Kurt ‘Mountain Man’ Steiner wins with a 32 in the final heat, but earlier he had thrown a 34 which hit the far bank and exploded.
From the words of Mountain Man this is how it went:
The stone was hefty — 6… 7 ounces… maybe 8. It was oblong, a full half inch thick and very flat, top and bottom. I could have thrown it either side down. I tested the grip with my middle finger, then settled for my pointer. I got set and… injury be damned, I let it rip…
Ahhh. Nice. In spite of the surf it was skipping clean. 50… 100… 150 feet… Didn’t seem to be giving up momentum. In the back of my mind I ran a system check: “No injuries reported, Mr. Steiner…” Cool. I watched the stone receding, and kept waiting for that sudden, heart-stopping snag. But it sailed through the ruckus like skipping on an indoor pool. But now it was obvious the stone would run out of room. At 200 feet I was spinning gears: Would it get the skips, before it smacked the shore?
Crack!! It whacked a boulder on the other side, popped up two feet, then thumped down in the grass.
Ah jeez! That stone had some serious potential…
Well, I had that going for me — at least it didn’t just disappear into the mud with a splat. A little stony-acrobatics and histrionics is good for business. The crowd loved it. Definitely the highpoint on the day’s Applause-O-Meter. But what did the judges think?
“34! 34 for MountainMan…”
Hah! All right. Yeah. Good work, judges. You read my guide lol! That was exactly the call to make. A solid, pro-level throw by Russ tied with my own pretty awesome but interrupted throw. My stone would have beaten 34, but you really couldn’t say that it actually had. It was a good call.
The Final Round was under way…
Five of us entered the Finals, skipping in the same order as Round One. Each of us would throw three more stones, and all nine counts would be used to rank the podium. I reassessed the situation. I was entering the Final in a strong second position. My second-best score still trailed Russ’ early 27, and I’d still have to come over that to win. But I had negated his mega-throw, and I was starting (finally) to find my rhythm. I studied Paul. It was possible, but I just didn’t think he would quite hook first this time — probably he and Melissa would hash it out for third. He’d need a best-ever tournament throw to steal it.
So. Here I am, tied with Russ. Good times. But the pressure was still on. I was still behind. A tie didn’t help me, but I could beat a 27. But then, so could Russ lol. He still had chances to shut me out … But one thing at a time..!
In the Finals, mostly, no one managed to improve, except I did get in a good 32 on my second shot. Russ continued with solid mid- and high-20 throws. He raised his second-best to 30 I think, but not enough to nip the 32. If he had tied my second, his third best would have bumped me for the trophy. Turns out his early 27 — the call I felt was low — would have needed to be 32 or higher to make a difference. Not impossible — but then 32 felt a wee bit high. The upshot was, I felt better about the early call — it was essentially a non-issue.
I threw my final shot really hard, hoping for fireworks… And I threw another drifter, which I didn’t even bother to watch. I seem to remember hearing some laughter: “Ten…!”