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Edmonton Rock Skipping Championships turn 5

'To have a chance to call yourself the rock skipping champion of Edmonton? That's unique.'

David Young is the reigning Edmonton rock skipping champion.

Tim Querengesser/Metro

David Young is the reigning Edmonton rock skipping champion.

The Edmonton Rock Skipping Championships started as a casual bet between two friends.

“I was surprised we did the first one. We got to the river and I was still thinking ‘What are we doing here?’ But it’s a great tradition we wanted to continue,” said co-founder David Young.

Against the expectations of organizers, it's now celebrating five years this weekend.

It began when Young and friend Jason Hayes got into a debate over who could skip a rock the farthest. They made a plan to meet at the river and settle it once and for all.

They invited a few friends along. The rest is history.

The format has remained largely unchanged — and deliberately casual — over the years. You still have to bring your own rocks, since the sluggish North Saskatchewan doesn’t wear rocks down to the slim disks best for skipping.

Attendance has ranged from a handful to a couple dozen and they’ve had people of all ages show up. One year they had a lot of children so they ran a special junior contest.

Instead of an entrance fee they collect donations for the Edmonton Food Bank instead.

“Every time someone throws a rock, if it doesn’t work out everyone feels bad, and if it goes well everyone cheers. It’s pretty friendly,” Young said.

Which is not to say a winning throw doesn’t require skill. Contenders for the crown are those who can skip a rock at least 20 times.

The winner has ranged from 23 to 28 skips.

To ensure consistency in scoring they’ve appointed a local real estate agent as judge.

But the original debate between founders is also still going. Young won the top prize in year one and four. Hayes is still waiting his turn.

“He hasn’t won yet, but he keeps competing, which shows commitment,” Young said, laughing.

The 5th annual Edmonton Rock Skipping Championships run Saturday at 1p.m at the Laurier Boat Launch in Sir Wilfred Laurier Park. Bring six rocks and a donation for the Food Bank.

The secret to skipping

Two-time Edmonton Rock Skipping Champion David Young says the perfect skip comes down to three things.

“Science says the key is angle, speed and spin. But usually you can tell it’s a good throw before it’s left your fingers," he said.

"It’s like golf, you know when you’ve made a good drive, you feel it before you see it.”

Young said he spent hours of practice at the Montana lake his family vacationed at when he was a kid.

“It’s funny how time just goes away and you never forget.”

Also, rocks are important. The best rocks are those that are flat, round, and fit into your palm, he said.

Young said since Edmonton’s river is so slow it doesn’t produce good skipping rocks. So instead of scouring the riverbank, he scouts around landscaping projects in the city. Decorative rock beds usually include a decent number of rocks that are skip-able.

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