August 27, 2002 Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Champ. 2002

2002 Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Championships
A tournament story

The 2002 Canadian Championships were held at the Calgary Horseshoe Club, for the third time, from August 14 thru 17. Calgary had been host in 1988 and 1996. As usual, the Calgary club and the Alberta H.P.A., despite being very busy with the World Tournament a few days earlier, did a wonderful job... Many players who were in Red Deer took the opportunity to participate also in the Canadian championships by staying in Alberta an extra week. As a result, the 238 entries registered in 2002 for Calgary is the 7th largest ever.

The champions crowned in the seven divisions are:
Colin FINNIE, Kenaston, Sask. (Men) 73.23%
Sylvianne MOISAN, L'Epiphanie, Que. (Women) 85.13%
Buddy DYRDA, Victoria, B.C. (Jr Boys) 75.93%
Christine SPARKS, Port Alberni, B.C. (Jr Girls) 26.05%
Terry STEINKE, Sexsmith, Alb. (Sr 40) 51.54%
Wilf GREGORY, Nanaimo, B.C. (Sr 30) 57.60%
Heather MORRISON, Thornhill, Ont. (Sr Ladies) 51.98%

The complete results are available here, or if you prefer you can also take a look at the game by game summaries. It should be noted here that the finals involving the top three in the Men's and Women's championships were eliminated following a decision at the 2002 Horseshoe Canada AGM. That system had been used since 1985. Nevertheless, in the men's division, there was to be a four-way tie for first, a situation that had never been seen before at the Nationals. Seeded according to their average recorded in the round-robin, Colin Finnie was to meet Howard Weitzel while Stan Leis was to play Tom Gallina. Colin Finnie edged Howard Weitzel (who had created the four-way tie situation by beating Stan Leis in the last game of the round-robin). In a close cliff-hanger of a game, Colin won 41-39 in 62 shoes, both him and Howard shooting 74.2%. Colin had saved the game by covering a double, then came back with another double which Howard left untouched. Meanwhile, Stan Leis (72.6) eliminated Tom Gallina (67.7) 40-33 also in 62 shoes. Tom, seeking his third title, had defeated Stan in round 14. So the final would match the best two players in the round-robin. Colin Finnie (80.2%) built a quick lead and never looked back, edging Stan Leis 41-14 in 46 shoes. Uncle Marvin Ellison was first to congratulate and hug the new champion. Colin had won his second national title, his previous one was in 1994. He also recorded the second highest tournament average by a Westerner in the men's division at the nationals with 73.23%. The highest is held by Ross Stevenson (73.5%) and was set in 1988 in Calgary. Ross was among the spectators watching the final game of the 2002 championships! Colin recorded the high game in the men's with 92.9%, 26 out of 28 against Bill Vanderburg.

In the women's division, Sylvianne Moisan once again entered as a World champion, having won her third consecutive Womenís World Title the week before in Red Deer. On her way to a 7th Canadian title, Sylvianne pitched another perfect game, this time a 24-shoe game against Brenda Arnold (round 2). Her toughest game was to be against Janice Ross. Janice started the game with 29 out of 32 taking a 20 to 1 lead! Sylvianne then threw 25 consecutive doubles, a new Canadian record, and later won 41-20. Sylvianne averaged 87.5 while Janice had 79.5. They had 22 fourdeads in what was to be the longest game of the tournament at 88 shoes. In another game, Sylvianne missed one shoe, recording a 97.2% in 36 shoes. Sylvianne clinched her title by defeating her mother Angeline in the final round 40-6.

The Junior Boys division would produce an exciting best-of-three finals between Drew Becker, newly crowned World Junior Boys champion, and Buddy Dyrda who came runner-up to Drew. This time, Buddy reversed the wind and beat Drew in two games: the first by a score of 40-38 in 70 shoes, after at least 4 fourdeads while the score was 38-37! The second one was taken by a score of 40-24, Buddy recording his high game of the tournament with 81.8%. Buddy Dyrda, who started playing horseshoes in May 2001, had won the Canadian Junior Boys title in his first appearance at the Nationals. What an amazing story considering the fact he beat the World Champion, Drew Becker, in their four encounters in Calgary! Christine Sparks, successfully defended her Junior Girls Title by edging Jaala Curren from Saskatchewan. Christine Sparks and Sylvianne Moisan repeated as champions in their division as did Heather Morrison in the Senior Ladies division. Heather came on top in a group filled with former champions. She confirmed her first place with two games to go by beating Eileen Kozakewich 40-38.

New champions were crowned in the Senior Menís 40' and Senior Men's 30' divisions. Terry Steinke won his first title by a margin of 4 wins, losing only to Vern Bannerman and to Charlie Hastings' high game of 60.0%. Terry recorded the high game of 65.2% against Larry Markle. Wilf Gregory captured first place in the Senior Men's 30' division, losing only to Len Scheibner 28-31 (round 4) and to Red Gilmore 19-31 (round 11). Ed Claussen pitched two high games, one of 92.9% in 14 shoes, probably the shortest game ever pitched at the nationals. The other was an 87.5% against Mike Spilchen.

At the banquet held Saturday evening, winners and champions received their awards. But other special presentations were made. Jack Adams received the Sharon Ellison Award, presented by Charolette Demmans. The award, first presented to Dianne Beck in 2000 and to Jean Markle in 2001, is given to aknowledge the outstanding contribution and work by a deserving individual during the Canadian Championships. It is given in memory of the late Sharon Ellison, a Hall of Fame member, who has worked many years at the Championships. Among other presentations was the induction of Sylvianne Moisan into the Horseshoe Canada Hall of Fame as an outstanding female player.

To the Calgary horseshoe club team, the crews in charge of the courts, the computer, the kitchen, the tournament director, the scorekeepers, judges, and to all volunteers who helped make this 2002 tournament a success : thanks !

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