September 5, 2003 Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Champ. 2003

2003 Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Championships
A tournament story

The 2003 Canadian Championships were held at the Thistle St.Andrews Curling Arena in Saint John, New Brunswick from August 19 thru 23. As in 1997, when Saint John hosted the Nationals, the NBHPA and the Saint John Horseshoe League did a wonderful job. Evening socials were held from Wednesday to Friday, while Saturday (after the Banquet and Awards night) it all ended with a Casino Night and Auction. There were 140 entries, but after drop outs - some due to illness (among those is Larry Markle) - the total was 130 participants from 9 provinces. Only New Foundland was not represented.

The champions crowned in the seven divisions are:
Colin FINNIE, Kenaston, Sask. (Men) 71.37%
Sylvianne MOISAN, L'Epiphanie, Que. (Women) 80.46%
Buddy DYRDA, Victoria, B.C. (Jr Boys) 77.32%
Joanna VIENNEAU, Cambridge, Ont. (Jr Girls) 13.50%
Hughie McKENZIE, New Waterford, N.S. (Sr 40) 43.99%
George BARTON, Saint John, N.B. (Sr 30) 67.03%
Heather MORRISON, Thornhill, Ont. (Sr Ladies) 53.87%

The complete results are available here, or if you prefer you can also take a look at the game by game summaries.
2003 was an excellent year for the defending champions as the ones who showed up in Saint John all went back home with the laurels they won in Calgary the year before. The successful ones are Colin Finnie (Men), Sylvianne Moisan (Women), Buddy Dyrda (Junior Boys) and Heather Morrison (Senior Women). New champions were crowned in the three other divisions. Maritime players did very well! Two of them won championships: George Barton from Saint John, in his first try in the Senior 30' division, and Hughie McKenzie, from Cape Breton, N.S., also in his first try but in the Senior Men's 40' division. Lisa Harrison, Junior Girls champ in 1999 had been the only Maritimer to win a Canadian title up until 2003. Joanna Vienneau is the new Junior Girls' champion. Though from Ontario, she has roots in New Brunswick.

Maritimers also had a very strong bid on the Men's championship, from Duncan McKenzie (brother of Hughie) who recorded the best performance by a Maritimer in the Men's division losing but 3 games and averaging 66.3% in taking 4th spot. It was Duncan's first experience at the Nationals! Two other Maritimers who had previous experience, each finished higher than ever. Barry Slaunwhite taking 7th and Ray Hebert finishing 11th (same as in 1997). The outcome of the Men's competition was hard to predict. As fog disappeared from Saint John on Saturday... champions emerged. Colin Finnie (78.9) captured his 3rd title in a playoff against Andre Leclerc (73.7) 40-30 in a long 76-shoe match featuring 12 fourdeads. For Andre (back to the 1 and 3/4 turn) this was his high game of the day but it ended up being the highest losing effort of the Men's division. Colin had lost earlier that day to Andre (73.3) 25-42 in 60 shoes, while Andre's only loss was to Stan Leis (70.1) 34-40 (round 10). A three-way tie for first with 2 games to go, was broken when Finnie (69.2) gave Stan Leis his second loss by 40-32 in the longest game of the Men's division (78 shoes). Stan's first loss was 38-40 to Duncan McKenzie in 74 shoes (round 12), despite a 73.0% effort by Stan. Ron Parisien, who was averaging over 70% after two days, hurt his hip and finished with 3 losses to end in 6th place.

In the women's division, Sylvianne Moisan once again entered as a World champion, having won her fourth consecutive Women’s World Title the week before in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Sylvianne did not pitch another perfect game, but in her first match missed but one shoe, recording a 95% game, the highest of all the participants. Sylvianne clinched her 8th title by defeating her mother Angeline in both of their encounters (they played a double round-robin). In the first, Sylvianne (78.8) won 41-25 in 66 shoes, while in the second, Sylvianne (81.3) won 41-33 to Angeline's 77.5% in 80 shoes, longest game of the Women's division. Angeline pitched another 80-shoe game against Heather Morrison (round 8), escaping with a 42-38 win despite Heather (crowned Senior Women's champion) shot her high game of 70.0%. Lucy Thibault, who came third, was the only one to beat Sylvianne (round 14) 42-26 with a 79.2% game in 72 shoes.

The Junior Boys division again treated us to an exciting battle between World Champion Drew Becker and Canadian Champion Buddy Dyrda. Playing a quadruple round-robin, Drew won the first two meets, and Buddy evened the count by taking the last two games. A playoff game was necessary and again Buddy Dyrda defeated the World Champion. That playoff game went 90 shoes, Buddy (81.1) winning 42-38 vs Drew (77.8). Two of their 4 round-robin encouters had been one-sided, but the other two were terrific games. The second one went 94 shoes pitched and new Canadian records were set, including the highest losing percentage (83.0%). They both threw 83% in that game won 41-39 by Drew. Their 4th meet (last round) went 80 shoes, Buddy (85.0%) winning 41-27 vs Drew (80.0%). Both players recorded high games of 93.8% (15 out of 16).

At the banquet held Saturday evening, winners and champions received their awards. But other special presentations were made. George Barton received the Sharon Ellison Award, presented by Charolette Demmans. The award 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 Andre Leclerc into the Horseshoe Canada Hall of Fame as an outstanding male player. Sylvianne Moisan and Drew Becker also received special awards to celebrate their 2003 World Titles. Special plaques were also given to Dorothy Butts (Treasurer) and George Barton (President) who stepped down as officers of Horseshoe Canada after many years of great work.

To the Saint John horseshoe league 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 2003 tournament a success : thanks !

P.S.: See also the article published in the Saint John Telegraph-Journal about the Championships (and George Barton)
and pictures about the 2003 Canadian Championships

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