Every year in October, thousands of seniors descend on St. George, Utah for the Huntsman World Senior Games. All athletes must be 50 years old by December 31, 2018. This year 11,300 athletes from 32 countries will compete in 30 events, and we competed in square dancing.
Our week started off on Monday with practice sessions all day to prepare for the square dance competition Tuesday morning. We had a set square with another couple from Albuquerque, New Mexico–Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath–and two couples from St. George, Utah. That evening we had a square dance with Gary Shoemake and Ken Bower calling the squares and Steve and Lori Harris doing the rounds. We danced the whole evening with our square to practice.
Tuesday morning we competed in three categories of square dancing: Mainstream, Plus and Random. We competed in our set square in Mainstream and Plus. In the Random category, couples put their names in and the square is formed randomly.
Each square had two judges watching to see if the square broke down. When the square broke down, the timer started, and it stopped when the square formed facing lines at the head position–that’s what down time is on the scoring.
Each competition has three tips that are five minutes long with each tip progressively getting harder and harder. Whew! When it was over, I was exhausted. I wanted to do as well as the previous the year, so I felt the pressure.
Last year we took a square from Albuquerque for our first time, and we brought home Gold medals for Mainstream and Plus and one of our couples won a Gold medal for the Random square.
Tuesday evening was the Opening Ceremony at Trailblazer Stadium at Dixie State University. We marched onto the field with our square dance banner waving. We each carried a flag and I felt like a real athlete in a world competition.
The evening program was outstanding with entertainment by a local youth troop, the Diamond Talent Dancers. We were welcomed by the mayor of St. George, John Pike, and the lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox. Mr. Cox’s storytelling ability captured my heart. The guest speaker for the evening was Dan Clark, a renown author and speaker that held our attention with his motivational stories and humor.
Each competing country was honored with a person dressed in a flag of that country, then each country was recognized during the evening. The delightful evening ended with the lighting of the torch and a magnificent fireworks display.
Running concurrently throughout the week was our own Cribbage tournament with Lin and Jerry against Mary Beth and me. We played whenever we had free time and ended up playing about 22 games. The guys won with 14 wins to our 11, but they double skunked us Tuesday night after the Open Ceremony and that counted as 3 wins. We laughed and enjoyed the competition and the fun.
Wednesday morning we danced and enjoyed the awesome dancers in attendance, then we were free for the afternoon for a variety of health screenings, provided by the Senior Games. We danced Wednesday night again. One of the perks of attending the Senior Games is all the dancing.
That evening Steve and Lori Harris, the cuers and dear friends of ours, were inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Senior Games–so deserving!
Thursday morning was the celebratory brunch and medal ceremony–I was so nervous this year because the pressure was on after our first year’s performance.
It’s been hilarious over this past year as Lin and I have traveled to festival across the country because dancers knew we won and some solicited to join our square, if we needed someone!
The 2018 results are in: our square won a Gold medal for Mainstream with a down time of .32 seconds. Our square won a Silver medal for Plus with a down time of 8.75 seconds. And Lin and I won a Gold medal for the Random square with a down time of 8.73 seconds. We had dancers in our Random square from California, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
Whew! How exciting! A big thank you goes out to Dave and Rose Marie Chapman for organizing the square dance competition!
More than anything, this event is about the people–the dancers–and the fun!
Are you 50 or older and would like to compete in the Senior Games? What sport do you play? Leave a comment below.
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