Damien Fisher winds up as he throws in the weight for distance light weight event at the Red Deer Highland Games on Saturday at Titans Field. Fisher got the field record with a toss of 82.6 feet with the 28 lb. weight.

Damien Fisher winds up as he throws in the weight for distance light weight event at the Red Deer Highland Games on Saturday at Titans Field. Fisher got the field record with a toss of 82.6 feet with the 28 lb. weight.

Wet weather doesn’t dampen spirits at Highland Games

It’s all about managing the angles, says one of the heavy events athletes who joined Red Deer’s 69th-annual Highland Games at Titan Park on Saturday.

It’s all about managing the angles, says one of the heavy events athletes who joined Red Deer’s 69th-annual Highland Games at Titan Park on Saturday.

A thin drizzle of rain fell from high clouds as Damien Fisher of Bellingham, Wash., Rob Young of Calgary and a handful of other tall, stout lads took their turns tossing various heavy items across the wet grass.

Fisher set a new field record in the lightweight stone event, throwing a 28-pound weight 82 feet and six inches across the wet grass. Not quite as stocky as some of his fellow competitors, Fisher says his advantage is in having long arms and legs, which give him more leverage when he’s winding up for the throw.

He then switched out to a different pair of shoes, modified with a heavy spike at each toe to stick into the grass and hold his feet still for the hammer toss.

Very dangerous. Not the sort of thing you wear to a dance.

Young’s mother, Lesley, said she was deathly afraid when her son, 2002 heavyweight champion on the University of Calgary wrestling team, developed an interest in the heavy events. Relaxing in a lawn chair as her son warmed up for the Hammer Throw, she recalled her trepidation as she watched him out in a field, tossing heavy weights over a bar that was well above his head as he practiced for the Weight for Height event.

The program describes Weight for Height as the event that makes you hurt. “It’s about the same as throwing a small child over a Greyhound bus, but less likely to land you in jail — although it could land you in hospital,” it says.

Massive at six-foot-four and more than 300 pounds (1.93 metres and 136.6 kg), Young had quit wrestling after suffering from concussion and joined the university’s track and field team. He discovered Highland Games later on as an ideal vent for his competitive drive.

But don’t think the heavy events are limited to big, stout lads, said Masters (over 40) competitor Sean Langford, on hand to judge the open competitions. There are women’s events, too — and they toss some of the same weights as the men — just not as far, where distance is the goal. The heaviest of all, the caber toss, is all about style. The caber — a long tapered pole — is to be grasped at its narrow end, and then tossed in a manner that will flip it end over end and in a straight line.

Highland Games appear to have started hundreds of years ago as casual bets between rival farmers, with little or no relationship to actual field chores, said Young.

Aside from the heavy events, Red Deer’s Highland Games run a broad spectrum of Scottish culture, including competitions for pipers, drummers, pipe bands and Highland dancers as well as a Tug-O-War and a shortbread competition.

Chairperson Debbie Wallace said there are always a few headaches as competitors and vendors start arriving first thing in the morning, but a little rain didn’t hurt a bit.

The dampness and chill actually made it feel just a bit more like Scotland, said Wallace. The weather did not deter participants, but Wallace was concerned that it would affect the number of people who came out to watch.

To help attract the volunteers it needs to keep the show running, the games offers a share of its proceeds to local charities that want to make some money.

This year’s crew is a group of people saving up to send a group of Grade 8 students from Red Deer on a science trip to Orlando, Fla. in 2017.

Wallace’s husband, John — a direct descendant of Clan Wallace, said the games appear to date back roughly to the early 11th Century with competitions organized by Clan Canmore. Wallace said he had noticed after attending Highland Games elsewhere in the province that there were no clan tents set up at Red Deer, so he set about fixing that flaw with a number of clans setting up among the vendors in the concession area.

Fittingly, finalists from local competitions wrap up their season this fall at the Canmore Highland Games, recognized as one of the Top 12 in Canada.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Most Read