Lumberjack World Championships 2016Collision of Champions

Lumberjack World Championships 2016

By Kenneth Bonnes

Nine. That’s the number of times Nancy Zalewski (WI) had won the title of All-Around Lady Jill Champion. In 2014, Erin LaVoie (Spokane, WA) wrested the title from Nancy’s grip. In 2015, Lindsay Daun (IL) captured the title. Those three champions would again collide in Hayward at the 57th Lumberjack World Championships.

Jack & Jill

The first title to be contested by the three was Jack & Jill. As in 2015, the crosscut of Daun and her long-time partner, Dave Jewett (NY), was the first to exit the bottom of the log. LaVoie and Jason Lentz (WV) came in fifth with Zalewski and Mike Sullivan (CT) following in sixth place.

It wasn’t long before the women were again onstage for the Jill & Jill competition. The team of Zalewski and Daun prevailed by a narrow margin (.08 seconds), defeating last year’s champions, Denise Ott (MN) and Andrea Furber-Card (CA). LaVoie and teammate Svenja Bauer (Germany placed sixth.

Women’s Single Buck

The final crosscut event (Women’s Single Buck) saw Kendall Kunelius (NH) out-saw Daun by a full second, denying her the top points. LaVoie was right behind at third, Furber-Card tallied fourth, and Zalewski came in fifth.

Lindsay Daun had done well with the misery-whip, having scored first, second, and second over three days in the Single Buck; second, fourth, and first in the Jill & Jill; and second, first, and first in the Jack & Jill. Washington’s Erin LaVoie was somewhere back in the pack. But in this case ‘somewhere’ wasn’t very far back.

LaVoie had tallied second, fifth, and third in the Single Buck while finishing third, fourth, and fifth in the Jack & Jill. LaVoie’s ‘weak’ event was the Jill & Jill where the LaVoie/Bauer team finished sixth, eighth, and sixth. Although Daun had the lead, she was out of the Women’s Underhand and would not compete on any of the three nights—which equates to zero points, giving LaVoie an opportunity to move ahead.

Erin LaVoieErin LaVoie

Coming from Behind

Chopping the underhand is perhaps the most grueling event for the women and never was a favorite event of Daun’s., and her only hope for earning the all-around title was for others to out-chop LaVoie. the fitness trainer from Spokane. That is exactly what happened on Thursday and Friday.

The performances of Martha King (PA) and Amanda Beams (Australia) placed LaVoie in third. On Friday, LaVoie was again edged to third place. Although LaVoie beat King’s performance from the day before with a time of 28.91 seconds, King took her last swing at 27.66, close behind Beams’ 27.43 seconds. Not only did they finish ahead of LaVoie, Beams and King came very close to matching Zalewski’s 2011 world record of 27.28. It is easy to see what Erin LaVoie faced as she awaited the championship round. And Lindsay Daun could only watch from the sidelines.

Saturday King finished second behind the only woman who bested the half-minute mark as LaVoie posted 29.76 seconds to take the Women’s Underhand World Championship and with it, the All-Around Lady Jill World Championship. LaVoie’s rankings in the underhand event more than made up for finishing behind Daun in the crosscut events.

Lumberjack World Championships 2016Men’s Competition

Competition on the men’s side was equally intense. Dave Jewett, the 2015 all-around champion, suffered a shoulder injury one week before he competed at Hayward. Still, a champion gives it his best, and Jewett did all of that. King of the crosscut sawyers, Jewett took the 2016 world titles in the Single Buck, the Double Buck with partner J.P. Mercier (QC), and Jack & Jill with partner Lindsay Daun.

Cogar Makes His Mark

In the aforementioned sawing events Matt Cogar (WV) finished second in the Double Buck with partner Jason Lentz (WV) and fourth in the Jack & Jill with partner Kate Witkowski (WI).

Like LaVoie, Cogar made up for lost time when chopping was the method of severance. Cogar finished second in the Standing Chop with a time of 23.96 seconds, just 0.78 seconds behind Australia’s Laurence O’Toole. Cogar won the Springboard with a blistering 44.96, nearly 15 seconds ahead of second place Jason Wynyard (New Zealand). And Cogar also took the Underhand with a time of 20.25, exactly five seconds ahead of O’Toole. Even then Cogar wasn’t done.

When the awards were presented, Erin LaVoie was introduced as the 2016 All-Around Lady Jill World Champion, and Matt Cogar received the 2016 Tony Wise All-Around World Champion title. Then it was time for the final event: the Relay.

Lumberjack World Championships 2016Relay

For the relay event, Andrea Furber-Card’s team had Cogar at the anchor position of Standing Chop. As the event unfolded, Nancy Zalewski’s team took the lead by a few seconds. Nearing the end, Martin Komarek (Czech Republic) went to work with a vengeance, and his axe blows sounded ominous.

Cogar waited pensively like a coiled rattlesnake that had swallowed dynamite. And then, he exploded. Rarely does a lumberjack spectator get to see an axe swung with such force, frequency, and accuracy for the duration of an event. Matt Cogar had clearly made up his mind to win. And he did. It takes an out-of-this-world performance to beat a world-class lumberjack like Komarek. At that moment, Cogar was out-of-this-world.

TimberWest November/December 2013
September-October 2016

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