COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Laurie Dale of Athol is the favorite to win the women's division of the Idaho horseshoe singles championship that begins today at Winton Park in Coeur d'Alene, as reported by KREM 2 News partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press.
Dale comes in tossing ringers at a rate of just over 54%.
“I just like being able to put it on the peg,” she said during practice on Thursday.
Dale, the defending champion, very much wants to win again.
“This one here at home, real bad,” she said.
The annual championship has only 15 competitors, said David Spears, president of the Idaho State Horseshoe Association.
He said that in 1994, there were more than 100 pitchers vying for state titles. In 2003, it was down to 65 and this year, about 35.
The popularity of cornhole has taken a toll on horseshoes, he said, and the game has had trouble attracting a new generation that's addicted to cellphones.
Still, he expects that the two-day, round-robin tournament with three classes of pitchers will be competitive. Gary Opper of Star is the favorite in the men's field.
Spears, a past champion, will be competing this year.
“I’ve had a little draw toward horseshoes my entire life,” he said.
Darla Wessel of Coeur d’Alene is expected to give Dale a fight for first.
“Darla’s throwing pretty good right now,” Spears said.
Dale expects to win. She said she’s feeling great and is ready to toss shoes that weigh a maximum of two pounds and 10 ounces.
“I’ve been throwing every day since February,” she said.
Key for Dale is keeping her eyes on the steel stake that’s 14 to 15 inches high and 30 feet away (men throw from 10 feet farther back) in a pit that's 3 feet wide and 6 feet long.
“Always the same point of release,” she said. “Always make sure you release at the same point, the same height."
Dale has been pitching horseshoes for 11 years after taking it up as a form of therapy.
“I can come down here and throw a bunch of horseshoes and feel a little better,” she said.
While Dale is competing against women in the state singles championship this weekend, she enjoys beating the men, too.
Last year in Kennewick, Wash., she was the first woman to win the Pacific Northwest horseshoe championship.
She plans to keep that title.
"I’ve taken most of the top men out in Washington. I might as well finish cleaning house here in Idaho,” she said.
Asked what motivates her, Dale smiled.
“I have an overwhelming need to beat the men and take their money,” she said.
Kay Keskinen of Moscow will be inducted into the Idaho State Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame today.
The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 News partner. For more from our news partner, click here.
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