BIBLE HILL, N.S. – The Dal AC Woodsmen have their work cut out for them.
A successful defence of their Canadian Intercollegiate Lumberjacking Association (CILA) men’s team title is in jeopardy as the final event of the season, the 33rd annual Rick Russell Woodsmen Competition, draws closer. The showdown is set for Saturday at MacMillan Show Centre in Bible Hill and features teams from Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States duking it out for top spot in the CILA standings.
Teams compete in timed events which include chopping and sawing disciplines, a water boil, axe throwing and pole climbing among others.
Admission is $5 per person and children under 12 get in free. Action starts at 8 a.m. and runs throughout the day.
The Woodsmen – with 3,323.32 points – enter the event sitting third in the season standings with just a 45-point gap to close on second-place McGill University’s Macdonald Campus. However, the University of New Brunswick’s Woodsmen are 257.65 points up, leading all teams, in top spot.
“The title is still within reach and that’s always the goal,” Woodsmen head coach Geoff Larkin said. “It’s possible, but we need to have a really good day.”
Should that happen, the men’s A team would be champions for the sixth time in the past seven seasons and stretch their streak to three consecutive titles.
The women come into the finale also sitting third, just 89.16 points behind current runners-up UNB. But they also have a large hill to climb to reach Macdonald Campus, who have a 355.65-point cushion. The DAL AC women finished third in last year’s points standings.
But no matter what the standings are or how they play out, Larkin said he just wants both teams to put their best foot forward and cap the season on a high note and the standings will look after themselves.
“We just want to come home and have a strong finish,” he said. “We have a good chance to win the competition.”
There’s no reason to think the Woodsmen won’t come out with a point to prove. The team traditionally has a strong showing at the competition, which sees nearly 1,000 people attend over the day. The home team feeds off that energy and uses the fact they don’t have to travel to their advantage.
“When you’ve got an axe in your hand and a full house cheering you on, it’s hard not to get amped up,” Larkin, in his second season coaching the squad, said. “You’ve actually got to keep them calmed down. It’s nice to be able to finish the year at home.”
The key for the Woodsmen will be execution. The team had a tough showing at the most recent outing at Macdonald Campus Jan. 27 , when lady luck wasn’t on their side. However, both the men’s and women’s teams typically contend for wins in both individual and team events and will need to live up to that potential and regain that execution to be successful.
“That got lost a bit in Montreal but we can get it back and finish strong,” Larkin said. “Everything we can control we need to control.”