For the griff
Are you growing bored with those ho-hum extreme sports where the
worst thing you can do to yourself is a sprained ankle or a concussion?
Does the idea of running up a steep log at top speed with a modified
chainsaw excite you? Have you had “The Log Driver’s Waltz” stuck in your
head your entire maddening life? Well, your chance has finally come.
Katherine Spencer is bringing timbersports back to Alberta.
The 5’4,”115-pound Fort Saskatchewan resident has been practicing
timbersports for over 10 years. She first got into timbersports while
attending the University of New Brunswick, when she joined her local
She was hooked.
“I love it. It’s my passion,” she says.
Timbersports is the name given to a series of sport competitions based on traditional logging work and activities.
Competitive events include the standing log chop (chopping a block of
wood that is standing up straight), underhand chopping (chopping a
block of wood while standing on it by swinging an axe between the legs —
while wearing chainmail), obstacle poll bucking (running up a log with a
chainsaw, cutting a piece of said log off with the chainsaw, then
running back down the log and touching the spot you just cut), as well
as the self-explanatory log rolling and axe throwing.
Yes, axe throwing. Spencer actually has a side business teaching axe
throwing. For $60 a head your group can learn how to throw an axe at a
target over 20 feet away. It’s quite easy, or so she says.
While Alberta used to have a number of timbersports competitions,
including the “King of the Klondike” held during Klondike Days, they had
all died out by the time Spencer first moved to Alberta. The nearest
competition was almost 10 hours away. Her average trip was a 13-16 hour
drive each way.
“I got tired of my butt hurting,” she jokes, “and spending so much on gas.”
So in 2014, she organized the STIHL Western Canadian Qualifier, where she literally did everything.
“I did everything from porta-potties to cutting and selecting every single piece of wood,” she explains.
“When you’re looking at bringing back a sport into a community where it’s died out, you have to start from square one.”
As you can imagine, not a lot of lumberjacking happens in the cold
dark winter months of Alberta. So during the off-season, Spencer chiefly
“Timbersports are about 20 to 30 seconds of everything you’ve got.”
One good thing about the sport is that age is not a big factor in
competitiveness. Unlike sports like hockey or football, timbersports are
often dominated by men in their 40s.
“This is a sport that anybody can get involved in. There’s an event
for everybody — there’s strength events, there’s endurance events,
there’s finesse events.”
Spencer hopes to get a hold of some training logs so she can add log rolling lessons to her axe throwing business.
You know you want to learn how to log roll and throw axes. Don’t try to deny it.
If you want to contact Spencer about timbersports or axe throwing lessons, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.