Moments of reverence were found among the revelry at the 16th annual Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival, host of the 2022 SMAI Masters World Championships. The return to in-person events after a two-year hiatus touched each part of the international event with a tinge of celebration. The heavy events athletes and their fans cheered again and again as personal bests and world records were set. The crowd grew silent and touched by solemnity when Elsipogtog tradition bearer Joan Miliea welcomed them in Mi’kmaq with the Humbling Song and Honourary Chieftain Michael Yellowlees called on them to join him in the battle against climate change.
The largest Masters World Championships
Hosting the largest Masters World Championships to date was an ambitious endeavour for an organization that only had 13 full in-person Highland Games under its sporran before now – but with true Scottish tenacity, a small and dedicated group of volunteers (with one part-time paid event manager) created a world-class event that celebrated art, music, culture, and the best of Maritime hospitality.
On one side of the complex, attendees watched as Midas Well Creations painted a reimagined Loch Ness monster while musical group after musical group took to the Lowlands Stage. Nearby, historical sword fighting techniques were tested in competition while blacksmiths Dave Bell and Kyle Strutt showcased their craft. Across the parking lot filled with food trucks, craft beer tents, and the Highlands Stage humming with musical performances, vendors filled the spaces between Clan tents, fly tying and archery demonstrations. The workshop tent was filled with learning for two days. Sheep shearing and spinning took place nearby, and local authors read from their Scottish-inspired children’s books. Enterprising families enjoyed horse & wagon rides around the property to get an overview before diving into their favourite activities.
Eight East Coast pipe bands competed, with Dartmouth & District’s Grade 4 band capturing the Merrill Henderson Trophy for Band of the Day. Cameron MacNeil of the Cape Breton University band was Piper of the Day, while College of Piping’s Austin Trenholm won Drummer of the Day honours. In the highland dance tent, 125 dancers competed, with local perpetual awards presented to Nara Cooke (the Ferris Leanne Tweedie Memorial Trophy) and Hannah Clarke (the Wallace & Corena Tweedie Memorial Trophy).
Scotland’s Michael Yellowlees presided over the Games as Honourary Chieftain, a recognition of his journey across Canada in 2021, during which he and his canine companion, Luna, raised £50,000 for the Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life. In true Chieftain fashion, Yellowlees used the opportunity to recruit followers for his next battle: he and Luna are again travelling across Canada, this time to raise money for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
International World Records
On the heavy events field, athletes from around the world set personal bests and brought down 18 Scottish Masters Athletics International World Records. Competing for the 10th time at the Masters, Larry Sisseck represented the 70+ class alone, setting world records in that class for the Light Hammer (88’), Weight over Bar (13’4”), Light Weight for Distance (50’3.5”), and Heavy Weight for Distance (34’4”). Hall of Famer Sue Hallen set three world records for the Women’s 65-69 class, in Open Stone (24’4.5”), Heavy Hammer (61’9”), and Light Hammer (76’10”). New Brunswick’s Dirk Bishop, who came out of retirement to compete, set world records in the Men’s 55-59 Lightweight for Distance (64’3″), Light Hammer (109’8”), and Heavy Hammer (85’8”).
In the Men’s 65-69 class, Mark Buchannan set world records in Weight over Bar (16’), Heavyweight for Distance (39’1.5”) and Lightweight for Distance (52’5.25”). Dale Gehman set a Lightweight for Distance record of 61”5.5” in Men’s 60-64 and Mike Zolkiewicz’s 22’4” in Weight over Bar set a new record for Men’s 40-44. Teresa Nystrom set a new record for Heavyweight for Distance for Women’s 55-59 at 44’5” and Sylvana Bomholt set an Open Stone records of 34’5.75” for Women’s 45-49. Women’s Lightweight saw Nicole Davis with a record-setting 18’6” in Weight over Bar, and Hall of Famer Denise Houseman set an Open Stone record of 29’3” in Women’s 60-64.
There were five Caber Toss scores of 12 during the Masters (Andrew Hobson, Mark Howe, John Jans, Bill Waddell, & Mike Zolkiewicz), and eight between 12:02 and 12:15 (Doug Berry, David Marble, Zechariah Whittington, Kevin Rogers, Chris Nickell, Stacy Green, Denise Houseman, and Moncton Athletic Director Bryan MacLean).
The 16th annual Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival, host of the 2022 SMAI Masters World Championships, included 25 hours of live music over two and a half days, culminating in the American Rogues playing an acoustic set during a lobster dinner for athletes and their families where the region’s seafood ambassador, Kilted Chef Alain Bossé, showed everyone how to dig into the crustacean on their plate. The event certainly made good on its promise to showcase feasts of strength and feasts of lobster!
SMAI Masters World Champions 2022
Full results at www.monctonhighlandgames.com/results
Women’s 40-44: Janine Tessarzik, USA
Women’s 45-50: Sylvana Bomholt, GERMANY
Women’s 50-54: Adena Robinson, CANADA
Women’s 55-59: Teresa Nystrom, USA
Women’s 60-64: Denise Houseman, USA
Women’s 65-69: Sue Hallen, USA
Women’s Lightweight: Nicole Davis, USA
Men’s Lightweight 40-44: Davin Boydstun, USA
Men’s Lightweight 45-49: Petrus Sundevail, SWEDEN (tie)
Men’s Lightweight 45-49: Scott Verbus, USA (tie)
Men’s Lightweight 50+: Chris Nickell, USA
Main photo: 2022 SMAI Masters World Championships took place June 17-19 in Moncton, Canada. Photo by Heidi-Lyn O’Connor, East Track Mind.