© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News
As the saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but when you get to the world championships, horseshoe pitchers aren’t looking for close. The competition will be tight. Competitors are looking to consistently hear the distinctive ping sound when the horseshoe rings the stake.
The 92-year-old Greater Victoria Horseshoe Pitching Association is, one of, if not the largest club in Canada, with the best outdoor facilities, has some seriously good pitchers.
At total of seven Vancouver Island horseshoe pitchers, six from Victoria and one from Parksville will be travelling to St. George’s, Utah in mid-July to compete in the NHPA-hosted, 2017 World Horseshoe Pitching Championships; it’s the 100th anniversary of the tournament.
The island pitchers each have a separate opportunity to reach the podium as luck would have it they are competing in different categories.
Rick Britz from Parksville is competing in the Elders A2 group. He will be taking his 67.44% ring rate to the tournament. The Victoria players are Ron Fleet (Elders D1 – 44.75%, Dick Stevens (Elders E1 – 41.75%), Lance Whitworth (Elders G2 – 28.89%), Jon Meeres (Sr. Men A – 48.71%), Pat Stevens (Women’s D – 41.75%) and Sante Michielin (Sr. Men’s C – 33.63%).
Michielin, looks forward to the 22-hour drive and an opportunity to enjoy some time in Vegas, but first, he is looking for a podium spot in his category. Michielin has finished top-5 nationally and has twice won the provincial championships.
Between taking turns competing in the 2017 GVHPA Memorial Tournament, Michielin took the time to chat about the club and the world championships.
“There will be over 1,041 competitors from all over North America and as far away as Norway,” shared Michielin. “If you are in the horseshoe pitching world, you aim to attend this event.”
The National Horseshoe Pitching Association in St. George’s has 40 indoor clay courts. There is an adjustment that Islanders will have to make, as they are accustomed to playing in the more traditional sand, it plays differently.
Typically regulation courts are 40 feet long from stake to stake. Pitchers throw from the 37-foot or 27-foot foul line, depending on the division that they play in.
There is a $45,000.00 prize purse available, which is divided into the various categories.
The tournament goes from July 17 to the 29th at the Dixie Convention Centre.
The competition will be tough, as Michielin is going in ranked 13th overall. “I always say that it is an easy game to play, but a hard game to master.” And to that Michielin may want to take his hand grenades.
The Memorial Doubles Tournament was won by Lynn Cousins and Nick Nicholas from Victoria, Sunday afternoon.