It's no surprise to Dick Hansen that with 24 teams entered, Team World '96 in Beloit boasts its largest field ever.
I hear about the tournament all year round from pitchers all over, said Hansen, who is the secretary/treasurer of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. I was in Missouri for a singles tournament last weekend and one of the main topics of discussion was Team World.
The event, which attracts the country's best horseshoe pitchers, is scheduled for Friday through Sunday in the Edwards Sports and Activity Center at Telfer Park.
The competition, in its seventh year in Beloit, begins at 8 a.m. Friday and runs through Sunday afternoon. Step-ladder competition, beginning at 1:30 p.m. on the final day, will determine the winner of the World Cup.
Kentucky, led by women's world champion Sue Snyder, returns to defend its title.
Hansen, a Franksville, Wis., native, said the tournament is popular as both a social event and a chance to match skills with the elite pitchers in the world.
It is a very social event for the horseshoe pitchers, he said. The format is set so there is time for socializing. It's also a unique tournament in that a 50-percent pitcher (who throws ringers 50 percent of the time) has an opportunity to compete against an elite horseshoe pitcher who may hit over 80 percent.
The pitcher with the top overall ringer percent is Sylvianne Moisan of Team Quebec at 84.96. Snyder comes in at 84.73.
Ontario also has a team entered, along with California. Illinois and Missouri has four teams.
Wisconsin will also have four teams. The top team will include Randy Rein of Mosinee, the reigning men's state champion; Lorraine Sternberg of Richfield, the women's state champion and Clayton Gage of Milltown, the senior state champion.
It's a prestigious tournament, Hansen said. Last year we took a photo of all the world champions who competed and there were about a dozen.