Sunday, August 6, 2023

59th Colorado Scottish Festival - Athletics

I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the 59th Annual Colorado Scottish Festival held at the Denver Polo Fields in Sedalia, Colorado.  The venue was amazing with all of the clans, Scottish heritage information, main stage, dancers, pipers and of course athletics.

We were in two groups with the A/B men and all women competing on Saturday.  The C men (Open), lightweight men (under 200), masters men (40+) and grand masters men (60+) competing on Sunday.

Everybody was broken into groups.  My group the masters men was assembled with our judge (Cheryl).  All of my group was experienced and I was the newbie to Highland Games and taken under their wing.

We started with hammers, which is my favorite event.  I managed 38' with the 22 pound hammer and 45' with the 16 pound hammer.  Ryan won both the heavy and light with throws of 72' and 94' respectively.  I have some work to do.  I did have one scratch on the light hammer.  Coaching cue was to open and extend arms.

Next we went to stones.  I managed 15' with Braemar (22 pounds) and 20' with Open (16 pounds).  Dustin won Braemar with a 28' toss and Brant won open with a 34' toss.  Coaching cue position feet to allow full opening of hips.

Next we did weight for distance.  The 42 pound heavy weight was brutal and I only managed 15' and that was with an underhand throw (no spin).  The 28 pound light weight was only marginally better with an 18' toss.  Ryan won both with throws of 32' and 50' respectively.  Coaching cue throw Braemar style without spin.  This was especially effective on the heavy weight as I went 8' and 11' spinning and 15' underhand throwing.

Then we went on to 42 pound weight over bar.  I cleared 8, 9 and 10 feet before failing three attempts at 11 feet.  Ryan and Michael tied for the win at 14 feet.  Coaching cue high in, low out, let weight come drop natural and then drive.  

After lunch we started on caber.  Caber starts with a qualifier and then a scored event.  In 3 attempts, I picked the caber twice and launched it once.  I was working with the 51 pound 17'-2" (M2-A) and failed to qualify.  The rest of the group qualified with the 72 pound (15 foot) caber and scored with the 76 pound (18 foot) caber.  Michael won with a near perfect flip.  Coaching cue, get base set, flat back, butt out steady the caber for as long as you need to, pick, get steady again, let caber trot start then flip by keeping hands very close to body.

The final event was Sheaf toss and I could not even clear the opening 14 foot standard (I was scored as a 13 foot throw).  Brant was in a class by himself matching his personal best at 28 feet after everybody else bowed out at 22 and 24 feet.  Coaching cues were too many to list, but Braemar toss was recommended along with driving left arm up and punching with right arm.  I will likely invest in my own sheaf fork and 16 pound sheaf this fall.

Ryan was first overall, followed by Michael, Dustin ("Cuff"), Brant and myself.  Brant had an unfortunate scratch on weight for height which kept him out of contention.  They use decathlon scoring which is very fair.

Everybody had fun with near perfect weather.  A lot of athletes had rolling totes to keep their gear dry, organized and have a place to sit down between efforts.  It was fun to hear everybody's background in athletics and in life.

As far as decathlon score differentials, I was at roughly half of what my peers were at with stone, hammer and weight for height slightly better, weight for distance and sheaf much worse and caber much, much worse.  In addition to a sheaf, I might seek out a 42 pound weight as that was quite onerous.  My open stone technique could certainly use some help as well.

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