Even though John Sardos is holding a 66-pound piece of wood, there is a look of calm in his eyes.
As he gathers himself and sets the caber on his shoulder, he stumbles backwards for about three steps. Then Sardos runs forward to build momentum, but the caber begins to slip out of his grasp and he is unable to flip it.
He was attempting to toss this massive piece of wood so that it tips over, end over end.
The caber toss is a traditional Scottish event in which competitors toss a large tapered pole that varies in length and weight depending on the ability of the thrower.
Though he isn’t a seasoned competitor, this isn’t his first event, either.
“I’ve participated for the past three years and I practice when I can,” he said.
Sardos was one of about 20 men competing in a caber tossing competition at the Capital District Scottish Games on the Altamont Fairgrounds.
The rainy weather Sunday was reminiscent of Scotland itself and did not stop the caber tossers.
“The weather isn’t great, which definitely makes things more difficult for the competitors,” said Dave Brickner, a back judge at the amateur event.
He said that it is a tough sport to master because it takes a good deal of skill.
“You really have to know how to maneuver the caber and get solid balance,” he said.
People watching the competition seemed knowledgeable and excited to cheer on the tossers.
“It’s kind of a strange sport, and totally out of the ordinary,” said Jess Tisdale of Rotterdam.
She said it was her first time watching a caber tossing competition, but she was very impressed by the strength the men displayed.
“It’s almost like a world’s strongest man competition,” she said.
Sunday was the second day of the two-day Scottish games festival, an annual tradition at the fairgrounds.
Most attendees were slugging beers and trying to avoid the rain. Traditional Scottish food was also being sold by vendors.
Mark, who preferred not to give his last name, was enjoying time with his family while sitting under a tent. He was also in attendance Saturday when the weather was “picture perfect.”
“The rain is kind of a downer but at least there is some good beer and the music isn’t bad,” he said. “Overall its not too bad, I’d say it was a good weekend.”