Deep freeze doesn’t faze woodsmen

McGill lumberjack women’s team member Sonia Meganck finishes off her part of the doubles standing block chop at Macdonald Campus Saturday. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

By Neale McDevitt

This past Saturday, a frigid day tailor made for burrowing deep inside a pile of downy duvets and watching movies, dozens of lumberjacks and Jills from Canada and the U.S. thumbed their frostbitten noses at the elements to compete in the 50th Annual Woodsmen Competition at Mac Campus.

With the wind chill driving temperatures below -30, more than 175 competitors from Quebec, Ontario, the Maritimes, and northeastern U.S. took part in the Canadian Intercollegiate Lumberjack Association event. Some, like Mac’s Kelly Seymour, and Agricultural and Environmental Science undergraduate, didn’t let the conditions faze her – doffing her parka and gloves to compete in the doubles standing block chop. “You need maximum grip and mobility,” she said with a smile. “But after a couple of minutes, it feels like your fingers are going to fall off.”

Seymour and her Mac teammates Jeanne Bedard, Stephanie Booth, Beth Grant, Sonia Meganck Vivienne Steele and Lauren Anderson finished second in the women’s team competition behind the squad from Sir Sandford Fleming College. The Mac team was led by strong individual performances from Booth, who won gold in the snowshoe race, and Grant, who earned top spot in the chain saw competition.

The Mac men’s woodsmen team (comprised of Tom Ammerlaan, Will Lang, Ben Nichols, Peter Pertschy, Andy Pertschy, Gaetan Leclerq and Scott Barrington) were less fortunate. A pair of crucial disqualifications combined with strong competition saw the local lumberjacks finish fifth overall.

The best result for a Mac squad was turned in by the Jack and Jill team which took top honors in the mixed division. Ariane Gauthier, Nicholas Poirier, Jeremie Leboeuf, Katherine Bieber, Scott Brandrick, Shannon Christensen, Tyler Veazy and Xavier Belanger proved to be a cut above the competition in outdistancing their closest rivals from Sir Sandford Fleming by a wide margin.