Up North: Lumberjills and Youth Add to the Growing Lumberjack World Championships

Eyewitness Sports
July 26, 2017 10:49 PM

The Lumberjack World Championships are a trademark in Hayward, Wis. Combining the rich history of the logging industry and showcasing the strength and skill of lumberjacks and lumberjills in various events are what make this a growing sporting event.

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Chopping, sawing, and log rolling are some of the highlighted events that make up the Lumberjack World Championships. Hosted in a town of just over 2,000 people, the competition brings in fans and competitors from around the world. It's also a reason some of the locals have wanted to be a part of what is known as the "Home of the Olympics of the Forest."

"It's really nice just to have it around here rather than having to travel, and there's just so many more people to come down here and roll," said Haley Penning of Hayward, Wis.

Penning is just sixteen years old, but was among the professional women's logrolling division that ranges from fourteen years old and up; which means sometimes she can compete against competitors with double her years in experience.

"It's really fun because when you were younger you would roll against people your same age. Then, you're rolling against people who have so many more years of experience than you or you have people new to pro just like you," said Penning.

Similar to Penning, sixteen year old Alicia Diethert also just recently joined the professional women's division. She began rolling when she was seven and worked her way up through the semi-pro division to where she is now.

"We started at our center that was like our gym at the time. They had a free trial and I tried it and I liked it without even knowing my dad was a second generation," said Diethert.

Logrolling and the Boom Run are the only events of the championships that have designed youth categories which makes for good exposure of the sport and the addition of amateur competitors.

"One time I was at a pool and I saw log rolling. I asked my mom if I could try it, but she said no. Then, I kept asking her and she said we could tryout for it," said Allie Duclos.

Duclos walked away that weekend as the U-10 girls division champion. Even across the pond, women were showing off their strength working alongside a lumberjack in events like the Jack and Jill Double Bucking Contest.

"I think it's the only event here, other than the relay where the men and the women team up together, so it's cool to have that dynamic," said Samantha Hadley.

However, for 58 years the Lumberjack World Championships have been taking place in Hayward, but it wasn't until the late 90's that women could compete in the lumber sports.

"There's so many women, especially on the other side with the logging rolling. We have more women competing than men and that's very rare to have in a lot of sports to have more women, so that's kind of empowering to see so many women," added Hadley.

Women now share a stage with the lumberjacks and help make up more than the 21 events that take place over the weekend.


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