Dart champs from northern SK on path to greatness
- NC Raine | June 02, 2018
In a competitive game of darts, the object is to reach a total sum of zero, counting down from 501. Because values on a dart board range from 1 to 20, with small target areas for doubles, triples, and bulls-eyes, elite dart players must command a high level of concentration, precision, and skill to go along with constant strategic calculation in the race to zero. It’s certainly much more involved than the “pub-game” it’s often characterized as. Just ask provincial champions Georgina Ratt and Ashtin Bear.
Ratt and Bear are the respective 2018 Women’s and Men’s Darts Champions. The two aren’t strangers to hoisting their victory trophies – Ratt has won two consecutive provincial titles, while Bear is now on a three-peat.
Ratt, 46, from Stanley Mission, is about as naturally gifted as they come. She played recreationally in Stanley Mission for a few years until family and friends persuaded her in 2000 to enter the provincial tournament. In her inaugural tournament, she placed top 8 and was on her way to nationals with the provincial team.
“After that first tournament, I was hooked,” said Ratt. “I guess you could say I was a natural.”
Since then, darts has taken Ratt from coast to coast in Canada, and all the way to the world cup in Japan where she competed for Team Canada, establishing a second sort of family along the way.
“When you travel for tournaments, you get to know a lot of people in the dart community. Everyone shares the same passion, it’s like a dart family,” she said.
The confounding thing about Ratt’s success is that she’s attained it with essentially no practice. Until last year, Ratt had been on a four-year dart hiatus in order to concentrate on work. Her first tournament back was provincials – which she won.
“People think I practice ten hours a day,” she laughed. “When they find out that I don’t practice at all, they say ‘can you imagine what would happen if you actually did?’”
Ratt plans to commit to practice with the goal of winning Nationals in Quebec this June. She has also helped to start a dart club in Stanley Mission, with the goal of encouraging young people to discover the benefits of darts.
One such young man experiencing those rewards is three-time provincial champion Ashtin Bear. Bear, 23, from Prince Albert, is fast becoming a force in Canadian darts. Along with his provincial titles, he has won senior boys provincial championship and runner-up in nationals in the mixed youth division.
Like Ratt, Bear had modest beginnings with his darts career in 2011.
“After my first ever day of youth provincials, I thought I was sitting fifth and I was sitting first,” said Bear. “I psyched myself out and ended up not even making the team. But I came back strong next year, and now it's my sixth year on the team.”
Bear credits darts with keeping him on the straight and narrow during some difficult times in his youth.
“Darts got me out of bad scenarios,” he said. “I was going through a rough patch in high school and starting to misbehave, but darts always kept me level headed.”
That level-headedness has also allowed Bear to travel across Canada to compete against the nation’s best. With ambition to compete on the world stage, Bear is well on his way to achieving darts greatness. But Bear also hopes his success inspires others to chase after their goals, as unconventional as they may be.
“Just pursue what you love to do. I thought darts was the weirdest thing, but I pursued it and probably had the most fun I’ve had in my life,” said Bear. “Start as young as you can and stick to it. I’m glad to say I’m still doing it.”