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Fosbury Flop

Rick McGill

January 23, 2022

During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver I had the pleasure of being one of the hosts at the Vancouver Curling Club, adjacent to the curling venue. Besides being the closest bar for curlers and the public, we also offered curling clinics for the uninitiated. We charged $25 for anyone wanting to learn the basics of the game and usually had 15-20 people of all ages for each session. One day two very famous athletes came in with their wives and I was fortunate to have them in my group. John Naber, who won four gold and one silver at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and Dick Fosbury, winner of the high jump gold in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Dick was also the inventor of the Fosbury “Flop” method of jumping backwards over the high jump bar. After showing them the basics of the grip and throwing of the rock, it was their turn. John was a natural and soon was delivering the rock with a short slide just past the house. Dick, however, kept trying to incorporate his famous flop into his delivery and would somehow land on his back after barely pushing out of the hack! John was laughing so hard at his friend’s attempts and telling him in a loud voice that you can’t use the Fosbury Flop in curling. Having been a high jumper myself in High School I had tried the “Flop” without success, but never in curling. Eventually Dick found his balance and managed to make a few good throws but did comment on how difficult the game was compared to how easy the pros make it look. I reminded him of how easy it looked to jump over a 7 foot high bar backwards when he did it! As an aside, I asked him who was the first to jump backwards; him or Debbie Brill of BC with the Brill Bend? He was very polite and said he had heard of her back then but didn’t really know.