring?

Gotta thank the Garricks for the after party and for putting up with Mike G and I, because we went HARD. My poor wife came by and fished us out of the house at 1am or something and poor Joanne had to work the next day. Yeah, we're sweeties. Hopefully Jim is busy making up the DVD as we speak.

Peace out, punks. See you in High River.

- Sean

Stettler - August 8/06

So here's something funny. Normally after 2 or 3 days people start bugging me about doing a writeup for the website when we've had a competition. Yeah, not this time. Of Stettler I will simply say this: good venue, good setup, hell even a good breakfast sandwich but what a pack of stinkers for throwers. Sheesh. No sense having a train wreck if you're not going to watch it, right?

We started off with the HW. Which kinda sucks at 9am, but such is life. Right away we knew something was wrong, desperately wrong when Davey Roe could only muster a whopping 29'7" on his first. Jim Garrick was an inch behind at 29'6" after the first round, but Dave got that up to a mighty 31'4" on his third. You see where I'm going with this? Dave Laidlaw had his best shot first at 31'2", so I don't think he was too happy about Dave edging him by 2 inches. The boy (Matt) had jumped into an early lead with 33'8" and JJ was on his tail at 33' even with my an inch behind at 32'11". I actually improved to 34'9" on my last one to take top spot but what a mess. Joey and Bob dueled it out to a tie at 26'2" on the last round for both of them.

The scene was no better on the Am end of things. Toddy, our AD and the guy who got like 24+ last games could only muster up a best of 19'4" on his first shot. Wes had been regularly tossing 22'+ and where'd he go? 18'2". Dan started strong with a casual looking 20'5.5" and looked to go further than that before it all went wrong. Aaron was the only guy consistently over 20' with all 3 shots and a 22'3" for #1 placing. Maybe that Twinkle Toes Flintstone thing has something to it. Paul, Pat and Mike made that thing look way too heavy going 16'10", 16'8" and 17'9" respectively and NONE of them looked pleased with that. Although Mike was happy to have got in a mark after 2 fouls early on.

Tracy looked fairly solid, going 20' even on her first and the juniors, poor guys, ended up having to throw the big one and went 11'11" and 14'5" for Cale and Connor respectively. Actually, Connor looked pretty good with that thing once his legs stayed under him. Punks.

And right into the heavy hammer. Thanks, Todd. This, too, was a brutal display of nothingnitude. JJ and Matty tied for top honours with 86'9.5" so only 9 or so feet off Matty's best. I was next up at a whopping 85'10" and Davey Laidlaw was the only other guy over 80 at 81'9". Joey was close with 78'9" and Dave Roe was back a bit at 75'1". Jim and Bob were off a little going 69'6" and 72'7" respectively.

The Ams didn't fair a lot better with Paul and Wes both out over 50' at 50' and 53'7" and Mike a few ahead of them with 57'2". We'll give Mike a bit of a break as he hasn't really practiced this year. Todd's best effort netted him only 64'5" and the normally dominant Dan the Man was unpleased with his best of 68'11". Aaron had a pretty solid lead at 70'11" until Pat came up for his last shot and nailed out a 71'4" for top spot. Tracy was a model of consistency in her first two, going 42'2" and 42'1" and we let the boys toss the 16# as well for the heavy with Cale taking out his cousin by 6' with 63'7" to Connor's 57' attempt. Like I said, noone was tossing PRs yet.

Back to the light stuff. That nice 16.5# pancake we tossed in Ft. Ed. Yeah, we couldn't make THAT go anywhere either. Well, the boy did. After easily beating us, he knocked out a 48'2" for a field record. Show off. The rest of us couldn't do anything. My whopping 39'7" felt a whole lot better than it went. And I think JJ and Dave L. were hoping for more than 38'5" and 38'4" out of that. Bob snapped out a decent 35' to knock out Dave R., Jimmy and Joe out with 34', 34'8" and 33' respectively. Davey and Jim had a pretty funny bet going and were basically braemaring it by the end of things.

One guy over 30' in the Ams? Sheesh. Bums. Anyway, Pat Z was over 30 with everything and 30'8" was his best. Aaron took the pain of a grinding shoulder and managed 29'9" for second. Gilpin's best was 28'11" from a stand because apparently he's forgetten entirely how to use his legs. Danny casually snapped out a 28'9" and then promptly fell apart for his next two attempts. Wes was consistent at around 27'10" or so, but we'll see more out of him in the future, thanks to a practice or two. Todd I KNOW wasn't happy with his 27'7" and I don't think Paul was too thrilled with 23'10" either. Both of the juniors have a bit of snap to their punches and Cale took Connor again on this one by a few inches with his opener of 27' to Connor's 26'5" opener. Tracy got to use a more reasonable stone and punched out a pretty flat 20'11" that had some acceleration to it, but no hang time.

Let's see, what was next on the wall of shame? Ah yes. The LWFD. This might have been the saddest display yet. And that's saying something. Matty got enough snap on the goofy thing to go 66'4" on his final shot but JJ and I stunk the place up with 60'7.5" and 61'9.5". The gravity well was in full effect by this point. Dave Roe put it all out there and managed 60'7" and couldn't help but laugh. Dave L was next back at a mighty 57'2.5" with Jim on his heels with 55'9". I'd actually heard the threat that Jim was going to quit if he didn't beat Bobby's 53'3.5". Joe was literally on Jim's heels with a snappy looking 55'7". Joe's missing a little trajectory and some leg drive upward to get him to 60'.

From there we went into the keg. That was just clean fun. Matty and his damnable training allowed him to do a decent olympic hammer turn with it and his got it out a whopping 49'1" on his second throw. Dave Roe really snapped one out at 38'11" with JJ right behind him at 38'7". Dave Laidlaw had a respectable 36'2", Joey Taylor added 5 feet from first to second to go 34'2" and Gilpin showed off his old keg days with a 32'6". Dan was also over 30 at 31'2.5" and Bobby and Jim were tight at 32'4" and 33'. Young Connor is apparently no stranger to the keg either as he managed a very solid 29'1". Nobody tell his mom.

Oh right. The hammer. Matty actually managed a PR with 113'2.5" and JJ was really consistent with his, ending with a best of 109'9". I couldn't even bother putting my boots on and still stunk the place up even considering that at 102'7". Hammer work must be done. Joey was right behind me with 98'5", edging out Davey L by 5 inches. Dave and Tracey had a pretty amusing bit of banter going on with him jeering her about going over 60' (she got 57'6") and her jeering him about going over 100'. It wasn't going to happen in Stettler, though. Davey Roe was either over 90' or over the trig, depending on the throw and Jim and Bob continued to duel with their favorite event here. We'll fix that stuff up soon.

The Ams faired no better with Pat being the only guy over 90 at 90'7" and Aaron being next guy up at 84'9". Even the normally dominant Dan struggled with only an 82'10" to show for it. Wes was looking a little more solid at 72'3" but I think everyone else was pretty disappointed in the marks they were putting out. Cale and Connor had a little more success with the 12# with Cale edging out Connor by a foot with a final tally of 75'2" to 74'. I do think the 12# hammer is a good thing for the juniors. Lets them develop a bit of technique instead of just hoping for the best.

My own personal woes continued on the WFH and noone else was lighting the world on fire either, except Davey Laidlaw and JJ. Davey got some of his issues settled and cleared 13' and had 3 very reasonable attempts at 14'. JJ got the monkey off his back and cleared 15' and made it look easy to boot. A real student of the sport, that guy. Dan won the Am side with an easy one shot at 11' but, like most of us, he was under par and didn't clear 12. Pat and Mike were the only other guys to clear 11 and they shared second for that one.

The sheaf. I should practice this event. Really. There was some controversy over this event but really why? I could go on a long rant, but again, why? It should be noted that by this point in the day, Bobby didn't even like me anymore and was trying to make me cry every time he got on the microphone. It didn't get any better after he started stealing my beer at the BBQ either. Let's see...highlights in the sheaf...uhm Todd cleared 20' for a PR and Wes finally had the hideous intro to this event. He cleared 16' though and was probably good for 18' but we'd gone straight to 20'. Joey also cleared 20 but missed 23'. I actually managed to clear 23' (where was that at Nationals?) but Dave L did it in one shot and JJ made 25 so it was pretty much a non-issue anyway. Long event. Still fun, though.

The caber. Man, by this time it had got hot. Earlier in the qualifying caber, Connor actually showed a remarkable amount of snap and power with that thing and he made some really good attempts at a very heavy short stick for the competition. It was impressive. The one the rest of us had to play with was only 16' long but the freakin thing was HEAVY. None of the Ams turned it but Aaron had it on degrees, despite his bitching. Bobby snapped it over on attempt #2 for a 10:30 and 4th place. Matty was 3rd with a last second (read as: parallel to the ground) snap that got to 1:15. Ah to have limitless power. My first effort of 12:45 would be my best and enough for second and JJ continued his string of caber wins with a bang on 12:00 on his last pull.

Honestly, the best part of the day wasn't the throwing, it had to be the BBQ after. Todd knows how to put on a spread and the few of us that were there were treated to some good potatoes and beans plus sweet, tender steaks the size of a dinner plate and no small amount of stories. None of which are suitable for repeating on a public website. My recommendation for those who didn't make it over to Todd's after is this: plan for next year. Between the food and the tour of the basement ("It puts the lotion in the basket"), the night is just nicely completed that way. HUGE, HUGE thanks to Todd for organizing this games and next year I'll remember scoresheets and stuff. I promise!

- Sean

Uxbridge - CSAF Canadian Invitational Championships - July 25/06

Trapped at an airport, living in residence, cabers floating in rivers and gum on Christoph's chair. Welcome to the Canadian championships. I'm going to take a really quick second to tell you that the guys out there that you see on the ranking board are every bit of good guys as they are tremendous throwers. This was, looking at the results, the most depth of field I think the Canadians have every had. Of course, we were missing Dirk and Gord as they were representing Canada at World Masters, but I don't think this lessened the talent we had one bit. 8 events, 2 days and 10 athletes. Away we go!

We started with the open stone which was an ugly 20# hunk of rough granite. A couple of the guys had some nice hickeys from that thing by the end of the three rounds. Nova Scotia's Lyle Barron got to be first guy up with that pig of a rock. A little bit about Lyle: Lyle was quick to point out that he was the lightest guy on the field but kind of neglected to mention that he probably had the most meat on his hands. I think it was Greg he poked at when he was trying to get what looked like a ladies small glove onto those mitts before the light weight. In any case, Lyle opened up a little over 38' at 38'4" and we were underway. Lyle would later extend that by a half inch on his third. Greg was up next and I have a nice little 20 second clip of him at the back of the trig adjusting his grip on the stone. Maybe I'll post it. Greg launched it out (finally!) at 44'11" to grab the lead. He'd hang onto that lead for the rest of the rounds, too, culminating in a huge 47'1" on his last attempt. Kevin Robinson opened with 37'7" and that would stick as his best. Neil Lowry added nearly a foot from his first to his second at 35'2.5" and Christoph's first would be his best at 40'5". Mostly because when you step over the trig, they don't count the throw. As Christoph discovered. Twice.

Younger brother Markus had a bit more success on his second one, snapping out a 43'4.5" bullet that would stand as his best because he watched Christoph too closely and stepped out on his third. Marc Morin opened with a foul and then improved that by 37'5" and added another foot and some change on #3 with 38'10.5". It's gonna be odd when Marc moves back to Quebec and isn't touring the West as much as we're used to. All the best there, Marc!

Young Matthew was next in rotation and he started off with a standing throw of 43'6.5" just to get a mark in. His next one at 45'9" would get him second spot but he really went for it on the last and couldn't hold it from going over the trig. I don't think he was too crazy about his distance, but its a nice way to start off the competition. It took yours truly 3 attempts to end up an inch behind Christoph at 40'4", but as it was a 20# stone, I'll take it. The last guy in the east to west rotation was big Joel Thiessen. Joel opened up with 43'10.5" and that stood as his best and enough for 3rd although the foul on the third looked like it had more on it.

A quick note of thanks to Kevin and Joel for being patient and hanging around in a van while we used the Internet for something besides porn and managed to get me a ride back from the airport. I mean Joel even put his FOOD on hold for that. Not that he let me forget it, but he did do it. What a sweetie.

Straight into the HW, Greg started the show with 39'7.5" and that right there would have been enough for the win. Now about 15 minutes before that, we'd fixed the handle to the weight and made sure the implement was under 18 inches and Greg proclaimed "Well, noone's throwing PRs with that one." So I (of course) piped back "A REAL Canadian champion wouldn't say that." Greg went on to prove why he is Canadian champ on his third one by bombing out 43'3.5" for a new PR and a field record. Told ya, punk! The rest of us were kind of all over the board and I know Joel wasn't too happy with his 38'10.5" even if it did get him second. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Matt was thrilled with 38'3.5" as he his a monster PR and got the Alberta record to boot. It almost made up for him stripping most of the skin off of one finger. A little surgery put that to mostly right though. Back to the throwing, Markus and I tied for 4th with 36'6". His was ugly and mine was a total worm-burner. Just goes to show, doesn't it? Kevin was next up at 35'3". And that got him 6th. 35 feet with the HW and he got 6th. Nice, huh? All told, everyone was at least ~32'. Like I said, welcome to Canadians.

The heavy hammer flipped a couple of things around after we'd had a chance for a nice long cooldown for opening ceremonies. Did I mention that the humidity was killing me? Everyone else seemed fine but the poor guy born and bred in Alberta felt like he was breathing underwater. I dunno. Maybe I'm just naturally sweaty. In any case, I knew trouble was afoot when Kevin "Alicia" Robinson opened up with 89'6" and Neil followed it with 86'2", later adding an inch to it. Christoph was busy accusing other people of stealing about 7' off his hammers and managed 87'7" anyway. Markus slapped out 91'6" and then extended it to 92' even. Marc's best would sit at 88'1" and that damn boy touched the implements again and threw 3 PRs, cumulating in a huge 95'2" on his third shot for 3rd. This one would be my one and only PR at 91'8.5" and that got me 6th. Sheesh. Lyle has some great winds on the hammer but he actually releases the thing shorter than he is and that's saying something for a heavy events guy. His 93'2.5" at least had something of an arc on it and it got him 4th. Now Greg had opened with 104'4" and that had him sitting pretty until Joel's second one went out to 106'2". Greg added a couple of inches to his opener on the third one but it wasn't enough to take Joel, who also decided to take a couple extra pulls and nailed one out over 111', setting the new field record if I remember correctly. Huge throw.

Here in Alberta, we have this tendancy toward shorter, thicker sticks. It doesn't help us, boys. I'm here to tell you that right now. The one we had to play with was 22'10" long and weighed about 100# with a lot of the weight near the top. This one went fast but worse than that it was made of rubber. Seriously. You started dropping down to pick it and it would just start whipping. Now Neil had already given another stick a pull and crushed it and then went to the AD and told him it was too easy and to get this one, so he actually threw the caber 4 times. He'd end up in 5th in the end with a 12:15. A lot of good caber tossers were there and it came down to countbacks for placings. I didn't even know Christoph could run that fast when I saw his first turn. He was moving! And we didn't even need to get the oxygen out after or anything. When the dust settled, Greg, Lyle and Christoph made up the top 3 with Markus sliding in just after. Matt showed a lot of power and control in setting down the stick, but he's still at the point where he's getting comfortable with the pick. Once that's settled, all that explosive power is gonna be scary useful. Joel's improved his caber a lot but it's still his nemesis and it hurt him, but his money event was coming up anyway.

Weight for height. Ugh. This event is a constant source of frustration to me this year. And, unfortunately, it really came to a head for me here. Everyone either was over or passed at 11&12 and then onto 13. My own struggles began early by missing twice and clearing it on the third. Leaving it out front sucks. Doing it 3x at 14 sucks worse. Going into 14'6", Lyle, Greg, Christoph, Joel and Matty were still on track. 14'6" saw everyone in and then they went up to 15'6". Only Matt, Christoph and Joel made that mess and Christoph took 2 shots to everyone else's 3, so he was in the lead. 16 proved to be the stopping point for everyone, despite partial nudity when Matt stripped off the shirt to take his last shot. This led Dan Markovic to the conclusion that we could probably sell or rent the boy out and make some coin. Seemed like a solid plan to me.

Thus ended day the first. A few of the guys pitched a caber into the river to let it suck up some weight for the challenge caber the next day and while waiting for our ride back to the U, we sat in the Guiness Zone and suddenly heard a sound like something driving over a flat full of empty beer cans. Coincidentally, that is apparently the EXACT same noise it makes when someone drives a cart over a pair of drums from a pipe band. Yeesh. We also had a charming little CSAF meeting and decided the entire fate of heavy events in Canada. We were like kilted Illuminati. It was awesome. Apparently the more savvy among us also figured out how to steal food and stuff from the VIP tent. Matt, Joel and I ended up at Shoeless Joes for some good food and poor service. And we even made Joel walk and stuff. The horror.

Onto day 2. We started with the light hammer and it wasn't the most spectacular event of the whole weekend. I think Lyle alone might have had what would have been called a decent throw for him at 117'7" and even that was 6 feet back of his best. Joel and Greg were around the 120' mark apiece and most of the guys kind of putzed around between 105 and 110. A few of us will not speak of our lacklustre hammer attempts. Ugh. Moving on.

In an almost exact opposite situation, there was the 28. Wow. I mean just wow. Almost everyone (read as: not me) decided to throw PBs or at least season's bests for this one. Marc opened conservatively at 61 and then nailed out a SB to 64'1.5" on his second. The boy also opened up a little light for him at 62'4.5" but on his last one, he got his first turn issues settled and snapped out a 70'2" for a PR and a new provincial record, not to mention being the first guy from Alberta out over 70'. I only managed a 67'5" and what did that get me? 8th. Again, welcome to Canadians.

Lyle and Kevin also stepped up to the plate by going 68'11.5" (just couldn't give him 69 apparently) and 68'2" respectively. Going into his third attempt, Christoph was ahead of little brother by an inch and a half and was already gloating about it. Usually, this kind of story would end with "until Markus' last attempt", but that isn't the way it played out. Christoph hit his second turn perfectly and had a LOOOOOOOONG pull and great height. We knew it and so did he when he said "That's it!" just at release. The verdict? Seventy-five freakin feet! About a 3.5' PR, if I remember correctly. Massive! Not to be terribly outdone, Markus dug down and nailed 71' on his last for 4th spot. Competition PR if not a training PR. Young Greg had already popped out a 76'8.5" shot earlier in the round, so he had second spot sealed up. I say second because Joel launched a cannon on his third to nail 81'1.5" for I believe a season's best. Very close to the field record. So 8 guys over 67', 5 over 70 and 1 over 80'. Nice.

Going into the sheaf, it was pretty much decided who the champ was. The math don't lie. Still, some other positions needed to be fixed and the rain was coming so we got at her. I suck at this event, got the opening height and that was about the end of my weekend. Hardly spectacular, but a great experience. Kevin and Joel joined me after that and the other guys all cleared 23 and went to 26. It's amazing how effortless these guys make the sheaf look, because I sure make it look like hard work. Maybe I should practice or something. Neil is a snappy little bastard at this event and I tried to get him to teach me but apparently I can't be coached, considering my performance. Markus was the only one to get the slightly damp sheaf over at 26 and that really made a difference. To be precise, it made the 5.5 point difference that he needed to sneak past Matt into third spot overall. By one half point. It was that tight.

We had a challenge caber and farmer's walk in there too (Markus won. Shocker), but for scoring events that was all she wrote. So the fat lady had sung, the dust had settled, the smoke had cleared and whatever other cliches you like were done. Your 2006 Champ was none other than defending champ Greg Hadley. Joel was in second spot with Markus third, Matt fourth (go Matty!) and evil Christoph Wand in 5th. Lyle, myself, Kevin, Marc and Neil rounded out the rest of the field. After that, the pictures and accolades were handed out and we got a great shot of Greg with his younger brother. Hopefully we can post that bit of video evidence soon.

On a personal note, I wasn't nuts about my overall performance but I was extremely glad of the experience. I met a group of fantastic gentlemen (and saw Christoph again), got to laugh a lot, throw some things, see some great throws and even voice my opinion once or twice. Those of you from Alberta know how rare THAT is. Huge thanks to Bob Whitman for taking on the logistical nightmare that is being an AD and announcer and a big thanks to the Highlands of Durham Games for putting us up and putting up with us. If you get the chance, head east and compete but be ready for ring handles and evil humidity. Hopefully we can ship a few of those boys west some time. I'm out for now. See you punks in Stettler.

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - Amateur Class - July 17/05

Let me start off by saying "High of 23C? Yeah, right." Man, it was hot. But a good day, as ever. Mind you, a bad day of throwing is still better than a good day of most other things.

Anyone else remember when we first found the Ft.Ed Stone and thought it'd make a cool demo event? Hahahahaha! This year we made EVERYONE throw it. And, in my traditional streak of cruelty to the Ams, I made them throw it as the first event. We marked a 10' line and let the guys stand behind it with one foot against the line. Not that it made a whole lot of difference. Talk about inches seperating athletes, though. Lucky Todd got to start things off with a 9'9" he later extended by 2" for a 5th place. Aaron was the first guy over 10' at 10'1" and his first would stand as his best for 4th spot overall. Tim McLean, fresh from his deep in-sand training got Aaron by 3.5" on his second shot to claim third place. Big Wes added a foot from one throw to the next and got 10'7". The real shame was that Wes' third throw was a huge push out at 11'8" but he fouled it when we walked a bit too far. Still good for second though. And proving that brute force and ignorance can really help your cause, little Dan Loeb chucked that bad boy out 11'1" and claimed first place. His third one, he came to an almost complete stop at the end and just shoved it out 10'. Scary.

After shuffling the trig around so the guys didn't have a 30 degree slope to run down, we got the 56 underway. Paul "Special K" Kuefler is finally starting to add some decent finish to his smooth spins and got himself a PR at 19' even. Ian Diack was back with us after about a 5 year layoff and lookin really athletic. It took him a couple of attempts to get comfortable, but he got himself 20'4.5" on his 3rd. Danny added a little anger to his last one (can't be beautiful all the time, Dan-O) and got 22'1" for a mark. And what'd that get him? 6th. In the Ams. Nice.

Wes continued to twist the knife into Dan by edging him by an inch at 22'2" for 5th. 4th was our own Aaron Andronyk going 22'5" and Monster Todd hit a 22'9" for 3rd. Tim McLean really put it out there at 24'6" and a PR. Pretty good for a guy who hasn't touched the official implements in a year or so. He apparently practices in sand. Maybe I should look into that. It looked like Timmy was going to take 1st and then Kelly abused him of that notion by cranking it out 25'4" for the event win. Still your house, right Kelly?

We were moving through things pretty fast, so we just went into the LW to keep the pace up. Ian again took all three attempts to remember how to move his feet but it got him a 41'6" for his troubles. And that was 7th place. Damn. Now here's the stupid part. Dan Loeb got 6th. That's not actually the stupid part. The fact that he'd thrown the weight 44'3.5" and all that got him was 6th was, though. Aaron totally relaxed on his first shot and it went 45'2" for 5th. After that, he started thinking so we all know how that turned out. Tim McLean looked solid all day and this was no different. 46'7.5" and 4TH! Nutty. Wes claimed 3rd with 46'9" for I believe a competition PR. Now Kelly had been leading the field with 47'10" after the second round until Todd Hennel nailed a big PR and tied him up. Todd has really got his single spin to a pretty looking thing, adding a lot of force while keeping it smooth. And it paid off big here as he cranked out his third throw to a monster 51'11" for the event win and a massive PR. Time for 2 spins, Toddy.

Sorry Dan, for only one hammer on Saturday. Still, he made it count by nailing 73'6" on his first one. Only Aaron was close to him there at 72'10" and Kelly was back for 3rd at 64'11". Lee hadn't even looked crossly at the implements since Calgary last year and he managed a 2' PR here at 55'5". Not bad...for a powerlifter. Todd continued a pretty solid streak by hitting half an inch past 64' for 4th and Wes rounded out the top 5 with 56'5".

We had a little bit of time (not enough for a second hammer) so we added the open stone to the mix. Pancake lookin thing about 16.5# or so and Danny started us off with 29'11". That would hang as his best and earn him 4th. Young (like 14) Cale hammered out a shot from the shoulder that went out 28'4". We need to get that boy some training partners. Wes was just shy of 29' at 28'11.5" for 6th, edging Aaron out by 3.5". Todd stood and delivered for 30'9.5" and 3rd spot and Tim McLean killed it out 32' for second spot. Kelly was on top again though at 32'10".

Davey Roe, gentlemen that he is, brought a nice 16' stick for the boys to play with. What we need for this crowd is a 17' stick with similar dimensions and taper, though. Actually, what we really needed here was a level field without all the ruts and rocks in it. But that's part of the magic of Ft. Ed. Tim McLean was thoroughly denied on his last attempt as it stood right up....and fell back down. Heartbreaker. Kelly knocked himself a 1:30 on it and Dan got at least one monkey off his back by hitting 11:00. Todd angered out an 11:45 for second spot but the caber was all about Aaron as he went for a pair of 12's and a 12:15. If you're gonna win 1 event, right?

Ended it with the magic of the weight for height. 10' cut half of the field down and only Dan and Kelly went past 11'. And right up to 12' the pair of them went. Dan let the tension build for a couple of attempts and then dunked it like a champ on #3 for the event win.

When it was all over but the crying, consistency had won the day. Kelly put out solid performances in basically every event and it paid off with the overall win. Dan was only 3 points back of him for second spot and Todd actually was the same, but Danny got the nod on 2 event wins to 1. Caber guy Aaron ended up in 4th and big Wes rounded up the top 5 for Ft. Edmonton. Some big throws and everyone's getting a little tighter in their technique and their placings. Looks good going into the last couple for the year. Open class writeup a comin!

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - Open Class - July 17/05

Well the Ams had nicely warmed up the crowd and the ground, so after a wee bit of warmups (like we needed to get warmer), we got into the Ft. Ed Stone as well. Mike had pulled it off despite being on call and Bobby's back held up and with JJ driving out from Regina, we had ourselves 7 athletes who came to play. Lucky me, I got to start off and I hit 12'2" and later extended that to 12'5". That's the first time over 12 anyway. Bobby gave away no small amount of bodyweight on this one but managed an even 12' for 3rd. He'd managed to edge Joey out by an inch and Jimmy by 6". Gotta love the Ft. Ed Stone. JJ pulled off the big win with a 13'2" on his first shot and that stayed as his best for the rest of the attempts.

As with the Ams, next up was the HW. Big JJ started the ball rolling with a PB of 35'5". Huge throw and it looked awesome and smooth. Davey Roe also hit a smooth 33'10" opener, but he knew he was a little off on that one. The best was yet to come anyway. Mike got to taste a little frustration being just under 30' at 29'7" but his form was a lot smoother than it had been earlier. I had an ugly 34'3" that I pulled from behind me to start off and Joey made his second his best at 27'3". Jimmy saved his second for his best at a solid looking 32'. That got him 4th. Nice, huh?

Anyway, lets take a minute to discuss Dave Roe. Now Davey is not generally known for his technical ability in the weights, but let me tell you, he's got the confidence and he moves pretty smooth from turn to turn. Well today it paid off big as he hit yet another PR (what's that now? 3 weeks in a row?) by nailing a monster 35'5" to tie JJ for first! I'd only manage an even 35' so Davey was riding me about getting beat all day. Which, I guess, he should. Bobby hit a really solid 26'10" on his last one and I know he was a little tenative about going crazy because of his back.

The LW continued the show, with everyone opening a little conservatively except Jimmy who hit an even 60 for his best and JJ who hit ANOTHER PR by going 68'8". Davey nailed 62'8" on his second for third spot and it was a gopher-killer. If he learns to put some angle on that, he'll be up around 70 the next day. Mike Staal's first shot at 56'7" wasn't his best, but it was the only one where he didn't have 2 feet dancing on the side lines. Still, he's getting some great drive forward again. That edged Bobby by 1 whole inch and Bobby'd edged Joe by 4.5" just before that. My last one was feeling great but snagged a little on release and still went out 68'9" for the win and the field record. JJ really unloaded on his last one, but couldn't keep it back behind the trig. Which was good for me because it went out over 71'.

We figured we'd just get all the quick stuff done, so we went into the open stone with a little river rock action. During warmups everyone was saying it felt light but it actually weighs in heavier than the little round stone we've been pitching around. Davey had a couple of really good pushes with the stone, but in Alberta we don't measure them when you're standing on the trig at the end of it. Sorry, Dave! Jimmy got some good lift on this one for 38'2" out about 2' further than young Bobby at 36. JJ got a 39' shot in on his second for 3rd spot and Mikey was out at 39'8" for second. My last one was my best at 44'2" and that got me top spot.

Onto the hammers. The ground really stank for this but we were all pretty game for it anyway so off we went. Bobby was probably the most nervous about this one, but still managed to go 71'11"/89'6". Jimmy looked a lot more relaxed and sent them out 71'6"/89'1". Dave got in some solid marks with 74'5"/93'4" and Joey really started to find his groove again with 79'/102'10". Mike also got his groove back with 85'2.5"/109'4" and I had a pretty solid day with 88'/110'2". JJ continued the PR streak with 88'3"/112'2" to take first in both. And, oddly enough, we got through Ft. Edmonton without breaking a single hammer. Wierd.

By now, Wes was on the microphone and the crowd was eating it up. He knew how to get them going and keep them that way. With the caber slightly modified to 19'6", the game was afoot. Some good runs on bad ground and a couple of close pulls but it finally came down to JJ's last attempt and he knocked her over big at 11:00 to the roar of the crowd. Fantastic!

The WFH was up next and no real great shakes here. JJ and I both cleared 13 and then went to 15' for PRs. I wasn't even close, but JJ was leaving it high and out front. We let him take a 4th shot for the crowd and he nailed it again for the roar. Always good to see. We even managed to sell all the t-shirts thanks to our announcers throughout the day.

Pretty close throughout the field and some big numbers and PRs for some of the guys. Jim, Bob and Joe rounded out 7th-5th and they were within 3 points of one another. Half a point seperated Mike Staal and Dave Roe but this time the decision went in Davey's favour for a top 3 finish. JJ had pretty much knocked me around all day and when the smoke cleared, he'd taken victory for the day 3 points ahead of me. Fantastic thrower and a good guy to boot. It's getting harder and harder to win events in the West. The numbers just keep going up.

Next stop: Stettler!

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton Passes - July 12/06

If you haven't already logged onto the forum and told me you're coming, please make a point of it by tomorrow night so I can get your name to the gate. Also, we'll be having a split field this year so start time will be 8:30 for the Ams and noon-ish for the Open class.

- Sean

Red Deer/Ellerslie - Open Class - July 7/06

Been a little bit, but what can I say? I've been busy. Let's go over a little bit of what happened this weekend starting with the Red Deer open class, shall we? With JJ up from Saskatchewan, Marc from Winnepeg and the boy (Matt) throwing hot, as well as the rest of the usual suspects, this was bound to be a tight one and the boys didn't disappoint.

We'd started with the open stone in the hopes that Matty would knock off the Canadian Record, but it survived the onslaught as he was just under 50' with 49'9". The rest of us were definitely playing for second and I managed that at 44'4" on my first one with Gordo back at 41'9.5" for 3rd. Dave L, JJ and Mike Staal were all over 40 and within 5 inches of each other. Like I said...tight.

The heavy weight was next up and I kept up my habit of PRing in Red Deer with that one by going 37'4" on my first and it would stand easily as my best. JJ slapped out a pretty looking 34'9" with Matt RIGHT on his heels with 34'8.5". Al MacFarlane impressed everyone with his 34'0.5" best despite a serious lack of practice and Dave Roe looked great and nailed a big PR with 33'5". Still pulling across his body, of course. And again inches made huge differences, as 6th through 9th was seperated by 6.5" TOTAL with Marc, Jim, Dave L and Gord all over 30'. Well technically between 30'8.5" and 31'3".

Right into the 28, JJ was the first guy over 60' with a 66 foot shot he would later extend to 67'10". That got him 3rd. I beat him by all of an inch to get second and the boy got us both by almost a foot going 68'9". My third shot, incidentally, looked great until I went to let it go and exploded all across the trig. Spectacular folly. Gord Walsh found his old magic again and went 65'6" for 4th and Jimmy hit a PR and looked poised to collect $20 off Dave L when he pushed it out to 63'11". You know something's in the air when 63'11" gets you 5th. Dave Roe was in 6th at 63'0.5" and Marc was the only other guy out over 60 at 60'5".

I'm just going to take a moment and mention young Bobby B and Joey Taylor. Now Bobby's very recently moved up into the open class and Joey is just on the comeback trail and they're both going through what most of us did: you move up and get beat on. This isn't to say they weren't throwing well, just that they're adjusting. It's all good.

The horrors of the heavy hammer were up next. Now Red Deer had actually given us enough room to probably throw both hammers, but with 12 guys on the field and a limited amount of time, we opted for safety and speed and just went with the 22. We had a bit of an issue with the ground (I know Al...you told me so) so between the first and second round, we moved the trig and everyone was a lot happier. Predictably, Gordie killed us by hitting 93'8", about a foot shy of his field record. I was almost 10' further from my first to second throw, hitting 88'10" and grabbing second. JJ hammered out an 86'11" for 3rd and the boy hit 84'6" in cleats for 4th. Marc rounded out the top 5 at 83'10" with Mike Staal and Joe Taylor being the only other guys over 80' at 82'8" and 81'0.5" respectively.

Onto the caber. As I'd mentioned previously, the caber situation was grim to say the least. Fortunately, Dave Roe saved everyone's bacon and brought some good sticks. We killed the first one after 1 round and went into that evilly heavy 17'6" stick that comes out and haunts us from time to time. We weren't side judging, so this put tons of pressure on the guys to perform. Some made it. Some did not. JJ was just a bit off center and got 11:45 for the win. Gordie, not surprisingly, also turned the stick for an 11:00 and a tie for second with Matt who has become a lot more comfortable and hence a lot better at the caber. I choked and it cost me. That was a lot of points to split. A few of the other guys had some pretty good runs and pulls, but ultimately we came up short.

The WOB finished off a big day in a big way. 11 went by with Al, Marc and Bobby clearing it easy. 12 was up next and Bob just left it out a little in front. 13 saw Marc, Dave, Jim and Joe drop out. Only JJ, Matt and myself cleared 14'. 15 was up next and Matt cleared it with ease. Jason and I continued our fruitless knocking although I think JJ was closer to getting it than I was. Matt then took 3 very, very near shots at 16' but today wasn't the day.

It was in the books now and young Matt Doherty was the Red Deer Highland Games Champion. JJ snagged second with me one point behind him in 3rd. Gord was a close 4th and steady Dave Laidlaw took 5th by just one point over Marc. 7th, 8th and 9th spot were each separated by a single point with Mike, Al and Jim getting those honours. An absolutely fantastic day of throwing and definitely the biggest numbers I've ever seen in Red Deer by that many guys.

Now Ellerslie. By the time we got going, everyone was bagged and it was hot. Not that it stopped us, but most of us looked a little chipped around the edges from the pizza and UFC night at Jimmy's with our host Seamus serving up the drinks. When he wasn't doing somesaults to try and impress us or trying to steal people's keys and glasses anyway.

Matty finally found the field and decided to join us when we were halfway through the first round of the braemar stone and with no warmup or anything he went 34'1.5". Which would have been enough to win, in truth. Of course, he took that thing out 37'1.5" for a new provincial record and a stunning beating for the rest of us. Double J made 32'7" look easy and you can definitely tell he spent some time with RV with just the way he holds a stone. 31'11" got me 3rd and Marc took 4th by half an inch over Al with 31' to 30'11.5". Al, of course and all weekend provided no small amount of colour to the games.

In the weights, there wasn't much spectacular going on as noone looked too terribly smooth until Matty went 69'10" on his second shot with the 28 to reset the Alberta provincial record. He's going to be scary when he actually starts training for this stuff. A 34'3.5" shot got me first on the HW, half an inch ahead of JJ for second. Matt was only an inch behind him, so it doesn't get a lot tighter than that. Dave Roe took 4th with a 32'1" and 5th was evil Al just 4" back of him. Matty smashed us in the LW and I got 65'10.5" on my third to take second again just an inch ahead of Jason. Marc went 62'9" for 4th and 5th was that Gord Walsh fella at 61'1.5. Jim's knees were killing him at this point so he decided to spare himself any more damage and sat out the rest of the day.

Ellerslie, as previously mentioned, is our hammer championship and the heavily favoured Gord really found some magic again. Going out 92'5"/118'4" his total of 210'9" point blank killed us. This really bodes well for his performance when he heads over to Scotland for the World Master's championships. Give'em hell Gordie. In the championship, I ended up in second via 88'1"/114'0.5" (hello PR) for a 202'1.5" total to Matt's 201'6.5" total with 89'1"/112'5.5" in cleats again. He's really got these hammers almost figured out. Incidentally, both of those marks are the farthest anyone in Alberta has ever thrown the hammer without the boots on. JJ was 4th in that with 88'0.5"/108'5" and a 196'5.5" total. I edged that poor guy by an inch or less in like 3 events. Damn, hey? Marc actually managed a good pair of marks at 84'5.5"/109'10" for 194'3.5" and that 109 shot looked like it was 115 at the time. Joe Taylor actually had some good stuff too with 76'5.5"/97'8" and same with Dave L and his 77'9"/96'3" (which I believe was a PR). With 75'8"/92'1.5", Dave Roe is starting to look more comfortable with the hammers as well.

We hauled out a qualifying stick for a quick couple of rounds and then went onto the 100# 20'1" stick we had to play with. This caber was a lot of fun, in truth. It wasn't cripplingly heavy, but without the timing dead on it's not going over. And none of us quite had it today, but it was a near thing. Great caber. We did degrees, but there's never any point in bragging about that.

2 days of throwing and 12 events had brought us once again to the WOB. Bobby didn't want to hear from Dan Loeb anymore about clearing 12' on day 2, so he cleared it on his second shot and had some reasonable goes at 13. Same with Marc, Dave L and Dave Roe. Gord and I cleared 13 and then just didn't have the aim for 14'. JJ managed 14 on his last shot and the boy cleared it in a single. Neither guy had the gumption for 15' on day too, though so that wrapped it up. In a repeat performance, Matt Doherty had won the day again but this time I edged Jay by a single point for second and Gord secured 4th. Marc was 5th on day 2 and Al took 6th place ahead of Dave Laidlaw and Dave Roe respectively.

A big weekend, some big throws, some big PRs and a lot of sunlight and fun. Really showed what the levels are like in Western Canada. Good things are happening in the world of heavy events. We out.

- Sean

Red Deer/Ellerslie - Amateur Class - June 26/06

Hothothot. That was the weekend. Both the weather and the throwing. The lead into the games was a comedy of errors of not being able to find or move equipment, stuff that was too big or too small, etc. Once again, a big shout out to Dave Roe and Joe Taylor for helping transport equipment and pretty much allow the games to go on. Thanks, guys!

Let's start with the Red Deer Am adventure, shall we? To noone's surprise the first guy on the field was Todd Hennel. I strongly suspect he slept there the night before, but I can't prove it. I also got no small amount of ragging from actually allowing 3 guys to pay me and play that day. By Saturday morning, I just didn't care enough to fight it. I will endeavor to be more of a hardass in the future.

With Bobby into the open, Kelly, Aaron and Mike's experience and both Wes and Dan working hard, the Am class in Alberta is a lot tighter than it's been in a couple of years and the boys came out to prove that. The open stone started things up fairly conservative on round 1 with Kelly and Mike being the only guys in the Am class over 30'. Terry was also over that, but he was running Masters so he wasn't in direct competition with the other kids. Speaking of kids, we had 2 juniors in Cale Weyts and Connor Longjohn who actually put on a pretty solid show. Cale especially had a good snap in the stone that served him well to hit 28'7".

Back to the action, Mike had an early lead with a 33'1" shot he did STANDING and he only extended it by an inch when he added a shuffle. Granted, this was not only his second games of the year but his second PRACTICE of the year so he can be forgiven for that. Both Kelly and Pat saved their bests for last going 33'10" and 33'5" to go 1 and 2 respectively. The top 3 guys within 8" of each other. Like I said before: tight.

The stone hadn't treated Aaron particularly well due to some shoulder issues but after round 1 in the HW, he was leading the pack with a couple other guys well within striking distance. Second round saw Kelly knock out a big 24'4" to take (and keep) the lead but Mike was back over 21' and looking much more comfortable. Third round some big stuff happened when Aaron got a 24'1" for a PB and second place and Wes hit 21'1" for a big PR and over 20' in his 3rd games. Nice. Todd was also over 20' with all three shots ending with a PB 22'4" on the final which earned him 3rd spot. On the LW, Kelly was looking like the easy winner with 49'7" on his second attempt until Mike came out and knocked him down to second with 49'10". Pat stole 3rd spot on his second attempt with a pretty 47'2", adding over 10' from his first to his second. Knocking off a little rust, I would guess. Wes and Todd both nailed big PRs and pushed the board up a little more with 46'8" and 46'2" respectively. If Todd learns the second spin, he'll be over 50' the next day and Wes has really worked on getting a great snap and some hang time at the end. It shows.

The hammer was what Aaron and Dan were waiting for and Aaron really had the success early on, nailing 91'6" for a monster PR and breaking the 90' barrier for the first time ever. It took Dan 2 shots to do it, getting 90'10" but considering this was his 4th games, I guess we could forgive that. I think it took me 4 YEARS to clear 90. Both Kelly and Pat were solid at 87'5" and 87'3", further pushing up the "average" throw required to place in Alberta. Terry, as a note, still cranked out an easy looking 88'11" to show that even playing with the boys, he is a force.

The caber was a decent stick for the guys to play on, if maybe just a little light. Besides Terry putting on a clinic, Aaron was the only one with a perfect toss and Mike and Pat were a quarter of an hour back of that. Kelly was back an hour but he'd been solid all day, so I don't think it concerned him much. Todd stood that thing up and had it fall off to the side, but in legal sector so that snagged him 5th. Dan and Wes need a little more time under the stick, but they're slowly getting more comfortable with their pics and runs.

WFH was a nice little show with noone going out at all at 10'. Paul's finally started figuring out that he has legs and had a couple of pretty close shots at 11, to boot. Wes made it look pretty sweet as well, getting some good extension on 10 but coming up a little shy for 11. Cale and Terry were tossing the 42 and both of them were still in when the bar moved up to 11'6". Kelly, Dan, Pat and Mike made it look easy and added some PR magic to Kelly and Dan. 12' appeared to be the stopping block for everyone until Mike snapped it over on his 3rd attempt. Looks like firefighter training hasn't sucked out his power at all. Terry then proceded to grind, finagle and poke the crowd into cheering loud enough to get him to clear 14' in the 42 on his third shot. Awesome work, old man.

The rubber had hit the road and RD was in the books. Kelly Strachan was the Red Deer HG champion with a solid day, a PR and no weaknesses. Mikey G took second spot and Pat Zwicker rounded out our top 3. Aaron and Todd were 4th and 5th and both put up some big numbers and solid PRs to boot. Dan and Wes were pretty interesting with one excelling at the hammers and the other at the weights while both being very close with the stone and caber. Should make for some good competition in the future.

Ellerslie - Day 2

Now Day 2 had thinned the competition down just slightly. Kelly, Mike and Todd had some prior engagements but the magic of not having the 42's kicking around meant we just tossed Connor, Cale and Terry into the mix. It made for a darn fine competition as well. And, to noone's surprise we started about 45 minutes late, too. Welcome to day 2.

Not wanting to make anyone move any too soon, we started with our lovely 25# braemar stone. Dan opened good and solid at 22'7" and later inched it up to 22'8". He could have sat down after his first one, though, because it held up all day. Wes managed to take second at 21'11" and Terry rounded off the top three with 21'7". Young Cale Weyts actually showed he had a fabulous punch for the weight and nailed 21'. Pretty good for a 14yr old.

With a reduced number of guys, we decided to toss both weights too. Aaron again showed that when he's on in the HW, he's got something happening as he nailed another PR at 24'5". Coreblasters are apparently magical in nature. Wes is really starting to dial in his weights, managing a PR himself at 23'2". Terry matched his braemar mark of 21'7" and Dan was back over 21 with 21'2". Paul looked pretty solid himself and is just starting to actually get some arc on his throws. A little more aggression on the finish and he'll nail 20 easy. Connor was definitely more comfortable than Cale with the HW, but Cale was pretty impressive almost standing in the same spot the whole time to throw.

The LW was all Wes, going 44, 44 and then 49'5" for the finish and a big first place. Terry was next guy in line 5 feet back and Aaron was 3rd another 2' back of that. Dan and Connor rounded out the top 5 with 41'9" and 38'10" respectively. The 16yr old has some promise there, huh?

Onto the Amateur Hammer Championships. With Kelly gone, it opened up a bit more and promised to be a good match between Aaron and Dan, with Terry thrown in there for anyone who choked. Well, Dan put most of the doubts to rest when he OPENED with 76'10" on his first in the HH for a PR and the new Am field record. And that's with cleats on. Aaron actually answered with a couple of PRs and his third one looked to be the best one until he turfed it on his last pull and had to "settle" with 72'3" and a PR. They were the only 2 guys over 70', so it was all them going into the light. When Dan opened at 88'11", he really put the pressure on Aaron, who managed a very respectable 88'2" but couldn't get any more out of the light hammer than that. Dan put the nail in the coffin at 90'11" on his last pull for a 1" PR and a solid claim of the 2006 Alberta Amateur Hammer Champ with a total of 167'9" to Aaron's 160'5". Considering last year's winner hit 159'9", I'd say the level of hammer throwing is going up.

This took us into the caber. At big Al's acceptance of the task, we just decided to mark degrees on this one. The ominous implications of this would take a while to fully form. Terry and Aaron ruled the roost on the stick with 11:45 and 1:00 respectively and big Paul stepped up to the plate and gave a good yard on that bad boy to finally convince it to go over at 1:15. Awesome work, Paul. He's long had a good pick, but his pull has been a little lacking. Looks like it isn't anymore. Wes had a couple of decent picks and runs, but nothing more than 70 degrees to get him 4th. Again, the interesting part is that Dangerous Dan managed to get last in this event. More on that later.

Onto the WFH. The juniors got to play with the 42 this time, so their points wouldn't matter so much anyway but both of them were very solidly over at 10 with some good shots at 11. 10 was a 1 shot for all involved but 11 proved to be too much for everyone but Terry and Dan. 11'6" was no problem for either of them. Then came 12. Down to the 3rd round, it was looking close for both of them and being the last guy to go and on his last pull, big Dan dug deep and rolled that sucker over the Standards of Denial for a 12' toss and another PR. Danny's not going to be long for the Amateur world at this rate.

Here's where it gets interesting: the final score. Now you've got to realize at this point that Dan has won 4 out of 7 events. Should be a shoe-in, right? But NO! it isn't just a river in Egypt anymore. Terry seems the next logical choice because of steady placings, but he's actually in a tie with Wes. And Wes has higher placings! So it ends up that Wes wins with 17 points, Terry is second, Aaron third and Dan the Hammer Man is 4th! 2 points seperated 4 guys. Crazy tight. If Wes settles his hammers and Dan tweaks his caber and weights, we're gonna have ourselves a real 3 or 4 way shootout all the time. Good display, guys. Way to put it out there all weekend.

The Open Report is comin!

- Sean

Grande Prairie - June 15/06

Once again we have survived the first of Alberta's highland games with a smile and it started with the largest number of athletes we have ever had at the Grande Prairie HG. Appropriate for their 20th anniversary. As ever, most of the guys piled into one or two vehicles to make the long, boring trek to the middle of nowhere and a lot of us stayed at the same hotel. Much badmouthing, trash-talking and fun was had by all. And we even shut it down at a reasonable time. Zany, huh? After one or two false starts at the hotel, we ended up making it to the field on time and were throwing by 9AM.

In a stroke of cruelty, Mike Staal decided we'd be starting with the HWFD, a lovely way to start a day and get all the kinks out. You could almost see the guys warming up from throw to throw, however, as almost everyone had their best throws on #3. Mikey G hadn't touched a weight before that morning and you could tell the comfort level wasn't there. Granted the man's a little busy in life, so I'll cut him some clack. This time. Wes was just a little off time and only managed a 16'3", but I think he learned a bit and I think his last couple of practices have produced some serious stuff. He's got lots of time this year to turn it up. Paul K started to shake off his habit of throwing INTO the ground and went out 18'5" on his second. Dan wasn't as happy with his efforts, managing a 19'5", but he's gone over 22 before and it's hard going back. Kelly looked solid over 20 every time and ending with 22'5" and Aaron surprised even himself by putting on a great third throw and a huge 23'1" to boot.

This was Bobby's first meet as an official open class guy and he kept himself solidly in the game with a 25'8". Joe and Jim showed some reasonable early season form with 26'2" and 27'3" respectively. I think they both just need to wait for the weight to hit the right spot before they pull and they'll both be over 30. The spins were pretty. Gord's been getting too comfy with the 42 and I think the 56 threw him and Mike S off a little as they were both in the 27' range. Dave hit a solid 30' throw on his first and it stuck around as his best for the next two tosses. The boy (Matty) edged him by 9" on the first toss and then decided he didn't like staying in bounds for the next 2. Amidst some muttering and swearing, Davey Roe got his legs under him and went 31'4" on his last toss and I took top spot there at only a foot and some change past that. Wasn't getting the right timing.

The heavy hammer was next and early morning hammers always suck. I don't think anyone did particularly well for themselves besides big Dan Loeb who hit a big PR and went 71'7". Over 70' on his second games. Sheesh. Oh! Bobby did well too with a good looking 75'10". Good opening mark on the season. Everyone else was a little under their PR levels and it broke down predictably with Gordie winning it at 91' and me 6 feet back in second. Mike took 3rd spot with a little over 81'.

By now, everyone was warmed up and this was the event everyone wanted to see: the open stone. It's no secret that Matt's the best stone thrower Alberta's ever seen. What WE know and everyone else is soon to find out is that he's one of the top in the country. Might have something to do with the shotput background. But that's just conjecture.

Anyway, the rest of us are bums compared to that level but we do what we can. Joey T. got a lesson or two from Jim on how to hold a rock and it looks like it helped as he had a casual looking 35'7". Jim got him by about a foot or so and then Bob trumped him by nearly 2 feet. Mike was cheap and cheesy and got Bob by an inch. An inch or a mile, it's all ahead. Dave's first would stand as his best at 39' and then I got one out at 42 and some change which Gord neatly beat by about 8".

Onto the main event. Now Matt had won the event on his first, half-speed effort at 47'1". Then he could open up. His next one reset the field and provincial records with a monster 51'5" which was, at the time, the second highest throw in Canada. The third was a bit under that, but the door was already open for 3 extra attempts anmd the boy made the best of them. His opening effort was 49 and some change but his second one really set the standard. 52' even. 1 INCH behind the Canadian record. His last attempt was snappy and loose and I think he thought it wasn't as far because he didn't fight a lot to stay in over the trig. We measured it for kicks. 53'3". So the Canadian record WILL fall this year, it's just a question of when and to who. Huge stuff

The light weight was next in the order and there were some pretty reasonable marks with Wes hitting 43'5" for a PR and just edging Dan and Aaron's 43'3" shots. Mikey G hit a pretty solid looking 46'1" showing some old form. Kelly wasn't to be outdone there and went 48'1". Everyone else continued on with the over 50 crowd like Jim's solid looking 58'9" and Gordie just over 60' at 60'1". Dave Laidlaw saved his best for last to hit 62'3" to steal 3rd from Dave Roe at 62'. Matt continued sandbagging his first two and then popped out a whopping 68'3" on his third to move into first place for one throw forcing me to go 69'1" to beat him. I took 3 extras to further the field record, but they were worse than my in comp throws. No love there.

The light hammer was more or less a copy of the heavy with a couple of exceptions like Aaron's monster 88'10" that looked almost easy and Joe's casual 95'1". The hammer's were about Matt's only (relative) chink in his armour going 97'9". Still good for 4th. Mike, myself and Gord finished like we did on the heavy at 102, 109 and 112 respectively. Nothing crazy going on here.

That 17'2" longbow was still in use, along with it's complete lack of a taper. Matt was first guy to turn it and he nailed 12 bells straight away. Looks like the track star is over whatever fear he might have had of the caber. I matched him on my first attempt and then couldn't get the job done for the other 2 attempts. Gord was just 15 minutes behind us at 12:15 and Bobby was the only other guy to turn the stick at 1:00. Good way to make up some points.

The WOB finished off the day nicely with Mike G clearing 11 pretty handily, Dan taking some nice shots at 12 after clearing 11 easily. If he ever learns to reach back a little more, he'll nail 13 easy. Bobby managed to hit 12' again, which is good because that's where the show starts in the open class. Jim, Dave L and Mike S also cashed out at 12 and Joe mirrored his Regina performance with 12'6". Davey Roe one-timed 13 and took 3 very near shots at 13'6". It'll happen this year. Gord also topped out at 13' and then Matt and I were the only ones left. We just moved up to 14'6" which I one-timed and Matt took 2 shots because he left the first out front. And about a foot over.

At 15, it was all Matt as he cleared it with room to spare on his second shot and I was denied 3 times with the height, but no arc to put it over. Been a 2 season story of that one for me. Anyway, we moved up to 15'6" for the field record and a big PR for Matt and, on the third shot with the crowd clapping, he nailed it. 15'6". World class wherever you go. The day after he decides to actually start practicing the highland games, the rest of us are footnotes. It's awesome to see and be part of, let me tell you.

The points settled themselves out as they usually do with Dan pushing Kelly right to the edge in what I think will be the big amateur matchup of the season. Bob took his place above both Jim and Joe and that bodes well for the kind of season I think the open class in Alberta will have. In 5th was Mike S being edged by Dave Laidlaw and Gordie got 3rd spot overall. Anyway, when the smoke cleared it was a case of consistancy and not star power taking the day, as I managed to beat Matt by 3 whole points for top spot. I'm glad we weren't using decathalon scoring, because I doubt it would have worked out that way otherwise. A great start to the first games of the season and next stop is RD/Ellerslie. See you there!

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - June 06/06

Ok guys, there are a couple of conflicting reports of when Ft. Ed actually is. I'm going to say, tenatively, because of the Alberta Piping and Drumming site that the date for Ft. Ed is actually July 15. Again, I'm trying to get that officially told to me by someone in the know, but let's go with that instead of the 8th for now. I'll hopefully have the date solidified by the end of this week.

-Sean

Victoria - May 24/06

After Comox, we'd all piled into vehicles and made our way down the highway toward the swingin town of Victoria, with a small stop at Miss Richies for some food. Let me assure you that there were many stories about Miss Richies and the $25 hamburger long before we got there. I (wisely) refrained from trying my luck, but Brett decided to have a little redemption and totalled the little brother to the monster burger. You see, he had met the other burger before thanks to a little encouragement from a guy whose name rhymes with "Delore Lacusta" and it hadn't turned out well for Brett. The one he had this go around was still the size of a dinner plate, but at least he finished it without making a spectacle of himself or redecorating the walls with anything. He even had breakfast the next day and everything.

Like I said before, the Victoria games treated us like kings but that miserable bastard Greg managed to snag the king sized bed in the seperate room leaving Brett, Dan, Dave and me in the same room on various couches, cots and inflatable matresses. Even that wouldn't have been too bad until all the heavyweights started snoring. Seriously, it sounds like a tree shredder being force fed rocks. And then Dave decided to turn on the bed and start playing footsie with me. It would have been horrifying if it hadn't been so comical. But finally morning came and after a quick go around in the Blazing Shower of Death (tm), off we went for breakfast and then to the field. During breakfast it was great to talk to Ryan about training and competitions and all that other junk that comes up for that poor guy probably constantly, but there was a lot of information to be had.

Great venue and the games volunteers and organizers were top-notch. I'll say that right now. It's always great to be asked to play, but to be so fully welcomed and embraced as a major part of a gathering is fantastic. I actually felt remarkably good despite the previous evening's adventures and after a little ibuprofin and everyone wrapping up, we were ready to go.

The open stone we were given was fantastic. I mean that. I take away any and all excuses I had, because I threw that thing like junk. Seriously garbage. Bob put on a show on his first put, taking a little tumble over the trig, but he got his act together on subsequent throws. Greg was lacking a bit of the snap he had the day before but still managed to put it out there a bit. Christoph was a little trig-shy too, but still got his legs under him enough to make the stone carry. Dave, Brett and I started rough. I'll leave it at that. Needless to say, Ryan won with a 50' shot and Joel was just under 49' with a 48'8" put. Impressive stuff. Vierra makes it all look effortless, even when his allergies are almost killing him.

The HW was up next and I opened a little better than I had the day before. It managed to hold out for 3rd spot as Christoph was still a little trig shy, Brett was having some footwear issues and Greg's knee was preventing him from getting under the weight enough to pop one past me. Bob was looking pretty solid and managed around 31 or so if my memory serves. This being Davey's first really big competition, I think nerves were getting to him a bit as he looked a lot more tenative than usual. Me? I love playing against guys like Joel and Ryan. I mean, I KNOW I'm going to lose, so I can relax and enjoy it. Speaking of losing, Ryan was out at 42'6" and Joel was just a little over 39'. Huge throws.

We went right into the LW and it looked a lot like the HW. I opened pretty strong, better than the day before actually and Greg one upped me by about a foot. On my third shot, I got him by about 6" and that snagged me another 3rd. Christoph managed to foul his first 2, then knock one out for a solid mark at just over 60'. Bob already wanted a drink by this point, but he came up solidly enoughy, if not quite as fast as the day before. Brett still hadn't figured out the shoe problem yet, so he was lacking the smoothness he had the day before as well. Plus, throwing 2 days in a row hurts. The RV show continued to roll with him launching an easy 80'6" shot to blow everyone away. Joel was next at a little over 72'6".

Blissfully only one hammer was contested due to space constraints and my ribs didn't mind one bit that I was only tossing one. My second shot actually managed to be a PB and my first mark over 90' in the heavy hammer, so I was fairly pleased by the whole thing. Greg woke up and hit a PB of his own going 98'8" or so. He'll be clearing 100 soon enough. Joel's back was a little tight from the HW still, but he knocked off a pretty routine looking 102' for second place. Ryan looks 100% effortless during the hammer and his 107' shots kind of underscored that.

Just before lunch, we tossed the caber from the day before as a qualifier and we were all in. Dave looked as smooth as I have ever seen him with a stick. There may be hope yet. Oh! Let me also paint the picture that we had a good crowd right from the word go and with both Delore (who finally sold all the shirts) and Lew Ross working the mics, the crowd was plenty educated and entertained by the end of the day.

Getting back from a very good and loud (holy cannon, Batman!) opening ceremony, we got into the WFH. Now all I really wanted was to have better timing than I had the day before and apparently wishes really do come true. We opened at 12' and noone but Joel decided to let that one go. 12' went fine, but 13' saw Dave, Bob and Brett drop out mostly due to timing as the height looked to be there. 14' was a one shot for both myself and Ryan (who doesn't like the spin, incidentally. Mind you, he doesn't like the stand either) and Greg and Christoph both managed it on their last shot. Joel finally graced us with his presence and went over 14 with 2 feet to spare. 15 feet proved to be too much for any of us but Joel, although we continued our stress testing of the PNWHGA's lovely weight standards by knocking the bar a lot. Joel proceded to put on a clinic, clearing 16' with ease and narrowly missing 16'6". Again, that'll die by year's end.

On we went to the caber. At 19' and 105# but with nothing resembling a taper, this was a pretty reasonable competition stick. Ryan, as you can imagine, made it look like his job. Which, I guess, it kind of is. Joel has obviously been working his caber as he managed to make it look pretty routine too, as did Brett and Christoph. Dave, Greg, Bob and I stank the field up with a lack of either speed or timing or both on any given pull. I can't believe Joel beat me in the caber. I mean really...it's Joel. Still, when all was said and done, Ryan had once again taken first spot and I'm not 100% sure of the rest of the order. The 19' 155# challenge caber survived the onslaught and will live to mock everyone until next year. Although it apparently made a fantastic weapon against Ryan when Christoph decided to whack him in the head with it. This must be part of the new CSAF exec's "attempted murder is ok" policy. I'm sure the next newsletter will cover it in more detail.

The keg toss was all in fun and both Ryan and Bob cheated by using proper hammer throwing technique to plow that thing out to 46' and 44'6" respectively. Christoph managed a huge 42' shot for third and I think I actually beat Joel out of 4th spot with a 40'8", despite Delore grinding me on the mic and making me laugh halfway through the throw.

The smoke had settled and the air was still and despite all weather reports to the contrary, it hadn't rained on us one bit all weekend when the final standings were announced. I could just tell it was actually causing Delore physical pain to have to admit that I got third, but the numbers stared him right in the face and there wasn't much he could do about it. Joel was second and in a shocking turn of events, the world champ managed to sneak into first place. We were all stunned. Really.

So went the end of a fantastic weekend. Greg, Bob, Delore and Brett kept us laughing all weekend. Ryan is a super nice guy and very methodical and logical about his training. Who knows? In the future, we may be able to get him up here for a clinic for a couple of days, instead of sneaking down to Cali and not telling anyone like JJ did. Hopefully Joel will invite me out again, despite me giving him a hard time all day on Sunday or even better, if Lisa gets on with Calgary PD I'll just go south and train with him. And Delore? I'm really sorry about making you get up at 4 to drive me to the airport, man.

- Sean

Comox - May 23/06

Before I get on with the character assassinations, I'll say my niceties first: 1) It's great to have the season on again. By the time winter finally fades, you almost forget why you do this stuff and it isn't the throwing. It's the people. I've met some of my favorite people in the world because of this sport and that just never seems to change. PRs are great, but it's the people that matter. 2) Huge thanks to Delore Lacusta and Joel and Gary Theissen for getting all of us out there and putting us up (and putting up with us) and for putting on a seriously classy pair of games. Good venues, great crowds and we got spoiled by the games.

Ok, enough of the nice stuff. Onto the details.

First things first if you're going by a garage sale, pick up some furniture for Delore. He could use it. Keep your eyes open for some hockey skates, too. Not that he should play any more hockey. All he does is get injured.

In any case, a bunch of us met at Delore's place and piled into his truck and off we headed to the ferry to get to the island. Mostly uneventful but educating as both Delore and big Bobby Owens have a vast amount of knowledge about the track and field scene in Western Canada. My eyes, they were opened. Taking a moment, let's also say I've never seen Bob looking bigger. The man was a wall. Anyone who figures that people start disintegrating after 35 really needs to get out of the mall and to hang out at a highland games. We got put up for the night and all hit BPs for some pre-game trash talk and some food. By 9:00, though everyone was ready for bed, so that was probably the earliest sleep anyone had for the rest of the weekend.

We got a nice late start to the day as we thought we only had about 7 athletes at the time. We ended up with a couple of new guys as novices, though and Joe and Robert performed admirably for their first time out. The weather thoroughly cooperated with us and it was gorgeous despite the weather predictions being rain and misery. I'm glad Greg had brought up some decent sunblock otherwise I'd have ended up in the hospital with 3rd degree burns. By the end of the day, the sunblock was about the only reason I was glad Greg had come up. He clubbed all of us like a baby seal parade on Baffin Island. His training partner and caber god Brett Milton was also on fire and throwing very well.

I don't have the full results up in front of me or anything, so I'm not going to give my usual blow by blow but I will point out a few highlights for the die-hards out there. First off, Delore the Band-Aid decided we couldn't throw the nice 22# braemar that Greg and Brett had brought. Nope. We had to throw that ugly egg thing that doesn't stay anywhere you put it. Horrifying. I'm almost 100% sure that if he'd been throwing, we'd have got the lighter one. But no, he was manning the mic and pimping shirts all day because he had a hangnail or his kilt didn't match his purse or something. Still, we manned up and threw it. We also got lucky that Bobby decided to take out that box of equipment with his foot before it attacked someone. I mean, I thought it looked shifty too, but Bob got to it before I did and took it OUT! Thanks for watching out for us, Bob!

My stone has been hot and cold all pre-season and apparently it got stuck on "cold" for the weekend. Greg, Bob and our own little Davey Laidlaw were the only ones out over 30' with Greg edging Bob by like 2" or something. And Greg being 2" longer than the next guy probably doesn't happen very often, so that was nice for him. Dangerous Dan Loeb was also out throwing in the B's and he threw the thing reasonably well. As reasonable as that stone was anyway.

The 18# open stone was up next and it was more of the same. Greg was up ahead, Bobby was next and I managed to edge Dave out of third spot. Nothing to write home about distance-wise for me, though. I need to work on not pushing the stone into the ground. I'll also mention that Head Judge Extraordinaire Gary Theissen was doing a great job of keeping us honest too.

The HW was up next and by this point Delore was in his element on the mic. I went from Alberta Champion (true) to Pacific Northwest Champion (still true) to like Heavy Weight Champion of the World (less true). I was feeling pretty good about myself going 34' until that bastard Greg buried me with a 36' something. This was just one more step in the long, steady beating the day would produce. Brett popped one out at 33' I believe and I think Bobby was out over 32'. Again, no results in front of me so excuse any inaccuracies. Big Dan was around PR territory here at 22' or so, so he was having a solid day already.

LW was slow. Well, correction. MY LW was slow. Greg's looked fantastic. Probably explains the high 68 he threw for first place. I managed a 65' shot on my third and it held for second, but again nothing to write home about. Brett wasn't much behind me and Bob wasn't much behind him. Davey had some issues with watching the trig a bit too much and it cost him some distance. I should have told him to get a shot of rye in him and relax a little.

Which brought us to the hammers. This was all Greg Bell as he went 93/119 and killed us. He was looking like a highland games athlete and I don't just mean overweight and enibriated. I mean he was actually moving like he meant it. Same with Brett as he went 91/111. He just keeps getting better every year. Not bad for a guy who can almost compete in the 45-49 class in the Masters. I took third in both at 87/109 but I was way out of contention. Big Bobby had a banner day and nailed 85/105 wearing cleats and he was over the moon on both. He had some serious explosiveness coming out of that last pull. And just think how hazardous he would be if he didn't use competitions as training days.

Dave had a pretty reasonable day (and hopefully his last weekend without spikes) going 71/93 or so and Dan Loeb continued the blitz with a 67/86 thing going on. Not bad for his second games ever. I think it was also around this point that I noticed that Delore not only didn't have his socks on while he was announcing, but now he didn't even have his sandles on. These long-haired, hemp-wearing hippies from BC confuse the beegeezus out of me.

Ah, the weight for height. Man, we put on a clinic of awefulness here. To say everyone looked a little rusty is generous. I shouldn't say all of us had bad days here. I mean Dan hit yet another PR, clearing 11' like candy and then taking 3 great shots at 12. But the rest of us came in at 11 too. I missed out front on 12 once, then cleared 13 and couldn't put it over the bar at 13'6". Ha! Mind you, Bell was the only one who made 13'6" and it took him 2 attempts to do that. The notable thing is that both of us have been chasing 15' for at least 2 years. A sad display. About the highlight of the event was head judge Gary's kilt deciding that he'd lost too much weight or something when it slid right off him in a pool around his feet while the man's hands were busy setting the bar for the next height.

I'd like to say something right here. Bob and I hate the sheaf. Probably in general because we're terrible at it, but a little bit in principle too. Anyway, we were both pretty much ready to struggle our way to 20' and bow out. BUT WE DIDN'T, DID WE? No way. Everyone was in by 18' anyway (once bitten, twice shy right Dave?) and lo and behold both of us made it. 20', same thing. Bob and I both in. Now we're over at 22'. It's important to remember something right now: at this point in the competition, just before 24', Bob Owens is leading the sheaf competition because he hasn't missed anything. And noone found this funnier than Bob himself.

Like all good things, however, it had to end. Bob and I both made lifetime PRs in the sheaf but the streak ended at 24'. On misses I ended up at the bottom. Yay me. Greg finally didn't win an event and he was out at 25'. Dave and Brett both cleared 26, but 27 held them down so Delore got to keep his record for another little while. I think Brett ended up on top with the least misses at the higher heights, but finishing second isn't so terrible, is it Dave?

Now it was hot and we were tired. I mean, having a great time and all watching Delore sell shirts like a madman, but after 8 events we were getting thirsty, ya know? We picked the 18'3" stick instead of the 19' one and of course the wind came up because it must be caber time. Dave had some good picks and good runs, but never put the whole thing together. Greg had a similar thing on the go. I'm pretty sure Bob nailed it on his second or third from almost a standstill and Brett and I battled down to the point where a half an hour decided it in Brett's favour. The man is a caber master, mostly I think because he loves it.

When the smoke cleared, the field was cleaned up and the liquid refreshments were going down, we were not surprised to find that Greg had killed everyone, Brett had taken second on virtue of ending very strong and I'd nudged Bob out of third spot by a mighty half a point. The evening continued logically from there with Bob making friends with our lovely server, a stop at Miss Richies that Brett didn't have to run out of this time and some really funny stories.

I'll yammer more about the next day in a day or two.

- Sean

Ok, I lied - May 8/06

It was more than a few days. But here they are: 2006 ASAA Registration Forms. More or less, this form is just for filling out some information about each of our athletes to give the announcers something to work with during the day to add a bit more colour to the throwers and get the crowd a little more up to speed.

- Sean

It's almost here! - April 24/06

That's right, kids. We're about a month outside the first contests in our "area", although none of them are actually IN Alberta. In terms of our first contest, we have Grande Prairie coming up (and hopefully Jimmy filled out all those forms he said he was going to for it!) on June 11. Remember, though, that you have to be an ASAA member to play at our games and so far we only have 4 paid members and a few promises on the way. As well, I'll have more information coming including a nice membership form and the like, so hopefully that'll be here in the next day or two. Stay tuned.

- Sean

Slow updates a comin - March 22/06

Alright, our 2006 upcoming season list is up and should be fairly accurate. Of course, the results aren't up so clicking on any of that will lead to a dead link and yeah, I know, I've got some other comps to update from 2005 too, but I'll get around to it.

Eventually.

- Sean

Falalalala..lala la la - March 10/06

Tis the season, kids. Yeah, I know. It's snowing. But it's just 10 weeks to Regina (or Victoria/Comox if you're going west) so the season is as open as we can get. Hope the winter has treated everyone well and you're good and strong. Last year was a barn burner and I can't see where this one is going to be any different. Lots of changes coming, but we'll keep you appraised of those as our new exec makes things official. If you want to sign up, just check the faq page for membership information and where to send things. Let's get this party started.

- Sean

Wow...been a bit - November 8/05

Hey folks...how's it going? Yes, this site is still being maintained, although it needs no small amount of updating. What with the CSAF site up and running and winter upon us, things have slowed down considerably. Unfortunately, life is rarely like the HG season, so that hasn't slowed down a lot at all. I guess I'll kind of put a call out there to anyone who might have some good photos over the year so that we can update the gallery. That's probably the biggest lack on the whole site, unfortunately.

Just to keep everyone up to date, our Exec has been updated to include our new staff. We have been honoured since the beginning of having Gord Walsh and Mike Staal helping keep things running smoothly but they have since decided to step down and let some new blood in there. As well, we added a position to the smooth running of things in the form of Dave Roe as our Director of Operations. Dave has proven himself from the beginning as being a monumental help and the places he has managed to take High River to only solidified the deal.

If all goes well, you'll see a few more updates in the next little while as we smooth things out a bit more and get it all taken care of to the best of our abilities. Here's to 2006 being even better than the incredible season we just had!

- Sean

Paul Sim Invitational Birthday Extravaganza! - September 19/05

And yes, I know I haven't done up a writeup for Calgary. Or even put the numbers in for Calgary and HR yet. I'm slow. But let me tell you, some earth shattering stuff happened on Saturday, boy oh boy!

The PSIBE has long been an excuse for us to throw just one more time, but as our season keeps getting more and more jam packed, less guys show up to throw, so we decided to spice things up a bit as you will see when you read the results. At the crack of noon we had 6 very motivated guys meander to the field in Beaumont, ready to play. Sorta, considering I don't think any of us had touched an implement since Calgary.

We started off with the stunningly heavy 16# Braemar stone which Davey easily took with a whopping 39'4" throw which is I think is about as far as he threw it open style this year. He was about a foot ahead of me at 38'6" and I was a few inches ahead of Jimmy at 37'10". Like I said...setting the world on fire! The 25# Open stone was next and it was a continued comedy of errors as we stated the rules that you MUST move. No braemar for that pig. I vindicated myself by going 31'10" for the win and Dave was #2 at 30'2". Jim was just back in 3rd with 29'10" and Bobby was 4th with 24'10". Which is just funny because he can Braemar that thing 26'+.

The one-spin LWFD was up next and Wes and Paul were less handicapped by that going 33'4" and 37'10" respectively. Bob managed a 45'7" on his last one for 4th again and Jimmy took third with his monstrous 46'8. I thought I had Dave with my 55', but he eked me out of first with 55'5". The one-spin HWFD was next and this time Wes took Paul with 17'1" to 16'. Paul had a bit of a foul problem on his 2nd and 3rd. Bobby managed 22'8" with his big single and Jim edged him with 23'7". Dave had a big 28'5", but again I showed him the what for by getting 29'3". That was too much like work. At this point, Jimmy left to go help shape young minds and bodies by playing hockey coach. Imagine giving up throwing with the boys to be a pillar of the community and all. Some set of priorities...

The hammers were up next and we decided to stick with our one-spin theme and make them all one shots. Bobby took a beating here by only using one arm as well (the other is hanging by a ragged thread) and he went 40'3" and 57'6" in the heavy and light hammers respectively. So that was with 1 spin and 1 arm. Ha! Give that a go next time you're out. Wes captured a pair of solid 3rd places here with 50'3"/67' both of which were PRs, if I remember correctly. Dave worked his way up to 64'5"/83'10" for 2 2nds and I won both with 77'2"/92'5". Not my best, but funny. After this, it started getting wierd.

Now none of the guys who actually had trucks came to throw, so we had no cabers or weight for height. That left us in Bob's tender mercies as he invented events to play with. With that being said, the 2 hand over the head 25 braemar stone was up next and again Bob did this with one hand to spare his other one. Paul was just shy of 20' with 19'9" and Wes nailed another third with 23'4". Dave was leading with 26'10", which he later extended to 27'11" until I stopped putting the stone UP so far and got 28'2" for the win.

Bobby kept it rolling when he took the HWFD and swung it between his legs while facing the trig and then hurling it out in front of him. Thus the One Handed Forward Standing Between the Legs HWFD was born. Paul got edged out of 5th by Tim McLean who had finally made an appearance 13'7" to 12'5". Wes secured himself 4th with a massive 14'1" and Bobby was 3rd with an impressive 15'9". I was all over this, despite some slight pressure leakage and I took first with 16'10" beating Davey L to top spot over his 16'1". The 28# version of this was next with nearly identical results. Tim managed 22'5" to grab #5 over Paul's 20'2". Wes just beat Tim with 22'7" but Bob was way out ahead of that one with his 27'8" shot. Dave and I managed a tie on this event with earth shaking 29'4" best efforts. An amazing spectacle to watch, let me tell you.

The last event was a braemar toss with the 16# stone. "But Sean!", you say, "Didn't you already do that?" Yes we did, gentle reader. But this time we did it BALANCING ON THE TRIG! And you couldn't step down until you got the ok. Paul stayed where he was long enough to get 15'3" and Wes nailed 4th again with 18'9". My 19'8" was just a warmup but Paul snapped the darn tape so I never did get my 3rd shot. That would have made all the difference. Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Bobby was way out in front of me with 21'7" but Davey took the honours here with an unstoppable 23'11"!

An amazing day in the field, lemme tell you. The party afterward was good too, although I was a bit busy slinging steaks and keeping my child from being a pain to get to talk to people as much as I wanted. I think everyone had a good time, though. And we have almost an entirely new executive. More on that when we write up the minutes and stuff.

And the sun sets on another fantastic season with the ASAA. Don't be strangers and don't stop training. 2006 is closer than you think. Peace out.

- Sean

High River Highland Games - August 31/05

Ok, so it's a bit late for the writeup, but it's been a nutty week already. Suffice it to say that we had ourselves 21 athletes, a hot day and some big work from the High River HG folks, especially our own Davey Roe and so we had ourselves a good time.

As even more of a plus, we had Paul Hicke doing the announcing and one of the top ranked Canadian throwers, BC's Joel Thiessen to join us on this very pleasant day. So let's get a quick writeup on what happened and then we can get to the real entertainment.

We started things off around 9:30 or so with the braemar stone and as we were throwing as one big group, our Bs got to hit it first. Big Dan "Just take the money" Loeb was first guy up in his first ever games and managed a very respectable 22'1" he would later extend to 22'7". A nice way to get things going. Aaron just barely managed to eclipse him by 2" on his third attempt and both Kelly and Mike G. were over 24' with 24'2" and 24'8" respectively for 3rd and second. Big Bobby cannoned out a 27'1" for the easy win, however. On the junior side of things, Connor was just under 20' and Kyle was a hair over, giving them 19'6" and 20'3" for 2nd and 1st. Getting in touch with our feminine side was Tracey, unfortunately all alone again and going 14'7" with the 16# stone.

Dave Roe almost looked comfortable with the stone, if you can picture that, hitting a solid 26'9". Our next 3 guys were within inches of each other at 30'1", 30'2" and 30'3" for Gord, Dave L. and Mike S. Getting a decent snap with my first one put my at 31'4" which would stand as my best for 3rd and Matt was another 3.5' ahead of me at 34'10" for 2nd. Joel's first one at 35' would have won him the event, but by the end of things, he'd extended that to 36'6". Who invited that guy anyway?

Up next was the magic of the HWFD. Mike G. had the early lead off his first throw at 22'3" right up until Bob went and hammered out 26'7" for a new AmB field record. That would stand as his best mark and as #1 spot. Kelly had some issues on his first two throws, but settled them up enough to go 24'1" on his last attempt for a big PR and second place to boot. Dan learned how to dance enough to stay on his feet and get a mark in at 16'7". Not bad for the first time he's picked up the implement at all.

Connor was the one in control of the 42 for the juniors as he bombed out a huge 25'8" shot on his first while Kyle was having some issues staying behind the trig and had to pull up short to stay in and get 18'. Tracey looked pretty solid with the 28# and was just under 20' at 19'6".

The rest of us knew, going into it, that Joel was going to kill us at this event but how bad it was going to be was unknown. For the first time I can remember, though, everyone was over 30'. Mike edged Matt by 5" for 3rd place with 31'7" and I really got my legs under me and managed to go 36'. See now that WOULD have been a field record, but Joel had already hit 40'7" on his FIRST shot. After being nice and relaxed, he then went 41', just a few inches shy of his PB. So on his third, he really got that thing moving and managed a huge 42'! Then, just for good measure, he threw 2 more over 42' at 42'9" and 42'3" to really set the bar on the field record and to come within a couple of feet of the Canadian record. Very impressive to watch.

On to the heavy hammer. Unfortunately, being that far out in the field really kills off our audience and there wasn't much drama here anyway, with the exception of Bobby opening up just under his PB and then managing to go consistently further, peaking at 76'2" for yet another field record and a huge PR! He would not have been off the pace in the open class with that. Aaron also caught a bit of magic and managed a 68'5" shot to secure 2nd place by 2 feet over Mike.

Mike Staal's first shot at 89' kept him in third the entire time with only Gord passing him with a solid 94'8" snap on his first throw and Joel again getting better each throw until he stopped at 102'. And all that with a sore hip. Who invited this guy, again?

The qualifying caber was up next and that managed to filter all the B's out but Bobby and unfortunately snagged Matty out too. To be fair, we only had 2 attempts with the stick and hearing that when you stood up your first one can be a bit unnerving.

With the number of folks we had on the go and the fact that everyone was kind of in the groove, we pushed on to the open stone. Gordie'd found a new 16# stone on the Ontario shore of Lake Superior, so we gave that a run. Tim McLean started things off with a decent enough 28' toss he'd later push up to 30'4". Aaron went him a foot and a half better at 31'10" and Mike G. added about 7" to that for third spot. Kelly got a big piece of the stone and popped it out 34'6", which I think is a PR for Kelly. That earned him 2nd. Bobby didn't quite get the push he was looking for, but he took a pretty easy first with 36'5".

Kyle and Connor attacked the stone, punching out 29'4" and 27'10" respectively. Both Connor and Kyle have no fear about really snapping their arms out there and all they need is a bit more leg drive and some angle and they'll both be over 30'. Good to see. Too many guys kind of feather out a push, but these two throw punches with the rock. Tracey's first one would stay as her best at 17'8" with her (I think) 13# or 14# stone.
On the open side, Mike S. was just under 40' at 39'5" and my first was my best at 40'6". Round stones really throw me off. I need to learn how to throw a shot. Gord claimed 3rd with a fantastic pop on his third throw to 42'7". Matt was down 2 fouls and still just did a quick gut check and popped out a nice 45'7" for second. Big Joel added almost a foot with every throw, finally finishing with a nice 47'2". And a field record. Big shock there.

The LWFD wasn't really too impressive for most of us, but some notables were, for instance, Dan Loeb managing a solid 35'9" on his second toss with some rough but very workable technique. He's already tons smoother than most are when they start. Bobby B was ahead of second place Kelly by more than 11 feet! as he went over 55' with all three of his throws, so he earned himself yet another AmB field record. Awesome work. He was on fire. Connor as well hammered out a massive 37'3" so for a skinny 16yr old kid, I was more than a little impressed. Tracey was nicely over 37' with the 14# as well.

The open class wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, however as only 3 of us were over 60' and Gord and I weren't over by much. Joel, however, made it look easy and nailed 75' to beat gord and I by the same margine that Bob won the B's with: 11'. Ouch. Let's hope THAT clears up for next week.

The light hammer was once again ALL Bob Brown, way up at 94'9" for a PR and a field record. Aaron took second spot with a reasonable enough 85'6", ahead of Kelly "Hammer Champ" Strachan by a foot. Mike G. was the only other guy over 80'. Using the 12# hammer for the first time, our juniors both went over 75' with Connor at 76'4" and Kyle at 78'8". I think we're going to make the conversion for the juniors to throw 12/16 permanent. It'll teach them how to throw. Tracey was throwing the 12 for accuracy, hitting 51' twice for her best mark.

The light hammer was a repeat of the heavy, with Mike S, Gord and Joel taking the top three spots without much drama and with scores of 112'2", 117' and 124' respectively. I think those are season's bests for Mike and Gord so far, so that bodes well for Calgary.

It was right about here where we realized that Davey R. had left the WOB in his garage, so while he ran home to get that, we ran the juniors and Tracey. Tracey made 9' easily enough and then 10', but 10'6" stonewalled her. Just needs a bit more extension at the top to roll it over. Kyle and Connor both made the 10'6", which gave Kyle a PR but Connor was just warming up, clearing 11' routinely and then sitting it on the bar at 11'6" a few times. It'll go sooner than later.

With the 56 back, we started in on the B's and Dan cleared 10' easily enough but couldn't muster enough for 11'. He was hardly alone there, however, as Mike G. got stumped there as well, so they tied for 3rd. I guess running with full gear on all the time doesn't do much for your explosion, huh Mikey? Kelly and Bob were the only ones over at 11' and 12' proved to be the stopping point for them. So the rest of us jumped in and did not make it look any easier with Gord, Mike and Dave L taking 2 shots each to clear it. Only Matt, Joel and I made 13' and it took Matt and I 2 shots to do that. At 14', I decided to leave it out front 3x and get knocked out while Matt and Joel cleared it smoothly. Matt took his shots at 14'6" for a PR, but didn't quite get the snag on the weight he was looking for. Joel passed until 15' and popped it over easy for a new field record. He called it quits there to keep the day moving.

The competition caber was that 17'6" 120# thing thats been haunting us for the year. Bobby, the only B to qualify, took top spot in that division with a very solid pop at 70 degrees. Joel and I had a bit of a battle going where we took turns standing it up a little further each throw until I managed an 85 degrees on my third to take second from him. Would have made me feel a fair sight better if I'd have turned it, though. Only Gord managed that, however, finally catching it on his third throw for an 11:00. He took 3 very nice pulls on the 19' challenge caber as well with one attempt LITERALLY standing up before falling back the way it came. I've heard a lot of side judges call '89 degrees', but this was the first one I've SEEN. Heartbreaking.

With all the events done and tallied, Kyle had managed to eke out a win over Connor by 1 point. Bob was the clear winner in the Bs with a sweep, but Kelly took second spot with a very solid performance over 3rd place Mike Gilpin. Aaron and Dan rounded out the top 5. To noone's surprise, Joel won the Open class, with myself in second place just over Gord in 3rd. Matt and Mike were in 4th and 5th respectively.

I've got to take a minute to thank the High River highland games again for having us out. They always put on a quality games and it's great to be treated like kings. Even better this year was the fact that there was a ceilidh and the tent was right by the heavy events area. Extremely convenient. And this was where the fun really started. Really, I don't think I've laughed this much in a long, long time.

Having retired to the tent for some refreshments, Dan tried to convince me to take his membership fee but I reasoned that, as he was only throwing in one games and volunteering in Calgary anyway, he didn't need to worry about that.

Next time...I'll take the money. You see, he had no intention of walking away with it, so he used it gregariously to treat everyone to some drinks. And some other stuff, but more on that later.

It was great to have Paul out again. I think he is missing the games and I hope he can manage to heal himself up enough to maybe come out again. I honestly think he needs to. Mostly because he has been getting a little TOO in touch with his feminine side. Now that might not be so bad, in and of itself, but saying things like "I had a heartfelt, deep cry while watching "The Notebook"" and "Brad Pitt is gorgeous" to a table full of guys might be a little over the top.

From newcomer Dan Loeb, we learned that a frozen weiner will silence both a teething child and a whiney dog, allowing for much more watching of football in silence. Useful tidbits for any aspiring fathers out there.

As well, we learned something about Joel. In addition to being a great thrower, the man loves pickled food. Apparently its a genetic thing. So after Joel makes a couple of trips up to the counter in the beer tent to grab a pickled egg, Dan gets up and then comes back and slams down the rest of the jar of eggs!. 34, in total. The only thing funnier than that was the look of horror on Lisa's (Joel's wife) face when Joel started in on them. To give her credit, she even tried one herself. The boys could not convince me, however. Meanwhile Joel, Paul, Kelly and Dan proceded to tear through these things until there were only 6 left.

I have no idea what happened to those last 6 and nor do I have any real interest in investigating the matter further. I only know 2 things from that night: 1) Joel might show up in Calgary with pickled tongue. 2) Riding in a car with any of those 4 guys the next day would have required SCBA gear. Sheesh.

Lots of fun, stories and getting to know the Thiessens was had by all. Thanks, HR! You guys put on an awesome games and after party.

One to go.

- Sean

High River Stuff - August 22/05

So Davey has decided, in his infinite wisdom, we're running everyone at once. So we're all going to start bright and early at 9:30. So the AmB guys get to sleep in and the slacker Open class guys have to show up early. Looks like here's our event lineup for the day:



With Joel T showing up, this should be a nice way to reset all the field records to levels most of us can only aspire to. Although I think we should limit him to a single spin in both weights and hammers. Might make it a closer competition. See you in 5 days!

- Sean

Beaumont Highland Games - August 18/05

Y'know...it went alright. Considering it kind of exploded up in a hurry, the power problems, etc, everything went pretty well come the day of. And we really have Jimmy Garrick to thank for that. Especially in that last week where his wife's softball 'abilities' kind of made for a rough week. Just teasing, Jo. You know we love you.

Besides Jimmy, we really have to thank Darren from Gym Junky Sports Nutrition and Brian Baird from Beaumont Autobody and Towing for sponsoring the event and for Darren having prize packs and hats for the top 3 in the B's and Open and Brian for bringing out his generator when ours kept clunking out. It was a lot easier on our voices than screaming all the time. That's for sure. Thanks guys! We also have to thank Paul Kueffler for measuring for us all day. He'd torqued his back a bit and couldn't play, but he was out to help anyway. Thanks, Paul.

According to my wife, the dancing went well and the girls had fun so even that went alright. And the stage wasn't even that bad to set up. For the material we have Coventry Homes to thank for that. And us to thank for setting it up. Woo! Now that we've said a big thanks to those who helped make this possible, on with the show!

We had 7 guys in each class, plus 2 juniors and Tracey, so we did have ourselves a full dance card. Tracey started things off for us in the Braemar stone by pushing out her opener to 15'11". Her third throw saw her catch a little more of it and extend that to 16'7" with the 16# rock. The boys were using the 25# braemar we've been hauling around all year. Kyle Baird opened with a good snap and a 19'3" shot vs Connor Longjohn's 19' even. Kyle would later go on to extend his lead by hitting 20' even. On the B side, there was a decent battle going on when Pat Zwicker kept his feet under him to go 23'11" on his second push to Mike Gilpin's 24'10". Pat grabbed a few more inches on his last, going 24'4" but so did Mike, nailing 25'1" on his third shot. Mike's been crazy busy gearing up for his firefighter application and working, so practice hasn't exactly been on the top of his list.

Now, when I mentioned the battle you'll notice I didn't mention Bobby B. That's because he was a foot and some change ahead at 26'4". I know he wasn't totally thrilled with that, but that's because he's already got Calgary on his mind.

In the Open class, I managed an early lead with 29'2" that wasn't to last long. I've definitely thrown this thing better than I did on Saturday, but Dave Laidlaw had himself a real good day and went out 30'8" to take the lead. I improved a bit to 29'9" but Mike Staal went 30' on his third to take second spot, relegating me to 3rd. Dave hung onto his lead and took first in the event.

The LWFD was up next and Kyle opened it up with a pretty smooth looking 32'1" to Connor's 29'9". These guys are both 16 and all we need to do is smooth Connor out and put some meat on Kyle and these guys are going to be hurling stuff. Good to see. Tracey looked good in this event as well with her first mark sticking as her best at 36'2".

Jaime McEwan had made the trip from Kelowna to come and play with us and he was first up. It was one of the ugliest 2 spin dances I've ever had the "pleasure" of seeing, but it went out 38' and that would keep him in 4th for the rest of the throws. First timer Wes RadStaak had a slight problem of walking over the trig on his first attempt, but later settled that up to go 33'3" on his third. Wes is another Beaumont resident, so it's looking like Beaumont is the heavy events capital of Alberta so far. Lee Distad's been a bit nutty busy to come out for most of the year as well, but he made the trip today although he wasn't pleased with his 33'2" effort when he'd been hitting 37+ in practice way back in May and June. Might be something to this practice thing after all.

Aaron got a little something on his first throw to push it out 43'6", considering that's uphill too. That would stick as his best mark and he'd later be pushed from second to third when Mike G popped out a 44'6" throw on his second. Bobby, of course, was way on up with 52'7". Still not exactly thrilled with it, but noone was throwing magic.

Mike S was back on over 60' with a 60'2" to put him in 4th spot with Dave Laidlaw keeping up a solid performance with a 61'3" effort which might be a competition PR for him. Gord Walsh was in second with 63'8", despite a nice little brain hiccup which made him dive into a pool with a sloped floor and bash his noodle earlier in the month. Mr. Safety indeed. That left me out in front with 64'6". Hardly a titanic throw. More practice is definitely needed before Calgary.

The light hammer was next on the agenda with Tracey's first one at 52'3" marking her best. She has better extension on the release than most of the guys in the association. A little more head speed on that hammer and she's going to be laughing.

Kyle solidly took this event from Connor by going 6' further than Connor's 54'2" with a 60'6". Again, not Kyle's best throw I've seen with the hammer, but he definitely has the build to be excellent at that event. Jaime heeded some advice from some of the other guys and got enough extension to add 4' from his 2nd attempt to his third to go 67'1". Aaron and Mike both put out some middling numbers for them at 78'1" and 78'11" respectively. But Pat Z surprised everyone by going 91'4" on his second pull to take first away from double B who hit 89'10". Bob has 95+ in him. He just doesn't know it yet. It'll be interesting to see where Pat goes once he works all the bugs out.

On the open side of things, there were no real surprises. Gord was worried about his neck with the hammer extension but it apparently held up well enough as he went 114'1" for the win. Mike Staal is starting to show some old form coming back, making 110'7" look pretty easy. I didn't grab much of a piece of the hammer and only managed a 105'8" for third. Joe Taylor, fresh from firefighter school and actually working as a firefighter now took 4th spot with 95'7". This would end up being Dave's weakest event as his 94' throw nabbed him 5th.

The HWFD mixed things up a little bit on the B's and the juniors when Connor bombed out the 42 24'7" to take Kyle by almost 2' with Kyle's mark being 22'11". I like the intensity the two of them go after the throws with. Now they just need some technique to go along with it. Tracey went over 20' twice with the 28, with her best mark topping out at 20'7". I believe that was a PR for her as well.

Aaron struggled a bit with the 56, going sub 20 at 19'3" when he's been around the 22+ mark all year. Pat made some definite improvements from his first throw to his last going from a 13'8" to a 19'8" and this would put him in 3rd spot. Mike Gilpin wasn't much past him at 20'9" and Bob showed the proper form for such an event and took first easily with 25'3".

My first would stand as my best at only 33'6". I have to stop trying to move quickly and remember to stay low. It's the leg drive that moves the thing. Fortunately for me, it held for first position. Dave Roe shook off whatever demons possessed him on the LWFD and got the weight to 30'3" to take second, looking pissed about his throwing the whole time. Some days you get the bear, Dave...

Dave L and Gord managed a tie for 3rd with 29'6" with Mike Staal just behind the pair of them at 29'4". Now that he's settled into the new place, I think we're going to start seeing bigger and bigger numbers coming out of Michael.

Which moves us to the open stone. Jimmy G had designated this as the stone championship and so we'd be taking the total distance thrown between the braemar and 16# open stone in both the Amateur and Open class. Without Matt around, it opened up the competition quite a bit, especially with everyone throwing so tightly. A few inches could decide this pretty easily. Both juniors showed some real snap in their open stone attempts going out 28'9" and 29'6" for Kyle and Connor respectively. Some of the Bs could use that same kind of snap instead of a push. It'd make a huge difference to the throws. Tracey was using a 14# stone (we really need a 10# stone for the women) and tied her Braemar mark of 16'7".

Pat again caught a bit of the stone on his lone non-foul mark to hit 30'6" which grabbed him another 3rd place finish just ahead of Aaron at 29'. Jaime and Wes were within 4" of one another with Wes getting the nod at 26'2" to Jaime's 25'10" for 5th and 6th. Mike G showed a glimpse of the Mike of 2004 by snapping out a 33'1" shot on his first which he would fail to improve upon. That grabbed him second. Bobby launched out a 37'6" bomb for an easy first and the aggregate win.

There was a little more drama on the Open side of things for the stone. Going into the open stone, Dave had an 11" lead on me and a 16" lead on Gord Walsh. When Gord opened with a 41'3" and Dave answered with 39'8" they were within 3" of each other on the total with the nod going to Gord. Dave's second shot grabbed him the lead in the aggregate and helped solidify his placing in the open stone with 41'1". Meanwhile, the rest of us were tossing junk. I have apparently completely forgotten how to spin and so had put out 2 38' shots. Absolute garbage. So while the drama unfolded, I was out in the field doing glides with Tracey's rock, trying to remind myself how to throw with a glide. Then, to top things off, my wife handed me my son and I had to hand him off to Aaron before I threw. Which he was not pleased about and was screaming his head off.

Apparently, I must need that kind of tension to throw well because I really caught a piece of my next one and cannoned out a shot to 45' for a 1" PR and the event lead. Gord edged his best mark up to 41'10" to take second and Dave's third one wobbled off his hand and he'd have to settle for 3rd in the event and second in the aggregate stone championship.

Onto the weight for height! Tracey made it quite solidly on her second attempt, but needs a little more oomph to get it over 11'. Kyle's made this height before with the 42#, but apparently didn't have it in him today. Connor, on the other hand, showed some real explosion and not only cleared 10' but 11' to boot as well as ringing the bar at 12'. Nice work, man. Jaime made 10' look easy enough with the 56, but his timing needs a bit of tweaking. Although his last attempt at 11' was a very near thing. Dan and Lee both had some decent pulls, but not quite enough goombah to pop it over the bar, although it was very close for both of them. Pat would manage 10' on his second attempt and then unfortunately leave it out front a lot at 11'. Aaron did more or less the same thing to the pair of them ended up tied. Bob and Mike both looked solid, clearing both 10' and 11' like it was their jobs and being stonewalled slightly by 12'. The height was there on a couple of the attempts, but not enough of an arc to push it over the bar.

Dave L had come in at 11' to get some practice in while everyone else sat out until 12'. This proved to be a bit of an error for Joe as he didn't have quite enough pop to clear 12'. Jimmy G sat this one out as his back was talking back to him a lot by now. Everyone else cleared 12' on their first shot. 13' went first time for Dave L and myself, with Gord taking 2 shots at it and Dave R deciding to build up some tension by taking 3 shots to clear it. I took a note from his book at 13'6" and took all 3 of my attempts to clear that with noone else managing it. With nothing else to prove, the bar was moved up to 15' and I took my 3 shots, but they weren't really close, beyond ringing the bar a little with the handle. This needs improvement greatly. 15' is going to be almost a necessity in Calgary.

The qualifying caber had already settled things a bit, although the juniors used it as a scoring caber with Connor just edging Kyle by 5 degrees for another event win. Lee and Wes both had some solid picks, but looked a little confused on what to do once they had it in a good position. Both showed great control, however. Jaime was in a similar boat, having precious little time under a caber. With his obvious strength, though, practice is all he really needs. When we hauled out the big stick, everyone took some game throws at it and showed some fabulous control, but only Gord Walsh turned it with Dave Roe and Bob Brown standing it up nicely and myself dealing it a couple of feifers. The cabers have turned on me but Gord still knows how to dance with them.

When the dust settled, that 5 degrees meant that Connor had edged Kyle by a single point in the overall. Jaime was in 5th place due to some steady performances. Aaron was only 2 points out of third with Pat Z taking that spot with 24 points. Mike was the only one in striking distance of Bobby, garnering 15 points to Bob's 10, although the marks make a much more telling story than the overall. On our side, Dave Laidlaw's solid performance had earned him 3rd spot with Gord just two and a half points behind me 16.5 to 14.

That left the farmer's walk for those who wanted to do it. Mike went up first and nailed 200' easily. Even more frightening was the fact that I don't think his heart rate went up at all. His training for the fire department has really improved his anaerobic capacity. If his hands had held out, I think he'd still be walking with those things. Lee made 102' and it seemed like he was good for more, but the turn twisted the things out of his hands. Dave L took his shot at the vodka bottle prize by walking 238' and Joe eclipsed that by about 18' at 256'. But it was young Jaime who went the distance, practically running for the first 100' and then grinding it out to fall just shy of 300' at 297'10". A fine performance for a bottle of Thor's Hammer vodka. It was great to have him out.

A pretty good day overall and hopefully something we can make into an annual event. 9 days until High River! Check the forum, folks. Lots of information on there.

- Sean

Games tomorrow/Clinic Tonight - August 12/05

Let me tell you, this thing snowballed in a hurry. So tomorrow will be the inaugural Beaumont Highland Games. We've got a smattering of everything and a pancake breakfast that starts at 8:30 at 4 Seasons Park. Throwing will commence at 9. Dancing demos start at 10 or 10:30. Also, we have close to 20 athletes playing tomorrow, so we're going to try to be on time as much as possible. First throw WILL be at 9, but if you get in before the first event is over, we'll toss you into the rotation somewhere.

The Forum has a fair amount of information, but here's some more of it:

The clinic itself will take place at the baseball diamond in the KC Hall field. Basically, head down the main street and turn right at the third set of lights(this is if you're going south on 50th. If coming in from the south, turn left at the top of the hill). It's about halfway down that block and on the right. You won't miss us. The clinic times will probably be from 6:30-8, although we can always be convinced to stay a little longer. If anyone needs more directions, honestly...post it up on the Forum. We'll figure it out from there. Normally, I'd have people email me, but I'm going to be running around all day and won't have much time to check my email.

- Sean

Wow, lots on the go! - August 4/05

Sheesh, just a couple of weeks go by and we have a ton of stuff happening. Gord Walsh wins the Antigonish games the Friday before the US vs Commonwealth games (Commonwealth won!), Matt Doherty wins the inaugeral Stettler HG and I even managed a bare half point win over Greg Bell in Seattle.

On top of all of that, the first ever Beaumont HG is coming up on August 13th and we actually have sponsors other than our lovely games organizations, of course. So let's give it up for Gym Junky Sports Nutrition in Leduc for their support.

More sponsors are rolling in and we'll give you some updates on that stuff and more info from our existing sponsors as we get it! Hope you're signed up for Beaumont. Looks like a big day.

- Sean

Games! Games! Games! - July 15/05

Well, we get lucky this year folks. We have 2 new games in our roster for this year so here's the scoop:

This year Mr. Todd Hennel is hosting the Stettler Highland Games on July 30, 2005. He's put in a ton of work and effort securing sponsors and prizes. And, as additional incentive, if there is a good enough turnout this may even become an annual event. Todd's had some setbacks as a lot of his help has bailed on him, so maybe offering to help like Jimmy Garrick has wouldn't be so bad for your karma.

There's going to be more information on start times and special events to come, but if you're planning on attending or have any questions please drop Jimmy Garrick a line. Help make this happen, guys. You can also check the forum at CSAF for more details and information.

The other news we have is of the inaugeral Beaumont Highland Games, taking place on August 13, 2005 at Four Seasons Park. Here's what Jim Garrick, the AD has to say about it:

The inaugural Beaumont Highland Games will be a go! The date is AUGUST 13, 2005, so mark your calenders!

The games will consist of full athletics, dancing demo, hopefully some pipers/drummers and vendors. I am looking to have the Lions club provide a morning breakfast and then have food available throughout the day at the consession, competitors and volunteers will be able to eat for free. The games will take place at Four Seasons park located near the High School, south of our houses.

I am currently working on some sponsorship and will hope to have abit of travel money available to most. I'm hoping at least the top 10.

The day will look something like this:
Breakfast 8-930ish
Athletics starting at 9-930 (yet to be set in stone but it will)
Dancing Demo
Lunch /Opening Ceremonies
Athletics continue
Dancing Demo
End day and awards.

We will compete in 8 events and have a special event for after the competition. The special event will be open to all competitors adn anyone who wishes to try. As it is looking now the Beaumont Highland Games will also be the 2005 Alberta Scottish Athletic Associations Stone Championship. My prediction Mr. Dave Roe!

I need to have quick respnse one who can attend as I am making up a program and will be adding everyones name. If you can respond to me via email at je_garrick@hotmail.com

That would be much appreciated also if you have any other questions. I will send you a quick form to fill out to get some info for the program.

I think that is it, this is looking to be a pretty good games. The town is supporting us and has also told me that next year they would be interested in supporting us more, monies, etc.

Take care and see you soon.

Jim Garrick

So there you have it, folks. Get your info and questions in. It's Beaumont time!

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - July 10/05

As we'd mentioned before, we had only 11 athletes for this little party so we turned it into an open competition and let'er buck. The weather looked iffy early on, but it turned out to be a scorcher. A good crowd and some fantastic performances really made this a great day.

We'd started things off with the 25# braemar stone with Jimmy Garrick and I tying for first with 30'6". Mike Staal was just 3" behind us and Dave Laidlaw flirted with 30' by going 29'8". Big Bobby took it out to 28'2" to stay in the hunt.

The HWFD saw Dave Roe take an early lead by opening up with a 33' attempt that weathered up until I hit 33'8" on my second one. I would later extend that to 35'1" clenching (what I thought) was the win. More on that to come. Both Jim Garrick and Dave Laidlaw also went over 30' with 30'1" and 31'5" respectively. Mike Staal was just a bit back at 28'8" and Bobby B hit 26'3" for another solid mark.

The heavy hammer contained very few surprises with Mike Staal getting enough leg underneath him to go 85'11" to beat my 85'7" attempt on his third. Dave Laidlaw rounded out the top 3 with a 74' pull with Dave Roe going 71'5" for 4th.

Now Aaron had made us up a sweet set of standards for the weight for height and the boys put it to the test by hammering the implement into the bar a dozen times. The crossbar is unforgiving as it has no deflection whatsoever, so if you aren't over the height, it's not interested in making it easier on you. Aaron managed to clear 11' for the first time this year and had the height for 11'6" easily enough. Unfortunately for him, we'd gone to 12' by that point. Then Bobby Brown decided enough was enough and he flipped the weight right over the bar for a new PR and a real watershed mark. Nice work, Bob. We had time, so we took it and Dave Laidlaw, Jimmy G and Davey R all went 12'6" but couldn't muster 13'. Mike Staal had no issue with that either, once he started using his legs and not his back. Then we moved up to 14'.

Here's where things got weird. So apparently young Matthew doesn't read the website or the forum very often because he showed up late. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the rest of us, we are a kind and gentle association so let Matty come in and take basically one shot at the events he'd missed. So he cleared 14' and then took 1 attempt at the other three events. 3 attempts later, he had 3 new PR's, 2 field records, 1 Provincial record and the lead. What a kid, huh?

Which lead us into the open stone. We tried a new rock today, a little heavier at 17# and a lot flatter. As Matt put it loudly "It'a pancake!". The boy's best throw would be his first and at 42'5" it was enough to hold us all back as my best was only 40'7" and I was next guy down. From there to take third was Bob Brown who snapped it out 38' even on his third. Mike Staal was only 8" behind him at 37'4", just edging out Jimmy's 37'1" for fifth.

The LWFD finally had me settling some issues I've had with the event all year, hitting 68' feet on my third after a serious scream. Matt continued his PR streak by hitting 62' for second. Mike Staal got a few cobwebs out by clearing 60' with a 60'8" shot. Dave Roe nailed 60' dead on for fourth and Jimmy G was 5th just back at 59'8". Dave Laidlaw had a good shot at 59'4" and so did Bobby B. was also hitting big at 55'9". Some big numbers.

The light hammer saw Matty coming out ahead by another inch again at 104'3" while Mike and I tied at 104'2". Lots of ties today. Just odd. Davey L was the only other one over 90' at 90'5" although Dave R. was just back at 89'7" with Bob about a foot behind him. Eventually we'll figure out how to throw the hammers for real. It was getting pretty hot by now and I don't think it was helping anyone.

The caber we had to play with was 17'5" and probably 125#. Not a lot of taper and the ground was kind of unforgiving too. Paul Kuefler really got his act together by clearing the qualifying caber with no small amount of skill. He has seriously brought his game up on that event. He smoothes out some of the other events and he'll be laughing. The stick denied everyone but me today as I managed to get a 2:00 and a 10:45 on the third while the crowd was very good to cheer and clap. A nice cap to a great day.

With everything settled up, the guys entertained the crowd by throwing the 98# Ft. Edmonton stone where big Dave Laidlaw took top honours for that with a huge 13' throw.

Having probably his most impressive day to date, Matt ended up in top spot by half a point with 15 points to my 15.5. Mike Staal rounded out the top three followed by Dave Laidlaw and Dave Roe for the day's top 5. A nice hot day, good crowd and some fantastic throwing. Big congrats to Matt on his first win!

- Sean

More on Ft. Ed - July 6/05

Since it seems we're going to be down a few athletes this weekend, a proposal has been made to run everyone at once all day, starting at 9am. We will still be scoring the Open and B classes seperately, but we won't be having 2 different start times. Unless anyone has a serious problem with this, this will be the format. Please drop by the forum and discuss if you do have some issues with this. Remember, kids, silence is the same as saying yes when it comes to voting.

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - July 5/05

Just a quick reminder that this weekend will be the Ft. Edmonton Highland Games taking place, as ever, in Ft. Edmonton Park. We're at the same field as we were last year, nearby where the hangar is, and it's looking like it should be a pretty hot one, so come prepared for that. Also, if you're planning on attending, just drop me a line at slangfor@telus.net, just so I know what kind of time frames we're looking at for events. Especially for the open class. You guys are so quiet, I never know who's planning on coming or not. Thanks.

- Sean

Red Deer(Open Class) - June 30/05

Into more of the action, this time for the afternoon crowd:

The weather in Red Deer had been kind enough to hold off pouring down...for the morning guys. Right around the time the Open class started warming up, the rain started coming down. Environment Canada and the Weather Network couldn't decide between the two of them what was going to happen from minute to minute, but the weather itself settled on rain. Sucks to be us, but what do you do, right?

I also have to thank all of the AmB guys who hung around in the wet and after they competed to announce for us, mark for us and keep score for us. Thanks a ton, guys!

We started things off with the Open stone and most of us figured Matt was going big this year and we were right. He opened up with an easy 44'2" which put him in second behind me, of all people. Mind you, I had to have nearly a foot PR to pull that one off at 44'11". That would prove to be the best shot I had of the three. Gord sat in third with a 43' first shot and a 44'3" second shot. Matt's second attempt crushed the field record by going 47'5", which he later extended to 50'10"! in extra attempts to take the field and provincial records. As soon as he starts practicing the heavy events regularly, he's going to be national class that boy is.

Gord saved his best for last and popped out 44'11" to tie me for second. Marc Morin had made the trip out and had a 41'6" shot for 4th.

It was good and slick when we started the HWFD and I think everyone had pretty much switched to cleats for the rest of the day. Only Marc and I opened over 30' although Jim Garrick started with a solid 29' and ended with 30' even. Dave Roe is still pulling across his body but ended with a 31'8" shot for 4th. Matt was really beginning to figure this out as he went 32'4" on his second and fouled his third on what looked to be a 33' something shot. Marc saved his best for last and bombed out 33' to take second. And I finally relaxed enough to get my legs under me and hit a PR toss of 36'5" for the win and the field record.

The heavy hammer was up next and it wasn't getting any drier out. The hammers have not been treating me kindly in competition but finally something clicked and I punched out an 88'8" shot on my first attempt for a 4' PR in just cleats. I should have just sat down after that as the next two were tanked. That managed to keep me in second. Mike was in 3rd early on, but Marc hit 87'7" on his third to take that. Gordie was the big story, however. After having not touched the heavy hammer at all this year, he nailed a monster 95' throw and yet another field record died.

The braemar stone is becoming almost a staple and everyone seems to enjoy the 25# pancake we have to play with. Might have been a little heavier by this point due to the rain. Still we all figured this would be a repeat of the open stone and we weren't far wrong. Matt killed the rest of us with a 34'8" punch for first after we taught him not to pick his feet up before the throw and I trailed back 4' for second with 30'4". Gord and Marc actually ended up tied for third at 29'6" and not many inches seperated everyone from that point on.

We were still trying to hold off the caber until it wasn't pouring rain, so we moved into the LWFD. Again, not the easiest thing to do in the rain, but we didn't have any major mishaps. Davey Laidlaw finally hit his 60' mark in competition with a 60'8", just one inch ahead of Dave Roe for 4th position. Young Matt also went over 60 at 61'7" for third and Gord was way up there at 64'5" for second. My first would stand as my best at 65'6" to take first by a foot. A far cry from my mark of last year, more's the pity.

It was decided that the weather wasn't going to improve, so we switched sticks to something we might actually be able to turn, although with how wet the caber was and the fact that it had been floating in Dave Roe's back yard for a few weeks to soak up some weight, it still proved to be a bit of a trial for everyone. We didn't bother with a side judge, so it was turn or not turn on this one and only 3 of us managed that. Marc held off until his third attempt to stand the thing up and have it flop over to the side for a 9:30. Gord hit a 12:00 on his third to accompany his 11:30 first attempt in order to force me to throw it the third attempt, which I made for a second 12:00 to take the event.

This moved us onto the horrors of the WOB. For some reason, noone has any real amount of timing in this event in Red Deer. Today that meant that it went on for far longer than it needed to. Only 6 of us managed to have enough arc on the thing to go over 12' and only Gord, myself and Matt cleared 13' and I hit that on my very last attempt. Sheesh. 13'6" went slightly better as did 14' which Matt cleared on his third attempt for something to the tune of an 18" PR. I got the nod on this for clearing 14' on my second rather than my third.

We really should have scratched the sheaf once Davey Laidlaw pulled it off the ground and water came POURING out of it. That sopping wet sucker must have weighed 25# at this point. Basically, everyone cleared 18' and by that point it looked like we'd murdered the sheaf. Kind of a wash, which is a pity considering that Jim had made a darn fine sheaf.

It was all said and done at that point and we'd actually had some of the crowd stick around for the whole show, which was pretty impressive considering the weather. With Bildex Construction Ltd. sponsoring it, we also did a stone lift with a 220# granite rock for reps to the shoulder. I think this would have gone vastly different in dry conditions, but Shane Murphy and I each got 5 reps and Matt rounded out the top three at 4 reps with 2 other reps not staying on his shoulder for the signal. Heart breaker. This was seperate from the competition, though.

Points were tallied and scores were added and all that and when everything was over, I actually managed to win Provincials for my first time ever. Young Matt had an incredibly impressive day to take second and defending champ Gord Walsh was bumped to third. To be fair to Gord, between the weather and work he hasn't had nearly the time to practice that he has had in the past and I do think this made a big difference. 4 field records and one provincial record went down in the worst weather we've had all year, so that shows you where the guys are heading in general.

- Sean

Red Deer/Ellerslie - June 27/05

I love this weekend. I really do. But that doesn't mean I'm not glad when it's over. The majority of the results are up already and I'll have the masters stuff up a bit later today. But let's see what happened for Provincials, shall we?

Before anything else, I once again have to thank the Red Deer Highland Games Association for putting up with us again and making sure we were well taken care of and had enough room to play with. Without the support of the games, we're just a bunch of fat guys in skirts.

The weather report changed about 10 minutes or so, but the morning started off well enough and right on time as well. Bobby was heavily favoured for this competition and he did not disappoint, starting off the open stone with a respectable 35'10" mark he would later extend out to 37'9" for an easy first. Kelly Strachan was all fired up and looked good as well, nailing a 34'1" push with the 16# rock to take second and a big PR. Ryan Rickson rounded out the top 3 about a foot and some change behind Kelly at 32'9". Tim McLean was in and fighting at 31' and Aaron's best push of 29'4" came from a standing throw. I know he can actually glide in practice, but apparently not in competition.

The HWFD was all Bob Brown again, way ahead of the pack at 27'1", with Kelly and Ryan just inches from each other at 22'9" and 23'2" respectively. Tim was again right in the mix with a huge PR effort of 22'8" to fall just shy of Kelly. Aaron rounded out the top 5 as the only other guy to go over 20' at 20'10". Our Junior and Master competitor were tossing the 42#WFD and both managed to get pretty good distances with Graham going out over 30' at 30'11" and Terry Hunt keeping the boy down at 32'1".

The LWFD continued the BB Show with the Man going out 55'4". This isn't to say that there weren't other performances out there. Noone looked more surprised than Ryan himself when he opened the event with 51'11" and a 4' PR and Kelly was just outside his best ever at 47'3". Tim McLean also threw out a monster 6' PR! at 47'1". Nice work, Tim. He actually fouled out during a 48' shot, too. Graham opened his 28 with a 4' PR at 44'1" which would stay as his best and Terry continued to thwart the boy by going 45'3".

I will just mention that Bob was hot on the weights and even decided to take one extra throw for a PR. And where did that one go? 58'! Nice work, Bob. The Open class is knocking, Bob. You can't ignore the door forever.

The Light Hammer saw Aaron hop out to an early lead with a sweet 86'5" opener only to have it eclipsed by Bob Brown at 89'6". But it was Kelly who really blew everyone away with a big snap and sweet release that went out a monster 93'4". I don't think anyone was more surprised than Kelly, but it was an awesome throw. Terry kept steady with an 87' throw and Graham kept his arms a bit too tight and managed a 69'7" on his last toss.

With the rain still holding off and the guys being terribly efficient, we tossed in the 25# Braemar stone for kicks. Bobby's first blast at 27'6" would have won it for him, but he added a bit more to top out at 28'3". Ryan had a really solid push on his third to hit 25'11" and Aaron rounded out the top three at 24'9". He really needs to work his open stone because Braemar is not his issue.

That brought us to the caber. Which had lovingly been fished out of Dave Roe's back yard after sucking up a pile of water. It wasn't an easy stick before that and it weighed a ton now. The qualifier only weeded out a couple of guys and Paul Kuefler showed more than a bit of competency and turned the qualifying stick quite handily. The man is developing a serious love for the big stick.

In any case, when the big one came out only two guys turned it: Aaron Andronyk at 11:30 and Bob Brown at high noon. Ryan stood the big pole up, but it wasn't to be today. Which left only the weight for height remaining.

Bob's been working hard on this one and it's showing. His WFH has much more snap than it ever has had before. And it very easily got him over 11'6". But he was once again denied the watershed 12' mark, despite sitting the weight on the bar. Ryan had no such problem, hitting 12' on his first shot and taking 3 very tight shots at 12'6". He'll have it sooner than later. Both of them will. Kelly again snapped over 11' easily enough, but couldn't put enough leg in it to go 11'6". Aaron cleared 10 in his first pull and left it there. Paul proved that GP was no fluke and nailed 10' on his second shot.

In the Masters/Juniors duel (42#), Graham hit 13' without any real issues, but couldn't make the 13'6" his. Terry showed the boy up again by clearing the 13'6" after one miss and then going 14' with a bit of crowd cheering going on. Nice work, old man. Always a pleasure to have you out.

The outcome was never really in doubt, despite some big performances from basically everyone and by the time the WFH was done, Bob Brown was the new 2005 Amateur B Alberta Provincial Champion. He's hanging onto that status by a thread. More to come later!

- Sean

Season shows up fast - June 14/05

And peaks even faster. The Red Deer/Ellerslie weekend is almost upon us again and I just want to reiterate that if you aren't an invited athlete or if you aren't an association member by Red Deer, you DO NOT play that day. A decent list can be found on the forum as well as giving you a place to voice your opinion. The Red Deer events and current registered athletes are also on the forum.

As I mentioned on the aforementioned forum, Ellerslie this year will play host to the ASAA Hammer Championships and the champion will be determined by total distance thrown. Both classes will throw both hammers this day. Trophies will be handed out and bragging rights will be won.

- Sean

In like a lamb... - June 13/05

Well, it was another fun day in Grande Prairie yesterday, but let's first cover some of our usual basics:

I have discovered the difference between travelling with "the boyz" and travelling with family. Travelling with family takes about 4 hours longer to get home. I could use some sleep.

Speaking of sleep, Mikey G. got to keep up his usual GP pattern of no sleep after being driven out of his room by his roommate Paul "Snores like a chainsaw going through rock" Keufler and then spent a comfy evening curled up in his girlfriend's Hyundai. That's our boy.

The pre-game ritual of a hot tub, some beers and a lot of BS was also had and it set the stage nicely for the lacksidasical way we all kind of threw yesterday, too. So let's get onto that.

First off, we've GOT to stop starting this competition at 9am. For one thing, most of us are hungover. For another, there's never more than 8 or 9 guys anyway and we burn through events. I think we were done at 1 on Sunday. Nothing shocking yesterday, as it was the usual suspects at the field. The weather stayed reasonable enough all day, if a little cool and I still managed to get sunburnt, even through the thick cloud cover. I rule.

The Braemar we used this year is a real one. 25#, kind of pancake-ish. Everyone's opening bid was a little lower (except Bobby, the Lord of Consistency) than they'd finish with and Jimmy opened up with a strong 28'10" to take an early lead that he would later up to 29'2" which ended up getting him only 4th by a few inches. Mike Staal added 2' from his first to second attempt and would stick that as his best at 29'9" with Dave Laidlaw shoving out a 29'7" for third. Dave's last throw was coming out strong, but wobbled off his hand or he might have had a bit more on that. I ended up going 30'9" on my second to take the event. Aaron, Mike and Paul ended up with some solid pushes to round out the rest of the field.

By now it was like 9:20 or something and we got into the second event: HWFD. Everyone was making this look hard on their first attempts except for Bobby B who went 25'4" and took some pressure off himself and Aaron who opened at 22' and would later hit a 23'4" for a big PR. Second attempts saw some much better footing for the guys. Paul went 18'6" and looked a lot more stable than he has in the past. Not too bad for the guy's 4th games ever. Mikey G. had some great speed coming out, but was firing flat and it still carried for 23'11". Dave had a bit of a fouling problem and only hit 27'5" on his one attempt that counted and I know he wasn't thrilled with that. Neither was Mike S. with his 28' shot that netted him third. Jimmy, however, got some great last second snap to go 29'9" on a pretty flat third attempt and I managed to get my crap together enough to go 34'2" on my last one to tie the field record.

The 22# hammer was no great shakes either as only Mike and I went over 80' and neither one of us were thrilled with how far (or how little) over 80' we were. Junk. Bobby's back was still tweaked a bit from throwing the heavy one in practice, but he popped one out over 70, just edging Dave and just behind grip'n'rip Jimmy. Mike and Aaron were both just over 65' and Paul was still trying to get his feet under him at a little under 50'. The 22 is a harsh mistress. The caber. What an embarassing gong show. Noone turned it and we weren't doing degrees. Worst part is that Mike and I have both turned that same stick on different occassions. Everyone (including Paul!) had good control, but no pop for the turn. Bobby later proved himself Caber King for the day when he turned it solidly for the crowd after we'd done everything else. Told you I'd actually give you credit, Bob.

After a little break, we got into the Open stone, which just looked like a mini version of our braemar stone and probably weighs a little over 18" and was NOT flying yesterday. I mean I won it with a 34'10" and 2nd and third were like 2 and 3" behind me. Bob had a good shove to go 33'1" and Aaron and Mike didn't look too bad, either, but our "Open" class guys looked like bums. I don't know what our problem was yesterday.

The LWFD wasn't bad, for the most part, but it wasn't sailing either. All three of Bobby's were within 2" of each other, so there's something to be said for consistency, especially when they're over 52'. Paul had a great release on his second attempt for a big PR at 37'1". Mikey G was starting to get kind of loopy around here and just wasn't getting his legs under him and only managed a 45'. Sleeping in a car the night before will do that to you, I guess. Aaron kept fouling out the side which is just bizarre for him and Dave and Mike S. looked like they were throwing far, but the weights just weren't travelling. Jimmy got a bit of power under him and fired out a 57'11" bomb on his third attempt, but again, he was aiming a little flat. I had to finally give my head a shake just to get out a 64'9" shot. Something's missing here, but I'm not sure quite what.

The light hammer was a repeat of the heavy hammer, with the exception of Jimmy, who decided to tank the hell out of it. This would later come back to hammer him into 4th overall. Chump. Aaron kind of got his legs under him to hit 86'3" only to be edged by Bobby by 3". The little dwarf should just slap on the boots and go 100' and be done with it. Let's move on.

Ah, the weight over bar. Probably the only shining point in my day. Before that, let me just talk about Bobby Brown, though. He's been putting in some time doing dumbell snatches and the like and it's paying off. I've never seen him throw the WOB this well. 11' wasn't just a clear, he bombed it over by more than a foot. And his attempts at 12' were just slight tweaks away from going over. One peaked behind, one hit the bar, etc. He'll have this height this year and more. Big Paul cleared 10' for a big PR and I think he was actually starting to really get the motion at the end. We just have to get him to stop standing like he's riding a fat horse. Same with Mike Staal. The attempt at 14' with his feet narrower was the closest one of the day. He'll be back again. Jim looked a lot better than he has for a while and he'll go 13' again this year. Same with Dave L. Mikey was about ready to sleep here, but he still went 11' without a lot of trouble, except for trashing the uprights on his first attempt at 10'. Lots of height, no arc.

I actually got my legs under me for this event, clearing 14' without any trouble and greasing over a 14'6" as well. Then it was up to 15' and I had 2 REALLY close attempts at it. One was way under, but the other two were almost over. Soon. It'll happen.

When the dust settled, I ended up in top spot with Mike S behind me and Dave L. rounding out the top 3. The light hammer once again cost Jimmy some points as he wasn't having a bad day up until then. I don't think everyone was exactly throwing everything they wanted to, but it's early in the year and there's a lot of season to go.

- Sean

Hey, you guys still do read this - June 4/05

Well, the memberships have started coming in now and a CURRENT list of members can be found here. So 9 guys are members and we have a couple more that are invited to Red Deer. Everyone else, get your information in as soon as possible. Also, I'll have some waivers to sign for the guys here by GP, just for official membership stuff that I have to keep for our insurance. 1 week to the first AB competition.

- Sean

It's Official! - May 28/05

The season is on! Last weekend, some of us had the extreme pleasure of being around for the Regina Highland Games during the only time that I can remember it ever being perfect weather. Doug Campbell did, as ever, put on a fantastic show and I think everyone had a fantastic time. I know I did. Results are coming, but I've heard rumours that only very recently has Saskatchewan allowed computers into their borders, hence the time involved in posting results.

What this means is that our next games is Grande Prairie and AD Mike Staal has informed everyone on the forum that if you aren't a paid member by then, you ain't playing. Due this year are still going to be $75 (mostly because some guys have sent in money and I never changed the info last year, so Mikey, I owe you some money).

Further to that, I've moved, so the stuff can now be sent to:
ASAA
c/o Sean Langford
70 Pointe Masson
Beaumont, AB
T4X 1S9


Also, for Red Deer, I'm going to reiterate that Mike said: If you aren't paid BEFORE the day of the competition, you don't play. That means that unless you were invited or were a member last year and then have an extenuating set of circumstances (in Yemen, almost died last year, etc) and you show up that day with a cheque in your hand, the extent of your involvement will be fetching weights and standing up cabers. Red Deer is our provincial championships and we will not be allowing walk-ons. Sorry for the hard-line, but most of the guys in the association, I practice with weekly and the other's know where I live.

More details to come as they develop. Hope you've been practicing hard.

- Sean

Edmonton Clinic - May 10/05

So hopefully (assuming no track meets occurring) we will be having an extended practice/clinic on Saturday May 14 from 2-5PM at Rollie Mills Athletic Field. The field itself is located at the corner of 74Ave and 104St and we'll be throwing in the north end of the field by the shot put pits. If there does happen to be another event going on, we may do a little travel south to a place we know in Beaumont.

- Sean

New Competition! - April 9/05

That's right! This year on July 30th, our own Todd Hennel is organizing a highland games for Stettler. Todd promises to have a full games plus a few surprises and other events out there. Sounds like he's doing a fantastic job (all by his lonesome) and this nicely takes up the slack between Ft. Edmonton and High River. Todd can be reached here if you have any questions and I'll try to put up some more information later today.

- Sean

Tis the season! - April 4/05

No, not Christmas, although the snow stuck around long enough. That's right, it's highland games season. Which means if you want to start sending in registration stuff, great. As a note, though, I finally moved to Beaumont. So my address is now 70 Pointe Masson, Beaumont, AB, T4X 1S9.

So with less than 7 weeks to go until the Regina Highland games, there isn't a whole lot of time to mess around with becoming a thrower and there's a lot of rust built up over the winter. Up here in E-town, we've started some semi-regular weekend practices and if the weather cooperates this Saturday I'm sure we'll be doing it again. If you're interested, drop me a line or post something on the forum. So how's everyone doing, anyway? Been a pretty quiet winter.

- Sean

Hey, is this thing on? - January 23/05

Wow. Been a while, hasn't it? I really should have been updating things much more than I did this year, but it's been a crazy one. Not really an excuse, but it'll have to do. There's a little bit on the go about the Canadian association, but the details are still being hammered out, so I'll keep everyone appraised when it happens. Beyond that, kids, check out our new 2005 schedule.

Hope everyone is spending the long winter months getting freaky strong.

- Sean

The Amateur Side of things - Sept 08/04

Our own Bobby Brown was kind enough to write this out. The boy is also not very subtle when it comes to making sure he put 'amateur' instead of 'amateur B' all over the place.

The Amateur class started with a strong field of 14 athlethes. Some friends from Manitoba and Saskatchewan came out to play in the likes of Big ,and I mean BIG, Duane McClinton, Dougie Campbell and first timer Les Mullen. We also had some fresh faces being Andre Guertz and Paul Kuefler both with less than three games under their belts.

Onto the events. First off was the open stone which saw half of the field over 30'! I set the tone with my first throw of 36'0" which Big Duane upped to 37' .In the end Duane would end up at 38 feet which was a large PB for him but somehow the stars were aligned and I ended up with a huge PB in my 39'2" missile. Mike Gilpin tossed out an impressive 35'3" shot which would garner him third place in the event. The tone was set for the day!

I should point out here that many new PBs were set as well as a couple of field records and one Amateur provincial record although they were set by a guy from out of province so I don't know if they really count:-).

Next up was the always fun heavy weight for distance - welcome to the games Les and Andre'! We had three athletes over 25' in this event which tells you the quality of athletes involved in this competition. The stage was set pretty quickly by our friend Ryan Rickson (one month back from knee surgery!) with a solid 25 footer. Talk about pure power when this guy gets healthly he should be making his presence felt in a big way. Ryan's 25' would eventually get him third in this event. Remember when 25' for the amateur class was crazy? Anyway, not surprisingly Duane McClinton would take first with his nasty 26'2" throw with me in second 11" back at 25'3". Mikey Gilpin put out a nice 23'11 mark to take fourth. Doug Campbell put the beast out 23' with Aaron Andronyk and Darin Turner also putting it out over the twenty foot barrier. Nice work guys!

The light weight for distance was next where a throw of fifty one feet last year would win it. Well Mikey Gilpin tossed out a solid 51'3.5" mark which eventually got him third. I ended up winning it with nice 54'6" effort crushing Duane by a whole inch for his second place finish here at 54'5". Three other competitors were over 45" including second timer Andre Guertz (watch out for this guy!). Nice to have Andre in the fold.

Okay, now we get into the hammers where a certain big Manitoban showed absolutely no respect for neither the heavy nor light hammer field records. This was truly Duane's time to shine and to steal the show! He crushed both field records by going 76'10" in the heavy, which is now the provincial amateur record, and 96'1" in the light. I, yes that Bob Brown of raptor release fame, was second by a ways going 72'8" and 91'0" respectively which were both PB's. Again, it was Mr.Gilpin in third with throws of 69'10.5"/86'8.5". Fourth in the heavy was Ryan Rickson who launched a 68'10" shot and fourth in the light was Aaron at 86'7". The "Alabama Slamma" aka Catfish Kelly Strachan ended up with a personal best in the heavy hammer going 66'11".

Now here is where our competition gets interesting....at this point in the day we had a very tight race for top honours with Big Duane at 7 points followed by me at 8 points with the caber and WFH to go. Mike was back a bit at 16 points so he was still in range and we know how deadly he is.

Our caber began at 16' and approximately 125lbs. Although it was not that long it proved a little too much stick for our crew us so after it was apparent by going through the first round of attempts no one was going to turn it we collectively decided to trim off another 6".We guessed that the "new" caber was around 120lbs and 15'6". When the smoke cleared here we had turned this pig a total of five times. I turned it twice winning the event by going 11:30 with Mike G, who also flipped it twice, at 1:00 and Ryan Rickson splitting second and third place. Duane picked up a painful 8 points here which really put the pressure on him, especially with only one event left.

Now my least favourite event, cause I really stink at it, the 56lb weight for height. I came in fourth with a greasy 11 footer, Mike landed in third also with 11 feet, Ryan came in second with a solid 11 foot six inch shot and you guessed it Duane placed first with less attempts at 11'6".

So the horse race ended much like it started with me taking first with 13 pts. Duane taking second place honours (16 pts.) Mike G was third with 21 pts., Ryan was fourth (25 pts.) and Aaron was a distant fifth at 47 points.

What a great day and without doubt the best Amateur competition we had in 2004!

- Bobby B

Western Canadian Highland Games Championship (Calgary) - Sept 08/04

Wow. The season's officially over. A lot of stuff happened this year and this is probably the strongest association we've fielded yet. Not to mention ending with the biggest bang.

First off, I can't say enough good things about Ken McTavish and theCalgary United Scottish Games Association. Ken bent over backward to accomodate everything for us and CUSGA supported us 110%. So in thanking them, we've got to thank their sponsors like Westjet, Diamond RV, West Canadian Graphics, PMA Canada - Grant's and Mynt Ultralounge. Without these people's fine support, we're just a bunch of weirdos in skirts throwing stuff. We of the Alberta Scottish Athletic Association thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

As well, without our field staff we'd be hooped too. Many thanks to our scorekeepers Wendy Brown and Joanne Garrick and our field judge Keith Watson and sidelined competitor turned field marker Jeff Ingram. Also a big thanks to Graham and Jacquie for helping mark and run implements back. You guys rock.

On to the events. Our own Amateur champion, Bob Brown, will be writing up the amateur side of things, so this leaves me open to comment on the rest of the goings on, namely the open class. With 13 athletes from all over Canada, including 4x Canadian Champ Doug MacDonald and future champ Joel Theissen, this is the biggest and strongest field we've ever had. And they did not disappoint.

The open stone started the day, as ever. Now Doug himself will be the first to admit that this is not his strong suit, but still the level the guys took this to was something else. Eric Wechter was up from Oregon and he'll be the first guy to tell you he hates the open stone. Still, you wouldn't think a 39 footer would be that bad. My first shot would stand as my best at 44', tying a PR, and all that would get me is 5th. Gord opened with 45'7" to take an early lead until Joel fired out a 46'+ shot to reset the provincial and field record. He would later extend that to an even 48'. Mike Staal's second throw was a huge PR of 45'9" to knock Doug's 44'9" attempt back even further to 4th spot and to claim second from Gord. Jim Garrick continued his trend of just under 40' with a 39'6" and Matt looked very solid at 42'5". Dave Laidlaw was more than a little nervous about his shoulder from last week, but it held together for a reasonable 40'4" throw. The stone would prove to be the only event Doug would be beat in for the rest of the day. From there, we moved into the HWFD.

I got to start this thing off and it felt good right from go, especially with a beer on the line with Eric for whichever one of us could go over 35'. An opener of 34'2" did not hurt my feelings at all. It seemed to hurt Mike Staal's, though, as he expressed som disbelief that anything moving that slow could travel that far. My early lead was eclipsed very quickly by both Joel and Doug as they went 38 and 39' respectively and would later extend those to 39'2" and 42'5". So chalk another field record up to Doug. The rest of the field started to settle itself out with Dave Roe hitting a massive PR of 32'6" by actually opening up and Marc Morin getting a very solid looking 33'1" for 4th spot. Mike would beat Jimmy's mark of 30'11" by almost a foot at 31'10" and both Al MacFarlane and Davey L went over 30' as well. Matt hit a PR of 27'3" and Joe Taylor edged him by just 2" at 27'5". Not what Joey was looking for, but he's beein a little busy this year. My last shot went 35'3" to further solidify 3rd spot and to claim my beer. Best beer ever. This was Gord's only stumbling block as he was just under 30' at 29'9" which cost him quite a few points.

The LWFD continued to mix things up in the "race for third" with Mike Staal going huge at 65'6" and Eric Wechter hitting a monster 67'10". I managed to edge Gord by an inch on my last throw with 64'4", which didn't make Marc feel any better at 64' even. Dave Roe did the same thing to Jim on his last throw, edging Jimmy by 6" at 61'9" to Jim's 61'3". Al was just under the 60' mark at 59'4" with Matt, Joe and Dave L. rounding out the rest of the group. Joel looked fast and strong with his 74'8", only to be eclipsed by Doug at 76'1". Doug would later extend that to 76'4" on extra throws. Watching Doug throw just blows my mind. The power is obvious. I have to admit, though, Joel looks smoother at it. They both have that unbelievable snap at the end, though. That's where the magic is. Hopefully we caught enough of that on video.

Ugh. The hammers. I always shudder a little at the hammers because they're slow events and tend to dilute the crowd, but we timed it nicely so that we had a break between them. The heavy hammer was up first and despite being misinformed, Mikey Staal came back and right into it with a pretty solid 91'9" toss to edge out Marc's 89'4" throw for third spot. Gordie stole 3rd by getting his legs under him and firing out a 93'1" bomb. Both Doug and Joel know how to lay this one down as they both went over 100 at 108'10" and 103'2" respectively. The worst part? Neither one of them looked terribly thrilled by that. Must be nice. The rest of us were back quite a bit from there with me going 84'7" for the best throw I've had all year in competition and a small PR. Joey was a bit happier here, going 82'4" and Matt cracked the 80' mark with 80'2" without spikes. Jimmy cranked it up again for a big PR of 74'4" only to have Dave Roe smack him down by an inch at 74'5". Gotta love the nitpicking. The light hammer was more of the same and almost identical placings with Doug and Joel in #1 and #2 at 124'9" (later extended to 129'2" on extra throws) and 119'. Joel was not pleased with his hammer throwing for the day. I hope some day to be disappointed with 119'. Gord was JUST behind him at 118'10", making up more ground from the HWFD. Again, Mr. Staal showed some solid form at 114'8" and Marc put out a solid looking 109'9" for 5th. Jimmy PR'd again at 94'2" and Dave R. did the same thing at 95'8". He can almost throw the hammer now. We teach him to throw a stone and he's dangerous. Matt was back over 100 at 102' and Joey again had a smile on his face with 104'4".

Now it was onto the caber. Unfortunately, the competition stick we had kind of broke so we had to use the Amateur stick. The only problem with that one was the length. It was a might short, but still very sturdy. To noone's surprise, World Cabertoss Champion Douglas won this event with Eric Wechter coming in second. I managed third by virtue of countbacks. This event was the only one where Joel wasn't in the top 2 and it also cost Mike Staal some points as well. It was a shootout so even 15 minutes off meant a lot. Dave Laidlaw managed a greasy 9:00 for a decent turn in open competition, just edging out Jim and Joe.

The weight for height. It'd been a long day by this point and the Amateurs were done and came to cheer (or jeer) us on for this one. Starting at 12' never makes Marc smile, but he dug deep and rolled one over the bar. And I do mean ROLLED. Gotta love fixed bars. Everyone else was good at 12' but Gord, Mike, Joel and Doug passed to 13'. 13 would take Gord two tries to nail, but Mike made it look easy. Doug and Joel made it look silly by clearing the bar by better than 2 or 3 feet. I went up and over easy as well and everyone else got stonewalled. 14' proved a bit much for Gord today and I personally think a lot of that was the sheer amount of work he did to prep for this competition. It's not easy to organize something this size, but Gord took care of everything for everyone. Thanks, Gordie.

Mike took 2 shots to clear 14' and I unfortunately took 3. That point would prove costly to me later. Again, Joel and Doug lobbed it over with no effort. They allowed me to pick the next height, so I took three decent shots at 14'8" but neither Mike nor I had it in us today. With Joel and Doug being the only ones left in the competition, they cleared 14'8" and went right up to 16'. Man, is that a long way up. Doug took two shots to get it and Joel dug deep on his third attempt to clear it. Both guys took very good shots at 16'4" for the Alberta record, but Jeff Thomas's legacy survived yet another year.

Last thing up was the horror of the challenge caber. 16'6" isn't long. Nope. But 190# is hideously heavy. A few of the guys had some pretty reasonable pick and runs with the thing, but it looked immovable. Right up until Doug grabbed it, stabilized it and ended up pitching it over for a perfect 12:00. Go figure. A great end to a great games.

So in the overall, Doug MacD took first spot very handily with Joel easily securing #2. Our own Mike Staal took #3 spot just a single point (or toss of the WFH) ahead of yours truly. Gord Walsh rounded out the top 5 a mere 4 points behind me, despite the setback of the HWFD. A huge games, some huge performances and a fantastic end to a fantastic season. Time to get stronger and faster for next year.

- Sean

Calgary and stuff! - Sept 02/04

Ok gang, the big big show is upon us and there are things to remember: Other than that, let's send out the season with a bang. Time to crush some PRs, kids.

- Sean

High River report! - August 30/04

Mr. Gilpin will be writing up a suitably abusive morning report, which leaves me free to write something up for the afternoon festivities.

First off, have I mentioned that this is one of my favorite games ever? Mostly because of the efforts of Mr. Dave Roe who thoroughly runs this thing and just lets the rest of us be athletes. Once again, a big thanks to Dave and the High River HG association for volunteering, providing us food, water and prizes and otherwise hosting us. You guys rule! And a huge thanks to big Jim Sears who announced for us. Always good to see the big man this far west. Anyway, on to the throwing...

Big class for us this time with 9 guys and this was a very solid class. The open stone very nicely demonstrated how far the association has come in it's abilities. I say this because I had a pretty reasonable toss of 42'11" and that managed me a mighty FOURTH! Gordie Walsh set the tone early by nailing a very explosive 45'1" off of a glide on his first attempt. That would stick as his best shot. Mike Staal, who used to dread the stone, hit a big PR of 44'9" to take second and young Matt Doherty was a little more than half a foot back of there with 44'2" after having a couple of his patented fouls out the side. As soon as he figures out how to do the spin and a half in a 7.5x4.5 area, we're hooped. Dave Laidlaw had a decent 41'3" push and Jimmy Garrick continued to prove that he couldn't even BUY a 40' shot by getting 39'10" for like the third time. Bobby Brown, who was up with us for the afternoon put in a pretty solid 36'9.5" shot.

The heavy weight again showed where we're at with 5 guys going over 30'. Bobby finally relaxed enough to hit 25' again and that got him a decent smile out of things. Davey Roe is still pulling across his body and hitting 30'. I'm trying to figure out how he manages that. Despite a bad back that he got from playing with the old man's weight, Jim hit a 30'5" shot as well. Mike Staal looked good and solid on his first couple, managing a 31'5" attempt as a best and spectacularly blowing apart on his third. Actually, there were a few of those going on, plus a very casual foul from Matt as he meandered over the trig. Gord Walsh put out a 31'10" shot to take second and I edged Paul Hicke's field record by 2" on a 33'2" shot.

The light weight saw some crazy stuff too, with 5 guys over 59' and some spectacular wipeouts. One of those managed to actually injure Dave Laidlaw, so we hope he heals up quick. Bobby hit a nice 53'6" shot and I know he was looking for something like that to happen again. Dave Roe seemed a little disappointed with his 57 footer, but Joey Taylor looked fairly pleased with his 58'8" shot, considering he practiced less this year than most of us competed. Matt had a nice 59' shot (on his 3rd games ever) but Jimmy took him with a 59'9". I pulled an early lead with my first only to watch Mike Staal eclipse it on his second for a huge PR toss of 65'9". Gord was only back about a foot at 64'8" and I squeaked by Mike on my second with 66' even. Paul Hicke's field record was safe for another year.

The horror of the hammers was up next. Dave Laidlaw withdrew to the massage tent after one throw of the 22 to see what he could fix up and the rest of us continued on. Jim was not looking forward to the hammers with his back the way it was, but he managed a grip'n'rip of 72'/91'2" for a new PR in the light and just under his best in the heavy. But he owed me a beer when Bobby got his head out of his ass and threw 72'3"/90'7" for a pair of huge PRs and AmB records to boot. Nice work, Bobby. Dave Roe is looking better all the time, going 75'11"/89'11" and Joe looked a little rusty only going 76/98'9". Matt's still adapting to the heavy hammer, but his light looked sharp as he manged to pair up 73'4"/92'1". He wasn't so nuts about the light as he's gone over 100' before, but this is the magic of throwing 7 events. This, as usual, was the Mike and Gord show and they traded off as Mike set a new heavy field record with a fantastic 94'1" shot, but only getting 108'10" on the light and Gord went 91'7"/110'8" to take the light. Gord wasn't exactly in his prime for the hammer as his ribs have really been pulled of late. I'm sure he'll suck it up for Calgary, though.

The caber was a source of great amounts of irritation to everyone for this thing. It was a heavy bastard (~130# after sitting in the rain for 2 weeks), but only 17' long. Thoroughly turnable, but only Gord managed it and only bearly with 2:30. The rest of us had to settle for degrees.

Onto one of my favorites, the WOB. We started things at 11'6" because Bobby wanted a shot at it, but he couldn't quite get the path right, so he ended up scratched but with a great performance for the day. Nice work, Bob. Dave, Joe and Matt all cleared that so we went up to 12'6". Jim didn't know we were going up by a foot after that, so 12'6" flustered him a little, but we'll forgive the scratch because he couldn't even touch his toes 3 days before that. Matt was the only one of those three to clear 12'6" and Gord and I came in there and one-timed it over. At 13', Gord and Matt took their shots with Gord getting it on his second (I believe) and Matt getting close but not enough. He has more than enough power. He'll get it soon. Mike Staal finally decided to come in at 13'6".

I just wanted to take the time to say I haven't seen Mike this powerful or precise in a while. For the oldest guy in the association, he is still an incredible force in the Open class. So keep that in mind, all you lazy bastards who can't wait to turn 40 and go Masters.

Now that I've pumped him up, I'll continue on. Having passed at 13', I managed a greasy clear of 13'6" on my first shot to put the pressure on Mike and he folded like a deck chair, but got the weight over on his second shot. Gordie was a little off on this today and was a little too vertical to clear the bar so he had to bow out. Up we went to 14' and I again took a single shot at it and cleared it. Mike had no lack of explosive power or height, but couldn't get the arc he needed to go over. I took 3 shots at 14'4" for the field record but the only one with enough power hit the bar at the bottom. Such is life.

When the dust settled, there were 2 points seperating the three of us with Mike and I tied for second and me getting the nod because of 3 event wins to his 1. Gordie Walsh again took top honours and continuing the legend that is Gord. Gotta thank Grant's Scotch Whiskey for the prizes along with the High River Highland Games Association again. Fantastic games, even if there wasn't a hurricane this time. Just a fighter jet flyby.

Calgary's next, folks. The RACE FOR THIRD has begun.

- Sean

High River! - August 27/04

Ok, here's the scoop:
Sorry I didn't post this sooner, kids. Just got Davey's message.

- Sean

Folklorama Update! - August 18/04

By our own Jimmy Garrick:

Jim Garrick sets new Manitoba Record!

Now that I have your attention, here's the low down and more on the record later. What can I say about Folkorama? Not much except it was amazing. Susan and Brook Haywood put a wonderful competition. The day started at 11am, with the Amateur B's and the Women's divisions throwing 5 events.

The B side saw five competitors, first timer Edward Dewind, James Nicholson, our own Aaron Andronyk, Gord Stalker and Matthew Wiersema. The B division started with the open stone weighing approximately 16.1#. Edward Dewind won the event with a throw of 34'6"; we even let him compete without a kilt. That's how nice everyone is! Second went to James Nicholson with 32'9.6" and third to Gord Stalker with a throw of 30'11.4".

On the Women's side we had three competitors. Mother and daughter team, Erin and Cassidy Angus and co-organizer Susan Haywood, who doesn't look a day over forty. Erin took the open stone with a best throw of 22'7.8", Cassidy was second with 20'10.2" and Susan rounded out the field with a best throw of 19'0".

The athletes then moved onto the LWFD. James Nicholson took this event with a throw of 46'7.2", second went to Edward Dewind with a throw of 42'4.8" and Gord Stalker rounded out the top three with a best throw of 39'5.4". Matt Wiersema finished fourth and a disappointed Aaron finished fifth in this event. Erin Angus took another first in the Women's LWFD with a throw of 45'6", Susan was second with her throw of 38'2.4" and Cassidy was third with 27'1.8"

Onto the Caber.....the B's caber was only 12'10 and 101#, good weight but short. All five athletes turned the caber with Aaron, Gord and James nailing a 12:00.

The women's caber was 10'5.5" long and not to sure on the weight but it proved to be a good caber for the field. Erin won her third straight event with 85 degrees, Susan second with 45 degrees and Cassidy tried but couldn't make an attempt on the stick.

The next event was the sheaf. The Amateur B men started at 13' as did the women. All the men cleared the opening height and then moved up in 2' increments. James won the event with 19', Ed second at 17' and Matthew rounded out the top 5 with a 15' throw.

On the women's side Erin won another event clearing 15', Susan second with 13' and Cassidy worked hard but didn't clear the opening mark.

The final event of the day was the WFH. The Amateur B's opened at 9'. Both Matthew and Gord cleared but that was all they could muster. James cleared 10', well enough for third. Ed and Aaron both made 11' and moved up to 12'. Aaron had two really good cracks at 12', definitely would have cleared 11'6". Neither, Ed or Aaron cleared 12' but the event went to Aaron on count backs.

The women side saw both Susan and Cassidy clear 9' that would be it for today thought. Erin was good for 10' on the day giving her another event win.

When the smoke cleared in the Amateur B division, James Nicholson came away victorious, Edward Dewind was second and Aaron Andronyk finished third.

In the women's division, Erin Angus was first, Susan Haywood second and Cassidy Angus was third. I just wanted to point out that Cassidy is technically a junior woman competitor as she is only 14 years old. Great job to all!

Ok, around 1pm, the Amateur A class took to the field. There were a total of seven competitors. Justin Camperud from North Dakota (Track Guy), Steve Jystad from Minnesota, the Manitoba Boys, Joe Slobodzian, Brock Haywood, the "SANDBAGGER" Duane McClinton, Rob Kmet and I rounded out the field.

The first event was the open stone. The stone was an awkwardly shaped 16.1# rock but had a good area for your hand. As it was our first event everyone was trying to find their footing for the day. Justin (damn track athletes) won the event on his third and final throw with 44' 10.2", Joe was second with 40'6.6" and I was third with a throw of 39'3.6". Wanted to go over 40' today but I think the long drive was working against me.

We then moved into the HWFD. This weight was ugly! It's a bell shaped weight with the majority of the weight on the bottom, a triangle handle that was about as thick as a pencil. I think I used a whole can of tacky spray to try and get a good grip. The whole time it is very difficult to feel the handle in your hand. Joe and Duane wanted me to bring out our weight, a Mjolnir weight from Bobby Dodd but then decided against since I'm used to it and get to practice with it. In the end it didn't matter though, I took the event with a measly throw of 30'3.6", Joe was second with 29'3.6" (and wasn't happy with that either), Justin took third with 28'4.2" and the SANDBAGGER; Duane McClinton had a PB throw of 26'8.4".

Okay you are probably wondering why I keep referring to Duane as a SANDBAGGER. Well you see he is coming out to Calgary to throw in September and he is registered as an Amateur B. I took some serious razzing now it's his turn.

We got right into the LWFD. I had a best throw of 61'5" but that was only good enough for second as Justin put out a great third throw measuring 63'10.8" to win the event. Joe was third with is best throw of 59'9". Duane and Steve rounded out the top five with 55'4.2" and 51'7.2" respectively. We then moved into the caber. This was a great Amateur A caber, weighing about the same as ours about 120 or 125# but a little shorter measuring in at 17'6". Joe with those massive legs of his won the event with a turn of 11:00, the best I could muster was a turn of 2:00, good enough for second. Steve Jystad finished third with 80 degrees, Brook Haywood had a great pull but could only get 75 degrees and Rob rounded out the top five with 65 degrees, however Rob injured himself in the caber and had to withdraw from the competition.

Okay it was about this time I started having flashbacks. Two weeks ago in Enumclaw a judge was struck with a caber, all the boys were asking me about it since myself and Doug Douglas from Portland attended to the injured judge. The judge ended up with a fractured skull but is home now and on the road to 100% recovery. While Duane was picking his caber for his third and final attempt he began to lose the stick. The judge tried moving out of the way but caught a rut in the ground and began to fall when the caber struck him in the shoulder. I couldn't believe my eyes. A Winnipeg firefighter comes over from the crowd and we attended to Larry until EMS arrived to transport him to hospital. Larry sustained a badly bruised shoulder but nothing more serious than that, good news!

We then moved into the second last event of the day the sheaf. We opened at 18' and all went in at that height to get more throws in. Joe had a great PB and field record throw of 27', would have been good for 27'6" maybe even 28'. I finished second at 24', came close at 26' and learned to wipe my forks after spraying them down with WD-40. My third and final attempt at 26' saw the sheaf fly off my forks and to the right about 20'. Duane cleared 22' and had a few really good cracks at 24' the rest of the field all cleared to opening mark of 18' but that was it on the day.

The final event was the WFH and Joe had been talking about it all day. We opened at 11' and I think most of the athletes passed. Four athletes remained at 12' and then three at 13'. Joe decided to come in at 13'. Brock and Justin cleared 13' but just didn't have enough for 14', still very impressive for Brock who is about 5'10", maybe. Joe cleared 14' with no problems and then went for a new Manitoba provincial record of 15'4". He had a couple very good throws at it but not quite enough at the end of the day. I think if we would have done the WFH before the caber and sheaf he would have nailed it. Joe finished first in the event, with Brook and Justin second and third.

When the smoke had cleared Joe Slobodzian won the day and a great sword for first with 10 points, I was second with 14 and Justin Camperud finished with 18 points. Rounding out the rest of the field saw Duane McClinton fourth with 27 points, Steve Jystad with 29, Brock Haywood with 30 and Rob Kmet with 39.

Now as part of the Games in Manitoba they do a farmers walk. This event is open for anyone and is not part of the competition. The sponsor Famous Grouse puts up two bottles of scotch, one on the men's side and one on the women's side. Now I couldn't pass up a chance at a bottle of scotch. The implements were 185# per hand for max. distance with turns at 100', Justin's buddy put up an impressive opening mark with 341', Edward Dewind and Rob Kmet both had impressive walks as well. Well it was my turn second last, I knew the mark to beat but coming up behind me was Gord Stalker who had won a couple of times this year. I picked up the implements and began the walk, it felt really good. Having never done this event before it was good having Erin Angus there reminding me to keep my head up and breath. As I rounded the 400' turn I started seeing spots and got a little light headed down they went. A total distance of 407', eclipsing the previous mark set by Doug MacDonald of 404'. I got my bottle of scotch, so anyone up for a party?

Okay I've rambled long enough, Winnipeg and Folkorama were great, just ask Alberta Angus who was out with us all day, and he had a blast too! Till next year, take care, train hard and throw far!

- Jim

High River - August 17/04

Ok, folks, so Davey Roe is running this one (bless him!) and with the attendance numbers being the way they are, he was wondering if anyone would mind if we just ran everyone at once and started at 10am. What this means is that the B's get to sleep in and the Open class actually has to be there early. Zany, huh? Anyway, drop Dave a line if you have any issues or just hit the forum topic and voice your opinion.

- Sean

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - July 19/04

And now onto Foote Field. Actually, the day started pleasantly enough, if a little later than I wanted. Not that it mattered as we had lost quite a few athletes on day 2 and had decided to run everyone together for the day. We scored them different, but everyone did the events. Of course, when Mike Staal and Joey Taylor came in later looking well rested and well fed(expecting to throw at 1), the term "sandbagger" got bandied around a lot. The field was great and hopefully this little event will become a yearly thing.

The open class was a mess. Most of us there had been going for 2 solid months and looked the part. Jimmy had caught the bubonic plague or some kind of ubervirus, Gordie was walking around trying not to cough for fear that his ribcage would blow apart and my hand was starting to look like some kind of hideous claw from all the WFD damage I'd done to it. The ever solid amateur class just looked like it was another day in paradise, although numbers were down a little bit from the peak. The end of high season always hurts. At least we have a little time off (well, except for Gordie) until Seattle.

So we've determined that we need more Braemar work and Jimmy accomodated us between bouts of the sweats with a hideously mutated-looking 27# stone. This was some amusing work with Mikey Staal taking first with a 27'4" attempt, Gordie a foot back from him with 26'1" and me a foot back of that with 25'2" in the open class. The Amateur class saw Bobby Brown set the early trend with a first place shot of 22'1", Aaron behind him with 21'2" and first-timer Allister Denton cracking out 17'10" for third slot.

We moved into the open stone from there and the rediculousness continued from there. Mike Staal set out the mark to beat at 41'9" after a nice foul on his first shot. Gordie was next in line just 3" back of that with 41'6" and then Davey Laidlaw and I split the honours for third with 40'. Nothing spectacular here. Bobby wasn't any more pleased than the rest of us with his 35'11" shot, although it was 5' up on the number 2 spot with Aaron at 30'8". Again, Allister rounded out the top 3 in the stones with a nice 29'1" pop. Hopefully he'll come back out again.

The HWFD saw Mike Staal's only loss for the day as he went 28'7" and that was the bottom for the open class. Man, we've come a long way. I took top spot here with a very painful 33'2" shot with Gord on #2 again with 30'11" and Jimmy Garrick shaking off the plague long enough to go 30'7". Bobby shoved the thing out 24'5" and seemed happy enough with it, or at least he didn't say "I quit" today. Aaron was the only other guy over 20' at 20'4" and Tim Maclean flirted with it at 19'9". Tim's weights have come a long way this year and it looks like the trend's going to continue. Always good to see.

The LWFD had Mike getting back into top spot with 61'11" with me right behind him at 61'7" and Gordie right behind me at 61'4". Noone really had their 'A' game on today for this and Davey Roe looked pretty cheesed when he could only muster a 59'5" and not break 60, which he's done pretty much all year. Bobby took the AmBs to school with a respectable 52'1" with the next guy (being Aaron) a full 11' back at 40'11". Once again, Timmy took #3 spot by going over 40'3". That means he hasn't been less than 40' since he broke the barrier. Sweet.

Ah, the horrors of the hammer. By this time, everyone was looking chewed up. Day 2 is always the worst and at the end of high season it's even worse than usual. Mike took first in both with 90'10"/107'8" and Gord just couldn't find his magic, going only 88'/106'1". Not his usual stuff. Joey "I'd love to compete, but someone out there is getting married and I should be there" Taylor finally woke up and went 81'5"/97' for third spot on both. Bobby won both hammers with solid looking 68'3"/85'2" attempts. Actually, I really should have just said early on that Bobby won everything. It would have been easier. Aaron went 65'6"/82'2" for solid second on both and continue the trend of getting #2 spot in all events. Lee Distad caught third spot in both hammers with his infamous "grip and rip" technique, going 53'8"/64'10". Another guy who's getting more solid the more he competes.

Ah yes, the caber. Now, as is typical, the sky started to blacken and the wind picked up just as the caber was underway. For whatever reason, the miserable weather started to pick up everyone's spirits and we moved a lot easier than we had all day. This, in and of itself, is not a big deal. When the rain started, it still wasn't a big deal. When I said "Hey, it's starting to hail." and Jimmy said "No it's not", it still wasn't a big deal. When the sky opened up and the Rapture started, it STILL WASN'T A BIG DEAL. All of us were out in the field, laughing like maniacs while we got drenched and pelted with golfball-sized hunks of ice and were still trying to flip the caber, despite the fact that our markers could no longer hear the judged calls, the crowd was gone and the pipe bands were running and hiding.

We stayed out in that mess for probably 15 or 20 minutes with our laughter being drown out by the hissing torrential rain and punctuated by the not so occassional "OUCH!" as one of us got whacked in the knuckles or the back of the neck or head. Noone ever said highland games athletes were intelligent. Finally, we thought "Let's head under the tent. It's gotta stop soon."

WRONG. Apparently it NEVER has to stop. 40 days and 40 nights is the standing record and for a while it looked like we were gonna give that a shot and I don't think ANYONE's Ark was ready to go. It was still kind of funny having a beer under the tent while hell rained down on us right up until we realized we could see our breath and Jimmy said "That's not good." Right about then, we decided it was time to get the women-folk and children out of there. Big thanks to Joey Taylor for getting my wife and kids to safety and for all the folks who gathered up equipment and belongings and tossed them into vehicles. Poor Joey's new wife was stuck under that little tent with a bunch of guys who smelled like wet sheep by that point for probably 10 minutes before Joe made it back to get her. Jimmy, Aaron and I finally made the break for the Foote Field centre itself and were running through 6" of water where we had to break ice with our feet with every step. We made it back, soaking wet but mostly fine, to huddle with the rest of the field that had been forced inside for safety's sake.

So, several days/hours and flooded streets, cars and basements later, everything was gathered up and slowly returned to it's rightful owners. Another big thanks to Joe Taylor and Mike Gilpin for helping me rip my basement apart after the flood.

Oh yeah and Mike Staal won, Gordie was second and I was third, with Davey Roe and Dave Laidlaw rounding out #4 and #5 respectively for the open. Bobby had a clean sweep, Aaron was second all day and in the end it was Tim Maclean who took number three spot, Lee Distad took 4th spot and there was a tie for 5th between Allister Denton and Paul Kuefler. If nothing else, summer in Alberta is an adventure. Next stop, Seattle for some, High River for the rest.

- Sean

Slopfest '04! - July 16/04

Ok, the results for Ft. Ed are up, finally. It's been kind of a zany week. So I'll mumble on about this one and then write up another one for Foote Field.

Did I mention it was a mess? The several days of rain had turned the normally concrete ground of Ft. Edmonton park into a GIANT MUD PIT! Plus the area was more than a little uneven, but that would have been copeable if the center of the throwing area wasn't literally sopping wet. The best part was being out to retrieve, where you could be guaranteed a phenomenal blast of mud and water when the implement hit the ground. Big thanks to Tracy who brought by enough scrap towels and rags so that we could see the implements underneath all the mud.

We started the day with the ever popular 95# Ft. Edmonton Stone. It's a rude way to wake up in the morning, but it amuses me to put it first while everyone's still cold and creaky. Some of the boys hadn't done this bad boy before and it IS a learning experience. With Mike Gilpin being "stuck" in Fernie for the weekend, the field was opened up a bit more.

Mikey Martin's triumphant return took an early and brief lead with 10' only to have Aaron come up the very next throw and Unspunnin the thing another 9" further and that would be the mark that stuck for top spot. Bobby went out to 10'4.5" on his first and only legal shot and that stuck as second for the rest of the attempts, despite Mikey coming up with a 10'4.5" attempt to secure third. Bev even tried her hand at the monstrous thing that was probably close to 90% of her bodyweight and she managed to hit a fantastic 5'10". Doubt many of us would be doing the same thing with a 200# rock.

The open stone started a trend that would stick for the rest of the morning events as Bobby opened the stone with a 36'3" attempt he would later push to 37'4" to take the win. Second came to Mike Martin with the all explosive shoulder toss of 35'1" and Kelly back a few feet at 32'2" for third. If we could teach Mike that he had legs, he'd be dangerous, despite having lost a pile of weight for firefighter college. Jeff Maclean hit 30' with a nice little push to take the next slot.

Did I mention it was a mess? By this point, the original site for the trig was a sloppy mess, so the boys and girl shifted the trig somewhere else which presented a new problem: sure the trig area was dry, but it was also pretty heavily sloped. Saw a few more fouls than usual because of this. The heavy weight for distance is quickly becoming Bobby's favorite event, although he was none too pleased with it today, managing 23'11" after a foul. He's to the point where anything less than 25' is junk, regardless of whether or not it wins him the event. Mike Martin didn't forget everything he'd learned before as he hit 22'6" to take second, with Aaron hot on his heels at 22'. Todd Hennel was just an inch back of that. This group gets tighter all the time.

The LWFD got a bit more of a smile out of Bobby on his last attempt of 54'7" after he'd opened a little less than that. Todd Hennel crushed out a PR throw of 46' to take #2 spot and he looked good doing it. A lot less hopping. It's gonna go over 50' soon. Mikey had to settle for #3 with a solid looking 43'6, but he's seen the plus side of 50, so he wasn't too pleased with himself. Neither was Kelly with his 42'9" attempt, but Timmy Maclean came out with a big 2' PR at 42' even. Another guy whose technique on the weights has shown a ton of improvement. Lee Distad joined the ranks of those who have almost killed people when the implement blew out of his hand when he was getting into the power position. Congrats, Lee! And don't feel too bad. Ask Joe Taylor about the hammer he lobbed into the crowd at Canmore sometime.

The light hammer was another study in filth and mud explosions and noone was throwing particularly astoundingly (a trend that would carry nicely into the afternoon). Bobby had first place with his opener, taking Aaron by a little over a foot with an 84'8" vs 83'4.5". Kelly looked a little stiffer than usual with the hammer (working all over the continent instead of practicing will do that to you), but still managed 3rd with 81'3". Todd was hoping for another 85' toss today, but had to settle for 4th and 74'2". It was seriously hard to manage to keep your footing while doing hammer winds in the muck.

With the WOB standards AWOL, the caber finished off the morning. The 18' 90# stick is just a joy to pick and try to keep the balance right, but Bobby showed it little mercy, going 10:30 and 10:00 for the win, beating Aaron's solid 1:30 on countbacks. Everyone else just took turns standing it up, but Todd's went up the most to take 3rd with Mike right behind him.

By this point, it was obvious Bobby had handly won the morning events with just shy of a clean sweep. Mikey marked his brief but welcome return with a solid second place and Aaron rounded out the top 3 because of his consistant performances. So a few PRs, a lot of mud and a little danger marked the end of the Amateur class and onto the rest of us.

Ft. Edmonton featured the first appearance of young Matt Doherty as an open class competitor and a sloppy introduction it was. Jimmy was the first and best to figure out the Ft. Edmonton stone and he ended up taking first with a huge 12'9" attempt. Matt proved that it didn't matter how big the rock was, he was determined to be a presence as he took second just 5" behind Jim with 12'4". Gord rounded out the top 3, narrowly beating Davey Laidlaw in a 12' to 11'11" matchup. Dave Roe was at least in the running 2" behind Laidlaw, but I was definitely in the back seat a full foot behind the rest of the pack.

Jim opened the Open low, but kept increasing his bid until he hit a PR with a 39'11" attempt. It wouldn't be enough to stand, however, as Gordie fired out a last ditch effort of 43'1" to take Matt's 42'6" attempt down to second. It should be noted that Matt had to slow down to get the 42'6" because he kept blowing out of the trig with all the power he was generating. I rounded up the top 3 by edging out Davey Laidlaw by 6", 41'6" to 41'.

The HWFD was up and my hand already hurt. Didn't matter much, though, as I managed to get the field record on my second attempt of 32'9" and then to extend that on my third throw to 33'9". Good thing I did, too, because Gordie hammered out a nice looking 32'8" for second spot and Jimmy Garrick hit a huge PR of 32'1" for third. When Jimmy remembers to stay low, that sucker flys. Davey Laidlaw took 4th with a 30'1" shot on his first. I remember when that would have won.

That callous was wide open on my hand and my first shot showed it as it went just over 60' to 60'6". I gutted the next one out to 66'4" and called it a day, which was a good thing because Gord settled his angle issues enough to hit 65'4", which I think was a best for the year. Jim was again solid in third with a 60'10" effort, so I think he was pleased by this point.

The hammers fell apart in a hurry. Although the AmBs were quick to point out how dry it had become, the place was still a sticky mess and trying to keep your feet under you during the hammers was a task into itself. You know its a rough day for hammers when Gordie only goes 91'4"/107'1". I ditched my spikes long enough to take second with 76'3"/97'2", some of the worst hammer throwing I've done all year. Third was split between Davey Roe and Matt Doherty who went 74'1" and 90'1" respectively. Dave almost beat me up until my third throw on the heavy hammer. I'm still knocking mud out of my cleats.

Again, we still had no standards for the WOB, so it was the caber to end it. The 18'2", 120# stick is kind of a pig, especially when you're only doing your second HG, so Matt struggled a bit here. Still, he didn't show the fear that's kind of typical of the first few times that track athletes who migrate over to HG have of the caber. I'm sure with a little more practice, he'll make it look silly.

We were all pretty much trashed by this point and it was hard to get fired up. Jim and I both stood the caber up to 75 degrees, but I took him on countbacks. Both of the Daves we know had good runs with the stick, but Laidlaw ran out of steam and Roe found a nice hole in the field to turn his ankle on, so that ended their bids. Only Gordie had it all left to wobble the stick over to 10:00 on his third attempt. The man is unstoppable.

The top three settled out to be Gord in 1st with 11points, myself in 2nd with 17 and Jimmy claiming 3rd with 27, just two points ahead of Matt with 29. Despite the weather and muck and hammers, a pretty good day.

Unlike Foote Field. But more on that later.

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton/Foote Field - July 7/04

Ok, here's the latest and greatest. I've left a list of athletes with the organizers of Ft. Ed instead of the armbands this year. If you were at Red Deer or Ellerslie, you should be on it. If you weren't, get ahold of me pronto. Same thing as always. The Ft. Edmonton Stone will be out in full force this year, but with a little more run up.

Even better news about Foote field. We have an absolutely massive area to play in. After the Ft. Ed games, I'll be happy to tour everyone up there to show them where we're playing and especially to show the guys driving the cabers and standards up where we can pull in around back to unload/park.

- Sean

Penticton - July 5/04

I know, I know. I haven't done up the second half of the Ellerslie results yet. I'll get to it. But first, I promised Delore I'd put in a special headline:

Alberta Man Saves Lakusta's Life!

. You heard it here first! I'll explain it later. Here's a direct link to the results.

So there ended up being 6 of the association boys in BC for the weekend and so we almost doubled their normal number of competitors. The "Highland Locusts" were in full flight for this one. The Amateur B class and Open class threw together for the first 4 events and then swapped out so we could speed up the hammers and WOB.

The Braemar stone started things off and it was a nice, dense hunk of granite that weighed in around 27#. We in Alberta really need to practice this event more. Maybe if we get a decent rock. Victoria, the lone female competitor, started this off using the 17# stone we would use for the open stone event and getting her best mark on her first attempt at 15'8". After that the B's came up, with first timer and strongman competitor Matt Cook popping out over 25'7" and our own Mike Gilpin in second with 24'9". Orrin Nesdoly would round out the top three with a 23'1" push on his first attempt. The lone master in the group had a very solid throw of 25'3" as his best. Here's where things get snakey.

The BC boys are kind of a backward lot, you see. I don't hold it against them because they live in a giant hippie commune that was run for too many years by the NDP. It makes them a little off. The reason I say this is because Joel Thiessen threw first for the Open class on EVERY event. This had the net effect of making the rest of us look anemic because Joel was looking rock solid for nearly everything.

He opened up with a monster 32'3" and later pushed that to over 34'1". That would hold as the mark to beat for the rest of us. Delore looked almost bored during this event, as his technique and power make him appear totally casual while still firing this pig of a rock out 31'10.25" for second. Big Greg Bell took thire with his final throw of 30'2.75". The rest of us kind of filtered back after that, but the biggest thorn in my side would be having Brett Milton beat me by 1/4" in this event. This, I would later learn, set the tone for the entire day. Davey Laidlaw had been looking forward to this event, but never got all his power into a throw due to the roundness of the stone tending to flip off his hand.

The Open stone was next and the B's settled it amongst themselves in the same pattern as the previous event with Matt taking first with 32'9.75", Mikey behind him at 31'10.5" and Orrin rounding it out at 30'7.5". Not too shockingly, the top three from the Braemar were also the same top three with the Open stone with Joel out at 48'.25", Delore with a sweet looking 47' 9.25" and Greg just edging Gord out of third by a quarter inch at 43'2.25". I got back some of my own by beat Brett by 3" on this one.

By this point, Delore was starting to get REALLY comfortable in giving us a hard time on the mic. I can only hope he makes the trek east a province so we can return the favour.

The HWFD mixed things up a little more on the B side with Mikey taking top spot at 23'3", Matt behind him with 23'2" and Aaron taking third at a hair under 21' (20'11.75"). The Open class looked almost the same with Joel out in front with a massive 39'5.75", Delore behind him at 34'10.5" and me taking third with 32'11.75". Joel's fantastic to watch with this thing. I've come to the conclusion that we need to stay lower on this event. Jimmy hit just shy of 30' at 29'11" and looked disappointed. Kind of odd how the perceptions of a good throw change, don't they? Marc Wechter looked great on this one too, especially as he hasn't been training for highland games and is instead getting ready for the 231# class of strongman in the US. A win gets him a trip to China to play against the world's best in that weight class. Let's hope it goes well for him.

The LWFD saw first timer Matt edge Mike out for first with throws of 47'8.5" and 46'9" respectively. Orrin caught third again at 44'2". By now it should be looking kind of obvious that we weren't exactly playing our life's best here, but neither was anyone else (except that sandbagger Delore). Joel opened the Opens with 71' and he went on to better that to 73'4". Not so shockingly, he got first. I was in second at 64' until Delore's last throw where he added 2' to his top shot and took me out at 64'7.5". He was starting to enjoy that too much.

You know how much I love talking about the hammers, so I'll make this quickish. Technique proved to be the equalizer on the B side, as Mike took both top spots with 68'3.5"/85'8.75". Second place was split in the two hammers between Aaron on the light at 83'8" and Orrin on the heavy at 67'5.75". The two swapped places again between hammers. Joel looks just fantastic on this event and was way out in front with 104'11"/125'7". Talk about speed and whip. Gordie came out to show people what he had with a fantastic 95'1.75"/113'9.5" combo to take third both times. Delore was whining about not being good at the hammers and he proved it by getting PRs or close to it for both at 89'8"/109'3" to take third in both. By this point, I'd stopped listening to anything he had to say and started taking over the mic myself whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The WOB was an interesting little block of metal with a D handle on it that most of the guys had real problems finding the timing for. Matt Cook would go 12' to win the B division with Mike hitting 11' and taking #2 spot. Orrin rounded that out by going to 10' in fewer shots than Aaron. Brett unfortunately had some real timing issues and had plenty of height but no arc and that cost him by bowing out early on this event. Marc cleared 12', but had more of the aforementioned timing issues. Dave and Jim hit 12' easily enough, but 13' was just a bit out of reach. Gord and I went 13', but he did it in less attempts than I did. Joel finally came in at 13'. This was also where Davey saved Delore's life by yelling at him when one side of the crossbar came loose and took a swipe at Delore's head. Delore moved fast enough to not get beaned so no damage was done. Nice work, Davey Laidlaw! Now he owes you :)

After repairs were made, Delore went on to clear 14' as did Greg Bell, but Greg did it in fewer attempts to take second. Only Joel cleared 15' and went on to take 3 very good shots at 16' while he was at it. Man, that is a LONG way up.

By this point, everyone was hot and starting to wind down, just in time for the caber. With an 18' stick with a good taper, the B's started off. It would prove to be too much for anyone but Mike and Matt, who went 12:00 and 1:00 respectively to take first and second. Aaron had a close spin on it, but it didn't quite break the 90 degree plane enough to count. Victoria also turned the women's caber for a 1:00.

The Open caber started off at 19'5" and it was heavy and obviously very freshly cut. After 2 rounds and 1 slice without anyone turning it, it too was chopped to 18' and then Gordie turned it nicely. He had also stood it straight up at 18'8", so I suspect he could have turned it there with another round. Big Brett Milton, master extraordinaire, would go 12:00 to take this event with Gord in second and Delore once again chose his last throw to tie my 11:45 with a 12:15 and take me on countbacks. There is no justice in the world. This event ended up being the only chink in Joel's competitive armour although it wasn't from any lack of power.

As a sponsored demo, there was a two handed keg toss in the Open class that Gordie Walsh came out big for to take the bounty on it with a 36'6" throw and Joel trailing him by 3/4". I was once again set for third spot when Delore added 3' to his previous throw to take me by 7" or so with 35'8". If his lady didn't seem like such a lovely person and genuinely attached to him, I'd have considered hitting him with a car in the parking lot after.

So overalls ended with our own Mikey Gilpin taking top spot in the Bs with Matt Cook hot on his heels and Orrin Nesdoly rounding out the top three. To noone's surprise, Joel handily won the Open class and looks to be in good shape for the All Canadian Nationals in Antigonish later this month. Delore's solid performances netted him second and Gordie's hammer and caber rush got him past Greg Bell and into third spot overall. 5.5 points seperated the 3rd through 5th spots, with Greg edging me by a single point to take 4th to my 5th. 32 degree weather, good organization and a nice crowd made for a great day, even without any spectacular performances from our own athletes. The BC boys put on a nice show and I'm sure there'll be a contingency from Alberta making the trek again next year. Thanks for the hospitality, guys!

- Sean

Ellerslie - June 30/04

Ok, so typically everyone's a little ground down from Red Deer and the results aren't quite up to what we saw the previous day. This weekend was a little different, though. Maybe it was all the sleep some members got (like Mr. Jim "Oh, let's just have a quick nap" Garrick), maybe it was the slightly lower amount of alcohol consumption the night before or maybe everyone just still felt keyed up and sharp from Red Deer. In any case, Ellerslie once again became a nice display of skill and power.

Bobby got into it right away by opening up the stone with a 35' shot he would later extend to 36'6". Mike Gilpin was definitely more awake than he had been the previous year as he ended with a 34' attempt and made it look a lot more smooth than the day before had been. Second timer Ryan Rickson punched out 31'9" to take third by a commanding 18" or so.

Just like the day before, Bobby took early command of the HWFD and without Jim Garrick around, his 25'6" attempt would hold for first. It's kind of funny to watch Bob now almost get pissed off when he only throws 25' or so in the 56. 6 weeks ago he'd have been thrilled. Mike Gilpin and Terry Hunt split the honours of second at the 25' mark with shots that looked pretty effortless. Ryan added a couple of inches to his PR despite being up all night puking his guts out and Aaron looked kind of pissed that he only went 20'10" considering how nice the spins were for it. Lee Distad really cranked it up to hit 17'2" and nail a 2' PR on a single spin and Tim Maclean also looked thoroughly in command for this event, hitting 19'4", which I believe was a big PR.

Bobby started up the LWFD with a big 54'2" mark and that would stand up under all the next attempts, including his own. He's starting to tweak things on subsequent attempts and being a technician looks good on him. We teach him how to extend his body and he'll be frightening. Mike fired out a solid 52'5" attempt to take second and Ryan followed a ways back of him with a PR of 46'3". Not bad for a second games. Terry was a little off on this one at 45'4" but again Todd Hennel, Aaron, Tim Maclean and Lee Distad were hitting PRs or close to it. Good to see the guys comin out hard on day 2.

We decided to punish the B's by having them throw both hammers. Terry had total control over these events going 71'3"/92'2" and beating everyone else by at least 4' in both events. Aaron came out big for the heavy to take second, but it was Bob Brown's last attempt on the light that got him second and saved him from a serious drop in placings. Mike Gilpin and Ryan Rickson traded off third on the heavy and light respectively.

Onto the caber. Ok, since the B's made short work of the smaller caber from the day before, they got an 18' 95# stick to play with. It was big, it turned fast and if you didn't get a good pick, it was gone. This one really brought out the boys who like the caber. Terry Hunt schooled everyone by nailing 12:00 and then turning two more times for good measure. Mike got a good pick in on his second and turned it for a 12:30 which would get him third. Bobby Brown once again pulled off a last ditch effort to nail 12:00 and take second. Aaron was cheated by the Fates by having the stick stand up to 85 degrees and then inexorably fall right back. Ryan took some solid pulls on it as well, ending with a 70 degrees. Again, some great work for his second games.

A little improvisation between two bleachers for the gathering crowd made for an interesting weight for height. 10' was simple for almost everyone and 11' didn't put up much more of a fight, so up it went to 12', because 11'6" has been done by everyone. That proved to be the back breaker for everyone but Mikey G and Jeff Maclean on the 42 for a new provincial junior record. Both guys took some great shots at 12'6", with Mike literally sitting the weight on top of it but not being able to put it over. Still, it got him the event win and secured him second place by half a point over Terry Hunt.

When the smoke cleared, though, it was all Bobby Brown taking top honours. Just a bit more tweaking and Bobby will be up with the big boys where he belongs. Some great throwing from some great guys. I'll get on to the open class later. Now I have to pack for Penticton. See ya!

- Sean

Provincial Weekend - June 28/04

Well, I said I'd start writing something, didn't I? First off, the results are coloured, the records are updated and the athlete's page has had some massive updates. Definitely check over the athlete's page and if I've got some errors, email me the corrections. This also means if you aren't on there, send me the list and I'll try to get you in there.

Well, what to say about this weekend? Unreal might be the closest. The Amateur B class once again stole the vast majority of the thunder in Red Deer, so let's visit that first, shall we?

There was a lot of grumbling of the good natured kind from the ranks on this one due to a couple of factors. Namely Jim Garrick and untested track athlete Matt Doherty. Most of the membership of the ASAA was not around for the Kris Watson years and hence they had never had their heads handed to them by a track athlete before and were not looking forward to it. Jimmy's name had often been bandied around with the term "sandbagger" attached to it, but to be fair the man has had some inconsistancy problems in the past. These problems are now over and Jimmy put that message across in style.

The stone got underway much as it always does until young Matt came out and crushed a 41'8" attempt that he didn't look happy with. But as unhappy as Matt looked about it, everyone else was almost depressed. Bobby Brown answered it with a PR of his own, going out 38'3" on his second shot. Jimmy's first shot at 37'5" would stand as his best and after that everyone was playing for scraps. This doesn't mean they weren't breaking their own PRs, just that the top 3 had separated themselves from the pack by almost 4 feet. Later, on extra attempts, Matt would put the Amateur B provincial record to 44'. Nice way to start his first games.

Jimmy and Bobby were practically drooling to get the heavy weight underway and neither disappointed with Bobby hitting 25'1" and Jimmy opening at 28'7". Matt had never touched this before and got a good lesson after he got taken off his feet on his first attempt. He must have learned a lot between throws, though, because he came back over 20' and then hitting 24'10" on his third attempt EVER. Massive. But Jim Garrick CRUSHED out a 30'8" mark to set a new field record and provincial HWFD record to boot. Terry Hunt and Mike Gilpin had respectable marks over 23' and first timer Ryan Rickson also went over 21, which took a lot of us in the open class a long time to get to. Other PRs fell as well further down the line by the likes of Tim Maclean and Lee Distad and even Aaron looked like he was there to really throw.

The light weight was more of the same with Jimmy taking the event with an incredible 59'8" and Matt right on his heels at 59'1". Bobby nailed a PB with 55'6" to take third. Anyone else remember when that would have won the open class? It wasn't that long ago. To really hammer the point home, Jimmy hit 62'1" on an extra spin. Monstrous.

The hammer really showed who had the training at Matt destroyed the field by going 101' by his third throw. Terry Hunt was back 10' but well ahead of anyone else for second place. Jimmy one spun the thing to hang onto third place when he needed it most. A couple of other guys "gripped it and ripped it" for some nice PRs as well like Todd Hennel and Lee Distad yet again.

The caber is only the caber though and no amount of track work can prepare you for it. It was a 16'4" affair with a lot of bend in it, but the boys made it look stupid by having a high noon shootout. First timer Ryan Rickson showed exactly how much explosive power rugby has given him by crushing the caber his first shot with an 11:00. When the dust cleared, 4 guys had hit 12:00 and Terry Hunt was the winner by countbacks. Terry has a beautiful pick and his control is phenomenal. This event really mixed the results up a bit. Terry took a shot at the challenge caber and nailed that too. Always a pleasure having him back and schooling the AmBs.

The WOB turned into a thinking man's game with guys waiting to come in until late to make sure the countbacks wouldn't work against them. The ploy worked for both Bobby and Jimmy, but anything over 12' was a little beyond anyone today. The two new boys really brought their A game to this event, both going over 12'.

The sheaf was brought back and it went swimmingly, with almost everyone making the opening mark of 16 and then clearing 19' to boot. Even Bobby, who hates the event, took 3 VERY close shots at 21' after hitting a 19' PR. Last year was the first time Bobby ever touched the thing and it didn't go well. Looks like he had a bit more of a clue this time. But Matt and Jimmy were again the dynamic duo, both clearing 24' and then Jimmy taking top honours with 26' and yet another new field record and clinching a solid win overall. Matt took second in the sheaf and managed to tie Bobby for second, beating him out of second only on event wins. Congrats to all.

So after all of that we ended up with a pile of PRs, a fistful of field and provincial records, a new Amateur B champion and two new open class throwers. Tough act to follow. But follow it, we did.

The worst part about the Open class is the fact that we lose all the crowd because they're spent from watching the intense action that is our Amateur B class. At times I feel like we're only competing for the benefit of the other guys and our families. Fortunately, it's enough.

The stone started off like we've come to expect, with Gord Walsh crushing out a huge 44'4" attempt on his first shot. I got my legs under me enough to follow with 44' and Mike Staal was just behind with 43'1". Davey Laidlaw got a PR by going over 41' and Dave Roe just muttered about the stone, the only real chink in his armour. So already things were tight. (Plus we were happy we were at least keeping pace with the track athlete from the morning)

The weights for distance were up next and the only guy who decided he liked his opening bid on the heavy was Mike Staal, going out 30'6". On Dave Roe's third attempt (pulling ACROSS his body), he eked Mike out by 2", going 30'8". My second attempt had snagged me the field record by 3", so I opened up on the last one and hit it out to 34'11" for a PR and a field record. Felt good. I should mention that the lowest mark we had was over 29'. Says something about the way things are now, doesn't it?

The light was more of the same, with 4 guys going over 61'. After a decent opener, I remember telling Jim "Man, I'd love Gordie's field record, but 68' is a long way out there." Someone, it seems, likes me because my next shot went out to 69'3". And then just to prove it wasn't a fluke, my third one went 69'. All it cost me was a callous. Gordie and Mike rounded out the top three, being within 3" of each other at 62'3" and 62' respectively.

The heavy hammer was all about the usual suspects, as Gord and Mike chased each other down to a 9" difference of 91'9" to 91' in Gordie's favour. The defending champ was starting to pick up steam. The rest of us were better than 10' back so we made little to no impact there. Something that needs to be addressed.

The caber was big at 18'2", top heavy and had some mass to it around 115-120#. A worthy enough stick, if we were worthy enough for it. In the end, only Gordie had the combination of the run required and the fast pop to make it go over and he did it twice. Mike Staal stood it up a little more than I did and pushed me back to third again.

Now the 56# WFH was up and Gordie played it casual, coming in at 12'. Same with the Daves we know. None of them have any problems. Mike and I decide to stick our thumbs in the eyes of Fate and come in at 13'. My timing's off already and Mike's the same as we both fire the first one straight up. We overcome the Red Deer Curse enough to clear 13' on seconds, but that's all I or Gordie see for height. Mike Staal, however, goes on to clear 13'6" like it's his job and then 14' even easier. So not only did he win that event, but he won it by a mile.

Ask Mike sometime about the evils of the sheaf. He'll tell you. We cleared the opener at 20' and then sat down a lot with Dave Roe. Gordie mustered enough for 22' to clench second place and a solid overall victory, but this was Davey Laidlaw's turn to shine, easily clearing 24' and taking a few very near misses at 26. Jim came out after sitting and talking for the duration of our events and took a couple shots at 27', but it was pretty obvious he didn't have it in him just then. That morning it would have gone, though.

So after everything had been tallied up, Gordie Walsh was provincial champ for the 4th straight year with myself and Mike Staal rounding out the top three. Some excellent throwing from all concerned and a great games. We can't thank Red Deer enough for being so accomodating. And Bob Brown and Jim Garrick for continuing to sit in the blazing sun to announce for us. The lovely Joanne Garrick also did a bang up job of marking for everyone and it sure is easy to read her writing, let me tell you. Easier than reading my own.

And also, I'd like to thank everyone who helped pack up the equipment and clean the area before we left. Always the worst part about competing is knowing it has to be cleaned up as well and just having one or two guys to do it makes it a miserable job. With that many hands, it really snaps up in a hurry. Thanks, guys. Ellerslie report to come later.

- Sean

Red Deer/Ellerslie Prelim - June 27/04

The rest of you are probably dead asleep, but I'm taking the first feeding of my son, so I decided to do a little work for you. The numbers are up for the weekend. No pretty colours yet. No, the records aren't done. No, the athlete's page isn't updated. And no, no writeup yet. I'll try and get to it tomorrow. For now, revel in your marks. In short, the weekend was awesome and some serious marks were put up in both the Amateur B and Open classes and a lot of PRs died. I'll be updating the site for a week to keep up.

- Sean

Douglas MacDonald! - June 21/04

Never has the term "going to the clinic" had so much GOOD connotation to it. I can say simply that this was absolutely fantastic and that those of us who were there took a lot out of it. For those that haven't had the pleasure, Doug is a consummate gentleman and very obviously an educator as he has a knack for explaining things that really makes it stick. Some of the guys saw immediate improvement in some of their events and some of us are going to have to drill things like crazy to get them to stick, but I don't think a single person there didn't end up tweaking his technique on everything if not wholesale changing it. It's also a real joy when you can get an athlete of his calibre to show up just to teach a bunch of hacks how it's supposed to look.

The after party was great as well and I can't thank my mother in law (Joyce) and my wife (Carmen) enough for that either. They did all the prep work and I think everyone got enough (or more than enough) food after throwing all day. Apparently the men need to apologize to the women present, however, as my wife informed me that we were a rather pungent group when you walked into the basement. Personally, I didn't smell a thing. Overall, the weekend rocked and it was a great lead-in to Red Deer. It's going to be a barn burner, kids!

Speaking of Red Deer, if you're going but weren't at the clinic, get ahold of me for a competitor's pass. Without one of those, you'll be paying the gate fee and I guess they're getting pretty sticky about that. Look for more information later this week.

- Sean

Grande Prairie - June 13/04

How's this for same day service? The results are up for GP already and it was quite a show.

First off, the trip up was total entertainment filled with jockeying for position, flying chips, hanging moons and kleenex bombs. The Edmonton boys (and Dave Roe) do like their amusement. To noone's surprise, we arrived safely and found our hotel and somewhat settled in for the evening after a short trip to the hotel hot tub and some giggles in Bobby's room watching insane people and the like. Now it was the next day and time to play.

Because of sheer cowerdice and lack of commitment, I'm sure, the only people who showed up were in our vehicles, but we tried our best to put on a show. Mike Gilpin got off a plane from Montreal at 9:00 and drove all night to get to GP at 2:20 and ready to throw by morning. So ask yourself...what was YOUR excuse for not being there?

The weather held off for us and we waited as long as we could, but then we were underway.

The GP stone is an ugly, flat, heavy affair and none of us were much looking forward to it, but we all managed to go past our marks from the previous year, so noone was complaining much. In the end, I managed to take it from Dave Laidlaw who pushed out a big 36' effort easily. The weights were where the surprises started, though.

Bobby Brown really caught everyone's attention with his first attempt with the HWFD, pumping it easily out 27'3", which was about a 2' PR for him. He would later finish with a 28'1" and a big smile on his face. Not to be outdone, Davey Roe CRUSHED out a 31' effort on his last one, despite blocking his body quite nicely. Dave Laidlaw also showed coolness under pressure by fouling twice and then putting out a 28'2" shot to take third. Young Jeff did some kind of voodoo and hit 21' on his first throw and then bettered it by hitting 21'9" on his last one. Monstrous PR. Jimmy is now to the point that a 27' shot is disappointing to him, so what're you gonna do about that? Mikey Gilpin got his feet under him and fired it off over 25', which is normally first class, but everyone was throwing some kind of magic so it didn't place him as high as usual. I managed to get my legs under me and reset the field record to 34'2". If we hadn't been throwing this thing for years, I'd have almost questioned the weight on it today.

The 28 was more of the same, with everyone but our junior going over 50' (and he hit 40 again) with big Dave Roe crushing the 60' mark with 61'11" for the first time in a competition. Like the last event, Jimmy "only" got a mark and despite it being a PR, it wasn't what he was looking for. Still, I think everyone was happy with the way things were rolling. I got another big PR and another field record with a 67'3" shot. Felt good. Almost removed a callous, though. Such is life.

The hammers, as the records will show, were abyssmal save for Bobby Brown hitting a big heavy hammer PR and Jimmy doing the same. Dave got his legs under him enough to go 91' in the light. Other than that, we all looked pretty rookie on this one. We needed Gordie or Mikey Staal up to show these people what a hammer thrower looked like.

As I said, we had some extra time so we added a braemar stone with that same ugly rock from the open stone. This really emphasized who had the strong shoulders, lemme tellya. I was found wanting as Dave L. fired out a shot better than his open stone mark from last year, which also netted him a field record to boot. Plus there's that scream that follows him when he's really driving it out there. We really should tape that and make it part of the index page. Maybe later.

I didn't remember the caber being that heavy but it definitely had gained some weight in the rain. Jimmy tried twice valiently to braemar the thing, but his best attempt came when he was forced to move. Still gotta do some cardio, I guess, Jim. Bobby came the closest to turning it on his third attempt, but only after trying to kill Jim and some of the crowd with his first attempt. He failed at that, though, so we weren't on the news. Good on us. Jeff's getting quite talented about picking cabers, but that thing was a little outside his expertise at the moment, but he expertly laid it down after one good pull. My first attempt was the only thing worth counting as I managed a 1:30, but my hand flying off on the second attempt and a third one without enough oomph kind of disappointed the crowd, I think.

Now the WOB was up and Jeff is used to throwing the 42#. But this time he had to toss the 56 and he didn't disappoint, going 9' and then 10' for a big PR and a step toward the B division. Nice work, boy. Bobby nailed 11' like it was his job, but couldn't quite muster enough for 12'. Mike Gilpin had no such problem and despite a lack of sleep and being a little twitchy and "Red Bullied", he nailed 12'. Took some honest attempts at 12'6", too. Jim crushed 12', but couldn't get his timing enough to get 13'. Davey Roe hit that like noone's business, but 13'6" denied him. This time. The big story was Davey L, though, who finally figured out he had to drop his hips to pop it up. All in all, it got him an 18" PR and a new best of 13'6" and three really close shots at 14'. I managed to get my timing issues settled enough to get a PR of my own and go 14'6" on my first shot and hit the bar three times at 15'. Colour me happy.

So once again, Grande Prairie treated us well, I think everyone had at least one performance they were pumped up about and it was a great kickoff to the official Alberta season. See everyone in Red Deer next weekend for the Doug MacDonald clinic!

Regina results are up! - June 2/04

Thanks to Doug and Les for getting me the results which can be reviewed here.

- Sean

Bobby Brown works too hard - May 31/04

..and he does it for YOU!, Gentle Reader. And I for one definitely appreciate that kind of involvement. Not only is he the #1 guy for gathering sponsorship, but now he's got some official ASAA hoodies for sale. The price is $40 and you have to contact Bobby himself and he'll hook you up. While you're at it, thank him for the work he does for the association.

- Sean

One down, one up and clinic time - May 26/04

Alright, we'll get right down to brass tacks here. Sherwood Park has been cancelled!

That's right. No real explanation given, so I assume it's a money issue. The Edmonton Highland Dance Association is still putting on a dance competition to my knowledge, but piping and drumming and us are gone. A real pity, too, as the organizers were very generous to us and accomodated a lot of things. The games will be missed.

In some version of compensation, however, the Edmonton Boys Pipe Band is putting on a games on July 11 or the day after Ft. Edmonton. Which means we get another back to back games in Alberta. At least for this year and hopefully it will become a regular thing. Check out the site for information and the like.

Lastly, and in case you haven't been checking out the Forum, we have been looking at getting Canadian Champ Doug MacDonald out for a clinic. Well, that's been confirmed and it will be the weekend before Red Deer/Ellerslie, or the day Sherwood Park was supposed to be on, for reference. Saturday, June 19 from 10-4 in Red Deer at the same park we do the Paul Sim "competition" on. The cost is $30 per person and that's being used mostly to fly the man out. So if you said you're in and you don't show up, I'll be sending someone to your house to kill you after the clinic. No pressure. Come out and get some tips from the guy who is World Caber Champion and who placed 3rd in the world last year. Plus, he's just a nice guy.

- Sean

The season has started! - May 25/04

That's right, true believers! Regina was this weekend and the only complaint I think any of us had was that the weather sucked. But Doug Campbell and company had even taken that into account and had tents and windbreaks up for us by the time we got out there and so it was actually remarkably easy on the athletes. I can't say how much we appreciated travelling out there and getting treated as well as we did. Doug puts on a first class event and a great welcome the night before. Thanks, big man!

On to the events. My apologies if the numbers aren't 100% right and for not including the ladies. I don't have results in front of me and wasn't paying that much attention to anyone who wasn't with me in the car or competing directly against me.

Ok, so there were the standard Open class and Amateur B class running rampant over 7 events. The stone is an ugly 18.5# affair that's kind of shaped like some kind of mutant cake wedge or something and it's hard to get that thing to stick to your neck and hand. Mikey Staal and I had decent shots at 39'7" and 39' to get second and third respectively, but it was Terril Outhwaite from Manitoba that stood and delivered a monstrous 41'+ attempt on his third to take it. Damn shotputters anyway. Davey Laidlaw added about 4' from last year's attempt for a respectable 35' shot as well.

The B class was a dual between Duane McLinton of Manitoba and our own Jimmy Garrick as Jim went 35' and Duane I believe was in the 33' range. Mike Gilpin pushed out a 31' attempt to take third in that one. By this point, the trig was already looking sloppy.

The 56WFD was up next and Marc Morin opened up with a shot just 3" shy of the field record. Joe Slobodian was showing off some technique that he got from Canadian champ Doug MacDonald and if you've never seen it before, it's wild to watch. Big Dave Laidlaw opened up on his third to finally crack that 30 foot barrier with a 30'3" throw, which ended up being good for 3rd, I believe. Marc ended with 31' to take second, but it was yours truly who fired out a 33'6" attempt for a competition PR and a new field record to boot that took first.

Jimmy Garrick kept up his winning ways with a 26' shot and big Doug Campbell took second with an incredibly solid looking 24'1" throw. I know Jim wasn't entirely happy with his throwing here, but it's hard to complain about another event win. Mike Gilpin was ill pleased with his showing here as he managed to foul out of the event. However, to his credit, the range markers for viable throws were tight. As in about a 30 degree sweep. Jeff Maclean's first toss at this stood as his furthest with a decent 16'5" attempt and better yet, he stayed totally stable.

The trig was moved for the 28WFD as the ground was more than a little chewed apart by then. Neither Marc nor Mike were impressed with their openers, but Terril fired out a nice 60 footer after spinning the weight around his head first. My first attempt beat the field record by 6 or so feet but my final attempt there cleared 66'10" for another event win and another field record. Marc came in third, I believe, with Terril second.

Jim was totally irritated by his first throw and improved it by a lot on his second or third to 54'. That ended up holding for first place, with big Neil Brown on his heels around the 50' mark. Duane fell back to third on this one with Mike taking 4th (I think). Again, I need results to verify a lot of this.

The hammers. I truly have no idea how anyone threw here because I was in shock. Suffice it to say I won with 104'4", so we can pretty much assume that the weather affected Marc and Mike a lot more than it affected me. Must be a lack of technique that saved me.

The weight for height was up next and Doug had those sweet standards of theirs set up before the first event was even going, so it was a smooth transition. Everyone threw together and both Mike Gilpin and Jimmy Garrick handily cleared 11'. Jimmy had more than enough height for 12, but liked throwing without any arc. Duane nailed 11' easy too. The WOB is never Marc's favorite and 11' was all he could muster with his back twinging the way it was. Dave Laidlaw threw 12 like it was his job, but didn't have quite the oomph for 13. Terril unfortunately pulled something in his neck and withdrew from there. I hate seeing injuries like that.

Mike Staal, Joe and I all cleared 13' without any real difficulty (especially Joe) and then Joe cleared 13'6" easy and left me to do it in two attempts. Mike rode the bar a couple times, but it just wouldn't roll over. I had one decent attempt at 14', but then I screwed up my timing and wouldn't let go of the damn weight. Joe had no such problems and hit 14'6" on his third attempt for a new field record and an easy event win. Damn punk's only 25, too.

The sheaf. How can I enjoy an event so much and suck at it at the same time? Anyway, Mike Staal and I both came in at 18' and when they jumped to 22', we both sat out after 3 throws. Others, however, shared some success. Mike Gilpin got a PR of 18' to take third and Jimmy got a huge PR with 22' and sat the bag on the bar TWICE at 24'. Heartbreakers, both of them. It'll fall this year, though. Duane had no such issues and very handily cleared 24'. He was definitely good for 25. That made for the top three in the B class.

Dave Laidlaw did a similar thing to Jimmy, clearing 24' and then resting the bag at 26'. Again, that'll go this year too. But it was Joe Slobodian who took his second event win and had some great attempts at the field record of 28'3", but he settled with 26' as a result. Marc was second on attempts at 24' and just couldn't find that normal groove he has with the sheaf. I think his back was really starting to talk dirty to him at this point.

Finally the caber was up. Same stick as last year, an impressive 18' beast that they told us was ~99lbs. I think it was a hair more, but it was still a good competition stick. By this point it was also pouring rain and everyone was ready for a hot meal and some relaxation. The wind wasn't helping either. The stick was going up but just wasn't turning until I managed to get a piece of it and it went over on a lopsided push from the wind for a 10:00. Mike Staal all but planted the thing and he took second on degrees. As a note, our boy Jeff the Junior looked more comfortable with a caber than he ever has before with some good picks and even smooth drops when the wind pushed it around more than he could handle. We get him to learn the pull and he'll be doing fine.

So when the dust cleared, Jimmy had taken first in the B's, Duane was second and Neil Brown had edged out Mike Gilpin for third. Mike Staal took third in the open class with Marc Morin taking #2 spot and I ended up taking top honours. Overall, a great day and a great start to the season.

- Sean

Clinic time already! - April 19/04

Gordie Walsh has decided to slap together something of a clinic this weekend. Specifically at 3-6pm on Saturday, April 24. So if you're in the Calgary area or don't mind a bit of travel, drop Gord a line at cabertoss@shaw.ca and he'll give you the details.

- Sean

Hawaiian Highland Games Writeup - April 18/04

Courtesy of Jimmy Garrick:

First and foremost, on behalf of Aaron, Kelly, Joanne and myself, I would like to thank Mary and Dan Peddie, Jackie and Larry Philips and Dede and James Sutherland for there most gracious hospitality to a few Canadians along way from home.

Well for those of you who don't know, there is this thing called Hawaiian Time. Which basically means, we start throwing whenever they get orginized and ready. Organization was a little less then desirable this year but I think that was due to the fact noone really stepped up to the plate as far as an Athletic Director was concerned. Dane Musick who lives in Hawaii and has competed there for the last 18 years ended up running the games with help from Larry Philips and Mary Peddie. I would like to thank Dane Musick for running, recording scores and judging the games. The Hawaiian Scottish Festival has alot of potential, it is a wonderful opportunity to get away for a week long vacation and compete while you are there. Prizes are always good and the people are great! Plus who can complain when the weather is always a nice 27C and partly cloudy with the trades winds blowing a gentle 10kms/hour. The competition is always held at Kapiolani Park, a beautiful park just past Waikiki Beach, with Diamond Head volcano as the back drop. Please pass on the good word and tell other competitors about the Hawaiian Scottish Festival so we can keep these games up and running for years to come. And now on to the games!

We finally started throwing around 10am. There were 8 competitors in the Open Class and 4 in the Masters Division. The competitors consisted of Kelly Strachan, Aaron Andronyk, Bret "I can bench 100lbs" McDonald (Anchorage, Alaska), Andrew Kirchen (Originally from South Dakota but posted to Hawaii with the US Army), Dane Musick (Hawaii), Will Kind (El Paso, Texas), Ernie Terukina (Hawaii) and myself. In the Masters Division, we had James Sutherland (Hawaii), Larry Philips (California), Jack Karbens (Hawaii) and Bob Taylor (Hawaii). Will Kind, Ernie Terukina and Bob Taylor were all first timers.

We started with the stones. This Open stone was big and heavy weighing approximately 19# or so. Kelly Strachan had a good throw of 27'7", good enough for third. But it was the Army guy, Andrew (I have no kilt) Kirchen, with his track and field background who won the event with a monster throw of 37'. This throw would equate to well over 40' with our stone. I'm beginning to hate these track guys. Next up the Braemar stone. This stone was round and weighed exactly 26#. Bret McDonald had a good throw of 23'8" and I added 2' to my throw from last year recording 28'1". But once again it was Andrew Kirchen taking the Braemar stone with a throw of 30'

On to the weights for distance. In the 28# wfd Bret McDonald once again took third with 46'7". I had a PB with a 56'2" throw and Andrew Kirchen won this event with a 60'4" throw. In the 56# wfd (the Widow Maker), first timer Ernie Terukina had a good throw of 16'10" edging out Aaron. With Ernies Olympic Lifting background he has alot of power and potential to do well in the games. As well, first timer, Will Kind did very respectable in this event considering he was about the same size as Ray Morton. No complaining from Will just a solid throw of 7'10". Once again the event was taken by Andrew Kirchen with a throw of 29'4". Not bad for a guy who hasn't thrown in two years because he has been in Iraq. I hate to see what he can do with some practice and consitant competitions under his belt.

The hammers were next and as always I dreaded them. Andrew told us that the hammers were his worst event and that he absolutely hated them. Aaron Andronyk recorded a PB in the 16# hammer with a throw of 88'3" good enough for second, not bad for a guy who wore pants the entire time he was in Hawaii. Andrew fouled his first throw and we were starting to believe him about the hammers. Until his second throw which was a 94'er and then on his third throw, threw out a monsterous 106'er. Yeah, he hates the hammers! Needless to say Andrew won the event. In the heavy hammer Kelly Strachan took third with a throw of 66'1" only inches off a PB. I hung onto second with a 66'4" throw and Andrew won the event with an 80'3" throw.

We got right into the caber. We all went through the qualifing and competition caber to move onto the Challenge caber. The Challenge caber was 13'7" in length and weighed in at 141.5#. The end was about as big and round as a volleyball so trying to pick this thing was a task in itself. Only five of us even managed to pick this caber and attempt to turn it. Kelly Strachan scored 30deg, Andrew Kirchen 75deg, Aaron Andronyk 75deg, Bret McDonald 80 deg and on my first and only good attempt won the event with a of scored 85deg.

The weight for height was next. The standards were not the best set up I have ever seen but they did the trick. Both Andrew and I finished with 12'. Although I had a few good attempts at 13' and Aaron even said I had the height just needed the trajectory to get it over. It is so good not to be sore when you throw. Bret McDonald came in third at 11'.

Last but not least was the sheaf. An event I have come to enjoy. With my Demon Stick in hand I could only manage 18' with the 22# sheaf. Both Bret McDonald and Andrew Kirchen cleared 19'6" and moved onto 21'. They did not make 21' but Bret took the event on attempts. Aaron matched his PB in this event with 16' and the sheaf was 2# heavier. Not bad for a dwarf.

All in all it ended up being a great day. Long and tiring after throwing a full 9 events in the sun and heat of Hawaii but who can complain. Andrew Kirchen ended up taking the title with 14 points, myself in second with 18 points, Bret McDonald in third with 30 points and Kelly edged out Aaron with 40.5 points to Aarons 43 points.

In the Masters Division Larry Philips edged out James Sutherland for the overall title by 2 points. Jack Karbens and Bob Taylor tied with 27.5 points at the end of the day. But with Bob Taylors first place finish in the Open stone, he took third place overall.

Medallions were awarded for the top three in all events. Along with a bottle of sctoch to the top five. Andrew also recieved a nice carved bowl for top spot in the competiton. Next year promises to be even better! So if you are looking for a nice place for a vacation and want to get a competiton in before the season really starts, the Hawaiian Scottish Festival is the place for you!

- Jim

Updates! - April 11/04

Well, the results are up for Hawaii. Looks like our boys put on a very respectable show.

- Sean

Masters World Championships - April 8/04

That's right, you're NEVER too old to throw in the games. On August 21, 2004 in Winston, Oregon at the Douglas County Celtic Highland games, the World Masters Championships will be going on. Anyone over 40 who regularly competes is invited. It's an open competition. All the really relevant data (entry form, etc) can be found at www.scottishmasters.org. So get going, you old bastards!

- Sean

Tartan Ball - Correction

It's on Saturday, not Friday. I'm a dummy.

- Sean

Tartan Ball - March 2/04

In Edmonton? Looking for an excuse to wear your kilt and hang out with other like minded people? Bored this Saturday anyway? Yeah, I know it's short notice, but the Tartan Ball is this weekend. If you are interested, drop me a line at slangfor@telus.net.

- Sean

Registration stuff - February 14/04

I'd say "Happy Valentine's Day", but there's a few guys in this association that I don't want to take things the wrong way.

In any case, I've had a number of inquiries about registering for the 2004 season. The first thing I'll mention is that the membership fees went up to $75 CDN. This was decided at our AGM/drinking party after Calgary last year, so don't shoot the messenger. As ever, the Association's mandate is to provide high quality comps and opportunities for it's membership, so trust me when I say that if we get flush due to sponsorship and the like, the members will ALL benefit. Open class, B, Junior and Women's classes alike.

The second thing I'll say is feel free to start sending registration info as of March 1. Every year I try to get a little more organized for this stuff, and March 1 gives me a few more weeks to prep and keep better records. Standard info, games planning to attend, etc is pretty much all we need. If you have any other questions, please just drop me a line at slangfor@telus.net. I'll have more information on upcoming clinics and the like once I can actually see the ground. Oh, and don't forget to check out our Forum to talk to the other guys and gals and get some updates there, too.

- Sean

Whee! - January 30/04

Ok, the kid's in bed, a beer's in hand and my email's read and for the most part answered. So I updated the site with a few pics Jimmy was kind enough to send me. Check out the 2003 gallery for more pics. Further proof that I *do* update things when they're sent to me. Eventually.

- Sean

More updates - January 28/04

Ok, I've put up the tenative schedule for the 2004 season based off the fact that the games tend to hit the same weekends every year. So there may be some inaccuracies, but I don't see any major changes. Probably 2 or 3 months until any serious outdoor training for us up north, but start asking yourselves right now: Am I heavy enough?

- Sean

World Championships - January 28/04

First post of the new year! I know it's a little hard to imagine throwing with the -40 degree weather we're coping with up here, but down in Mesa, Arizona they are once again holding the Women's World Championships on February 29th. Shannon will of course be there, as well as our own Josee Morneau and a host of other world class women's throwers. This is the same calibre of athlete you would expect to see at Pleasanton or any of the other world championships for the men and I'm quite sure there will be world records thrown and destroyed. All the information can be found at www.arizonascots.com.

So how's everyone else doing? Getting fired up for the season, I hope. Should be, as they say, a barn burner.

- Sean

Hey look! Updates! - December 17/03

Well, first off a huge thanks has to go out to Jim and Joanne for putting up with a pile of us and putting on an awesome party. This HAS to become a yearly thing. It was great to see everyone, talk some stories up, talk some training and even have a little contest of sorts (who is king?). This little gathering emphasized what's really important in this sport and that's the people you meet in it.

In additional news, it's time to start thinking about HAWAII. That's right, on April 3&4th of 2004, the Hawaiian Highland games are on again. Jim, Aaron and Davey Laidlaw are pretty much committed to going, but who knows what could happen if enough interest is generated. It may become the official first ASAA competition of the year :). There's some more information on the forum. So check it out.

- Sean

P-A-R-T Why? Because we GOTTA - December 1/03

Hey, look. Another month went by. Been nutty busy at work so my extra-curricular activity has dwindled in the evenings to hang out with the family and detox, so no updates. Sorry, kids. First thing I'll deal with is the subject of today's post. Jimmy and Jo Garrick have moved to the mighty city of Beaumont and, as such, have decided to throw a party on Saturday, December 13th to celebrate. To quote:

We are planning a BBQ/Party/Pre-Christmas bash on Saturday, December 13th. Festivities to start anytime in the afternoon. Beverages will be flowing around 3pm or as soon as I get up that day and we will be starting the BBQ around 4:30pm. Check the Forum for more details and to drop Jimmy a line and tell him you're interested in coming.

Second, Graham, I haven't forgotten and I will be looking into tossing up the Junior records. Just been nutty and I've been lazy.

5 months to go, kids.

- Sean

I didn't forget! - October 20/03

Ok, so it's been a month. Doesn't mean I'm not hard at work for you, gentle reader. So, I updated the records, so you can rush over and see if your name is anywhere on there. The vast, vast majority of them changed hands, so a definite sign of progress in the great province of Alberta. Also, I'd like to give a huge thanks to Jimmy Garrick for updating the NASGA results for us (although some of the numbers there apparently haven't updated yet). Thanks, big fella.

And a HUGE congratulations goes out to the Hicke family, who have expanded by one since we last saw them. Way to go, guys! Looking forward to meeting her when we next get together.

We're also getting more traffic on the Forum, so I assume everyone seems to like it. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

- Sean

Kettlebells in Kanada! - September 21/03

Ok, so if you're involved in strength stuff (as basically all of us are), you've no doubt heard of kettlebells. They've had something of a revival in the past few years as they used to be a mainstay of training in the golden years, especially in Eastern Bloc countries for their throwers and lifters. Now, if you've done any research, you start to realize that the US makes these things, but shipping and the exchange rate usually makes it a little detrimental. Well, fret no more! Aaron Andronyk now makes these thing right here in E-town. He carries 35#, 53# and 70# models plus a 25# model for the ladies interested in some old school explosive training. So just get ahold of him if you're interested in talking turkey or even just finding out some more information about the bells themselves and training with them.

- Sean

Canada Represents! - September 21/03

As some of you may or may not know, the World's Strongest Man competition is in full swing in Victoria Falls, Zambia. In addition, for the first time ever, Canada has not one or two, but three athletes representing us. The format is this: there are 5 heats of 6 men each, the top two of each heat go onto the final. All of our athletes are in the thick of things in the heats. To noone's surprise, perrenial finalist and favorite to take the whole show, Hugo Girard, is only two points out of top spot in his heat after 3 events and with 3 very strong events to go. As well, the number 2 man in Canada and a world class contender in his own right, Jessen Paulin is two points out of a spot and has three very good events for him to go.

But of more interest to most of us out west, our own prairie boy Geoff Dolan is in the number 2 spot in his heat behind last year's champion Mariusz Pudzianowski by a single point and 5 points up on the next closest competitor with three good events to go. Geoff received more or less a last minute invite to the big show and has doing himself and Canada very proud in this gathering of international talent. So have a blast gentlemen, come home safe and keep doing us proud!

- Sean

Update - September 14/03

Apparently the less computer savvy among us are having some problems with the whole membership by approval thing, so I turned it off. If I get any spammers I might turn it back on. So for now, you can either create a local or global account and (hopefully!) start posting right away.

- Sean

Quick explanations - September 12/03

Guys, by "membership by approval" it means you create an account then basically apply for membership and I still have to approve it. It gives us more control of who's on our board. This also means you won't be able to hop on and start posting immediately. If, however, you create an account and then email me to tell me your handle, I'll email you back when I've approved you and then you're on the go. Just use a little patience and all will be made clear.

- Sean

Hey! Guess what? - September 12/03

We have our own forum now. It's by approval only, so unfortunately everyone will have to create a profile in order to be able to post. Fortunately, this also keeps everyone and their dog from posting in it and we can keep the usual disintegration of such forums on the internet to a minimum. So hop in, sign up and away we go.

- Sean

Slow updates - September 9/03

Got a few pics up in the gallery. More to come. If anyone has any decent shots, send'em along. Hawaii, Regina, etc will be updated over time.

- Sean

Hey look! - September 8/03

A Calgary writeup for the B's from our own Mike Gilpin:

The B's were at it again in Calgary. We threw 8 events and it was an interesting race all day. It was a day of PB's, spoilers, and Murphy's law. The day opened with the open stone andBob Brown once again showing great consistency in the event hammering out a 36'11.5" throw followed by big Jim Garrick and the import Duane McLinton. Next up was the Widow Maker (56 for distance) and Duane won the event with a 25'11" ft throw beating Mr. Garrick by 3 inches and Mr. Brown took third with a 24 ft throw. Up next was the light hammer. Jimmy Garrick opened up with great one spin effort and crushed out a PB 88'2.5" throw. However, this throw would prove to only be good enough for 3rd place as Mike Gilpin finally got his head out of his you know where and put up a PB with 92'5" throw to win the light hammer and big Duane getting a PB with a 90'7.5" ft throw to take 2nd spot.

What happened to the day when 85 ft pretty much guarenteed 1st place in the light hammer? This day saw Bob Brown, Kelly Strachan, and Aaron Andronyk all well over the 80 foot mark. We had to change the schedule a bit and the Braemar Stone was up next and the battle between Mike, Bobby, Jim, and Duane continued to rage. Bob Brown's shoulders pumped out a great 27'5.5" shot, followed by Duane's 28'4" throw, then Jim Garrick's 28'5.5" effort, however the event was won by Mike Gilpin's final 29'2.5" effort.

At about this time the Murphy's Law interceded in the Weight for Height with a lot of competitors having difficulty clearing heights that are usually not a problem for them (Not going to pass at 10 ft are you Mike?). Jim Garrick once again proved that he owns this event by clearing 12 ft, Bob Brown and Kelly Strachan tied for second at 11'. Duane and Kevin Bruce both cleared 11' as well. The Weight for height was the first turn point of the day. The second turning point was the 28 for distance. It was spoiler time as Terry Mortensen cranked out a great one spinner and landed a PB with 50'10" ft effort which landed him second place in the event (welcome to the 50 ft club Terry). Jim Garrick and Bobby Brown tied for third with 50'1" ft throws but Mike Gilpin took the event with a 51'5" ft throw.

Even though the day was getting longer and hotter the athletes continued to dig into the reserves to keep things interesting because the heavy hammer was next. What a show in the heavy hammer as Duane, Jim, and Mike all put up PB's breaking the 70 ft barrier. Duane took the event with a great 73'3", then Jim with a 70'3.5" throw and chasing Jimmy was Mike at 70'1.5". The Caber as always was a harsh mistress with four competitors being successful in taming the shrew. Jim Garrick won the event on his third throw with a great 12:15, Aaron turning a stylish 1:00, and Duane and Mike tied for third with 9:45, and 2:15 respectively.

At the end of the day Jim Garrick was victorious, Duane McLinton was second, and Mike Gilpin was third. Bev Cavanaugh our lone female competitor is getting better with each competition, and demonstrated great improvements especially in picking the caber.

Our Juniors put on a great fight all day long. Jeff and Graham slugged it out constantly trading wins event by event and despite all the trash taking and bravado they tied for first place. Sorry boys, looks like you have all winter to think about that one. The juniors are looking better with each outing. Graham wins the quick change artist award for the day since he was in the piping contest as well as heavy events at the same time.

- Mike

Strongman Stuff - September 7/03

For anyone who's a fan of the sport of strongman, I have some huge news. For the first time in it's existance, the North American Built SOLID Championship is being held in Western Canada. Typically, this competition (which involves the top 5 Canadians vs the top 5 Americans) alternates between the US and Canada, but it's only ever been held in Quebec. Thanks to the intervention of Scott Pursak (sorry about the spelling, Scotty!) who is taking strongman to the next level in Western Canada, we get the opportunity to have this incredible, international level competition practically in our back yard. It's being held in conjunction with the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina. This is serious news, kids. Check their website out and check out the events. It's going to be unreal.

- Sean

Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza - September 7/03

Well, the usual hijinx ensued this year rounding out the last of our "competitions" for 2003. And actually, the throwing was pretty solid considering the level of focus everyone was putting in. As ever, the PSBE is more about just goofing around than actual throwing, but we still hit 7 events and there were even a couple of PB's for good measure. And it was hot. Really freakin hot. I think everyone was expecting kind of an overcast day but it turned into a scorcher. Bobby notably hit PRs in both hammers and Dave Laidlaw, despite a sore back, managed to nail the open stone over 40'. Paul Hicke tossed a very casual 33' 56# WFD and Bev hit a huge PR in the 14# while thinking about ballet or something. Jimmy's looking smoother with two spins in the weights all the time and Mike Gilpin is still very regularly over 50' in the light weight despite that little handicap of only being about 205 on a good day.

As with every year, I really have to thank my wife Carmen and my mother-in-law Joyce for prepping the food for everyone and giving us a place to hang out after. Thanks ladies! We talked a bit too much after the games, but there were a few things to be settled, the fallout of which will be updated as time goes on. Nothing serious, though.

I can say, without any exaggeration, that this was the best year we've ever had. Now considering I said the same thing last year, this says a lot about the direction we're heading. Nice work, gang. Now it's time to get stronger and still keep the technique going until the snow comes and goes. Keep checking back here though for developments, reports from other games and what have you. Stay healthy.

- Sean

The PSBE - September 3/03

Ah yes, the infamous Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza. I've heard mumblings that some of you even want directions to this. Fine. Basically, it's in Red Deer. More specifically than that, it's in Heritage Ranch in Red Deer. Totally specifically, take the 32nd street exit into Red Deer. As you are heading east into Red Deer itself, there is a left turn just at the end of the overpass. Take that. Follow that road as far as you can, until you come to a T intersection. Take another left. Once again, follow that road until it ends and turn right. You're there. It's within viewing distance of the highway, so if you can't see Hwy 2...you're not there. If you want actual roads and stuff, I'll have to get back to you.

- Sean

Winter Training - September 2/03

Never rains, but it pours. Anyway, I neglected an update on the potential for some winter training (sorry Paul!) and I'll make ammends right now. Paul is organizing some indoor tossing and asks that anyone who would be interested get ahold of him so he knows how many people he's looking at. It's getting serious around here, kids. Winter training may be that extra edge you need to bust a plateau or to make sure the skills stay sharp over the long break.

- Sean

Calgary - September 2/03

What can we say about this other than "Wow." First off, huge thanks to Gord Walsh, Dave Roe, Kelly Strachan, Bob Brown, Mike Gilpin, Jim Garrick and everyone else who helped organize that zoo and kept things running more or less smoothly. This association runs primarily on the assumption that people will volunteer time and effort to keep the ball rolling. It's a ton of work and more or less a thankless job to run a games, so for all the times someone doesn't say thanks, guys....thanks! And I can't forget to thank our sponsors and the Calgary Highland Games itself for hosting us and allowing us the opportunity to throw and be part of their festival every year. Thanks a ton, guys.

Now onto the show. I'm expecting a writeup from the B's about the actual goings on at their end as I was too busy competing to really have a play by play ready, but from looking at the results and yammering with the boys all through the day, let me say "Woah!". How about some of these numbers? How about a 92' light hammer effort from Mike Gilpin? How about an 88' hammer from Jim Garrick??! There were 4 guys over 50' in the 28! *4*! We really have to welcome Terry Mortensen to the 50' club. It's a milestone and he did it with one spin, no less. Bobby took the open stone to noone's great surprise. Aaron made a nice effort in the caber to take number 2 spot there. When the smoke cleared, though, it was Jimmy Garrick's consistant placing and shining performances in the WOB and caber that took the day. And Manitoba's Duane McLinton threw a pile of PR's, including a win in the 56# WFD at 25'11" and a huge 73'3" PR in the heavy hammer to keep pace with the big dogs and end up taking the #2 slot quite solidly. Mike was on pace with Jim for a lot of the day and actually took more event wins than Jim, but gambled and lost with the weight for height and that cost him dearly. From the sounds of things, height wasn't an issue, just a matter of smashing into the bar a few too many times. Ah well, no partial points for touching. Kelly Strachan also placed very solidly with another PR on the light hammer as well as some solid placings in the other events (clearing 11' again very easily). Our two juniors traded back and forth all day to end up in a tie. I think these two are really going to step it up next year and make it an even tighter race. It's hard for me to go into a play by play with Bev, as our only female competitor, but I think she was happiest about the fact that she was playing with the same caber as the juniors and managed to pick it all three times. We need some regular competition for her. Again, I'm counting on the boys to give me a play by play for their side of things.

So, onto where I was actually paying attention and throwing. Really hot day and man, was it ever great to have the guys over from Nova Scotia. Glen, Jamie, Kirk and Craig were all great and very easy to talk to, as well as being fantastic athletes. Add into the mix that we had our favorite spoiler Eric Wechter up from Oregon and it made for a really great day. And did it ever step up the level of competition. All but one provincial record fell on Saturday and most of those from the same man. Jamie Peppard showed us why he plays in Nationals every year by hitting over 45' in the stone, over 71' in the light weight and over 37' in the heavy weight. But all this seemed to do was force everyone else to throw better as well. Paul Hicke actually had the record in the 56# WFD for about 5 minutes before Jamie came up. This has really been Paul's breakthrough year and he's forced Gord and Mike to renew their drive to train and bring their numbers up with him. Mike Staal once again showed his skill in the stones to take second spot there and had a couple of PR's (and it's been a while) in the hammers, going over 115' and 94' respectively. Over 32' in the 56# WFD and 14' in the WOB, too. He had a fire in his eyes that's been missing for a bit and it looked good on him.

The big news, though, for our crew was Gord Walsh's extra attempts after winning the hammers. Namely that he reset the hammer records with 120'6" in the 16# and 100'1" in the 22#. Just in case you didn't know...there aren't that many guys in the world that clear 120' and 100'. Much less in Canada. Gord's truly world class at the hammers and I can only see him getting better.

Glen was a monster thrower as well, going over 34' in the 56 and over 62' in the 28. Kirk hit some serious stuff in the light hammer going out over 108' and Eric went a solid 33' in the 56', 64' in the 28 and over 14' in the WOB. Plus his trademark skill in the caber. Did I mention how great all these guys were to throw with? Very laid back and I think they enjoyed the whole day. The competition caber was a good, solid stick that foiled everyone but Gord, Paul, Eric and Jamie. Jamie in particular abused the stick with an incredible display of power. He later went on to turn the challenge caber (21', 125#) that Paul Hicke's office was kind enough to sponsor. When the smoke cleared, the West had won the day with a combined score of 139.5 against the 146 from the east. The athletes in the East vs West Challenge were Glen Dewtie, Craig and Kirk Hurford and Jamie Peppard vs Gord Walsh, Mike Staal, Paul Hicke and Sean Langford.

The crowd was great and Marshall did a great job of keeping them up to date at what was happening with the Open class and especially when the guys were beating field records. Next year, I think we're going to look into getting the crowd a little closer. I think we can put on the same kind of show and get even more people into the spectacle.

Well, that's all I'm going to say for now. I have some specific stuff to write up about our sponsors, some rule changes with the association and the like, but I'll get to that later. For now, check out the results and I've updated a lot of the athletes stuff, too. If I'm wrong or it needs more updates yet, drop me a line and let me know what's up.

- Sean

Really quick - September 2/03

Just a quick one to update on the Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza before I get to the meatier stuff later. It's this coming weekend or September 6 in Red Deer at Heritage Ranch. Probably get going around 10. I know it's short notice, but everyone's September seemed to get pretty crowded right away. For those that have never been, it's a blast...very casual and a BBQ afterward. I'll give directions in a bit. Lots of updates and results to come.

- Sean

More things Calgary - August 28/03

Just another note from our illustrious leader, Gord Walsh, reminding everyone that there is a clinic at Shouldice for paid members at 6pm on Friday, August 29. So like tomorrow. Beyond that, we'll be having a short meeting on Saturday after the festivities as we always do. So if you have anything to bring up about the association or games in general, please attend. Every member has a voice. If, of course, you're tickled pink about how we run things, then it probably isn't a major thing, but you never know what someone else will bring up that you might want to talk about too.

- Sean

Calgary: General - August 27/03

I just wanted to remind EVERYONE, Open class and Amateur B, that we will be starting the throwing at 9AM sharp and going ALL DAY. And as mentioned before, be there by 8:30. 8:45 at the ABSOLUTE latest. We have a ton of athletes and two separate fields, so it's an all day affair. Bring enough food and water, chairs, etc, to keep yourself going. It'll be two sets of equipment on the go and the whole thing, so no worries there, either. It's going to be the biggest heavy events we've ever done and we need everyone there and ready to play on time. And those that haven't given Gord their raffle ticket money yet, remember to bring it.

- Sean

Calgary: Amateur B News - August 24/03

Alright, interested parties, here's the scoop from the organizers of that portion of our highland games:

"We will be starting at 9AM SHARP. Every one of our competitors must be registered by 8:45 as that will be the cut-off and there will be NO field entries."

The guys running the show (Bobby, Jim, Aaron, Mike and Kelly) want to eliminate any confusion and give everyone some time to warm up. Out of town participants (you know who you are) who have registered with me already or made arrangements to do so many months in advance will be fine. Everyone else is a spectator.

- Sean

High River - August 24/03

Fast enough for you, Dave? First off, I'd really like to thank the town of High River and Dave Roe for putting on such an awesome contest and treating us so very well every year. Dr. Dave was on hand to fix people as he was last year. That kind of service is just outstanding. Good volunteers, sandwiches and water and, best of all, I don't have to do anything except maybe announce sometimes. And even that I had help with. Huge thumbs up for that. Now, onto the results and the like. Starting with Bev.

I like how much Bev's decided to take to the games, even if her love for the implements is just a little more than is probably healthy. Still, two things were pretty obvious: 1) She'd been practicing with them. 2) She expected to throw a little better than she had, despite some good performances. Apparently, she was disappointed in her competition throws versus her practice throws, as evidenced by the screwed up faces she made after almost every throw. Still, she looked a lot more at ease with all of the implements (even the ones she hadn't touched before) and made some very game attempts at the same caber the juniors were using. And, even better, she doesn't seem to mind being rotated in among the animals we refer to as the "B class".

Speaking of the juniors, this was actually an interesting little competition between our two young'uns. Things started off with Graham taking Jeff on the stone by around 6". The 28 changed things as Jeff uncorked a massive 8' PR by throwing over 41'. I think everyone was shocked by this (as it looked great), but noone moreso than Jeff himself who made the mistake of telling me "That felt so different from any of my other throws." So I said "That's because you threw it properly. You're just not used to it." So for the first time, Jeff took Graham by a sizable margin, although Graham still put out a respectable 35' throw. We recently purchased some 42# weights for the juniors (and a potential masters class) and today was the first time they got a workout. Again, Jeff managed a solid throw and topped Graham by a little over a foot. The hammer had Graham reasserting his authority and firing out a 67'. Jeff got a 5' PR and broke 60' for the first time as well. Now they were tied going into the last two events. The caber was all Graham as his explosiveness made the stick look terribly light for the 16 year old and he nailed 12:00 from almost standing. Jeff finally turned a caber with a very respectable 11:30 and a good pick to boot. After that, the weight for height settled out with Jeff at 11' and Graham with 11'6" and a few good shots at 12'. Good competition between these two. I think this little rivalry is only going to make both of them better throwers. Onto the B class.

With Mike Gilpin and Jim Garrick helping flesh out the Open class, the B ranks were a little more open, excepting the dominance of Bobby Brown. I think he was a little disappointed those two weren't in the mix as he told me that he's never beat Mike in competition and really wants a shot at the title, as it were. He'll get it next week anyway. But the stone was Bob by a sizable margin, as he gets more and more consistantly over 35 and 36'. Keith Watson also had a solid effort here as did Kelly Strachan, who would go on to chase Bobby all day. The 28 was up next and bobby opened with almost 49' and that mark would stand for the rest of the attempts. Not by as much of a margin though, as both Terry Mortensen and Kelly would hit big PRs and go to 47'9". We had the time and the inclination, so the 56 was thrown in, which I'm sure pleased Bobby as he seems to have developed some kind of sick pleasure in this event. Not surprisingly, he won it by going over 24'. Kelly was next in line almost 3' behind him at 21'5.5" and again Terry rounded the top three out only being a half inch behind Kelly. Kelly makes no secret that the hammer is his favorite and he again showed why by taking top marks here and forcing Bobby into second for the first time in the day. Darrin Turner nailed a huge PR, going over 80' and taking third spot. I should actually mention that all the guys were crushing out PR's left, right and centre like Pete McKay and Saskatchewan newcomer Jesse Cann. Always good to see the improvements in strength, speed and technique. The caber was all Bobby as the only guy to turn the solid and rather appreciable stick. Again, this is no surprise to anyone as Bobby loves the caber. The weight for height started strong with a lot of the guys going over 10' easily on their first attempt, but 11' proved to be too much for everyone but Kevin Bruce who, despite some very recent dental surgery, fired the 56 up and over easily. A good contest with Bobby, Kelly and Terry taking top honours when the dust settled. Which leaves only one group of miscreants to go: the Open class.

First off, I have to say that Bob Brown is absolutely hilarious as an announcer. He's abusive, disrespectful and had everyone laughing their heads off. Mike Staal even had to pause for a while during the hammer toss to stop laughing. I feel sorry for the B's next week who are going to have to put up with both Bob and Jim Garrick on the mike.

Now, if you were just looking at the final results and recording a narrow history, you'd note that it was another check in the "win" column for Gord Walsh. But, for those of us that have been in this game in Alberta for a while noticed one thing that was very different from all our competitions in a long time: this was a competition. This wasn't Gord killing everyone and everyone else playing for second. This was three guys (wish I could say I was in there, but that's just not the truth) BATTLING for top spot. Mike Staal started things off with a boom as he went over 44' twice in the stone. Yes, you read that right. I said Mike Staal and 44' in the stone in the same sentence. Gord was behind him at 42 and Paul Hicke was up next at a bit over 40'. The weights are when things went crazy. Paul's first attempt blew out of his hand and sent him flying like there was an explosion (carefully mimicking the same stunt Mike Gilpin had done maybe 2 throws earlier). Gord was solid as ever at 30'10" and the rest of us fought around 28', with that weasel Dave Roe edging me out by 2", which was exactly what I had done to him a throw earlier. Payback's a bitch, isn't it? Anyway, on Paul's second throw he went over 31' and that's when Davey told me to watch the next one because he was going to unload it. And he did, firing it out 33'! 3.5" shy of the provincial record. He's got that in him and more. The power in that boy is amazing to watch. Now that we were prepared for what he'd said, the 28# got even more interesting after Gord opened with 62'11" only to see Paul fire out a monstrous 65' PR to take the lead. Both would improve their marks with Gord at 63'5" and Paul with 66'7", which I think is the second highest throw ever in Alberta. Mike was not slouch here either, going solidly over 62' to round out the top three. Mike Gilpin also got his feet under him for this event and proved that his previous 53' attempts weren't some kind of fluke.

The hammers started strong and ended weak, as Mike and Gord traded off on the heavy, both going over 92' and Gord ending up in top spot by an inch. Paul didn't get the throws he wanted but still ended with an 86' and third spot. Jim Garrick and Mike Gilpin made very good accounts of themselves, with Jim getting a huge 3' PR in the 22 and hitting 69' and Mikey being right behind him at 68' and some change. At the end of the heavy hammer, the weather decided to get nasty for 10 minutes with thunder, lightning and driving winds and rain, so we took a break while everyone else scrambled for cover or just plain left. As soon as the thunder and lightning stopped, we went into the 16# hammer and within 10 minutes the sun was back and it was like we didn't miss a beat. I think the break didn't do anyone any favours, though, as noone's light hammer was terribly impressive. Mike turned the tables on Gord and beat him by an inch, going 111'7". Joe "The Mayor of Devon" Taylor rounded the top three with a 96'1" and edging Paul by an inch.

The caber was a sturdy 18', 115# affair with an odd balance point. If your timing was off, it was gone. Only two of our athletes would prove to be up to the challenge with Gord and Paul ending up being separated by 15 minutes at 11:15 and 1:00 respectively. Mike Gilpin had a bit of a "Matrix" moment as he bobbed and weaved around the stick after it came out of his hands oddly and rolled over his shoulder, then bounced off the ground and took another swing at him. I'm sure it would look awesome recorded in bullet time. The weight for height had almost everyone going over 12' on their first attempt and making it look easy and then everyone but Gord and Mike being stonewalled at 13'. Mike one timed it after passing on 12 to take the event. With that over, he also took the 42# over 16' as part of a master's competition he's part of.

So there we are, kids. One to go and it's next week. Be ready to throw because it's going to be huge.

- Sean

Clearing some things up - August 20/03

Ok, so Dave called me and told me what I was supposed to remember. Ceilidh tickets. If you're staying for that, get ahold of Davey Roe either before or during the games. They put on a monster show, so I recommend it.

In other news, SOME of us are kind of a dumbass so I'll explain my post below. I was talking about CALGARY where we'll have two fields, Paul. CALGARY. High River will be business as usual. Am B in the morning (8:30) and Open in the afternoon (~1 PM).

Calgary, Paul. I still love you, buddy. :)

- Sean

Dumbass.

Some help needed for one of our own - August 20/03

Hey guys, Bev needs a kilt for this weekend so if anyone has a spare sportkilt or something similar to bring along, it would be much appreciated. Her only other choice is to rent a kids kilt and she says it's a bit too "catholic school girl" for her tastes. Probably not for ours, but since she IS a competitor, I figure we can give her a break this time around. If you have an extra one we can duct tape onto her (or if you happen to be really, really svelt, like Jim Garrick), drop me a line so I can give her the good news.

- Sean

Bit of a hiatus, huh? - August 20/03

Happens when you go on vacation. Got slapped around a lot by the current world champ, Matt Sanford, got beat on by a lot of other pros, competed 7 times total, 4 days in a row at one point. And had a blast. Davey Roe also hit a little Scotland action (and wanted me to post something and I've totally forgotten what. (Email me, Dave and remind me. Like a dummy I deleted your email ;)) Gord Walsh went east and played with some high level boys in a Can-Am kind of games. Still others of our crew (Mike M, Jim and Bobby) hit Seattle and had a good time and placed very respectably, so people have been keeping busy. What about the rest of you shiftless lot? Been practicing I hope.

In terms of actual news, we have this: High River is this weekend. No shock there. Just remember to bring your tickets and money to High River to get rid of all that and toss it all at Gordo Walsh. It sounds like it was a huge success and Calgary is going to be a blast.

Here's a little rundown of what's going to happen there: We have two fields, B and Open. Both will be starting around 9 and going all day (so if you were looking to be out of there by noon, I'd change your plans). Full events on both fields. We have people in both fields who will be assuming organizational roles. The latest I'd really like any athlete showing up is 8:30. There's a lot of information to cover and latecomers mean repeating things. And that sucks. Also, there will be no field entries there. I know who's coming from out of province and if you didn't talk to me about it a few months ago, you aren't coming. Sorry.

- Sean

Information from the south - July 16/03

No, not Calgary or High River. This bit of information comes from John Preston down in the US. He was kind enough to toss me a couple of links for making your own implements for the games. I love it when these guys do this kind of stuff. Just goes to show what kind of a brotherhood there is out there for the games. Thanks, John!


- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - July 13/03

Ok, despite a slightly rocky start due to a misunderstanding and me being in a bit of a foul mood, the problems were ironed out very rapidly and the games began more or less on time. I have to take the time to thank the staff at Ft. Edmonton for putting up with me and being so accomodating. That being said, let's see what happened, shall we?

Ok, the guys in the morning were very accomodating as I'd brought a little surprise for them, inspired by the Portland stone...a 95# rock. I asked which stone they wanted to play with and they said both. So both they did. The open stone ended oddly enough in a tie between Bob Brown and Mike Martin. Not so odd that it was those two in the lead, just that ties on distance events aren't that common. Both of those guys hit 36'7", so some serious distance was had. Todd Hennel also cranked out a huge 2' PR in this event. Ever since he hit 30', he just keeps getting further each games. Also joining us after something of a hiatis was Keith Watson, a very pleasant surprise to me as I hadn't been expecting. Despite protestations that he hadn't been training in a while, he was still something of a force in the overall, keeping pace with the guys like he'd never left.

Going onto that monstrosity, all the guys were game to throw it and it was rapidly established that inches meant a lot in this one. The furthest throw of the day came from first timer Dave McAra who fouled twice but only because he was really trying to crank that thing out there. The result? A massive 11'3.5". The ground looked like it had been bombed by the time this was all said and done.

The 28# has been a marquee event this year in the B's as the guys just keep nailing the numbers higher. Jim and Mike kept up that "tradition" by ending in another tie at an amazing 53'7". Sometimes it's hard to remember that these guys are our B's as two years ago, these numbers would have placed you respectably in the A class. Again, this just demonstrates the depth and focus of our up and coming athletes. Newcomer Dave McAra again impressed by going over 43' in his first highland games. Actually we had 9 athletes over 41' (and another tie at 43'8". So much for my "this doesn't happen often" comment). Due to space and safety considerations, the B's used the heavy hammer as well (Keith was making comments about coming back and being forced to do everything heavy. I should have made him throw the 56 as well) and it was Mikey Gilpin crushing out a big 68' toss that would stand up against all comers. The big shock in this event, however, went to second place tosser Jim Garrick. That's right, kids. Jim Garrick. Jimmy's done a ton of visualization in the last couple of weeks and it really showed in his winds and release. Without the hammer holding him back, Jimmy just got a lot harder to beat and a step closer to moving up in my opinion.

The caber was the same ugly heavy thing used in Ellerslie (after something of a false start with a gnarled hunk of wood that Todd had brought but that didn't survive a full round, unfortunately). Aaron Andronyk once again showed a perfect pick and nailed 12:00 on his first throw. This, plus his subsequent throws managed to keep Jim at bay as he also his 12:00, but his next two throws weren't enough to take him. Mike Gilpin was only 15 minutes off the pace on this one. Which leads us to the weight for height. This is the event that has, in my opinion, truly demonstrated the kind of athlete we're starting to have as our baseline for the heavy events. Every games the guys get better and better at this event. We had 9 athletes go over 11' on Saturday, including first timer Dave McAra and big Todd Hennel, both of which powered over the bar at 11' with room to spare. Big Kevin Bruce also fired out another 11', making it look silly easy. Bob Brown added another feather in his hat by getting a PR of 11'6". Jim was a little off his usual, not making the 11'6" mark and having to accept 11' as his final mark. Mike Gilpin, though, seems to have figured it out as he managed to nail 12' on his third and final attempt to take the event. In the end, though, Jim's solid performance netted him first place overall, which I'm sure pleased him after playing bridesmaid in the last two games.

In other news, we actually have a juniors class, it would seem as we had three of the boys out and they're actually starting to push each other more every games. Graham hit a couple of personal bests, as did Jeff but in the end, Graham still took top honours. Bev was finally prodded and cajouled enough to get in there and, despite never having touched half of the events, she took to all of them very well. Well enough that I think she's going to start practicing steadily and then I think we'll get a really good appreciation of exactly how strong that little tank actually is.

Now, onto the A's. And I'd like to say a great big welcome back to Joe Taylor, who wasn't able to make any of the games so far this year due to courses and the inability to read and show up on the right day in GP. By this time, the temperature had made it to the projected 30 degrees and we were already hot. Gord opened up the stone with his typical speed and power, easily hitting 43'4". ALL THREE THROWS. How's that for accuracy? It's long been established that the stone is not Mike Staal's favorite event, but this isn't to say he isn't good at it. On his third throw, he really cranked it out to 43'5" to take the stone from Gord. This would start something of the battle for the day. Mike started off a little slow in the 56, but ended up taking top spot again with a 30'6" toss that looked very solid. I helped Mike out a bit by hitting 30' and beating Gord by a mere 6" to help expand his lead a little. The 28# was Gordie's show, although Mike was back over 60' with style, making this a closer race yet. The hammers were a little under par, but without a cage I wonder how much of that was due to the guys holding back a little for fear of it flying out of their hands. Again, Gord took it, with Mike right behind. By this point it was screeching hot and the caber was up. Gordie finally nailed dead noon and with Mike taking second spot we had ourselves a tie going into the weight for height. The rest of us didn't really matter by this point and everyone was waiting to see how this was going to go. When we opened at 12' and Mike cleared the bar by an easy 2', we began to wonder if we had our Mike Staal back. As it turned out, 13' fell, then 13'6". Finally, we were back up to 14', something noone's had to take in Alberta all year and on his third throw, Mike Staal made it official. With 14' to his credit, Mike had taken top honours in the last event and the overall. It was good to see Mike back in fine form and throwing where we expect him to. I strongly suspect this is going to light something of a fire under his ass and the A class is going to get that much tighter. We haven't had Mike, Gord and Paul in the same competition at the same time yet and I think that High River is going to be a games to watch. So that's it for now. Results are slowly coming up, so check often.

- Sean

Not my fault - July 8/03

Some of you may have noticed that the website kind of "bounced" a week or so ago between updates recently and a few weeks ago. Our hosts had some server trouble and backups were used. Unfortunately, they also changed the DNS address and password on me, so the updates are a wee bit later than I like. I'll try to get those up (results, etc) in the next couple of days.

Gordie Walsh, however, has this to say to everyone:

Clinic--July 19--1pm to 4pm--In Calgary Phone or Email Gord for Info. Please advise our members that ticket money and stubs should be returned at the High River games or before to ensure inclusion in the DRAW on Aug 30. Please thank everyone for the support in selling tickets.

So there you have it. More clinic-y goodness from Gord Walsh, our top thrower. And keep selling tickets, guys. We keep this up and within a year or two, we can have Calgary being a true Canadian championship.

- Sean

The Big Show - June 30/03

Get a coffee or water and get comfortable. I strongly suspect this is going to be a long one. I'll save you some time right now, though and say this: No, results aren't up yet. Gimme a few days. I have a lot of paperwork to go through. Now that that's been said, let's move on to the happenings of the weekend, shall we, gentle reader?

Red Deer Games - Amateur B Provincial Championship

We were blessed with good weather right from go, even if we did have a few problems over the day. Mostly starting with just getting our athletes through the gate. Those problems were settled fairly quickly however. Joyce Munawych had done a great job in being our games liason and my life was made much easier because of it. Red Deer is a great host for the games and we really appreciate all their work and patronage. Much as we do our sponsors, Edmonton City Centre and Oxford Properties. Huge thanks to Bob Brown for the level of commitment and work he's put in to get us the rather staggering amount of prizes and goodies this year.

Let's take a moment to ponder poor Bob, shall we? The man did not have the easiest weekend in the world. We were just about to start the stone (and late at that) and Bob finally came in. So I asked if he had a decent excuse for being late. Blew a radiator and hitch-hiked in. Good excuse, Bob. I think the adrenaline was still running high for that first event, too, because he plowed out a huge 36' throw in the stone. Normally, that probably would have won the event but let me tell you, the B's brought their A game out for Saturday. Mike Gilpin waited for his third attempt to push out a massive 37'1.5" attempt, only to be eclipsed by big Jim Garrick at about 37'6". I believe there were 5 throws total over 35'. This is the B class, keep in mind.

Moving onto the 56# WFD, it was obvious now that these guys wanted the title bad. Big Terry Hunt was out in force and he decided to be the first guy over 26'. Again, Mike Gilpin stepped up and fired out a beautiful 26'5" attempt on his first throw that would stand the test of time as the top mark of the day. This from a guy who hovers between 200-205#. Amazing. Not to say that some of the other guys didn't bring their game to a whole new level either. Mike Martin also cracked the 26' barrier, giving him somewhere around a 4' PR in this event to take third. Jim Garrick, usually the dominant force in this event, was forced to fourth, but it wasn't due to bad throwing. He was also over 26'. We ended up with 4 guys over 26' and they were all within 4.5" of each other. Awesome.

The 28# WFD started bad, but ended up being a good competition. Mike G started it off and he was really ripping it until the handle literally ripped apart, taking a large hunk of skin from Mike's finger in the process. Like a champ he taped it up and kept going, firing out a 49'8" mark. Now Jimmy stepped up to bat and proceded to plow out a 53' throw to remind everyone that the weights are his events. Mike Martin cracked the 50' mark to mix things up a little as well.The other boys settled it out around the high 40's and again, inches made big decisions.

Onto the hammer and Jim was looking as ill-pleased with that as usual, until he uncorked an 82'3" throw to finally break the 80' barrier. His promised streaking however was not to happen. This is where Terry Hunt decided to show the young fellas what a little skill and power can do for you as he fired out a personal best of 90'8". Mike Gilpin stayed in the hunt with an 87' attempt and Kelly Strachan went 83' to keep everyone awake. Kelly managed to mangle up his back about a month earlier, so he wasn't in the form he wanted, but he was still in there deep.

Just as a quick note here, I'm mentioning the top 4 or 5 guys in each event, but that doesn't mean everyone else was throwing sub-standard. Todd Hennel had something to the tune of 4 PR's in the first 4 events and our newcomer Kevin Bruce was nailing bests all over the place and looking more and more comfortable all the time. Aaron Andronyk, despite a bit of stomach cramping, etc, still managed to fire out a very nice stone and 56# WFD. The depth of the B field this year is phenomenal.

The caber often makes or breaks victory and today was no different as it turned into something of a shoot out between our top 5 guys. We had a bit of a false start with one caber that Kelly killed (it was too dry and light anyway), but then we broke out the other one (thanks Todd!) and the games began. Some of the guys had seen this beast before and Bobby in particular owned this stick. It was Terry, Bobby, Jim and Mike all the way on this one and it was just a few minutes that decided the winner here. But once again high noon was the number to beat and it belonged to Bob Brown. The results from this set the stage nicely for the weight for height.

Going into the last event, Mike had a lead but it wasn't what anyone would consider comfortable. The right things had to happen to the right people because it's something of an understanding that Jim Garrick owns this event. We had some minor level issues with the scissor lift but once those were settled we were under way. Jim passed at 10' and both Mike and Terry were in there with easy hits. This event posed some problems for a lot of people who usually clear that opening height easily. Kevin Bruce was not one of these as he cleared 10' with better than a foot to spare. At 11', Terry easily popped the weight over the bar, really putting the pressure on Mike. He had to clear 11' to win and when the weight plowed into the bar, he was already groaning. Fortunately for him, he'd powered the hell out of it and it still rolled over. Gotta love fixed bars. Jim finally came in and easily powered over the 11'. Up at 12', it was all Terry and Jim, with Jim nailing it first time. By this point I think Mike knew he'd held onto his lead, but I doubt he knew how close it was. When the smoke cleared, Mike Gilpin had become provincial B champion by a point and a half, with both Jim and Terry being tied and Jim winning by event placings (more first place finishes). Talk about a tight competition.

The Open Class Championships

The Open class has been something of the Gord Walsh show for the last two years and although little changed in terms of overall placings in that regard, this competition showed that we aren't exactly just rolling over and letting him win. He really is just that good. Gordie started off the show by immediately hammering out the stone 44' which didn't leave the rest of us feeling good about ourselves. I fouled my first one and everyone else just put out a respectable enough number on round 1, save for Dave Laidlaw who hit a PB by nailing over 38'. Dave would later put that up to 38'11" for a very respectable mark and I believe 3rd place. Pretty good for his first games as an A. I managed to do something right on my third attempt and get a PR for the first time in 2 years, hitting 42'11".

This moved us onto the 56# WFD with Dave Roe starting things off by hitting 29'3". He had a huge smile on his face right up until I put the weight out an inch past his mark. Just keeping the man down, Dave. Paul Hicke ended up in the high 28s but it was Gord and Mike Staal who really shined here, both going over 30' and being only an inch apart. The really frightening part about Mike's throw was the fact that it blew out of his hand and still traveled that far.

The hammers. Never my favorites, but it's fast becoming Paul Hicke's. He threw PR's in the light hammer and kept very respectable in the heavy, earning him 3rd place in both. Gord and Mike slugged it out here with Mike nailing an 88' heavy and Gord just going past it at 89'. The light hammers weren't spectacular. Well, for those two, anyway, but they were both around the 110' mark. Another day in the office for that pair.

The caber was a tricky 18', ~110# affair with a nice taper to it. That meant if the pick was off, the caber went nowhere. My shining moment of the day as I managed to nail it dead on my first attempt. The 12:00 would stand the test for the rest of the attempts. Paul and Gord also turned the big stick, getting 11:45 and 11:30 respectively. This thing had a tendancy to turn in your hands, so how I managed a 12:00 is beyond me.

The weight for height is not going well for me this year and as it turns out, this event cost me second place overall by a half point. It took everyone else 1 shot to clear 12'. It took me 3. What a clown. Gord was the only one that went over 13', capping off his victory with another first place finish. When all was said and done, Gordie Walsh was our provincial champion for the 3rd year running. Paul Hicke ended up in second with myself rounding out the top 3. Oh and just in case you didn't think it was tight, a single point seperated 2nd, 3rd and 4th place at 21.5, 22 and 22.5 respectively. Any one event essentially was the make or break point. What a fantastic games, though. Beautiful weather, great competitors and good prizes. This one really showed the depth of the athletes we have in Alberta. Congrats, guys, on a job well done.

- Sean

Ellerslie - June 30/03

Ouch. First off, I have some things to say in my defence. To Mike G., Paul and Dave R. ...I never poured ANY of those drinks down your throat, so you've got noone to blame but yourselves. And Dave, YOU were the one who said you didn't want any more beer. Rye seemed the next logical choice. You big babies. That being said, let me just give you a little background for that. The 4 of us decided to celebrate a good games by going to a charming and well-known (to Mike and I) little boite for a couple of drinks and some food. It turned into a total gong-show with us telling a lot of stories, laughing a lot and finally shutting it down around, oh, 2. Now let me tell you how MY day started.

After passing out on Mike's floor some time around 2:30, I was woken up a mere 4 hours later when the Evil Daystar (or "sun") was peering through the vaulted, eastern-exposure window at Mike's place, like the baleful eye of some kind of vengeful god. Following this up was a shower that was so weak it was more akin to being drooled on by some kind of giant mutant child and then drying myself off with a towel that smelled far too much like the newly crowned provincial B champion for ANY level of comfort to be maintained. Apparently there were clean towels somewhere, but I saw no true evidence of this and so take it with the same seriousness I take Bigfoot sightings. By this point, it was time to head to the field.

First off, a huge thanks has to go out to Mike Staal who transported a lot of the equipment there the night before after he got a call to go into work for the weekend. Thanks, man. Really appreciate that.

Day 2 is never quite as spectacular as day 1 on the best of days and working on 4 hours of "modified" sleep, the B champ wasn't quite at 100%. We also had something of a spoiler in Mr. Mike Martin, who decided to win the Open stone with a 36'1" push and a PB. Nice work, Mike. Jim Garrick was looking good here as usual to take second place. Bobby rounded out the top three, after sacrificing another vehicle to the games. The guy had a rough weekend.

With the 28, Mike Martin again showed some style, nailing a 51'11" PR and ending up just behind Jimmy Garrick at 52'. Mike G. wasn't at 100%, but still kept in the top three enough to save some face. Now Terry had promised that Mike wasn't going to win 2 days in a row and he stepped up with the hammer and hit over 87'. Mike still kept in the running, but it was Aaron Andronyk who got his freak on enough to hit 85'5" and start getting his old feel back for this event. Jimmy couldn't pull out an 80' for this one and it cost him a bit of footing. Mike Martin was still in the overall lead at this point after some dominating results in the first two events and a 4th place finish in the hammer. The caber, however, did not do him any favours. The caber was a little shorter than the one they'd used the day before, but fatter and with less taper. However, this favoured the power in the crowd and so the event win got mixed up a bit. Aaron again turned the beast, but in the end it was Terry Hunt who's accuracy proved to be enough for the win. As I mentioned, though, this event dropped poor Mikey Martin down to 5th place overall and he never got his legs under him enough to recover.

The weight for height actually went rather well for the boys, considering it was now about 30 degrees out and it was the second day. Aaron surprised himself by nailing 11' again (he kept saying the sun was in his eyes, but with that brow ridge...I dunno). Mike Gilpin pulled it together enough to go over it again and Terry Hunt and Jim Garrick easily blasted over the bar. Kevin Bruce also set himself up nicely to start being a spoiler as he cleared it for a new PR as well. Jim finished the event with 12'6", putting that up on the third throw for the crowd. Terry had said he wasn't letting Mike win twice in a row and so he kept his promise, taking top honours for the day, with Jim in second and Mike rounding out third. Again, only about 3 points separated these guys. I don't think Jim was too nuts about being a bridesmaid two days in a row, but he had nothing to be ashamed of in his performance.

With Mike Staal working and Joe Taylor getting one step closer to becoming a firefighter (keep the focus, Joey) we were down to 5 guys in the Open class. 3 of us had 4 hours of sleep and everyone was tired. Noone was really putting on much of a show until the heavy hammer. On his second attempt, Paul Hicke would nail a huge 88'1.5" throw with his arms bent on the release. Gordie told him he'd have 5 more feet if he had full extension on that and I think that fired Gord up for his next throw because he proceded to blast out a heavy hammer over 95'! It's a number Gord's been after for a while, a PR and a provincial record to boot. Way to go, Gord Walsh. The rest of the events went pretty much as predicted, while we were all dying from the heat. Granted, it beats playing in the rain, but by the end of things, all any of us wanted to do was sit down, have something to eat, and relax. Gordie won top honours with Paul Hicke getting second place. Paul's come out huge this year and he just keeps progressing. Nice work, big man.

That's all for now. Man...I need a nap.

- Sean

Ok, so who wants to be on TV? - June 25/03

That's right...the Ellerslie games once again wants to throw some of our ugly mugs on TV on AChannel's Big Breakfast on Friday morning to help promote our games. Usually I'm in there like a dirty shirt and if push comes to shove, I'll do it again, but work's nutty busy of late so if I have any other stalwarts out there who want a few more seconds off of their 15 minutes of fame, I'm here to give it to you. Drop me a line if you're interested. By Thursday night, if you can.

In other news, I screwed up. I forgot to give all of the boys competitor passes for Red Deer. Those of you who are in Edmonton can bug me for them any time you want, but for the guys coming from the south, I (or one of my designates) will be at the front gate in Red Deer from probably 8-8:30 handing these things out to the guys I know qualified. Open class athletes will have to either show up early for once ;) or just yell at someone to get my attention and get them a pass. Otherwise it's pay at the gate, unfortunately. Sorry, guys.

Along the Red Deer lines, though, we will start the throwing at 8:45 SHARP. As in that's when the first stone is put. If you are one of these people (and you know who you are) who cannot bother to show up to anything on time, I will let you know that you will have to have a marvelous excuse for being late for me to even throw you into the rotation for the first event. And bottom points on an event is very painful for the placings.

Open class, we start at 1. If you can, show up early and help out with the morning.

- Sean

Sherwood Park - June 21/03

I'm a freakin enabler. I tell you guys not to get used to this and what do I do? I update the results an hour and a half after we finish throwing. So how were the games? Blowing ice and snow. It was like Antarctica. Could barely see through the driving snow. Like Norse Hel. No, really. Would I lie to you? Ok, maybe it wasn't THAT bad, but the cold was playing with people's throws to be sure.

The B's were out there in force, although the injuries were affecting people and you could see it in the way they were walking. Mike Martin was back in fine form and took the stone from Bobby Brown in the last shot. Bobby also joined the 50' club, powering out the 28 to exactly that. This forced big Jimmy to hobble out and fire out a 51'11" shot to take first back. The hammers were Aaron and Kelly's turn to shine, although Bobby made sure he wasn't too far off the pace. The caber was all Bobby Brown as he nailed two 12:00 throws to completely dominate the event. The weight for height was something of a gong show as only a few of the guys cleared 10' and only Jimmy went 11' and only because he had to. Terry Mortensen was back and healed up and it was good to see him out and almost back to top form. Douglas Campbell came all the way out from Regina and threw well, hitting a PR in the 28# WFD. Always good to have him around. And newcomer Kevin Bruce was more than respectable in his virgin games. All he needs is experience.

Now onto the Open class. Ok NOW it really was getting miserable for those of us that were there since 7:30 in the morning. Oh and I'd really like to thank Aaron and big Todd Hennel for sticking around and marking and keeping score and the like. The rest of those other rats jumped ship as fast as they could. Ingrates ;) Anyway, needless to say, Gordie Walsh is still religiously following his "10% rule". Meaning you take the number 2 guy, add 10% to it and you have Gordie. The rest of us were playing for second and at least Mike Staal and I made it a race. Mikey Gilpin was the only guy deciding that PR's needed to die as he got one in each of the first 4 events and looked good for more. He throws any further and he's going to have to join us permanently. Kind of like big Davey Laidlaw has, our newest amateur A. He was throwing a little under his par, but the weather and the nice pull he had on the forearms wasn't helping his throws one bit. Still, injuries are temporary, so no harm, no foul. Anyway, I'll give more details later, but I'm hungry and need to go see the Hulk. Ta!

- Sean

I spoil you people with information - June 19/03

Long story short...Ft. Edmonton's a go. July 12.

- Sean

More news, hot off the press - June 18/03

From our man of stone, Mr. Todd Hennel, he has created two stones he will be bringing to Sherwood Park. One at 215# and one at 255# and will be selling them to any interested parties for the cheap sum of $1/lb. If this seems somewhat expensive, you obviously have not seen any of Todd's work. These are of the same calibre of quality you would find at any professional strongman show and are a staggeringly challenging training tool. Something to keep in mind if you're looking for something different in your strength training.

- Sean

Sherwood Park - June 17/03

Ok, so Sherwood Park, the dreaded provincial qualifier is this weekend. And I have some fantastic news: we're not banished over the hill from the rest of the competition this year! That's right, we're no longer the child noone talks about. This year we're in the ball diamond near all the action. Should net us a much bigger draw this year. This also has a slight question of events, as they have an underground sprinkler system and I've promised the organizer (on pain of having to pay for it) that we won't destroy anything. So Friday night I'll be out with my trusty measuring tape to ensure enough room is left to throw. And yes, Mike...I'm trying to make sure we can throw BOTH hammers in the afternoon.

Now then, back to the B's. You gentlemen will get the standard 5 events as qualifiers: Open stone, 28 WFD, 16# Hammer, Caber and 56# WOB. This will start at 8:30 sharp, if I have to stay up all night to ensure it. If we have only 15 throwers, everyone will get all three throws. If we end up with up to 20, everyone gets 2 throws, save for the top 5 throwers, who will each get a 3rd throw. This rule was agreed upon last year in Calgary, for those unfamiliar with it. The top 13 throwers will be the ones selected to throw in Red Deer. Mike Gilpin and Dave Laidlaw have decided to exercise the option of throwing with the A's in the open class as the top two "B" athletes in GP, so they both have a by to the provincials. By my count, I have only 10 athletes as registered members currently in the B's. These are the following: If your name isn't on that list, you haven't paid and you don't have a spot guaranteed. If I'm in error, drop me a line and correct me, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. Anyone else will be treated as first come first served. I'm aiming to be at the field by 7:45 and I'll have my trusty forms all there to sign and my hands out eagerly for money. Until about 8:15-8:20. Then I start making sure everything's where it's supposed to be. Show up after that and you might have to hope I'm in a good mood or just feel like taking your money. Food as a peace offering is always wise. One way or another, if you show up late, you'll be fitted into the rotation and you'll miss whatever events or throws you weren't there for.

Any questions?

- Sean

Don't get used to this - June 15/03

The results are already up because I got home early and was feeling generous. It was a great trip and great weather. The boys in the van were kind enough to go out on the town and cause some trouble, but they were smart enough not to give me any details I can put on the page. Sorry I missed out.

Now then, results suck. Now, why do the results suck, you may ask? Because everyone was hitting so many PR's, I'm gonna be updating just about everyone on the athletes page. So here goes the run down:

We have a new king for Grande Prairie. Mr. Paul Hicke came out this year and he came out strong. He was nothing short of amazing, from stones to weights, hammers, caber and WOB, he was on fire. His caber in particular was dominant, as he had a very Gordie-esque pop and confidence about him. The A class will never be the same. Dave Roe also had a particular swagger about him this day and it was well deserved. His weights were fantastic and the caber and WOB definitely showed that he's healthy, whole and has definitely been putting in the time in the field. Mike Staal's been practicing again and it shows. His hammers were back up where only he and Gordie tread again and everything else looked tight, with the exception of his inability to let go of the 56 in the WOB. Is it possible that too much grip is a bad thing?

Now Grande Prairie may be an open class, but let's just spend some time talking about the depth of the existing B class in Alberta, shall we? Almost to a man, every one of the B's out there wasn't just thowing where he left off last year, they were throwing PAST that. Dave Laidlaw ripped the field apart in almost every event, already hitting the edges of the A numbers or blowing right past them. Once his light hammer goes another 3', he's moving up. Aaron Andronyk took his most hated event and threw about 4' past his previous PR to hit over 22' in the 56. He coupled that with an improvement in his open stone technique that was very easy to see. Mike Gilpin went for PB's in BOTH hammers (including over 90' in the light), the 28 and the WOB at an impressive 11'6", which was cleaner than his go at 11'. Bob Brown hurled out a nice 56 WFD at over 23' and also managed to nail 11' in height again, proving it wasn't a fluke the first time. A little more leg action in both those events and the numbers are going to shoot up. Jimmy Garrick wasn't too nuts about his performance, but he was still a presence on the field and his hammer tosses get better looking every time he goes out. He also was very close to repeating his Alma mark of 13' in the weight for height. A bit of a knee torque wasn't helping him there. Newcomers John Wright and Ken Coghill and perenial favorites Larry Zimmer and Darrin Turner rounded out the group, all of whom showed a lot of competence during the entire day with each of them having a shining moment in at least one event (Larry's 56 WOB, John's 28# and Darrin's 56# come to mind).

As ever, we can't thank Grande Prairie enough as they spoil us rotten and provide a great field for us to throw in. Good event, guys. We'll be back next year, I'm sure.

Next up: Sherwood Park. The qualifier.

- Sean

And so it begins - June 12/03

Where'd the time go? Seems like a short time ago, we were talking about getting out there and practicing finally after all the snow and now Grande Prairie is upon us. For those unfamiliar with the workings of Grande Prairie, let me say this: it's an open competition. That means if you're there, you play against everyone. No deliniation between A and B that far north, kids. GP is a great games and they spoil us rotten with prizes like gym bags, notebooks, water bottles and other insanity. It's fantastic.

Keep in mind that the games are on SUNDAY not Saturday and we will be getting the first throw underway at 8:45. This is to accomodate the poor bastards who have to drive all the way back to Calgary that night to be at work on time for Monday morning. So show up by 8:00, get warmed up, get signed up and get fired up, because after this weekend, it's every weekend in June. See you up there!

- Sean

Results and event lineups - June 8/03

Ok, the Regina results are up. Now then, some notes about Grande Prairie, Sherwood Park and Red Deer. Grande Prairie, as we all know, is an open competition. However, the top two "B" class athletes will still have the opportunity to throw in the Open class in Sherwood Park. This will also grant them a by into Red Deer. The rest of the field in Red Deer will be determined by the placings in Sherwood Park. The top 13-15 ASAA members in Sherwood Park (depending on whether the B athletes decide to throw in the afternoon or morning) will be the athletes selected to play in Red Deer. Red Deer, as hopefully everyone knows now, is our provincial championship. This will be the best athletes in Alberta going for the title. Ellerslie, however, will allow for thos who did not make the cut to have a guaranteed spot for Sunday's competition.

That being said, here's the lineup of events for Sherwood Park:
Red Deer will be the following:

That's it, kids. Season's on us. Time to find out if you trained hard enough.

- Sean

The updates begin - June 8/03

Courtesy of the hard work of Mr. Paul Hicke, we now have a list of field and provincial records for both A and B athletes in Alberta. I am not exaggerating when I say I am certain many of those records will be destroyed this year, if the rumours reaching my ears are true. I hope to be putting up the world and Canadian records soon-ish, too. And I'm planning on having the Regina results up sometime today as well, so keep checking back.

- Sean

The impending threat of updates - June 2/03

So no actual updates, but I'll tell you what's on the go right now. Paul Hicke was kind enough to compile a list of Alberta records and field records for both A and B athletes and now I'm actively in the process of turning that lovely information into readable format. As well, I do have the results from Regina and again, I'm massaging it into a decently acceptable html format. Look for this info probably around the weekend. The girls are gone this weekend, so I can manage to get stuff like that done.

In other random news, I doubt Davey Laidlaw is going to stay a B for long this year, judging from how his throwing's come up in practice. I still feel like I'm throwing with someone else's body and this is remarkably bad news, considering I hear Paul Hicke is in phenomenal shape and I know Joey Taylor is looking good. I'll be happy just to hold onto my A status this year at this rate...

- Sean

Woohoo! Back again - May 30/03

Let's hear it for our sponsors and hosts Marketweb Solutions for a quick resolution of some connection problems I was having when I tried to update the site. I'll have some results and news up tonight (well, maybe not results, but you never know) but I wanted to mention that there's a clinic down south in High River at Birchwood Park behind the IGA by Mr. Paul Hicke and "Diamond" Dave Roe. It'll be this Sunday at 12:00 for interested parties. Dave also was kind enough to inform me that Paul's in excellent shape and looking to destroy some standings this year. Just the kind of information I love to hear...I wonder if it's too late to take up another sport...

- Sean

Jimmy's writeup - May 27/03

Our boy in the field is good for information and here's what he had to say about Alma:

Sunday's amateur competiton saw 15 athletes from all over the great lakes area; Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Alberta. The winner of the amateur class for the second straight year was Kip Miller from Lansing, Michigan. Second place went to big Greg Hal from Vermillion, Ohio and third place went to Frank Stasel IV aka The Little Buffalo from Detroit, Michigan. Stasel who is only 24 years old and throwing out some impressive numbers but that's what happens when you train with your father Frank Stasel III aka The Big Buffalo, pro thrower, who competed on Saturday.

The competition started with the open stone @18#. I had a throw of 33' and Chris Sneider won the event with a throw of 40'9.5". We then went on to the 56# for distance. I had a pretty good throw of 26'11.5". With four throwers over 31'. Greg Hal took this event with a throw of 33'8". The 28# for distance was next. My best throw of the day in this event was only 52'6", gosh I really need to start working on two spins. Again four throwers were out over 62' and Greg Hal took this one with a throw of 64'2.5".

After these three events we moved into my favourite, the hammer, only throwing the heavy hammer because of lack of room. My first two throws were pretty pathetic in the high 50' range and after a few pointers from Harvey my last throw went out 64'9". The winner in the heavy hammer was Chris Sneider with a toss of 82'9.5".

The caber was next. We had a monster caber to play with 17'6" @ 120 lbs after cutting about a foot or so off it. It was nice Michigan pine. Best attempt by myself was 70 degrees. Four athletes turned the caber, the best of the day was Kip Miller with a 12 o'clock. The sheaf was up next and Alma uses a 25# sheaf but after a full day of rain on Saturday and half a day on Sunday, it was around 28-30#. We started at 12'6" no problems with the wonderful new demon stick. We went up in 1'6" increments. I made 14', 15'6" and had three good attempts at 17" but no luck. The winner was once again Kip Miller with a toss of 18'6".

The WFH was next and the bar started at 9'. I passed the first one and went in at 10', should have waited until 11'. I made 10', 11' and 12' and then moved on to 13', the bar was raised in 1' increments. I missed my first two attempts at 13' but with a few good pointers from Harvey once again, some visualization and a medal on the line, I made it in my last attempt. But not close to 14' yet. Kip Miller won this event with a successful toss of 14'. Breathing, hand and wrist angles to incorporate more trap work, deeper squat position and further reach on the swing were all a few pointers Harvey had to share.

All in all it was a great day. The entry fee was the cost of gate admission $9 US and that included a very good competiton, great pointers, great group of guys, a t-shirt and all the gatorade or water an athlete could drink. I would recommend this trip to anybody from Alberta. I will be making the journey again next year so if anyone is interested start thinking about it as we would have a place to stay. My uncle has a nice new big house on 10 acres just 20 minutes from Alma.


Nice work, Jim!

- Sean

More bad news... - May 25/03

For me and the B's anyway. So today I get an email message from big Jimmy Garrick, fresh off an open amateur competition in Alma. Jim apparently had the opportunity to have a nice talk with Harry MacDonald, 9 time Canadian highland games champion and Harvey Barkauskas, a world class master's thrower during his athletic endeavors. Turns out Jim had a good day, despite competing with Amateur A athletes as well as B's, hitting two PR's. 64'9" in the heavy hammer (which those of us who know and love Jim may recognize as a number dangerously close to his -light- hammer) and a whopping 13' in the weight for height.

At this rate, I'm going to be fighting hard to maintain B status...

- Sean

Devon Days and other meanderings - May 25/03

Athletes are funny creatures. So yesterday, a few of us had gone for some caber practice and then came back to my yard and played with a few of the toys (my pressing log, stone and light tire). The success rate of the caber flipping was somewhat dismal, although we did pick out a few things to work on.

Now fast forward a day and to a handful of us doing a demonstration (and hopefully turn it into a small open competition next year!). Mike Gilpin, who was abyssmal with the same caber the day before does a perfect first time pick and nails it. The rest of the crew similarly nailed some good throws (Bobby Brown had another phenomenal one as well). Other notables were Dave "I just want one more toss" Laidlaw starting to really gel with his hammer tossing, Joey Taylor's very obvious skill, speed and power with the 28# and Mike Staal looking just in general phenomenal.

And all it takes is having a crowd in front of these guys. Oh and then just to cap off the weekend, Aaron came within a hair's breadth of shouldering the 320# atlas stone that Todd made for him. Going to be a good, good year this year.

- Sean

Devon Days! - May 22/03

Ok, so big Joe Taylor has informed me that the Devon Days little celebration is this Sunday. More or less, it's their little fair or what have you and we're trying to get a highland games demo out there for it in the hopes that we might even be able to turn it into a competition in the future. So if you're interested in more or less coming to Devon on Sunday around 11-11:30 for what will probably be part demo and part practice, drop me a line and let me know.

- Sean

Let the games begin! - May 20/03

Alright, this past weekend was Regina and Doug Campbell put on a great show and is, as always, an excellent host. The games ran very smooth and everyone had a great time. Let's just say I'm glad I have 4 weeks to go before the next one. But, where I failed, other succeeded...

Mike Staal was telling me that he hasn't picked up an implement since the PSBE and he was still in great early-season form. He looked healthy, strong and fast. Always great to see him out there. He stole first place in the hammer from Marc by a whole 1/2 inch.

Big Dave Laidlaw actually took the B class and although not personally crazy about some of his events, he didn't seem to have a weak one. If it wasn't for changing his technique a bit on the sheaf (a 4' jump will do that to you), I think he'd have made the 24'.

Jim Garrick looked great as well, taking third in the B class (only due to that nagging hammer problem of his) and putting on 8' onto his PB in the sheaf. Aaron made him a nice demon-stick (fork) to play with and it was the weapon of choice for all the boys.

Neil Brown defended his province's honour by placing second and firing out some great numbers the whole day. I got the impression that he was looking for a bit more, but still, I was impressed.

In the "scary as hell" category, we had Tim Griffith. In his third highland games ever and never practicing 90% of the events, he pulled off a #2 finish in the open class. You want to talk about explosive power? He's the ambassador. A little practice and he'll be literally national class.

Ray Morton continues to impress, as he does more with 130# of bodyweight than a lot of guys do with 100# more than that. If he ever goes on the "see food" diet and packs on 50#, he'll be a tough nut to crack in the B's.

The games organizer himself, Doug Campbell looked fantastic and has obviously been working his technique. Looking forward to seeing him come out west to play with us (as he was this year's first paid member and all).

Last but hardly least was Marc Morin, who took the overall title again this year and managed to throw 2' higher in the sheaf than last year. That alone would be cool but the sheaf was also 4# heavier this year. The explosion he gets is amazing.

Gordie Walsh is being extremely kind this year and is putting on another clinic this Saturday (May 24th)for interested parties. Just drop Gord a line to get the details and learn from the 2 time Alberta Champ how it's done.

See you kids in Grande Prairie!

- Sean

More clinical news - May 13/03

Guess what! Not going to Regina this weekend? In and around the Calgary area? The esteemed Alberta Champion, Mr. Gord Walsh, is putting on a clinic this Saturday, May 17, from noon to 4pm. Just get ahold of Gord for location and other details and you're on your way to learning from the best.

- Sean

Memberships and Games to attend - May 13/03

More about games you want to attend. I appreciate the heads up about which games you happen to want to attend. It's nice to be forewarned, especially when I have no idea about how many athletes we actually have active this year. Keep in mind one thing, though. The association is NOT solidifying anyone's schedule until we get the membership fees and so far, that's 3 people, so they've got everything they wanted. I'll be taking memberships at all the games I attend (even Regina this weekend), so that's always a possibility too, but that does increase your risk on the day of that games of it being full.

Also, we will be extending an invite for the top two B's of the day to throw in the Open class at the next games to get further experience, throw more events, sleep in, whatever. This is not a mandatory invite. You don't have to move up for the next games. it's more of an offer and an acknowledgement of your achievements. Oh and this obviously won't apply for the Provincials (unless you throw A numbers for Grande Prairie and Sherwood Park, then you just might become one of those feared creatures.)

- Sean

Quick note - May 6/03

I've had quite a few people email me about which games they want to attend this year and that's great, but just keep one thing in mind this year, kids: Red Deer is now our provincials. You don't elect to go there...you qualify. The upside being anyone who doesn't qualify is automatically in for Ellerslie the next day and then the remaining ranks will be taken from those who qualified for provincials and got there fast enough.

- Sean

The fat lady hasn't sung yet - May 6/03

Sure, it looks like winter's back and the worst of it isn't over yet, but the clinic is still a go for now. It's supposed to clear up on Thursday and Friday and hit highs of 15 on Saturday, so we might be throwing in a swamp but for now the plan is still to throw. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, I'll make sure you guys know on early Friday whether we're green-lighted or not.

- Sean

Registration stuff - May 2/03

For everyone wondering about how and where to register, you can either follow the instructions in the FAQ above or just pay at the first games you come to. Of course, being registered before then certainly improves your chances of playing that day. If you do decide to mail your registration, give me a quick idea of which games you plan on attending. It'll make everyone's life easier in the long run.

- Sean

Do you have the stones? - April 25/03

I'm sure you've seen them before on the World's Strongest Man. The perfectly spherical stones the big boys play with and load? Well, right here in Alberta we have a man who's gaining quite a reputation for making some of the best stones in the business, as even the Extreme Strength Alberta Association gets their stones from him. These things are great training tools for general strength as they defy you to lift them. No handles, no edges, just raw grip, back strength and hip drive. Interested? Give our own Todd Hennel a line and talk turkey with him.

- Sean

Clinic time revisted - April 25/03

Alright, I have details now, so anyone interested in dropping by (including existing members), just drop me a line. The clinic will be on Saturday, May 10, at a field in Edmonton, from 12:00 to 4:00. Mail me for specifics.

- Sean

Clinic Time! - April 21/03

Alright, I'd threatened this early in the year and have had a couple of inquiries about a "novice camp", so here we go. Saturday, May 10, from noon to around 4pm, if you've ever been interested in the highland games, I (and some hand-picked sucker..er, "volunteers") will be giving kind of a hands-on overview of all the events and how the events are run in Alberta. Contact Sean (me) and let me know if you're interested. At that point, I'll tell you where it's going to be (gotta check out some options first, so give me a couple of days for that info.

Oh, and guys that are already familiar with the games, if you want whatever pointers and advice I can give you, feel free to drop me a line, too.

- Sean

Attention Strongmen! - April 10/03

Live around the Edmonton area? Ever seen the WSM or All Strength Challenge on tv and thought to yourself "I wonder what that's like?"? Been getting bored in your gym and wondering what you can do to spice up your training? Looking for other guys interested in strongman? If the question to any of these questions is yes, we can hook you up.

Rob Allan has taken some very huge steps in taking the sport of strongman up a notch in Edmonton, procuring himself equipment and motivated guys interested not only in competing in strongman, but in promoting it. Their website, Extreme Strength Athletics Alberta should be up by the day's end. If you're curious about training sessions, technique, competitions or what have you, drop Rob a line and get the info right from the source.

- Sean

Look at the work I do for you guys - April 9/03

Not only did I change the athlete's page for Aaron, but I actually put up the boys' results on the results page. This is the kind of love I have for you, the gentle reader. I even re-orged the site to accomodate 2003. Darn years are always catching up on me.

- Sean

The boys are back in town... - April 8/03

And apparently Alberta was very well represented in Hawaii. Despite a rather delicate constitution and a certain way with animals (I didn't even know turtles could hiss), our own Jim Garrick came out on top of the B's on the island. Aaron admitted to tanking on the first few events before getting his feet under him and coming back strong in the latter half (and even in the sheaf!) and putting on quite the display for the caber.

Apparently, they have some results to show off, too, but I'll have to get those from Jimmy. Nice work, boys and good to have you back safe and sound.

- Sean

It never rains... - April 3/03

But it snows. At least in Edmonton. And with this kind of weather, our latest article on off season training seems even more relevant. We have Mr. Mike Gilpin to thank for this bit of education. Mike knows his stuff, too, both from an academic standpoint and a competitive one, as he's been unbeaten in the 94kg class for olympic lifting for like the last 4 years.

- Sean

Aloha, gentlemen! - April 2/03

Ok, so while the rest of us are enjoying the latest bout of freakin snow up in Edmonton, Mr's Andronyk and Garrick are currently in Hawaii to represent Alberta in the Hawaiian Highland Games this weekend. They picked a good time to go, as far as I'm concerned and I'm sure they'll do us proud.

So, I'm sure everyone's getting twitchy to get out there and not throw in swamps and the like and hopefully our weather will even cooperate soon. We're seven weeks out from Regina, nine from Grande Prairie and 11 from Sherwood Park. So basically, you have 3 months to be in tip top throwing shape, as Sherwood Park is the provincial qualifier for the B's. Provincials, as I've mentioned before, are in Red Deer the next weekend, with the top 10-15 being determined by placings in Sherwood Park. Keep in mind that we are not trying to slight anyone with this, but simply put, determine the best heavy athletes in Alberta in both the open class and the B's. The exact same way that any other sport would do. So practice hard, kids.

While I'm thinking of it, as soon as the weather cooperates, I'll be putting on a clinic or two on the weekends before the competitions for newcomers who want to try the sport out and even for guys who just want whatever "wisdom" I can impart. More on that as the season progresses.

- Sean

So long, big fella! - March 17/03

Well folks, our own Blain Bourdags will unfortunately not be joining us for the 2003 season. Blain has decided to take a leap and head to Taiwan for 6 months to teach english and otherwise see the world. I can't help but come up with a mental image of all these Taiwanese folks yelling "Yo! Yo! Word to my peeps!" and thinking it's a common greeting. Still, all that aside, the not-so-big man will be missed, both his skill and the colour he brings to competition. Come back safe, Blain!

In semi-related news, Blain's kick-off party was an entertaining little scene. Most of Blain's entourage is apparently all on CST or Chik Standard Time, as they showed up about an hour and some later than they told me to be there. But I'm a big enough man to forgive. The scene rapidly degenerated into some serious trash talk with Kelly Strachan promising a 100' hammer, Joey Taylor telling me he's going 110' this year and a host of other comments from Mikey Gilpin and the younger and more AWOL Strachan, Casey. It's going to be a messy year.

-Sean

Hawaii and other information - Mar 4/03

Well, I'm very proud to announce that two of our athletes are taking the plunge and making the trip to Hawaii to represent Alberta in the Hawaiian Highland Games on April 6. Aaron Andronyk and Jim Garrick took Eric up on his offer and it seems they'll be heading out in early April to throw in the warm breezes and perpetual beauty of Hawaii. Way to go, guys!

In other news, the masses continue to speak and it appears that the suggested marks are now the feared "Policy" and are officially posted in our rules. So B athletes....you have new goals to achieve. Current A athletes...you have serious marks to maintain. This little change is going to make our A class stronger and I believe everyone is going to rise to the challenge. Who knows? We keep this up and maybe some day Alberta will be hosting the Canadian championships...

- Sean

The masses have spoken - Mar 3/03

And probably the best part about the whole thing was the general trend of the answers. Almost everyone was on the same page and in fact the biggest supporters of increasing the marks were the Amateur B athletes. The reasons for that were all fairly similar as well: a) to allow more time in the "minors" as it were, to increase the skill set b) to make for a very strong A class c) to make certain we're keeping only those athletes who are interested in always trying to improve. Some of the other ideas that came out and that I wholeheartedly agree with were the need for a 2-3 game average of being above the required marks before the offer to "step up" is made, and the requirement for athletes who have moved up to maintain their position. One bad day may not send you back down, but two might. Also taken into consideration will be the amount of volunteering you do for the association. So if you have a tendancy to disappear after every games when your events are done, keep in mind that we do notice that stuff.

With all of that in mind, here are the new marks that must be met and maintained to be considered an A class athlete in Alberta and to play in the Open class:

EventMark
Open Stone37'
28# Distance54'
16# Hammer95'
56# Weight over Bar12'
56# Distance*26'
22# Hammer*72'


*These events will be more conditional than the others, but they will be circulated into the competitions more regularly than previous years.

One more thing, as I respect our amateur B athletes and the level they are at right now, I am going to slightly discourage complete novices from joining the association and wanting to play immediately until they've been to a clinic or two. I plan on holding a couple of these before the games start (and the ground clears) to give interested parties a chance to see the equipment, get a few pointers and see what it's like. This isn't because we don't want new blood. This is because we simply don't have the time and space available at our existing games to run novice competitions and I would hate to tell a seasoned athlete that he couldn't compete because we have a number of novices that have already signed up. The amateur B athletes we currently possess are skilled, driven and have paid their dues, so this is more a sign of respect for them than a discouragement for anyone new.

Ok, all that being said, what do you guys think of the new marks and some of the other ideas? If everyone is more or less happy with these, I'll make them into the feared "Policy" and put them into the rules.

Great response, guys. I appreciate the support you're all giving the association.

- Sean

Fabulous response so far - Feb 28/03

This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. People actually reading the site and giving me their opinions. I've received quite a few responses so far and the results are encouraging. In general, everyone seems to be following the same mindset. I'll keep the "polls" open for the rest of the weekend and maybe take all the responses on Sunday night and draft up a conglomeration of the ideas and post it here for general approval and comment making. Keep'em coming, guys.

- Sean

Hey gang, got some questions - Feb 26/03

In addition to adding the dates to some of the other competitions this year, I have a question for the populace in general (enjoy this, I don't tend to think of much as a democracy :>): What do you think our standards for moving into the open class should be? Currently, it sits something like this:

So what do you think? Considering the B class has several athletes near these marks, do we up them slightly? Heavily enforce these numbers? Do we use a two games average to decide who's where? I'd really love some input on this, so drop me a line and give me some hard numbers and opinions.

- Sean

I'm on fire today - Feb 24/03

The Rules have been updated. Note the increase in maximum number of participants in the Amateur B class, and the subsequent drop in attempts, as was suggested and agreed upon after the Calgary Highland Games. Also there have been some changes with respect to fouling out events and a very pointed statement about the spinning WOB. It's never happening here, kids, so don't even practice it.

- Sean

Competition dates and info - February 24/03

Hey, look, more updates! In the Competitions section, I've updated what I know for sure this year. Basically, we're looking at June 21 as Sherwood Park and June 28 as Red Deer. As an additional little incentive, keep in mind that Red Deer will be our official provincial championship this year (with both an Open and a B section, and a women's if we have enough interest) and that Sherwood Park will be the B qualifier for this event. We're trying to make this a real marquie event, so it'll be the best of the B's and invite only to the Open class. We might even get some of the big boys from BC and Manitoba out for the open. So keep training hard, kids.

- Sean

Who says I don't update? - February 15/03

Ok, maybe not the rules or anything, but I did finally get around to putting up some of the lovely pics from Grande Prairie last year from Mr. Hicke. Plus some new faces on the athletes page and I promise...the rules will be done soon :)

In other news...got some time and money on your hands? Our own US adoptee, Eric Wechter, just happens to have invited everyone in Alberta who can get there to compete in the Hawaii Highland games on April 5&6 in his role as athletic director. Just email Eric for more information. Can you think of a better excuse for going to Hawaii than to throw?

More updates to come, kids.

-Sean

Strongman News - February 10/03

The world of strength athletics is kind of nicely inbred little group anyway, so I figured I'd make mention of an event of some importance to Western Canada, namely the Western Canadian Strongman Finals this year at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan on May 17 and 18. Scott Pirsak took the reigns with this one and I'm more than sure it is going to be a top notch event. The top three places here get qualified for the Canadian Finals, so this is the creme of the crop in western Canada coming to play.

Also as a huge bonus for those of us who travel abroad for throwing, the Regina Highland games are the same weekend. So it's a quick trip to watch the day 1 events, then come and play on the Sunday. Get out there and support your fellow strength athletes.

- Sean

Wow...been a while, huh? - January 18/03

But I haven't forgotten about the sport, or the events of the last year. I think I've said it before, but 2002 was without a doubt the association's best year ever. The A class was a bit of a run away, but Gordie was representing us fabulously by shattering almost every record we had. The B class was amazing, with a new champion of the day almost every competition.

So, I may as well get the ball rolling and say that we're open for business here. I realize there are still some issues to be cleared up from last year and I'm working on it, plus we've made some changes based on comments and suggestions from our athletes after the Calgary competition. I'll update the rules soon, too. And if everyone's forgotten the address (although it's in the rules section), just let me know at slangfor@telus.net and I'll pass it along.

I'll try to have some more pics up soon, too (including yours, Graham). Just got a new scanner and I'm figuring it out.

Hope you were training hard this winter. Spring's closer than you think.

-Sean out.

Is there anything we can't do? - November 10/02

Survey says: no. In a bit of a rare opportunity and on short notice a few of our membership, namely Aaron Andronyk, Mike Gilpin and myself were recruited to put on demos and some coaching for a retreat this past Thursday. The Young Presidents Organization flew the three of us out to Victoria to spend the day teaching them a few events, giving the history of the games and otherwise helping them to have a good time and, in the process, had a ball ourselves.

Our hosts were fabulous to us and very enthusiastic about the events themselves. Darryl Kruper especially went out of his way as the organizer to make certain all our needs and concerns were looked after. We may even have made a recruit or two out of it, and certainly some fans. In addition to the men (and women!) of the organization themselves, the ladies hired on as each clan's "serving wench" went a long way to the total entertainment of the day. Especially with one or two of the form comments they made while they tested out the equipment with us before the event began. Kristen, Lori and Shannon...you guys rock.

So, with any luck, we may even be putting on similar promotional type events with some of the company gatherings and the like during the summer. I highly recommend volunteering for this kind of stuff when the opportunity arises. It's a great time to really highlight your sport and to meet some very great people.

- Sean

Wow, he really does update things - October 22/02

Just very, very rarely :) Anyway, the results are up from Calgary and the Paul Sim (cept the totals for the PS, too lazy to calculate just yet). More news will be coming down the pipe pretty soon, too, so stay tuned. I hope everyone's healing up nicely and looking forward to an even better year than we had this year, if that's even possible.

- Sean

Check this out - October 4/02

From the man himself:
Thanks for maintaining the tradition with the Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza. Please pass on my thanks to the crew for keeping the spirit. Looks like the sport continues to be in great hands in the province of Alberta. Perhaps next year I'll be able to get back to join you.
My real birthday came and went somewhat uneventfully. At 43, I'm starting to look around for masters competitions!! There is a games in Tallahassee this weekend and the home games here in Ocala November 9 (might be a great weekend for you to make a trip to Florida).
Life is changing again for the Sim household. We've decided that my next career move is into my own business. I have partnered up with a colleague to puchase the E-One fire truck dealership for Arizona and southern Nevada. The business transaction takes place in January and I expect to move out to Pheonix in February. I will continue to work my current position as V.P. of North American Sales until then. Karen and the kids will stay until school finishes in May and then move out in June next year. I expect this will be the last move for some time. There are direct flights from Calgary to Phoenix, so we expect to see you regularly!!
- Paul


Don't believe a word he says. Mr. "Looking for a Master's Games" is still throwing 60+ feet in the 28 and has a 45' open stone.

Sorry the updates haven't been coming as hard and fast as I'd like but last week I had a charming little stomach flu (Thanks bunches, Dave L...) and this week has been spent catching up on stuff I *didn't* do last week. Stay tuned, though.

- Sean

Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza - September 23/02

Well, another season has come and gone and what do we have to show for it? A host of new athletes who made debuts that were nothing short of incredible and the emergence of a champion who was nothing short of unstoppable in Gord Walsh. And what of the Paul Sim Extravaganza? What indeed...

The day started off slowly as our champion and Dave Roe couldn't be bothered to show up on time. Not that that prevented us from keeping busy while we waited for the equipment to show up. Big Todd Hennel (anyone else actually not notice how big that guy is until you're standing next to him?) decided he'd show up with a little ~318lb dance partner in the form of an atlas stone he made. Get a bunch of guys standing around with nothing else to do and what happens? Well, you end up with 5 guys planting that thing on a 54" pedestal. Probably the most impressive of those performances had to be Aaron Andronyk who probably took 15 tries at the thing, but managed to put it up there. Definitely impressive when you consider that he was the shortest guy trying and had the shortest arms. Says volumes about the man's functional strength, wouldn't you say?

Anyway, the boys finally showed up with cabers and trigs and the like and the very laidback "competition" began. Calgary Amateur B Champ Bob Brown even managed a couple of PRs while he was at it. And Aaron, despite an exhausted back and biceps managed a new 28# PR, too. The rest of the field was relaxed, joking and otherwise breezing through the day. When the results are up, you may notice something odd. Namely Gordie Walsh only throwing 93' with the light hammer. Don't worry too much, though. I mean, some credit has to be given, considering he tossed that with one hand!.

The BBQ afterward was great, courtesy of Joyce Munawych who kindly donated her house to the slobbering masses to eat and otherwise make merry at. Lots of talking, lots of laughing, Mike Martin even got some sleep. Hard to bug him about it, though, considering he had only had an hour of sleep the night (day?) before coming down and throwing all day. Not bad for a punk kid. Speaking of punk kids, Graham Summers joined the rest of the boys in the final hurrah, despite being a little worked over after tying a record for most rushed yards at a game. All that and he's only going to get bigger (especially if he grows into those ski boots he calls shoes).

So the season's done, but I still have lots of pics and results to put up, so don't shelve the site away just yet. Lots to see and hear from as other things develop. Good year, gang. Best we've had to date. Next year, though, we're gonna blow the roof off this sport in Alberta.

- Sean

Here's a fine how do you do - September 13/02

In true Friday the 13th fashion, it's just now that I discover that I don't have the results for the morning events of Calgary! Gord or anyone from the Calgary games, if you have the results, due to presentations that afternoon, etc, let me know and we'll arrange for getting those to me so I can enter them.

As well, while I have your attention, could anyone attending the Paul Sim Extravaganza let me know if they are coming and how much family you're bringing? This will allow me to make some decent estimates for food consumption :) Thanks!

-Sean

The Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza - September 9/02

Well, folks, I have the field booked. It's at Heritage Ranch in Red Deer for September 21 from 10am to 4pm. If you haven't been there before, take the 32nd street exit into Red Deer and turn north on the first road east of the overpass. Then follow that road to the T intersection and head west (left). Keep following that road and it goes right into the park. No problem. :) My in-laws have very kindly offered to host the after-throwing BBQ and I'll get the address and some instructions soon. We'll probably do 5 or 6 events (depending on how many show up), then head over, eat and yammer. It's always a great time.

Mike Staal, Paul Hicke and/or Dave Roe, can you guys email me so I can see if you guys could bring uprights and cabers? I don't have a truck :)

In other news, I'll have the site all updated by week's end with results, athlete page things, pictures and you name it.

- Sean

Check these out - September 5/02

Especially those who were throwing in the morning of Calgary. Just head right over here and take a look at some of these sweet shots. Looks like Mike, Jim and Bobby were real popular for photo ops. And this guy must be an amazing photographer because even those ugly mugs turn out lookin good.

- Sean

Mistakes were made... - September 3/02

...and others will be blamed. I'll start with Canmore. As ever, the competition sucked(which is why most of us in Alberta don't bother), due to shoddy, uninformed judging, bad weather and a great big "Attaboy" and a medal for those who won overall, but the party afterward was kickin. Or so I was told. In retrospect, entering the drinking contest with Dave Roe and Eric Wechter wouldn't have been such a bad idea, if I hadn't been drinking and playing darts since noon anyway. By 11, I was poured into a cab and sent on my merry way. But the rest of the intrepid crew, including Eric, the Roes, my wife, Mike Gilpin, Jen(one of the dancing judges) and Chris (her brother) shut the ceilidh down, then meandered down to the Drake and proceded to shut THAT down, too. From what I've been told, the joint was jumping, the band was rockin, Dave managed to outlast Jackie on the dance floor and Eric was making a new friend until my wife shooed her away. It should also be noted that Eric had a 6am flight. Apparently Flan Power and sleeping in your car makes you indestructable.

Oh yeah...we had a competition this weekend, too. I'll say right now that the setup and organization in Calgary was great this year and we as an association are fortunate when we get treated as well as we did there. Now, onto the competition. Let's start with the morning events.

It was our great pleasure to have Colleen Millar come out from Ontario to throw with Bryce in the women's class. Looking back over the year, we've had 4 women out in total, but never more than 2 at a time. If we actually got all of them at the same games, we could actually have a contest. Still, it's always good to see them out there. Our lone junior wasn't quite having the day he wanted, but his average throws now are far and away better than his best earlier in the year and he was still firing things out there with more and more speed and skill. Not bad for a 15 year old punk.

And now onto the most hotly contested class in Alberta this year, the Amateur B class. With Dave Laidlaw and Mike Gilpin taking the option of playing with the Open class in the afternoon, you'd have thought the field would have been a little more open. But, with Neil Brown into the mix and Kelly Strachan and Jim Garrick back on their game, it was another tight one. There were quite a few high points with Jim Garrick casually lobbing out the 28# around 53', Neil firing out the hammer 91' and Kelly balancing the 56# on the bar at 11', but when the smoke cleared it was Bob Brown who walked away with top honours. Bob had one of those days we all dream about, where you're throwing nothing but PRs and placing very consistantly while you're at it. He took the stone, dominated the caber and finally cleared 11' in the 56 to finally end up winning the class and the trophy stone. Nice work, Bob.

The Open class was less hotly contested, but still had some fabulous performances. As a major plus, Marshall Ennis of All Strength Challenge fame was doing the announcing for us. Gordie was on all day, but we've become pretty accustomed to that one. Paul Hicke was having a fantastic day, breaking the 40' mark with the open stone, the 60' mark with the 28 and then turning the caber to boot. Plus he has all winter to think about how he was an inch from the 30' mark with the 56 WFD. Big Jeff Thomas had some great attempts at 15' with the weight for height and our two guest B's put on a great show and some really good marks for their first time with a couple of the events. As always, it's a pleasure having Eric Wechter come up from Oregon to throw with us and he didn't disappoint, winning the caber with style and then clearing 30'5" in the sheaf to set a huge new Alberta record. It should be noted that the world Amateur record is less than a foot higher than that and if our scissor lift could have gone any higher, I think he could have made the height. At the end of the day, though, Gord had made it a clean sweep of every competition we had in Alberta and very easily walking away as champion of the day and as the 2002 Alberta Highland Games Champion. The man really hit his stride this year and definitely earned the title. None of us could even touch him this year.

A couple of quick notes: no, I don't have the results posted yet, the Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza Invitational is on Sept 21 (details and directions to come later) and my email address is changing to slangfor@telus.net, so forget the Shaw one. I'll be updating the website as the week progresses. Nice work this year, gang. This is probably the tightest, most athletic group that has ever been in the association and it's really made for a great year. Stay tuned here for more updates, photos and the like.

- Sean

All Things Calgary - August 27/02

Lots of quick notes on this one. First off, please check out this PDF form for Calgary. If you print that off and sign it before you get to the games, everything can get started a lot sooner. Remember, they want first throw to start at 8:30 and you don't want to miss an attempt or two because you were signing something now, do you?

Also, after the Open class in the afternoon, we're holding our Annual General Meeting on the field. So if you actually want a voice in the goings on of the highland games for next year, it's best to show up. Otherwise those who do show up may just be making decisions for you.

- Sean

More Updates (Look who's on the ball today) - August 26/02

Our own Paul Hicke was kind enough to pass Dave's email along to me and again to remind me that he'll be there in Calgary as well, offering his services to the athletes of the day. So drop him a line and thank the guy for burning out his hands dealing with us. That kind of treatment is pretty rare to be given out pro bono, folks.

- Sean

High River Results - August 25/02

Well, High River put on it's usual fantastic show and treated us like kings. For that, we really have to thank the entire association, the town of High River itself and Jackie and Dave Roe for their work. Our volunteers were great and really efficient and did a fabulous job of putting up with me. And big thanks from all the athletes to Dr. Dave Fullerton who spent most of the day re-aligning everyone's spines, scraping scar tissue off knees and elbows and otherwise trying to undo the damage we do to ourselves training for this mess. When I find out his email addy, I'll post it so those who received his services can give him a big thanks. And now onto the play by play...

We had a couple of new people join up and do quite well. Jane and Colin both made great accounts of themselves for first timers and I'm really looking forward to seeing how they do in the upcoming years. Bryce pretty much cleaned up the women's events and further proved that even breastfeeding between attempts doesn't slow her down. Our juniors keep improving, especially young Graham who just seems to keep throwing another 5' onto his hammer throws every competition. And then there were the B's...

In the tradition that's becoming known with our Amateur B class, they put on a fantastic show. Some of the highlights were Jim Garrick's almost casual 50' toss with the 28# and Mike Gilpin's first attempt at the caber which resulted in a nice looking 12:30 that would stand everyone else's attempts and allow him the win in that event. Jim was a little off his game in some of the other events, but even his bad days are impressive enough. I think the biggest show had to be in the hammer, though. In previous competitions, an over 80' throw would have almost certainly meant a win. Not in High River, though. There were 8 throws over 80'. Aaron started things off with a monster 85' attempt and set the mark to beat. And it might have been if Mike G. hadn't walked up with his first attempt and hammered out a shot over 89'. Mike Martin also made a great account of himself for a guy who's only competed twice and put out an 86' shot. The bar just keeps going up on all the events and everyone keeps rising to the challenge. Dave just kept on plugging away, showing very consistantly in every event, but in the end, Mike Gilpin made the big rush in the last three events to come out on top by a single point. Mike and Dave also decided to take the option and come out and throw in the afternoon in Calgary to get a bit more experience and a taste of the open class.

The Gord Walsh Show continued it's Alberta tour in the afternoon with Gordie sweeping every event and putting out another new Alberta record in the 16# hammer at 117'9". Joe and Paul keep crushing their own PB's every games and getting better and faster all the time. It's making the competition tighter with every games. Of course, even injured Mike is hard to beat and hung onto second place overall. Dave Roe had a great day of throwing and it's even more impressive when you consider how little sleep the poor guy had helping with the organizing of the whole mess. Nice work, Dave.

Ok, I'll have more posted about Calgary within a day or two, so check back often for updates. See you all in a week.

- Sean

We're back in action! - August 21/02

That's right, it's High River next, lads and lassies. Festivities get underway at 8:30 for the Amateur B's and between 12-1 for the Open class. Speaking of which, we need some of the open class guys in the morning to help volunteer, so get up early and support the B's, because they've been great about helping us out in the afternoon.

And this is all for you, Bobby. Directions to the field: take highway 2 south from Calgary, take the High River overpass (which happens to be highway 2A) and the school is on the left. The actual address is Highway 2A and 12th. If you get lost, or you're late, I'm gonna make fun of you and remember guys...I'm the guy on the mike in the morning.

- Sean

Heads up BC folks - August 14/02

Hey, Delore! If you read this, can you drop me a line?

- Sean

Seattle - July 31/02

In every contest, there are winners and losers. The victorious and the vanquished. Only one man can win such competitions and each of the warriors battles themselves and each other to be that one man left on the top...

And then there were the rest of us there. Ok, now I knew who I was going to throw against when I left, so I harboured no illusions. Did I have a good day of throwing, even by my own standards? No. Would it have mattered one iota if I had had the best day any of us in Alberta have ever had? Not one bit. In attendance there were such names as Simon Stewart, Jerimiah Strand, and Joel Thiessan. Which, for anyone not in the know, are more or less the top amateur athletes in North America. Toss in guys like Delore Lacusta, Eric Wechter and Kyle Dailey and you'd better be ready for a hard schooling. So let's really break this down now:

We're talking about a 54' throw in the open stone. 80' for the 28. 121+ feet in the light hammer (without boots). Over 15' in the weight for height. And over 40' in the 56 for distance. Simon had, the week before, set the WORLD amateur record in the 56 at over 44'. By my calculations, I think he'd have been a top 3 contender in the pro ranks. But, in addition to watching some outstanding throwing, I had a great time. This is a funny crowd of people, folks. Mildly insane, sure. Slightly aging when you consider Delore, but who's holding that against him? (Just kidding, buddy :>) Then you throw in Keith and Sean, a pair of the B's from Texas with some great homebrew and purely evil senses of humour, Eric and his constant "I'm saving it all for the caber" and it's hard not to have a good time there. Ralph runs a great contest and it didn't even go to the wee hours this year. I highly recommend making the trip, gang. It's worth it just to see these guys throw.

- Sean

Even MORE throwing help - July 24/02

Seems we're a popular site, abroad. And that I really need to archive some of this news stuff soon, I think. But, back to the topic at hand, I received a message from Rob "Coach Mac" macKay and he's starting up a new website. Here's what he has to say:

I'm in the process of starting a webpage (it maybe temporary so print out at your leisure) as an example of what "we" can do together! I'm in the process of getting a community service class together that will individualize as much as possible an off-season/pre-season/in season lifting program that is web based as well as individualized video analysis (a software program) that will do a comparitive (side by side view) as well as a sequence and kinematic (pivot point) break down of each throw...this has been a dream of mine for sometime now and I think the rash of record breaking and quality of throwing will go even higher with this type of sharing. Check out the website (I'm learning HTML as we go...so be patient...grin) http://myschoolonline.com/CA/CoachMac Have a GREAT Day! mac~

So one more thing to make you a better thrower. This keeps up and I'm going to have to work harder soon :)

- Sean

More throwing help - July 22/02

Ok, so we already know that if you want the hardcore professional stuff, Mjolnir Hammers is the way to go. But what if you want some indoor stuff? Or some made to order stuff? Like a practice hammer that's just a bit heavier for power, or lighter for speed? Well, then maybe you want to give Ian Maplethorpe at Jump Start Athletics a look see. Ian himself is a fantastic hammer thrower, so he knows what throwers need for training and it isn't always exact competition weights. Plus, if you have access to a full gymnasium, wouldn't it be nice to have something you could throw indoors during those long winter months so that the first two competitions weren't spent learning what everything is again?

So give Ian a hello and tell him where you got the link.

- Sean

The insanity of Calgary - July 16/02

Ok, here's the breakdown, kids. Every year, Calgary is the busiest, craziest games of the years, for sheer numbers of athletes. Before I get to the issues with that, I'll talk about High River. Gordie and Dave are doing a bang up job of organizing and keeping things clean and tidy and High River will probably run much as all the other games have this year, as in we'll be very near our limit of 15, but not over it, so everyone will play. The guys who are guaranteed to play are Jim Garrick, Dave Laidlaw, Mike Gilpin, Bob Brown, Aaron Andronyk, Larry Zimmer, Tim McLean and Greg Sawtell. So seven slots are up for grabs. If less than that show up, everyone plays. The big thing is with High River (besides being a fabulous games) is that the top 10 from there are GUARANTEED to play in Calgary.

Which segues nicely into Calgary itself. Everyone is planning on hitting the Calgary/Nameless Competition weekend and so Calgary fills up quickly. If you aren't already a full member, your chances are dropped into the floor right from go. We have to look after the guys who have been out there all year first. As per our rules, the 5 slots remaining will be fought over by everyone who isn't qualified with the combined total of the open stone and the 28#, two attempts each, if the number of athletes rates it. Here's the other thing: paperwork in Calgary must be filled out and first throw is at 8:30. If you show up after 8:30, chances are someone else will have your slot and you'll be a spectator. Sorry to sound so heavy-handed for this one, guys, but it's simply impossible to run a quality games with more than 15 guys at a time and this association has grown into something way beyond what any of the original group thought it was.

- Sean

More updates - July 15/02

See, told you I'd keep updating things. I'm on again, off again, what can I say? Anyway, the Open class results are in for Ft. Edmonton and we have a few more pics up on the gallery. I'll be updating athlete stuff for those who have contacted me about it soon. If any of our newest B's want to see their name up in lights, send me your PB's and your pic of choice and then I'll slap you up.

- Sean

Slow Updates - July 14/02

Alright, I've got updates on the records, the Open results for Red Deer and Ellerslie and the women's, juniors and Amateur B results for Ft. Edmonton. I'll get more of the athletes' information and PR's, the women's results for Sherwood Park and the Open results from Ft. Edmonton a little later in the week.

- Sean

High River and Calgary - July 12/02

Attention, amateur B types: Mr. Gord Walsh is asking for you to drop him a line and let him know that you plan on attending the games on one or both of those weekends. The breakdown is like this: the preference on who may get to throw is going to be for the members that exist right now and have been throwing all year. You know who you are and that you've been dedicated to training and throwing. The year end rush for the Calgary and that other place the next day gets in a lot of travellers and the ASAA apologizes, but we may not be able to necessarily accomodate all of you this year. We have to look after our own members first.

- Sean

Addy change - July 11/02

Quick change from El Gordo...the clinic is in Birchwood Park, behind the IGA store.

- Sean

Clinically Speaking - July 9/02

Ok, those of you in the southern end of this great province of ours, here's your big chance to get out there and either tweak up some existing technique or out and out learn from the best in the province. Gord Walsh and Dave Roe are putting on a clinic in High River, at George Lane Park (It's 5th or 6th ave and Macleod Trail in High River) on Sunday, July 14 from 1pm to 3pm. Besides being excellent practice, this is a bit of a promotional thing for the High River Highland games, so even if you're an established thrower, drop Gord a line and offer to help out, or even if he minds if you show up and get some pointers.

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton (Part II) - July 8/02

YAHOO!

For a number of reasons. First of all, that was the last games of the year that I have to do any organizing for, so if you have questions about High River and Calgary, I'll save you some time: I don't know :) That doesn't mean I won't find out if you ask nice, but Gord Walsh and Dave Roe are the guys to talk to for the south of Red Deer stuff. Next year, I'm going to learn the delicate art of "delegation". Now, onto the competition...

The Amateur B class. What can you say about these guys that could really describe the kind of competition our top three guys have in this class besides "simply awesome". Dave, Mike and Jim put on a show the whole time and once again, when the smoke cleared 3.5 points separated all of them for the final results. But that wasn't before Mike Gilpin decided to be the first one of the B's this year to hit over 50' in the 28# with a solid 51' effort. Big Dave didn't like losing that race to Mike, so he cracked the 50' mark next with a 50'5". Then Jim came up with a third attempt do or die throw of 52' to take first in the event. 3 guys over 50'. What a class. About six of the guys really put on a show with the caber as well, with Mike taking top honours there in his first throw. I guess olympic lifting really does help a lot, hmm? Aaron proved that being not tall doesn't mean you can't have power, as he finally put the 56# up over 11', and big Dave, who'd been chasing 12' in the weight for height finally hammered it over on Saturday. The PB's were falling like mad and we had some great performances with some newcomers who apparently are "training with the best" according to Blain and Joe. Aaron also put on a good show doing some teeth lifts for the crowd while we set up implements and the like.

We actually had two women out for this one and they put on a fabulous show with Bryce firing out the 14# about 59'8" or so to crack her own record. But it was her competition, Barb Armbrust who really shined in the 28# for height, going first for 13, then 13'6 and continuing up and up to 14'6", then taking 3 really good attempts at 15', too. Finally, Bryce has some competition. Not bad for a first timer.

The Open class was almost anticlimactic in comparison, although the boys all put up some great numbers, especially Joe Taylor firing out a new PB in the heavy hammer at well over 79'. Jeff's form is coming back slowly as he went over 14'6" in the weight for height. Gordie actually had to put out a safe mark for the 28#, just to keep his power from sending him over the trig a third time. The day, once again, belonged to the man from Antigonish or, as I'm starting to call it "The Gord Walsh Travelling Highland Show". The man is seriously unstoppable this year. Jim Garrick also came up to play in the afternoon, to fill out the open ranks and for a guy who'd already spent all morning throwing, he acquitted himself nicely.

Well, that's it until High River for around here. 6 weeks to get faster, stronger and better, kids. And there will be lots of updates in terms of pics, results, records and the like, so keep checking back.

- Sean

Ft. Edmonton - July 2/02

Alright, if anyone's going to be at this thing and they don't have a wristband, let me know (and I sure hope Gordie brought some down to Calgary). All it means is that you'll have to pay the gate fee otherwise (which is like 3 or 4 dollars, so no big deal). In other news, it looks like we're going to have the same space we had last year, which pure and simple ain't big enough for a light hammer this year. Once again, anyone who cares (Mike and Gord) can direct their bitching at me :) And I'll be seeing what I can do about it for next year. That means the B's get the excitement of the heavy hammer as well, just to give you guys some experience with the ugly thing.

The results from last week will be up in a day or two, as I just got back into town and simply needed a break last week, so they didn't get done. Same thing with pictures, athlete page updates (you want something updated, let me know what and how) and the like. See you on Saturday and I'm setting first throw for 8:45 for the B side. Those of you in Red Deer know that I mean that. Come after that and you miss attempts and maybe even events.

- Sean

The Big Weekend - June 25/02

Well, I can tell from the counter on the page that everyone's been waiting for a little nibble about the weekend. 15000+ hits now. We're almost impressive. This will just be some yammering, as I have results to update, records, pictures to put up and the like. But anyway, onto the festivities...

What a scorcher. Both days. We'll start with Red Deer. Despite a few latecomers (we still love you guys), it turned into a fabulous competition on the B side of things. Big Jim Garrick made his debut with style, Joey Johnstone. entered his second contest and pulled off a fabulous win. Edmonton's big Dave Laidlaw was second, but the whole day was a sprint to the finish. As is the way of things, the caber decided a good many things. Mike Gilpin continues to improve with every games, fighting away, despite giving away a lot of mass to some of the other boys. Kelly Strachan won the light hammer with style, nailing a big PR in the process. The weight for height really showed a good shootout between big Jim and Larry Zimmer who was using all those years of powerlifting to good use. 12'6" in the B class is nothing to sneeze at. Larry came back big in the last two events to place quite respectably, despite a slow start. Our own young Graham Summers is starting to smoothe out more every games, hitting almost a 20' PR in the light hammer. Letting him use the junior's weight for height also allowed him to use his body properly, where he smashed the 42# over 11' and had some good attempts at 12'. He's got a long career ahead of him in this sport.

In the afternoon, it was the all Gord Walsh show, something we're getting used to this year. He decided yet another record should fall, hammering the 28# over 68 feet and looking good doing it. Blaine Bourdages gets more impressive every games as he traded his mass for speed and it's paying off in a big way. He hammered out the 56# over 30' to take second in that event. Paul Hicke is really finding his niche in the Open class, having already cracked the 100' mark in the light hammer. And he's still got so much of his stride to hit. Someone to watch out for at every games.

And now we move on to what I consider the height of the whole weekend, the B class in Ellerslie. This was as tight a race as anyone could have hoped for, with the guys pulling out monster throws right when they needed to to stay in the race. PR's dropped left and right and when the dust settled, we had 4 athletes within 3 points of each other for first place before the caber. The hammer had kept him out of the last dash for the finish, but second-timer Bob Brown was the only guy to turn the respectable stick they had to play with. This time overall victory would belong to big Jim Garrick only 1 point over Dave Laidlaw. Kelly Strachan and Mike Gilpin were exactly half a point behind Dave, tying for third place. Joey Johnstone was only a couple points behind them. This was the kind of competition you always hope to have, where the guys are pushing each other right from the word go and at the caber you still don't know who's going to take it. Nice work, gentlemen.

With the A's, it was obvious that those of us who had competed in Red Deer weren't exactly at 100%, but still the competition was intense, thanks to the appearance of Clint Garda, all the way up from Illinois. He pushed Gord the whole day, got a PR on the heavy hammer despite not having his boots with him (oddly, he didn't want to take them on the plane with him), and had 3 respectable attempts at 15' in the weight for height. A whole lot of power in that man. The rest of us had our hands full just trying to keep in the race and when the dust settled, Gordie had won it again, with Clint right behind him and Mike Staal rounding out the top three. We're hoping to have Clint back with us again some time.

Anyway, like I said, still more announcements and updates to be made, but it's a lot of typing so be patient. Two weeks until Ft. Edmonton, so I'm out for now.

-Sean

Cleats, 30 degree weather and circus sideshow - June 17/02

Ok, THAT was Sherwood Park. We had less crowd than we had last year, but I think the oppressive heat wasn't helping that any. And I'd like to give a huge thanks to the United Farmer's Association for the very cold refreshments and the cabers they've donated to us. Let's hear it for the rural support of our athletes. So getting back to the games, let's start with the B's.

They had a great sense of humour about the slight equipment mixups and we got going a bit later than I advertised and browbeat the guys about, but they threw fabulously. Big Dave isn't going to stay B for very long if he keeps improving like that. His second games and he was unstoppable all day. Aaron had a good solid performance and it was just enough to hold off Mike by half a point. Granted, Mike didn't get all his attempts at the caber due to prior commitments, but still Aaron pulled a lot more together this weekend. Our new guys, including some sponsor types, did really well. Bob, in his first games, managed to really put out some respectable numbers, especially having only seen most of the equipment maybe 3 days earlier. Lots of upper body power on that man. The caber was a disappointment as we didn't have a good quality B caber to use, so we ended up using one that was far too small for these guys and it turned into a shootout. I apologize, guys. Red Deer, hopefully, will be much better equipped.

We even managed to get a couple of women out there to throw in Bryce and newcomer Marla who was "volunteered" from one of the Sherwood Park Games sponsors. Bryce threw just slightly below her bests, but looked very steady. Bryce, it should be noted, just gave birth about 3 months ago and was still in great shape to throw, if feeling a little out of practice. It's good to have her back with us this year.

Which brings us to the Open division and the afternoon. Ok, by this point it was starting to get inhumanly warm. No clouds and lots of sun. It beats rain, but wow. Speaking of wow, Gordie decided to shatter his own record in the 16# hammer not once, but twice, finally ending up with a 117'7" effort. And he's got more in there...you can smell it. He continued his domination the entire day and there was nothing any of us could do about it. He is definitely the man to beat this year. It was great to see big Jeff out there again and his wife Jen was just happy he was uninjured for the day. Dave Roe had his big debut in the open class and I figure nerves had something to do with a lot of his throws. Still, his weights for distance are coming up constantly. On a personal note, apparently cleats are going to be a necessity for me very soon. Having your foot slip when you try and set for the final caber toss is a real pain. In the back, in the knee and in the ass. I did, however, show remarkable restraint in not swearing afterward. Much. And I think Mike is going to come in at 12' like the rest of us in Red Deer, aren't you, big fella?

Red Deer next week, so here are the B's that are guaranteed to play all day: Now, granted that I only know of 4 other guys who want to play in Red Deer, so it looks like everyone's going to get to play all day, but there's always that chance, so practice hard kids.

- Sean

And did I mention...? - June 11/02

Ft. Edmonton is official. July 6 at Ft. Edmonton park. I'll be hopefully getting together with the organizers of that one right away here to make sure we have a bit more room this year. We're needing that all over the place, especially with the way Gord Walsh is tossing everything.

- Sean

Quick reminder - June 11/02

This seems to be as good a time as any to remind any aspiring female athletes out there that we DO have a full set of women's implements and are more than ready to have you out there throwing. The reason that we never advertise any of it is because we have had a remarkable lack of interest from any athletes. It's looking like Bryce will be out there again for Sherwood Park, though, so if there are any other ladies looking to get involved with a great sport, get ahold of us, or at least come out and watch.

- Sean

Back from Grande Prairie and more on Sherwood Park - June 10/02

Grande Prairie was a huge success, as ever with great weather and a great crowd. This is a games that really gets behind its events and its great to see. And man did the boys come out ready to play.

There were a lot of fabulous performances out there on Sunday, but I think the big news had to be Gordie Walsh. He was the consumate highland athlete in every event, dominating the first 5 events with a combination of fabulous speed and total control, throwing in a new ASAA 16# hammer record of 115'9.5" to cap his day, plus the Grande Prairie championship. Mike Staal was as solid as ever, if a little disappointed by some of his throws, but I doubt that'll last long before he has the bugs shaken out again. He proved his mastery of the 56# for height once again by taking 14' when he'd already won, just to please the crowd.

In other highland news for the day, our newcomers did fabulously and Dave Roe, Sandy McRae and Kelly Strachan decided they'd start shattering their PB's left and right. Kelly did all of that with the additional pressure of Mike not being able to remember he was there at all. It was good to see. Paul Hicke is already a threat to the top ranks in Alberta (namely me!) and he nailed a bunch of new PB's while he was at it to easily capture 4th spot. To reward (punish) Paul and Dave for their accomplishments, we have extended (ordered) the invitation to the Open class for the rest of the season. Welcome to our version of the big leagues, guys!

Ok, now Sherwood Park stuff. Amateur B events start, and I mean first throw, at 8:30. I'll let you guys know who will be volunteering for the afternoon events that day. The list of the prequalified (ie, don't have to scrap for a spot) are as follows:
So that means there are 11 slots up for grabs in the morning. If we only get 11 more guys out there, everyone plays. Simple, huh? Due to time and travel considerations, Larry Zimmer and Kelly Strachan have passed their prequalifications until Red Deer.

So, once again a big thank you to the folks in Grande Prairie and a great big "Nice work" to those that travelled north to throw with the pipes in the background.

- Sean

High River Fundraiser - June 4/02

Well, as many of you know, the games start basically this week and then it's just games after games for June. No, I haven't heard anything about Ft. Edmonton yet, but I'm looking into it. Also, I'll post the start time for GP (so far it's at 10am) when I know for certain.

Now, onto the other news. The High River Highland Games is having a fundraiser on June 14 (yeah, he knows it's the day before Sherwood Park) at Shanks on Macleod Trail. It'd be a good show of solidarity if some of the local athletes could show up there and say howdy. There will be door prizes and a silent auction and this was a good time when it was done for Calgary last year, so go give your support for a great games.

- Sean

Grande Prairie and Red Deer news - May 27/02

Ok, Grande Prairie stuff first. As many of you may or may not know, this is the first official games in Alberta, although not specifically an ASAA games (although fully sanctioned), as they have all their own stuff and more or less organize it themselves. It's also an open competition, so no divisions there. But, it's a great games and I highly recommend it. There's a ceilidh where Out Of Alba will be playing, dancing and you name it. Go and throw.

For Red Deer, this year they are adamant that all competitors must have competitor passes, so I'll be handing the majority of those out in Sherwood Park, the week before. Now keep in mind the rules. 1) The top 10 Amateur B's in Sherwood Park will have the option of being pre-registered for Red Deer, meaning they have guaranteed slots. 2) The other 5 remaining slots will be determined with placings from the first two events (stone and 28#), because the hard max for the rest of the events is 15. This was decided during the AGM last year because more than 15 competitors just gets sloppy. Also, just to stall complaints right now, if you don't like it, you should have been at the AGM to vote on it. Those that were there voted 'Ay'. My apologies to any new members about this, but this was also put in place to encourage improvement in the ranks.

Also, I'll be in Red Deer on the Friday putting on a clinic at 3pm for anyone who's interested, and for the B's, there is a tug of war contest in the afternoon with a $300 purse to be won, plus a trophy. It's a $50 entry fee per team. Email me if you have any questions or comments.

- Sean

Back from Regina - May 21/02

...and boy are my arms tired. Sorry, old gag. Anyway, I really am just back from Regina and, as ever, a good time was had by all. Instead of the snow we had last year, we got treated to bright sun, blue sky, and gale force winds. Still beats the rain, snow and cold, though. I'd like to believe that the wind played a major part in how badly I threw, but that'd just be a dirty lie. Regina's quickly becoming a high-end throwing competition, what with the improvements the Regina boys had over last year, plus the addition of a few Manitoba boys. Big Jeff Ingram, Marc Morin and Andre Couture showed up and put on quite a performance. Marc took enough first places and stayed consistant in all the other events to more or less walk away with the title for the day. Jeff was right behind him (it should be pointed out that Jeff looks like he'd be quite comfortable in a strongman setting and is more or less the size of a wall) and then our own Mike Staal rounded out the top three. Andre and I tied for 4th overall and he'd have probably beat me, but he started celebrating a bit too soon during the heavy hammer, so I beat him there. That and height events are not his thing.

In other high points of the weekend, the Regina gang have a fabulous set of standards that took abuse all day and didn't even budge. Ray Morton continued to impress everyone with more skill even than last year, made even more impressive when you see him and realize he weighs about 132lbs. If you'd asked me when I didn't know him if someone that light could throw at all, I'd have said no. If he ever gets up to 180 or so, he's going to destroy people. Plus, if you have a 30' pole to climb up, he's your man. Doug Campbell looked solid in every event, especially the weights and hammers and big Neil was also out there and looking a lot tighter than last year. Big thanks to Tim Griffith and Chris Kent who brought out some strongman toys for us to play with, too.

Now, all that being said, I need to practice more and better. See you all in Grande Prairie.

- Sean

General Ramblings - May 17/02

Over 13000 hits on this page. Can you believe that? I can't.

Well, gonna be heading off to the fabulous city of Regina this weekend to compete in what is turning out to be quite an event. Marc Morin, Jeff Ingram and Andre Couture are slated to show up, plus there's a bit of a rumour that Geoff Dolan might make an appearance too, just to prove that he's still got a lot of thrower in his blood. Plus, toss in the Regina regulars like Doug Campbell, big Neil brown, little Ray Morton and big Tony Fiacco, all of which have been practicing since January with Canadian Champ Doug MacDonald and you've got a full event. And the weather's even supposed to be nice. How's that for a change?

For another bit of information, I've been pointing a lot of people at Sportkilt for all their kilting needs, of late. According to one of the athletes I've talked to, he couldn't say enough good things about their selection, their customer service, their shipping or their price. Basically, $100 CDN for a competition kilt that's machine washable, and that's including shipping. If you're looking for a competition kilt and don't feel like dropping $600+ on one, give them a look see. And mention our website, just for giggles. They don't know us from anything, but I just want them to know how far their kilts are travelling.

-Sean

Another quick one - May 14/02

We're gonna try this one more time. Gord Walsh has decided to hold another clinic in Calgary, once again weather permitting. It's going to be on Saturday, May 25, starting around 1PM. Just email Gord for details, location, etc and so he can have an idea of how many guys he can expect.

Regina this weekend. I'm totally unprepared for this, but it should be a gas.

-Sean

Quick Update - May 10/02

Just as a stopgap, I wanted to tell everyone who contacted me about highland games or who have been sending in their registration stuff that yes, I got it and I will be getting back to everyone this weekend. It's been a slightly screwed up week, time and sleep-wise so I haven't been as prompt as I like and I apologize.

On top of that, I'll have a bit more information about the Grande Prairie games as well. It should all be up or out tomorrow sometime.

- Sean

Change in Plans - April 27/02

Well, due to the magic of the new dump of snow in Cowtown, the planned clinic Gord Walsh was putting on is being postponed until the weather cleans up. Gordie apologizes profusely for any inconvenience.

-Sean

Updates - April 23/02

Is anyone else sick of the weather? This is really starting to bug me, but onward we go. Maybe this means all our games will have perfect weather. Yeah, right.

In other news, to those that have contacted me about Aaron making practice weights, I'll be having a chat with him today and I'll get you the info you requested. And that first games of the year comes up fast, kids, so some implements to practice with might be right what you need.

In yet more news, it looks like there aren't going to be any more All Strength Challenge highland games, which is a real pity. They've joined forces with the Canadian Federation of Strength Athletes (CFSA) to produce 4 larger shows this year, as opposed to the 12 smaller ones. You can check the site but details and info are a might sketchy as of yet.

I've updated the upcoming competitions section and it's as up to date and accurate as I can get it to be. Still waiting for more people to send in their registrations and I'm still working on getting the reticent t-shirts sent out (hint, hint Mr. Watson :) )

- Sean

Spring must be official now - April 12/02

Because Gordie Walsh and Keith Watson are planning an open clinic on Saturday, April 27 at 1PM. Email Gord for the particulars. In addition, both Calgary and High River have said they like us and want us back, so a big yay to them. Gord's takin care of business down south and will let me know what's going on there.

If you don't mind travel, check out The Regina Highland Games homepage. It has our flatland brothers in arms information and I for one am heading out there. Have to defend my title, y'know :)

As another little bit of info, if you're looking for practice weights for distance, our own Aaron Andronyk is making them up. I purchased a 56 off him and it's pretty slick. Just email me if you're interested and I'll pass along his information as he hasn't yet joined this century and bought a computer yet.

- Sean

Saddle Up! - April 5/02

Well, I've been having a couple of inquiries about registration and the like, so I figured "Why not?" and let's get this show on the road. The weather may not agree, but in my opinion, the season is upon us.

For registration this year, the cost for an individual event is $25. For the entire season is $50, plus you get a shirt out of the deal and a possibility of travel money based on placings. Check the Rules for full information on that and the volunteer clause in there.

For everyone (and I know who you are) who has not received their shirt from 2001, I severely apologize. Unfortunately, life captures most of us and sometimes things are much slower to get done than anyone would like. These will be available to you soon-ish, I hope.

If you do want to register now, please send your entry fee, current mailing address, email address if you so desire, shirt size, games planned on being attended and games you will be volunteering for (check the rules) to:
Alberta Scottish Athletics Association
c/o Sean Langford
8326-164 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5R 2P8
(please make all cheques payable to "Alberta Scottish Athletic Association")


The games we have confirmed, again, are Grande Prairie on June 9, Sherwood Park on June 15, Red Deer on June 22 and Ellerslie on June 23. I haven't heard anything else yet, but feel free to tell me you're heading to High River and Calgary, too. I just don't know dates yet (well, Calgary's always the September long weekend and High River's the week before, so do the math :> )

-Sean

Some Highland goodness - December 17/01

Well, our esteemed Saskatchewanite turned South Carolinian sent me some games descriptions a while ago, but, as is the rule, I was too lazy to actually make anything out of it until now. So, without any further ado: Ray's Write Ups


Whispers on the wind - December 9/01

Still lazy/busy and I apologize for anyone who's emailed me at home since about September. I've been hideous about getting back to anyone and haven't even checked in about 3 weeks. A 10 month old requires a lot of time, let me tell you.

Excuses out of the way, here we are trapped in the dead of winter, and still the stories float around. Of Mike Staal, spending time in the gym and the garage, kettlebells getting heavier and faster, thinking about regaining the title of Alberta Champion. Of current champion Gord Walsh, down in his basement, adding to the already impressive base of functional strength needed to retain his title. Of a leaner, meaner Blain Bourdags, hungry for a chance to show off some newfound speed and athleticism. And what about Joe Taylor, strongman/highland games athlete who got better with every contest this year? I doubt the winter has left him behind in his training.

Paul Hicke, who took the B class by storm with speed, strength and precision will no doubt be looking forward to even more improvements in performance in the 2002 season. And Aaron Andronyk, spending time in his basement, pulling more and more of those bumper plates, higher and faster, looking to move into the open class, along with Keith Watson and Dave Roe, who have been in direct competition for the duration of the past season, flirting with the numbers that will move them up.

Yup. Lots out there, if you listen to it. Keep up the training during the long, dark cold, True Believers, because the 2002 season is approaching faster than you think.

-Sean

Computers suck and I'm still lazy - Nov 7/01

Finally having tired enough of my home computer's mental breakdowns, I formatted the C: drive and otherwise destroyed the hapless beast. So slowly I'm rebuilding it and finally got my email back on line this weekend. So my apologies to any who have mailed me over the past few weeks. I'll try to respond soon.

In other news, I finally put up the Paul Sim results and I'm looking at updating the rules for the ASAA soonish. So, as you can see, things are actually moving forward :)

-Sean

Wow, am I lazy - October 16/01

And I mean that. And I apologize, of sorts. I still need to answer a lot of my email, so I'll apologize here for that. The network card in my computer blew up so I was without connectivity from home for a time, so I'll answer everyone I can very soon. I'll also get off my butt and post the results from the PSBE in a reasonable period of time AND post the rules and conventions for next year.

Not a whole lot going on up here, of course, although the weather's held up well, so I'm sure there are a few people out there still practicing. I, of course, am not one of them, being fully back into the olympic weightlifting scene. Being seasonal is almost a plus, because you never get a chance to get bored with your activities before you switch back again. Anyway, I'm just babbling now. So, keep checking, because I haven't totally forgotten about Highland games or this webpage. There will be more to see next time.

-Sean

Still alive - September 27/01

No, I haven't totally forgotten about the webpage. Just hitting that slight pause known as post-season laziness. I'll be putting up the results for the Paul Sim Extravaganza, uhm...eventually (You shoulda been here, Paul. We ended up with extra food without you ;)). A good time was had by all and I'm pretty sure that within 6 months, we should be able to have a full competition in Mr. Hicke's back yard, if he keeps building equipment as fast as he has this year.

The party afterward was pretty entertaining, even with Mike Staal and Mr. "2001 Alberta Champion" Gord Walsh bolting early. (Gordie gathered up his year-end trophy and lit out of the city like he owed me money. Must be a Maritimer thing.)

I'd also like to give a huge thanks to my wife and mother in law, who prepared all the food and gave us a place to hold the BBQ. Thanks, ladies. More to come later, folks. Keep checking.

-Sean

The Big Wrap Up - September 14/01

Never ones to let the absense of the guest of honour ruin a good party, the Paul Sim Birthday Extravaganza is once again on this year, on Saturday the 22nd. Now, if I could just get all association members who are planning on attending to email me and let me know how much of you and your clan is coming, it would be greatly appreciated. I'll give details in my replies. Thanks a bunch, guys.

- Sean

Results Update - September 10/01

Amateur B results are up. And it was a lot of damn typing, too :)

- Sean

Quick and dirty - September 7/01

Just like you like it. A few brief updates (no, not the results yet. But, unless your name is Tim Griffith or Gord Walsh, I'll break it to you now: You didn't win. ;>). Added some link stuff, namely a way to get a cheap competition kilt for all those concerned about it and Doug MacDonald's website. And I added the very, very beginnings of The Rules. They aren't done yet, so be patient on that score. I'll slowly get them finished.

- Sean

OVERALL ALBERTA CHAMPION CROWNED! - September 3/01

That's right! The season is now concluded, having come down to the Calgary highland games to settle the whole thing and, after an excellent day of throwing, the 2001 Alberta Highland Games Champion is none other than Mr. Gordon Walsh!

He and Mike Staal had been battling it out all year and it was all laid on the table this past weekend. Gord had a fantastic day and ended up winning 5 out of 7 events and only placing second in the other two. Congratulations, Gord!

There will be a number of information blurbs coming out in the next few days, including things like the final results up in both the Amateur A and B competitions, our official competition 'rules', new information for new and returning athletes and the minutes of the AGM. We had a notoriously poor turnout for the Annual General Meeting once again this year, but a lot of issues came up and were decided upon by the present members and I will be posting that information as I can. Good season everyone. Remember to keep checking here at least once a week. I won't go that long without updating something here.

-Sean

Updates and the like - August 29/01

Having heard from Gord Walsh who's been talking to Doug MacDonald, it's no longer a rumour. He's the new Canadian Champ (by two points, apparently). Want to know what you have to do to become Canadian Champ? Let's take a look at some of the numbers Dougy put up to earn the title:

Seems simple enough, hmm? ;)

As well, a great many of you association members may have received an email of late from Brian Walsh of Canmore. My apologies to anyone who was not pleased by this, but he had contacted me asking for such a list to invite certain people to pre-register for the Canmore games. He seemed cordial enough and looked to be trying to improve the state of the games.

Again, I personally have my nose bent out of shape about Canmore and I won't go into details as the Secretary/Treasurer of the ASAA, but I have decided to document it here for anyone who might want to look it over.

- Sean

Oh! I forgot one thing. The AGM will be held AFTER Calgary, at Keith Watson's place. So any members who wish to have some input, see Keith during the day and get the relevant information.

Calgary - August 27/01

Well, High River's come and gone. Good day, great competitors, although on a personal note, I hate throwing wounded ducks for my stone :) Still, I would have to congratulate Gord Walsh on a new PR and edging closer to the provincial record in the light hammer.

The big news of the day, in my opinion, would have to be the blazing debut of Mr. Paul Hicke, who swept the B class events and is already frighteningly close to qualifying as an Amateur A competitor. I don't think he'll have long to wait.

I'll try to have the results posted as soon as possible, but until then, remember that Calgary is full and we're going to be starting bright and early at 8:30-8:45. 8:45 is going to be the latest start, unless something untoward happens with equipment. So, if you're later than that, you risk losing throws or entire events. Be prompt folks.

-Sean

Just for fun - August 24/01

Hardly anything serious here, but if you check the articles section, or just click here, you can get a nice transcript of a recent conversation I had with Chris Holt over the magic of going to commercial gyms.

The worst part is that I think everyone who does serious lifting has run into someone like this person at least once in their lives...

-Sean

WOAH! - August 23/01

Well, I haven't had it confirmed yet, but from the whispers on the wind it seems that we have a new Canadian champ in highland games for the first time in almost a decade. HUGE congrats go out to Doug MacDonald who finally seems to have toppled Harry's Canadian dominance of this sport for 9 years running. Quite a legacy.

I seriously doubt, however, that this marks the end of the rivalry and the quest for Canadian championship. I'm willing to bet that Harry comes out guns a blazin for the rest of the season and gears up for next year. I'd say he's going to come out bigger and better, but I seriously doubt that mountain of a man could get much bigger, so I'd only be half-right :)

Still, that's quite an accomplishment. Nice work, Douglas. Or should I say "Mr. National Champion, sir"?

-Sean

High River - August 23/01

Down to our last two official competitions now. This weekend, the second annual High River Highland Games and Windstorm will be running. (Hopefully without the wind.) We're going to be (life willing) starting throwing by no later than 8:45 in the morning, so I'd appreciate everyone showing up to register by 8:15 or so, to allow for warmups and the basics of 'these are the events, this is who you follow, lets put on a show'. And any other inspirational things you want me to say before I start publically mocking the B's on the PA. :)

Also, I'd like to pass on a big congrats to Gord Walsh for his performance in the All Strength Challenge final. He put out quite an effort and surprised some of the strongmen and the like. Also managed to be non-injured. Way to go, Gordie. Now we'll just have to see if he remembers how to throw...

- Sean

Updates, etc - August 19/01

Well, at the top of the page, along the navigation bar, I've added an FAQ with all of the information that came into my head immediately. If anyone can think of anything for me to add that they think first timers or visiting athletes could think to ask, let me know.

Countdown to High River, folks. Hope you're sharp and ready to throw.

-Sean

The All Strength Challenge Final - August 17/01

Our own Gordie Walsh will be competing this weekend along with 11 other men in a combination highland games/strongman event in the final of the All Strength Challenge to see who takes home the big prize. I know Gord's been training hard and has packed on some power and experience in some of the strongman events, so watch out, boys!

Luck and skill, Gord! Give'em hell!

General Blurbs - August 13/01

I've had a few replies now from my informal survey and I like the picture I'm starting to get from everyone, so remember if you haven't emailed me, but do have an opinion from my last post, let me know. That way I don't feel like Big Brother whenever a decision has to be made about competitions :)

Speaking of competitions, High River and Calgary are FULL. I mean right full. Don't worry. If you've been to a couple of games already, chances are I have you down for it, but I can post the registered folks if everyone wants to see it. I'm aiming (yeah, yeah, I know.) to start the throwing on each day at 8:30-8:45 for the B's and as late at 1PM for the A's. The afternoon seems to go so fast anyway, that if we start a little later, we'll still be done by 4:30 or so. So show up by 8:15 or so to warm up and get ready to put on a show.

Just to emphasize again for people who have asked... we have NOTHING to do with the Canmore Highland Games. Not for lack of trying. But, I cannot register anyone for it. It's first come-first served for the 20 competitors. And no, I won't be one of them this year. Until such a time that Canmore acknowledges the importance of the heavy events in the draw and scheme of their games, I, personally, won't be showing my face there. Note that this is not a policy of the ASAA, just one lowly competitor's voice and opinion.

As for other random bits, I've done a very slight bit of updating here and again on the site, in terms of a new strength link or two, the very early start of the gallery (send more pics!) and otherwise trying my best to keep it stable. Once again, if you aren't on the athletes page and want to be, send me your PB's and a pic and I'll update it. Two weeks to go, folks. Train hard.

- Sean

Informal Survey - August 9/01

I'll be bringing this point up in the AGM anyway, but I wanted to get a little feedback from you guys right from go. In terms of next year, knowing full well that we have to have field limits or it'll get a bit rediculous, would you rather have informal pre-registration, formal (ie forms, etc) pre-registration, or a 'first-come, first-served' basis on the day of competition. IE, throwing starts at 8:45, registration begins at 8, ends at 8:30, first guys there are the one's who throw? Now, feedback from my queries before has been a little lax, so if you like one of these ideas, or have another alternative, I'd love to hear it. So just email ME and let me know what you think. Remember, it's your association, too, and I prefer not being in the position to make sweeping decisions like that.

-Sean

Updates, etc - August 9/01

Well, I finally have the B results from Ft. Edmonton up. Sorry it took so long, guys. Two weekends away from High River now? How's the 6 weeks been treating you? Have you been practicing constantly? Or did you let it slide? As always, nothing counts in practice, but whatever you learn there will show in the field, gang. :)

Calgary is more or less full. I need to contact some people to confirm their entry, but beyond that, we have a truly full field. We are going to be trying to make sure we don't have the dual trig thing going, because I find it detracts from the announcing, etc, as well as where the spotlight is, but it means we have to get started on time (which I'm considering as 8:45 as it stands.) I know a lot of people show up for that weekend, hitting both Calgary and Canmore, but I want to reiterate that we have nothing to do with Canmore. You're on your own there.

And everyone that can should remember to wish Gordie Walsh skill and strength (luck is for amateurs) as he gets into the final two weeks of preparation for the All Strength Challenge final on August 18. He's been working hard, getting stronger, getting faster and I don't think he's gonna budge an inch for the guys he has to play against. Give'em the gears, Gordie!

-Sean

Welcome the Worlds - August 7/01

That's right, throwers of the world. Edmonton is currently hosting the 8th IAAF World Track and Field Championships. I was priveleged enough to be present for the entire day 4 of competition and have been fairly religious in watching it. I have to say, I'm more than a bit impressed with my town about now. Edmonton's put on a truly world class competition. And the athletes themselves? Wow. The speed, the technique...all unreal. I have to say, though, no disrespect to the hammer throwers (wow on those releases) and the discus qualifiers (again, the footwork was amazing), it was the women's final for pole vaulting that made the day. It was a shootout all the way with both remaining women taking 3 cracks at a world record 4.82m. It almost reminded me of a weight for height dual. Completely awesome. Totally pumped me for some training. Take my advice...go watch a track meet when you get the chance.

In other news and more relevant to our own sport, here's a bit more of my take on the spin vs stand issues on the WOB (56 for height). As I understand it (and if Ryan Vierra or any other pros are reading this and have their own account or take on it, please email me) the SGA (Scottish Games Association) has banned the use of the spin for any of their sanctioned games. Which means all athletes throwing in the UK, etc, can't do it. So they don't train it. Pleasanton, this year, is hosting the World Championships. Which is SGA sanctioned. So, they are saying that the SGA athletes don't train the spin, so it isn't on even footing to allow anyone else to do it, so noone can at the championships.

My own take on it? Hmm...an interesting idea. I don't have any problems with it, per se, save for the safety issues. Considering we like to end the day with the 56 and get the crowd close to the action. In that case, as I also understand it, the judges or organizers always have the choice of disallowing anything that jeopardizes the crowd or athletes. So, if you're going to practice the spins, boys, keep up on your power position technique, too. I don't think this issue is going to resolve quickly.

- Sean

Back from the USS...err, USA - August 1/01

Well, four days on the road and here I am. Seattle was, as ever, a great competition, although with the introduction of a full pro class, the timing was a bit screwed up. (Started late and ended later. Ugh.) But let me tell you, these guys can throw. You know it's a stiff competition when you get two PR's and still get mopped up. Apparently, I placed 6th out of 8, but at least I didn't look out of place. But, damn, can these boys throw. Jeremiah Strandh (sorry about the spelling!), Joel Thiessen, Delore Lacusta, Kyle Dailey, Eric and Mark Wechter and Brent (gotta look up his last name). Jeremiah's first stone throw was a 'safe' one, Braemar style...44'. Kyle lobbed out a 121' hammer throw...no spikes. Joel went 28' in the 20# sheaf. Eric was the only one who turned the caber. Brent looked way too casual when he threw -everything-. And Mark, lightest guy on the field by 15#, lobbed out a 33' throw with the 56# and said it was 'Ok'. That was who I got to play with.

Onto the pros, Ryan won it, despite an injury. Dave brown cleared something like 33' in the sheaf. It went over the top bar in any case. James Parman (sp?) is hilarious and if Ed Brost gets any freakin bigger, he's going to need a zip code. Dougy MacDonald was there, too, putting on what looked to be a very solid performance. Also saw the spin technique for the 56# for height. Interesting, but I doubt I'm strong enough to pull it off. Also interesting is the fact that Scotland, California and a few other places have banned it, stating that the rules call for a standing throw. Guess we'll have to watch to see where it goes.

Beyond that, folks, we're three weeks away from High River. Hope everyone's ready to throw, because I'm over the 60' mark that's been alluding me for a while, so I'm pumped now :)

- Sean

More Updates and the Like - July 24/01

Hi again, highland athletes abroad! I fervently hope that (in Alberta anyway) this little lull in the schedule is giving you the time you need to practice and sharpen up for our last two games, late in August. I've been trying to update the results as fast as I can and have time for (Regina is now up. Thanks, Doug) and I just did some quick calculations for the race for overall champion. Now, the way this is working this year is that I am simply taking the points for each games and adding them in the Amateur A class. I feel this accurately reflects both overall placing and consistancy of each individual event. In addition, each athlete will be allowed one 'by', removing their lowest placing (highest number) from the total. So what that means, true believers, is that Mike and Gord are separated by 1 WHOLE POINT over 5 games. So, now not only do they want to win the next two, but they want to place consistantly in each event and keep their numbers down. I'm the next one in line, but I think, at this point, all I can do is manage to foul up Mike and Gord a bit. So they have to make sure they're beating me, too :) Check the results page to see what I've compiled so far.

On a more personal note, I'll be heading down to the Pacific Northwest Heavy Events in Enumclaw, WA this weekend. My first year throwing as an amateur A there. (I didn't qualify for A status down there until High River/Calgary last year. Too late) I'm gonna get thumped, but it's a great competition. I'm gonna try and convince some of you guys to make the trip next year. So, I'll let everyone know how it went.

- Sean

Updatish Stuff - July 11/01

Slowly and surely, the results start to form. Red Deer and Ellerslie are up now and I intend to do Sherwood Park next, for all those anxious to see their name in lights. The athlete's page is also going to be more readily improved (thanks a ton, Keith!), but I'm still holding out on adding people to it until I get some pics from you degenerates. You've been warned.

On another note, Colleen Millar, who came to Alberta for Red Deer/Ellerslie and ended up sadly injured (get well quick, Colleen!) has put up a website for all you ladies out there, interested in the heavy events. Check it out here or on our links page.

- Sean

Fort Edmonton - July 8/01

Well, once again Ft. Edmonton was a scorcher of a day, although the clouds came out a bit in the afternoon, so at least it was semi-bearable. We had a fantastic crowd, both as spectators and competitors right from the word go. The morning events had 15 athletes, including lone female competitor Bryce Singbeil who put on her usual stellar performance.

Keith Watson and Dave Roe once again continued their competition to see who is the top of the B's section and who will be the first one to make the transition to the Amateur A division. Newcomer Joe Johnstone put in a very respectable performance considering he had never seen most of the equipment, and taking 3rd place overall. First timers Rob and Byron also made very good accounts of themselves, although they really need to work on the kilt thing. Kelly Strachan continues to prove himself, taking the heavy hammer with a personal best and very respectable 63' throw. Greg Sawtell, in only his third competition also managed a solid performance, clenching 5th position.

On the Amateur A side of things, the battle for overall leader continues to heat up with Gord Walsh and Mike Staal more or less tied (I'll really check that soon) and myself becoming more annoying with every competition. Joe Taylor looked good with another PR in the 28 and keeping the pressure up on the rest of the field. Mike took first spot with a string of first places from both hammers, the WOB and caber, despite some tense moments at the WOB. Personally, I think he does it on purpose. Beyond that, it won't be until August 25th when we gather next. That's 6 weeks, guys and girls. Practice hard. You know everyone else will be.

-Sean

Latest and Greatest - April 29/01

Ok, well, I've been sort of getting everything in order for our first games, the finances, communicating with Games organizers, etc, and everything's looking pretty good so far. With the exception of membership stuff. We have, currently, all of 6 paid members right now. And, just for you athletes that need to be shamed into paying your dues, 2 of those are from out of province and another one is from out of country! So get on it. The news archive has the links to all the signup information.

In addition, I am now taking pre-registration for games for all paid members. So, if you're on this list, feel free to email me and tell me which games you intend on attending. I'll be posting those games and the people who have guaranteed spots as the games progress. Please, though, only indicate games where you are 95% sure you'll be there. I don't want to have to tell anyone "Sorry, we're full." then have 4 guys do no-shows.

Oh, and is anyone else's ribs this sore from not spinning a hammer in 6 months?

-Sean

Updatish Stuff - April 25/00

Well, we've kind of settled on both ways, folks. I'm keeping the "news" section, but, I'll have all the "latest" news here and I'll archive it later. So there you have it.

In other and updated news, the first official ASAA competition is Grande Prairie and I've updated the Competitions section accordingly. I had the date and park wrong. Anyway, it's a fantastic competition, open, great field and really cool prizes, in truth. (Yeah, we all do it for the love of the game, but these gym bags from Grande Prairie rock.) So, if you're planning on attending (and why wouldn't you?), drop me a line and lets start getting some pre-registration going.

Oh and Amateur A's? I'll be mailing out your invites to Red Deer as soon as I get a few minutes to do so.

-Sean

Playing Around - April 20/01

I'm just testing this out, to see what everyone thinks about the opening page being just a splash, with all the news in a seperate section. It doesn't affect anything else as of yet, I just noticed how long this first page was with all the news on it. But, here's the question I want answered from -all- highland athletes that read this page. Do you like the news being right on the main page, so your updates are immediate, or do you prefer the new setup? Please email me and let me know. It'll be -your- vote that decides it.

Another Heads Up - April 19/01

Bill Scruggs was kind enough to email me and send me a host of information about the FIRST Masters' World Championships in Highland Games (as well as saying some kind things about the site. We're getting famous, kids.) It's going to take place in Ft. Smith, Arkansas on Oct 20/01. The updates and full scoop is on their website at http://www.geocities.com/scottish_masters/. Check it out guys and gals. We NEVER have to stop this sport!

Updates and such - April 19/01

Hi again, athletes. Just another touch up for those who have been training hard and looking very forward to this season of throwing. This year (and you can boo me personally) we will be instigating a pure "must wear" policy on kilts on all amateur competitions.

This may seem unfair and unfriendly toward new people joining, but there are a couple of reasons for this. A) Everywhere else in the world (and I've competed in Scotland and the States), the only ones on the field without kilts are the novices. That's the primary reason. B) Part of the games is the promotion of the traditional highland games. It is, for lack of a better term, an ethnic event and we should help preserve and promote the culture. and C)We will have a couple of 'lender' kilts onhand, if necessary. I hope they aren't.

On the tail end of this is something else to consider. With the charming outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in Britain, they are slaughtering sheep by the thousands. Sheep provide wool. Wool makes kilts. Do the math. If you were looking for tartan material, folks, look now and look fast. This could potentially have prices going sky high in short order.

Something else that's been brought to my attention as a possible misunderstanding. On my membership list, these people are the -past- year (2000) members. Unless you mail me your entry fee, or wait until the first games you intend on attending, you are not a member. Sorry for any confusion. The mailing info is all on the link that's a little lower down the page.

Oh, and here's some amusement, for those who know the webmaster of this little site (me): http://www.sshga.org/games.html

Clinic Time! - April 9/01

Well, folks, thanks to the big-heartedness of Gord Walsh, there is going to be a clinic on April 21 from 1pm to 4pm. This is for ASAA members and invited guests only, folks. Gord is happily donating his time to do some real coaching and giving some pointers. Just email him or call him at (403)255-5786 to confirm and get directions to the field.

Likewise, I will actually offer to put on a Novice Camp, of sorts, on the same day in Edmonton, IF I get enough interest from people around town. Email me here or call (780)439-9150 if you'd be interested in such an event.

-Sean

Let's get this show on the road - March 28/01

Ok, after being prodded by Gord and the other members of the executive, I've come up with this list of members from last year. It isn't researched and so might not be complete. On the page, however, is a lovely form, designed by the Strachan's that you can feel free to print off, fill out and send to me with the registration fee. Oh, as a note for classifications, remember that you have to make certain standards to be considered Amateur A, folks. It's not based on time, but performance. So if you want to register as an A, make sure your numbers back it up. I'll update the membership list constantly now, so send'em in and I'll make sure you're in like Flynn. Welcome to the 2001 season, athletes.

-Sean

Time to sign up, folks! - March 22/01

That's right! Big Doug Campbell, the thrower organizing the heavy events at the Regina Highland Games, sent me this entry form. It's a first-come, first-served thing, folks, so print it out, fill it out and send it off to Doug. And hopefully, we'll see some of you there. The last two years in Regina have been great and I'm counting on a repeat of that trend.

-Sean

Hey, Strongmen! Here's some news! - March 9/01

Check out the links page, or just head over to GlobalPower 2000 and see what's happening in terms of Western Canadian Strongman.

Another Quick One - March 9/01

Doug Campbell was kind enough to get back to me on my inquiries and he's currently in the process of making up the entry forms and the like for the Regina games. Probably the standard $20-25 entry fee, open field. Not sure on field limits just yet, but I'm sure he'll pass along the information as he gets it. Just a heads up, folks.

Along the same lines, I've been in contact with the folks that run the Ellerslie highland games and things are looking good so far. Again, when I get some solid details, I'll let everyone know what's going on.

Welcome to Our New Home! - March 5/01

That's right! We are no longer just a branch off my personal website, but a presence and a force to be reckoned with! I'd like to officially extend a big welcome to all our athletes and visitors to the new and official site. My, but how we've grown. Now, let's get everyone up to speed, shall we?

First, we can all take off our hats for Market Web Solutions Inc.for providing the space and domain hosting for the site, and Doug Mollerup with DSK for supplying our new domain name. This makes them our first for real sponsors of the association. Thanks, guys.

The season is nearing rapidly, making it seem even closer with the recent weather melting most of the snow. I hope everyone hit the weights hard over the pseudo-winter we had, getting bigger, stronger and faster. Very soon we'll be able to crawl out onto the fields and start the true event training, the kind that really extends the distances and seperates out the part-timers from those who want to succeed.

The first semi-local competition will be in Regina, on May 20. Big Doug Campbell always runs a first rate competition and I'm sure this year will be even better. I'll be in contact with Doug soon about entry forms, so feel free to let me know if you're interested.

After that, the first Alberta competition will be Grande Prairie, so far tenatively scheduled for the 9th of June. June, in truth, is chock full of competitions, including the new one in Sherwood Park on the 30th. Check the schedule for details.

In other, more personal news, I'd like to welcome my daughter, Ayleigh Jade, to the wide world of travelling all over Alberta to watch dad throw. She was born on Feb 3, 2001 at 8:30pm weighing 7lbs 4oz. For all the boys who know me closely, allow me to put your minds at ease. The child looks like her mother, not me.

So, what do you think of the new site? Anything you'd like to see added? Deleted? Please, get ahold of Sean, and give me all your comments, questions and criticisms.

Welcome back, folks.

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