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Here's a look at the Scottish Highland Games' traditional competitions
The events can vary depending on which Games you are competing in. Each competition may have some or all of the following events. The thrower must compete in all events in a particular competition.
Here is a short description of each:
Caber toss: A long tapered pine pole or log is stood upright and hoisted by the competitor, who balances it vertically holding the smaller end in his hands. Then the competitor runs forward attempting to toss it in such a way that it turns end over end with first the upper (larger) end striking the ground, then the smaller end, originally held by the athlete, following through and in turn striking the ground in the 12 oclock position measured relative to the direction of the run. If successful, the athlete is said to have turned the caber. Cabers vary greatly in length, weight, taper and balance, all of which affect the degree of difficulty in making a successful toss. Competitors are judged on how closely their throws approximate the ideal 12 oclock toss on an imaginary clock.
Stone put: This event is similar to the modern-day shot put as seen in the Olympic Games. Instead of a steel shot, a large stone of variable weight is often used. There are also some differences from the Olympic shot put in allowable techniques. There are two versions of the stone toss events, differing in allowable technique. The Braemar Stone uses a 20- to 26-pound stone for men (13- to 18-pound for women) and does not allow any run up to the toeboard or trig to deliver the stone, i.e., it is a standing put. In the Open Stone using a 16- to 22-pound stone for men (or 8- to 12-pound for women), the thrower is allowed to use any throwing style so long as the stone is put with one hand with the stone resting cradled in the neck until the moment of release. Most athletes in the open stone event use either the glide or the spin techniques.
Scottish hammer throw: This event is similar to the hammer throw as seen in modern-day track and field competitions, though with some differences. In the Scottish event, a round metal ball (weighing 16 or 22 pounds for men, or 12 or 16 pounds for women) is attached to the end of a shaft about 4 feet in length and made out of wood, bamboo, rattan or plastic. With the feet in a fixed position, the hammer is whirled about ones head and thrown for distance over the shoulder. Hammer throwers sometimes employ specially designed footwear with flat blades to dig into the turf to maintain their balance and resist the centrifugal forces of the implement as it is whirled about the head. This substantially increases the distance attainable in the throw.
Weight throw: Also known as the weight for distance event. There are actually two separate events, one using a light (28 pound for men and 14 pound for women) and the other a heavy (56 pound for men, 42 pound for masters men, and 28 pound for women) weight. The weights are made of metal and have a handle attached either directly or by means of a chain. The implement is thrown using one hand only, but otherwise using any technique. Usually a spinning technique is employed. The longest throw wins.
Weight over the bar: Also known as weight for height. The athletes attempt to toss a 56-pound (4 stone) weight with an attached handle over a horizontal bar using only one hand. Each athlete is allowed three attempts at each height. Successful clearance of the height allows the athlete to advance into the next round at a greater height. The competition is determined by the highest successful toss with fewest misses being used to break tie scores.
Sheaf toss: A bundle of straw (the sheaf) weighing 20 pounds for the men and 10 pounds for the women and wrapped in a burlap bag is tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar much like that used in pole vaulting. The progression and scoring of this event is similar to the weight over the bar event. There is significant debate among athletes as to whether the sheaf toss is in fact an authentic Highland event. Some argue it is actually a country fair event, but all agree that it is a great crowd pleaser.