Best in the west

Horseshoe pitchers gather for championships

Colin Finnie is already a 10-time Canadian champion.

He'd like to make it 11 times when he competes at the Canadian Horseshoe championships in St. Stephen, N.B., Aug. 12-15.

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To warm up, Finnie, a 51-year-old from Regina, pitched ringers in the Class A 40-foot men's division at the Prince George Horseshoe Club's courts at the Western Canada Classic on the weekend.

Finnie is currently the third-ranked 40-foot pitcher in Canada with a 64 per cent ringer percentage.

"My goals are just to throw my average or better and the second goal is to beat Alberta," said Finnie, during a break between matches Saturday morning. "I just go through my routine (before I throw) - it's like any sport and I visualize how the shoe should go on (the peg in the pit)."

It was Finnie's first appearance in Prince George, a club that last hosted the Western Classic in 2009.

Finnie began tossing shoes as a 14-year-old.

"It was the only sport I was interested in," said Finnie, who's lost track of how many Saskatchewan titles he's won. "I didn't play ball or hockey, but I became pretty good at horseshoes."

Alvin Nanninga may be 75 years old but there he was under bluebird skies on the weekend tossing shoes in the Class A 30-foot men's division.

Nanninga, who hails from Barrhead, Alta., won the Western Canada Classic three years in a row in a stretch between 2010 and 2012.

A 35-year pitcher, he's also won Alberta titles in both the 30-foot and 40-foot Class A Elders divisions and is currently third-ranked in the country with a 69 per cent ringer average.

The weekend marked the third time he's traveled to Prince George.

"The key to staying on top is you have to concentrate and relax, relax, relax," said the retired farmer. "It's something you have to learn and play a heck of a lot. You have to travel to tournaments to learn how to take the pressure."

Nanninga met his wife Irene on the horseshoe courts four-and-a-half years ago and the two travel around in their RV competing in tournaments.

The 2015 Western Canada Classic featured 54 players - 26 from Alberta, 22 from B.C. and six from Saskatchewan - competing in men's and women's classes. Results weren't available at the Citizen's Monday deadline.

The club is located on Massey Drive beside the YMCA of Northern B.C.

The next local tournament is the P.G. Classic Open, Aug. 15-16.

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