One generation’s backbreaking labor is another’s competitive sport.
For Spokane resident Erin LaVoie that competitive sport is emulating lumberjacks, or in her case lumberjills.
“I guess I’m just that kind of person,” LaVoie said. “I’ve always been competitive. I’ve always wanted to try new things.”
On Aug. 3, LaVoie won the 2018 Stihl Timbersports Women’s Division Championship. It was the first year women competed on the same stage as the male athletes.
The sport pits competitors against one another in timed wood-chopping events.
In one event, athletes stand on a log and madly hack at it with an ax, risking major arterial damage with each swing. That’s called the underhand chop.
There is also the stock saw event, where competitors race to cut two precise blocks of white pine.
And then there is the single buck, an event reminiscent of old-growth timber logging. Competitors use a 6-foot-long, 15- to 18-pound steel saw to cut through a log.
LaVoie competed in the underhand chop, the stock saw and the single buck.
Started in 1985 by Stihl, the competitors show off skills long used by lumberjacks.
LaVoie was first exposed to the sport at Spokane Community College in 2002. LaVoie, the owner of Predation CrossFit, dove right in.
On average, she said, she trains specifically for Timbersport competitions four days per week. That all culminated at the beginning of August when she flew to Milwaukee and competed. The entire competition took about one hour.
“It was many years of preparation for one hour of display,” she said.
As you’d expect, it’s not a lucrative athletic career, but LaVoie said she’s mostly able to break even.
It’s not something LaVoie grew up doing.
“We didn’t even cut firewood when I was younger,” she said. “I was just the typical American family. Mom and dad worked. Brothers played sports and I tagged along wherever I could.”
Buoyed by her success, LaVoie will continue to train and practice.
“Well, it’s bad ass,” she said of her victory. “Nobody else won it. I won it. It’s a big deal. I put a lot of hard work into it. Sacrificed a lot.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.