World Heavy Events Championships provides lighthearted fun at Scottish Highland Games
With temperatures in the 50s, low-hanging clouds and a steady mist, the Alaska State Fairgrounds were reminiscent of the Scottish highlands Sunday morning. It was the site of the 35th annual Alaska Scottish Highland Games. This year, the International Highland Games Federation held the World Heavy Events Championships in Alaska for the first time.
Ten athletes from around the world competed in eight different events to prove their strength. In doing so, they created quite a spectacle for the hundreds of visitors in the stands.
“It’s great fun,” said Matt Vincent, one of three Americans competing. “I don’t see a whole lot of negatives to it.”
In one event, the men hurled 28-pound weights as far as they can. Some of them reach more than 75 feet. In another, a 22-pound “Braemar” stone is chucked shot-put style.
“It’s a pretty low-stress competition environment,” Vincent said. “You get excited and then relax.”
Vincent, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of the best competitors in the world for the sport. However, he said that doesn’t mean he can make a living doing it. He spends his weekdays as a sales representative for an industrial services company.
“It’s a hobby, right? Some people golf. This is what I do,” he said.
Of the ten competitors, only one is Scottish. American judge Ryan Vierra – a five-time champion himself – said the games are open to everyone.
“Anybody can do this sport. It doesn’t matter what heritage you are, as long as you have the passion and respect the sport,” Vierra said.
Sunday afternoon, Vincent received an award for placing second overall, according to athletics director Tim Kincaid. The $4,500 first-place prize went to Dan McKim, another American.
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