University of Idaho’s Logger Sports team gears up for 2015 Lumberjack Classic
The University of Idaho Logger Sports team holds a long-lasting legacy of competitive wood chopping, ax throwing and pole climbing.
With its members competing since 1909, the Logger Sports team is the second-oldest club on campus — falling just under the UI Alpine Ski Club.
Current team captain and Fire Ecology and Management senior, Kris Cunio, said although the club is close-knit with UI’s College of Natural Resources (CNR), the team is open to all students who are interested in lumberjack events.
“We compete in a variety of lumberjack style events,” Cunio said. “There are chopping events, cross-cut saw events, chainsaw, pole climb — a whole bunch of stuff.”
The team consists of 10 members — six of which are women. Since the sport tends to be male dominant, Cunio said having this many skilled logging women on the team contributes to the teams high scores at events.
Junior and three-year Logger Sports team member Sarah Rose said she is proud of the women on the team this year. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Rose said she had never split a piece of wood before she came to UI. She joined the team because she wanted hands-on experience to contribute to her Rangeland Ecology and Management major.
“It helps a lot for natural resource jobs (to have that) experience,” Rose said. “It would be kind of silly to be hired on a trail crew and never have touched a chainsaw before.”
The Logger Sports team is preparing for the annual Lumberjack Classic, which will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pitkin Forest Nursery. Logger teams in the Association of Western Forestry Clubs from across the Pacific Northwest such as Oregon State University, University of Montana, Montana State University and Flathead Valley Community College will come to UI to compete in lumberjack events.
The competition consists of open and closed events, Cunio said. Open events, such as ax throwing or the caber toss, can happen at any time throughout the day and all the members on the UI team compete in those two events, Rose said. Closed events have scheduled heats and are limited in the number of events and competitors, since they require extra resources, such as wood blocks.
Cunio, who recently returned from the Western Regional Qualifier in Eureka, California, received eighth place in the STIHL Series and specializes in chopping and cross-cut sawing.
“With chopping we have two different disciplines — we have hard hit and speed,” Cunio said. “In a hard hit competition they count the number of swings, so the fewest number of swings per block is the winner. Except in the case of a tie, like say two people get 22 swings a piece, then they break the tie on time.”
There are several different events that take place with cross-cut sawing, according to Cunio and Rose. There is single bucking, where the competitor runs the saw individually, and there is double bucking, where a competitor and their partner stand on either side of the saw, Cunio said.
Double bucking also has a Jack and Jill event, where a male and female team competes on the same saw.
For each event, the competitors receive a particular amount of points depending on how they place in an event, and those points also contribute to the over-all team score.
“Say you are doing a horizontal chop,” Cunio said. “You could win that event by having the best time, but that also factors in to your team points.”
Rose said the women compete in separate categories from the men. While they compete in every event, they are only scored against other women, which she said is an advantage for the UI team, since they have a larger number of women competing than most teams in the league.
“It’s a lot more likely as a woman that you are going to score and you are going to place and earn points for your team,” Rose said. “For example, I climb the pole and the only reason that I climb the pole is because every time I make it up to the 30-foot mark I’m earning points for our team automatically. So it’s really to our advantage.”
Rose also competes in horizontal chopping in both speed and hard hit, and she does single buck and double buck cross-cut sawing.
The UI Logger Sports team is passionate about their sport and its members are eager to share their talents and expand their legacy. Cunio said the team puts on a demonstration at the CNR barbeque each fall and they recently put on a demonstration at the mall to increase publicity and get people excited about logger sports.
“I’m really proud of how long we’ve been doing this,” Rose said. “I think it is a really important part of the College of Natural Resources and the university in general, just because it’s where we live and the land use that goes on here. I think it’s important to not forget that this is how some people still do make a living. I think it’s awesome.”
The team is hoping to build up their ranks to at least 15 for next year. Rose said ax throwing is always a big draw to the sports team. The prospects are looking good, according to Cunio, as they have already had quite a few people sign up during this year’s Vandal Fridays.
The Logger Sports team practices at 10 a.m. every Saturday at the Associated Foresters Arena off of Plant Science Road by the Pitkin Forest Nursery. All students are welcome to come out and test their lumberjack skills.
Emily Vaartstra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org