'Technique plays into it quite a bit'

'Technique plays into it quite a bit'
Bull Oliver of Keizer swings a weight before sending it into the field while practicing the Weigth for Distance event at Waterloo park Saturday March 29, 2014 in Waterloo, Ore. (AP Photo/Albany Democrat-Herald, Jesse Skoubo)

WATERLOO, Ore. (AP) — Lafe Jiricek was clad in a kilt, and he spun, grunted and heaved a "hammer," which sailed through the air at Waterloo County Park.

The 38-year-old, who lives nearby, got involved in Scottish throwing contests last year. Now he's trying to grow the sport in the mid-Willamette Valley.

Jiricek created the Linn County Scottish Throwers, who meets for practices nearly every week in the spring at Waterloo.

"There were no practice groups nearby. So I decided to do things," Jiricek said Sunday.

"People had wanted to get involved in this area and didn't have an outlet," he added.

So far, about seven regulars, including Bull Oliver, 43, of Keizer, have come to try out the sport.

On May 31, the group is holding the Waterloo Highland Games at the park. Competitors need invitations to participate, but everyone is welcome to watch the action.

Oliver said his son suggested he try the Scottish throwing, and he gave the sport a shot because he was frustrated with his gym workouts.

Both he and Jiricek also have Scottish heritage and are history buffs.

For 17 years, Jiricek was a Celtic stick fighter, and he researched Celtic sword fighting styles.

And at throwing contests, there's plenty of talk about Scottish clans.

The sport itself also is about much more than strength, Jiricek said.

"Technique plays into it quite a bit," he said.

Strength helps, of course — Jiricek is 6-foot-3 and weighs about 300 pounds — but being able to pump iron doesn't translate directly into massive throws.

After tossing a 16-pound stone, Oliver was critical of his footwork and how his weight shifted forward too soon, for example.

The most difficult of the sports' events could be the caber toss, in which a slender log nearly 20 feet long is heaved end-over-end. The goal is to get it to land in the 12 o'clock position.

Women also can compete in Scottish throwing games, and Jiricek's wife, Shauntae, said she has given the sport a try as well.

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Information from: Albany Democrat-Herald, http://www.dhonline.com