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Rock skippers vie for crown

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | June 8, 2023 12:00 AM

A small but mighty crew of rock skippers appeared at Riverside Recreation in Polson Saturday morning, eager to claim the title in the Ken Avison World Rock-Skipping Championship.

George Murphy was the overall winner and took first in the 13-and-over male division with a masterful tally of 18 skips. His tips (a previously closely guarded secret) include: choose a rock that’s a little heavier so it can navigate choppy water; use the middle finger, instead of index, to curl around the rock; and try to give the stone a slight upward tilt as it hits the water.

Michael Faist took second in the men’s category, followed by Eric Thornton in third.

In the 13-and-over female category, experience paid off for former Polson mayor Pat DeVries, who bested second-place finisher and former champ Katie Walter.

In the 12-and-under division, Finn Taylor took first, followed by Travyn Thornton.

As usual, bagpipers led contestants from the Cove to the edge of the Flathead River, where veteran judges Jim Manley and Dennis DeVries joined novice judge Brodie Moll in an effort to accurately count skips.

After the event, participants were treated to pizza and pop at the Cove, where awards were handed out.

One organizer speculated that participation was down over previous years because this year’s event dovetailed with graduation at Polson High. The event was also returning after a three-year hiatus caused by the pandemic and the passing of its founder, community leader Ken Avison.

The championship is hosted by Ken’s wife, Tammy, and sons Kevin and Ryan; any proceeds go to a scholarship fund.

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Veteran rock skipper Pat DeVries prepares to launch another smooth stone across the Flathead River Saturday. Her toss earned her top honors in the women's category during World Championship Rock-Skipping Championship, besting previous champ Katie Walter, who came in second. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)

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Finn Taylor captured first place in the 13 and under, male, category at the Ken Avison World Rock Skipping Championship, held Saturday at Riverside Recreation in Polson. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)