2022 Lumberjack World Championships expand women’s events, fan capacity

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Lumberjacks and Lumberjills are rolling their way through the Lumberjack World Championships this week.

Friday marked day two of the event at the historic Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward, Wisconsin.

“I’m competing in the chopping and sawing events, underhand chop, standing block chop, single block, and then the doubles cross cut events,” Kathryn Witkowski shared, one of the local competitors from Hayward.

This year one of her events, the standing chop, is being offered to women for the first time since the championships began in 1960.

“I think of equal opportunity for the men and women athletes that are here,” Ben Popp said, the executive director for the Lumberjack World Championships Foundation. “I tell you what, these athletes are incredible, all the women can do all the events and now for them to be able to do the standing chop is pretty awesome.”

The field of 100 athletes also welcomes a larger global field than last year, with competitors coming from as far as the Czech Republic and Japan thanks to loosened pandemic travel restrictions. However, they’re tasked with squaring up against home grown talents like defending 2021 log rolling champion, Wisconsin’s Anthony Polentini, and Hayward’s own Witkowski.

“The field is always really tough,” Polentini shared. “A lot of good athletes. I’m hoping I can get some good matches in today and defend my title tomorrow.”

“Hayward is known worldwide as one of the best places in the world to be a lumberjack, and it’s not by accident that I got here,” Witkowski said. “I’m really, really proud to represent the hometown.”

Thanks to brand new bleachers, holding up to 2,800 spectators, a larger crowd than ever before was welcomed to the 62nd annual event.

“The infrastructure here was originally from 1960 when Tony White started this Lumberjack World Championships,” Popp explained. “It was time for a refresh.”

“It’s just going to grow the sport,” Polentini added. “It’s going to hopefully one day get into the Olympics. That’ll be probably the lifelong goal of this, all these lumberjack sports.”

The three day championship weekend wraps up Saturday.