For many across the Eastern Townships, chopping wood is just a regular part of life; a way to prepare for colder winter nights. For the members of McGill University’s intercollegiate Woodsmen teams, however, the swing of an axe is more than just a way to make fuel for the stove. McGill, through its MacDonald Campus, is one of six schools involved in the CILA, or Canadian Intercollegiate Lumberjacking Association, and one of four that regularly host competitions. Although the traditional image of a lumberjack is of a burly man with an axe, leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia, the “Woodsmen competitions” are open to teams of men and women who compete in a series of mainly timed skills trials focused on cutting, chopping, climbing and otherwise moving wood of various shapes and sizes. “Woodsmen definitely falls into the category of unconventional sports,” said Stéphanie Bélanger-Naud, a former member of the McGill team who helped coach last year but also competes at the professional level, “I didn’t really know it existed, but now I’m addicted.” According to the coach, the college level of the sport involves a mix of individual, pair, and team events across disciplines including axe-throwing, log rolling, vertical and horizontal chop competitions, solo and pair sawing, chainsaw, pole climbing, and a water boil competition, among others. See full story in the Thursday, June 6 edition of The Record.
By Caroline Lacombe