Monday, October 9, 2017

Forest Sports Festival draws spirited competitors

Jamie Hollingsworth looks on as competitors work the double buck saw.

The 20th annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival got underway on a crisp Saturday morning in the fields across from the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

Fueled by doughnuts and coffee, competitors yelled encouragement to their teammates as they attempted forest feats for the first time —or sought to improve their past performances in events ranging from axe throwing to log rolling and crosscut sawing.

Eric and Stephen Nelson pose with Dave Valentine and Alice Orlich. Eric Nelson
and Orlich hold their awards as the reigning Bull and Belle of the Woods.
“You got this,” a competitor cheered on his teammates, who were trying to use a peavey, a tool with a hook, to maneuver a large log between two points successfully. Clearly, it wasn’t easy.

Forest Fest volunteer Jamie Hollingsworth explained the strategy for the double buck saw competition, which requires pulling a crosscut saw with a partner in a coordinated way. “You’re just rocking your body,” he advised a couple of competitors trying it for the first time.

Forest Fest participants included natural resources management and other UAF students and staff and members of the public trying out old-time logging sports. A smaller number participated this year, but the atmosphere remained competitive all the same. Innovations included a new birling “log,” a colorful orange and yellow plastic version borrowed by Patty Gym.

Katelyn Bushnell, a junior economics major from UAF, competed in several logging events for the first time, including birling, which involves trying to stay afloat on a log in chilly Ballaine Lake.

“I thought this would be a fun thing to do,” she said. She was looking forward to relaxing and not doing homework for a change.

Bobbi Jensen, a UAF academic advisor, participated in her second forest fest as a member of the Logger Logger team. She and Wendy Hawkins won first-place in the women’s double bucksaw event. Her favorite event involves axes, however.

Birling competitors try out the new log at Ballaine Lake.
Holding the ends of the log are Jamie
Hollingsworth and Steve Sparrow.
“I like throwing the axes,” she said. “I want to beat Victoria,” she added, joking. Victoria is Victoria Smith, a co-worker and former Belle of the Woods who ran the HooDoo half marathon this year instead of competing.

Those competing in the fire-building competition near Ballaine Lake used one log round, one axe and three matches to start a fire and bring water in a can to boil. A few drops of detergent meant the boiling water bubbled over the top of the can. This year’s winners brought their water to a boil in 11 minutes, 46 seconds.

Eric Nelson, the husband of natural resources management student Cynthia Nelson, earned the title of Bull of the Woods and NRM graduate student Alice Orlich was named Belle of the Woods for the fourth time. Nelson is a Department of Transportation camp foreman in Nenana and Orlich is finishing a master’s degree this semester.

Volunteers helping out at the event included members of the student Resource Management Society, current and retired faculty and staff of SNRE and of the Bonana Creek Long-Term Ecological Research program.

And the winners are ….

Belle of the Woods (overall female winner): Alice Orlich

Bull of the Woods (overall male winner): Eric Nelson

Team winners
First: Stihl, with members Gabriel Smith, Dawson Foster, Cy Conrad, John Shank, Coleman Smith and Ana Rodriguez
Second: Logger Logger
Third: Rifle Plus Few  

Axe throw (female): Alice Orlich

Birling (female): Alice Orlich

Birling (male): Gabriel Smith

Birling overall: Gabriel Smith
Cy Conrad fans the flames of the fire he started with his teammate, Dan.

Bow saw (female): Wendy Hawkins

Bow saw (male): Dawson Foster

Double buck saw (female): Wendy Hawkins and Bobbi Jensen

Double buck saw (male): Gabriel Smith and Dawson Foster

Double buck saw (Jack & Jill): Brooks Lawler and Cy Conrad

Fire building: Cy Conrad and Dan

Pulp toss (four-person team): Stihl

Log rolling (male): John Shank and Coleman Smith

Log rolling (female): Faith Stemmler and Danielle Siegert

Log rolling (Jack and Jill): Jason Theis and Bobbi Jensen

Axe throw (male): Eric Nelson

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