Woodsmen host annual competition

by Taylor Malmsheimer and Amanda Young | 4/29/12 10:00pm

Cheers echoed across the Green as almost 200 competitors competed in events ranging from axe throwing to crosscut sawing as part of the 66th annual Woodsmen's Competition held on April 27 and 28 on the Green and the Organic Farm.

The Dartmouth Outing Club hosted the competition, which brought teams from 13 colleges, including the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire and Colby College, to Hanover. The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry finished first in the competition, according to Paul Smith's College competitor Jesse Hrycik.

To organize the event, the Dartmouth Woodsmen's team had to arrange permits, reserve locations, work with Dartmouth Conferences and Special Events, coordinate sponsorship with STIHL Chainsaws and set up the grounds themselves with wood that was both purchased from a lumber mill and obtained from the forest, according to event co-organizer David Rice '14.

The annual competition, which Dartmouth hosts every three years, tests participants' technical skills in a variety of disciplines, according to Rice.

"We have in each competition a number of different events, and they all have totally different skills," he said.

Rice, a native of New York city, said he joined the team his freshman fall to experience something different than he was used to.

"The woodsmen's team was a nice combination of being outside and having events involving technical skills," he said

Ben Hughey '12 joined his freshman winter and is now the captain of the team, participating in a "sport unlike any other," he said.

"Since most of the events are sort of ridiculous, the atmosphere around the competition is different than more traditional sports," Hughey said. "The fact that you are running on the log in the water makes it easier to laugh at yourself."

Jennifer Estrada '14 said that the woodsman's team is different than other teams because most members who join have no previous experience. The events of the competition sometimes seem "completely out of the ordinary," she explained.

"Watching events, even as a competitor, is really surreal sometimes," Estrada said. "Sometimes it feels like you're back in time."

Dartmouth fielded four teams in the contest two men's, one women's and one alumni team, according to Rice. The alumni team consisted mostly of people who had graduated within the past three years.

Rice said that many of the other schools' teams train four or five times a week and receive similar funding to that of a varsity sport. Dartmouth's team is more "like a club program" in comparison, he said.

Planning the competition took over a year, Rice said. While Dartmouth competitors in the spring Woodsmen's Competition normally practice their skills four times a week during Spring term, much of their time was spent coordinating the competition instead. Rice and co-organizer Callen Votzke '13 have been working since last January to organize the event, according to Hughey.

Estrada said that the Dartmouth team members lacked sleep before the competition. The team had to get up around 5:45 a.m. the morning of the competition to set up the facilities, according to Estrada.

"Being on the other side of the competition, where you have to prepare for the competition, took away a lot of energy for our team," she said. "We didn't get to practice much, but at least we got to see the fruits of our labor. It was very rewarding."

Competitors from other schools enjoyed the meet, Rice said.

Eric Piazza, a member of the University of Connecticut team, said he loved the atmosphere of the competition.

"Everyone here is positive," he said. "There's always support from other competitors."

Piazza said he has competed in around 30 to 40 woodsmen's meets during his three years as a member of UConn's team.

Hrycik, a senior at Paul Smith's College in New York, said he joined his school's woodsmen team to be a part of something unique.

"I was never on a sports team in high school, but this is a completely different discipline," he said. "It takes a lot of athletic skill you don't find in other sports."

Estrada, who has been part of the woodsmen team since her freshman winter, said she thought the competition went well. She said she heard back from many friends and people watching who had a great time at Dartmouth.

"The other teams only had positive things to say," Estrada said. "I had a lot of fun and I'm not the only one who thought that."

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