Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Meet the teenage world stone skimming champion with a budding Scottish hockey career

In 2023, Finn Dower won the World Stone Skimming Championship on the isle of Easdale in the Scottish Hebrides. He has found this rather unusual skill has brought advantageous side effects for his budding hockey career.

“It was a little bit weird, but I did go to the gym a bit more trying to work up my arms. Well, just that one arm,” he tells The Hockey Paper.

Stone skimming sees competitors aim to skim their stone the furthest distance, with at least two bounces required for the throw to be valid.

Dower, now 17, had come close to the title on his three previous appearances in the World Championships. He placed second in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions before Covid postponed his shot at gold.

But last year, on his fourth attempt, Dower made no mistake.

“In the final round, after the previous two world champions had gone, I thought there’s no way this other guy can beat me. His first shot hadn’t gone quite so well,” recalls Dower.

“I quickly said to my brother, ‘Oh, I won!’ I couldn’t really believe it. I didn’t know how to process it. The real wave of excitement actually hit me on the way back home from Easdale. It was absolutely stunning.”

Dower had discovered stone skimming after moving to Perthshire where, a couple of years later, he also picked up a hockey stick for the first time. In his first year of secondary school, he happened upon the older years playing hockey.

Just as he had aimed for the heady heights of the stone skimming championships, he approached hockey with similar ambitions.

“I saw some of the S6s just steaming ahead of everyone. They had unbelievable skills. I was like, ‘How on earth do you get that good?’” he remembers.

“I really wanted to try and put some proper effort into it and get to that stage as well.”

The Perthshire player was helped in his hockey development by his existing aptitude for stone skimming. As well as developing arm strength, building a strong core was on the agenda prior to the World Championships.

“In stone skimming, you’ve got to twist your entire body and get your core moving so that’s useful,” he says. “In hockey, you need that core strength.”

Dower is now the captain of his school hockey team and plays his club hockey at Perthshire HC, representing their 1s at indoor and 2s at outdoor. He has also recently earned a call-up to Scottish Hockey’s Brave Academy.

Representing his school at the Senior Aspire Cup emphasised to Dower exactly what he loved about hockey.

“Seeing all my friends from various different places, across hockey clubs in Scotland. That was just fantastic,” he reflects. “I saw tonnes of my friends from Perthshire, lots of friends from Brave and I was playing for my school team.

“It’s the socialness that you get with making friends around hockey and working together as a team.”

Though, naturally, his hockey highlight remains a thrilling triumph over the girls’ 1st XI at school, the joy of the occasion still evident as he recounted the win.

“Captaining the boys hockey team and defeating the girls 3-1 was one of the greatest moments we’ve ever had,” he says.

“We’ve never stopped taunting the girls that, technically, we are the best team in the school.

“Even though they do have all the games, all the experience, all the training. It was just the excitement. The ride back home was ecstatic. It was fantastic.”

While World Championships are not quite on the cards yet for Dower in hockey, he hopes to make as many appearances as possible in the Perthshire 1s.

In stone skimming, on the other hand, the Brave Academy player has big aspirations.

“I’m considering going to other championships like the European one. Obviously, maintaining my title in the World Stone Skimming Championships is my main goal.”

With a world title defence firmly on the cards, Perthshire will certainly be hoping the talents of their stone skimming superstar can boost Dower’s performance on the astroturf as well as on the water.

Total Hockey

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