The idea that lumberjack sports are traditionally left to big, burly men wielding axes and monstrous saws is being challenged thanks to the recent popularity of women entering this traditionally male-dominated sport.
Kendra King, president of the University of New Brunswick Woodsmen team, is busy getting her team ready for the 50th annual UNB Woodsmen Competition taking place Oct. 18. Lumberjills are becoming more common across the country. The six-member UNB Woodsmen women’s team is currently ranked fourth. To compete, each member must participate in four of the six team events, including building a little fire and boiling a can of water and the standing block chop.
King told CBC News she’s not a stereotypical woodsmen, but adds that lumberjills are becoming more common across the country. Still, she admits most people are puzzled when she tells them what she does. “They usually don’t know what I’m talking about. Then I tell them we compete in lumberjack sports, and they’re even more bewildered,” she said in a CBC interview.
Touring lumberjill teams have steadily been gaining popularity across North America, though the first one was formed in 1997 by “Timber” Tina Scheer. The World Champion Lumberjills was billed the “1st All-Women’s logging sports traveling exhibition” and has performed for global audiences.
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More recently, Axe Women — formed in 2010 by Alissa Harper, a 35-year-old Bar Harbor, Maine, resident — have won events and set records at major competitions, including the World’s Open Lumberjill Championship. “I think it’s empowering that we’re women and we’re doing a very male-dominated sport,” Harper said in an interview in the New York Post. “I like to show that we’re feminine, that we’re girls, but we’re super athletic. That’s one of my selling points: All my girls are serious professional competitors.”