The lanes are going to be tough in Gwinn this weekend.
How tough? Forget about a 300 game - a 120 would be a perfect score on these lanes.
That's because a game consists of four frames at the second annual Ice Bowling Tournament put on by the Forsyth Township Volunteer Fire Department at Peter Nordeen Park in downtown Gwinn.
Members of the Icy Hotts team make a ceremonial first throw down the lanes during the ice bowling tournament held at Peter Nordeen Park in Gwinn last year. From left are Gwinn-are residents Ashley Wood, Kaitlyn Armatti, Nicole King and Sierra King. (Journal file photo by Steve Brownlee)
Using regular bowling balls and regulation pins, the competition will be held outdoors at the rink in the park located right on M-35 along the Escanaba River.
Organizers have expanded its scope after last year's inaugural event.
"Last year it was all four-person teams," said fire department member Greg Ketola, who is in charge of preparations for this fun tourney. "This year we have individual and doubles, too."
He said there will also be a special firefighter team challenge he's issued to other departments in the area.
Firefighters will have to wear all their "bunker" gear in this event, except for air packs, as if they were going to enter a burning building, or at least stand outside in the cold with water spraying everywhere.
It should be fun watching the geared-up guys try to stand at the improvised lanes on the ice and keep enough balance to have some idea of where a ball is headed.
This tournament, however, is open to anyone. No "real" bowling experience is necessary.
In fact, Ketola says experience with indoor bowling might be a detriment, since it is so different that any indoor experience will probably throw off ice bowlers.
Last year, Ketola said any strike or spare was coveted, meaning anybody could get lucky and put together a score that might win it all.
While the regular prize fund is only open to those 18 years and older, the fire department will also hold a singles tournament for youths ages 9-17 with prizes like gift certificates, plus one or two "mini" lanes set up for kids ages 3-8 to have their own fun.
Names of all entrants in the adult tournament will be placed into a drawing for door prizes - as of Monday, Ketola had 25 lined up - from area radio stations and Forsyth-area businesses.
I went down to Gwinn for last year's event and had a blast watching men and women of all ages just trying to keep the ball between the fire hoses, which form the borders of the lanes.
Stop down at the park anytime from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. You can just stop in unannounced or call Ketola at 458-7151 to insure your spot ahead of time.
Last year, 25 teams took part. This year's entry fee is $10 per person per event. Proceeds this year, like last year, go toward the volunteer fire department's equipment fund.
The rink is located right next to the park's warming shack, which will be where registration takes place and food and pop, coffee and hot chocolate will be available.
Last year, a number of Boy Scouts worked as human pinsetters and ball returners, and Ketola expect a number of youths will be back to do these same important jobs.
Now on to the Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week, the indoor ones that is.
Top performance of the week goes to Jared Berlinski of the Wednesday Country Trio League at Country Lanes in Ishpeming. He shot 125 pins over his 139 average with a 542 series, including a top game of 216.
You might recognize the men's runner-up from some other sports stories in the Journal, specifically Northern Michigan University basketball.
Wildcat women's head coach Troy Mattson must've had a good feeling before Northern swept both basketball games at home on Thursday and Saturday. That's because he shot 111 pins over his 176 average with a 639 series in the Monday Northern Electric Automotive Industrial loop at Country. His outstanding set consisted of games of 178, 236 and 225.
Just like the Wildcats - they come on strong at the end.
In third was his league secretary, Harold Reichardt, also a basketball referee, who went 106 over his 170 mean with 616 and a 222 high game.
For the women, Sueann Nickerson is showing rapid improvement in just her fifth week bowling in the Wednesday Industrial League at Superior Lanes in Marquette. She blew away her 100 average by 115 pins with a 415 series and 154 high game last week.
Next came Linde Marquess in Superior's Tuesday Night Mixed, where she was 107 over her 120 average with 457, including a 168 top game.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.