Erin LaVoie is a badass. The record-holding professional lumberjack athlete has been a fixture at competitions since she first started chopping in college. As if that's not enough, she's also a CrossFit Athlete and the owner of Predation CrossFit in Spokane, WA. In June, we'll have the unenviable honor of going up against her at the first ever Stihl Timbersports Women's Qualifier (about time, fellas). As we ramp up our training, we sat down with Erin for some inspiration.
Project Woodchips: You've been placing in lumberjack sports competitions since you got involved with the sport in college. How have you seen it change, especially when it comes to the women's division?
Erin LaVoie: When I first started, I was one of two women in the professional circuit on the west side. We both would enter the men's events and just do the best we could. Year after year, competitions started adding one or two more events for us. Then more women started to sign up to compete. More events, more women, more events.
PW: You're the co-owner of Predation CrossFit out in Spokane, WA. How much of your lumberjack training happens in the gym doing WODs vs outside? What's the sweet sport between the two types of training?
EL: I do all the programming. I have 3-4 months during the off-season of really hard/heavy strength building; then the rest of the year I hit the cardio and just paint my strength. I do CrossFit five days a week, and as long as I have a wood source, I train three days a week. When I don't have a wood source, I have to ration myself to just one day a week, or save the wood for just before a competition.
PW: What would you say to someone who's intimidated by the idea of lumberjack sports?
EL: It's a lot of hard work, and only those who want it will succeed. But it's just the act of guiding a tool; when you do it correctly, cool things happen.
PW: You've set all sorts of records (seriously, you're even in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most Christmas trees chopped in two minutes). But. What athletic accomplishment are you most proud of?
EL: I am most proud of the times I didn't quit. Everything else is just a payoff/byproduct of the hard work.
PW: When you train lumberjills at the collegiate level, what do you share with them that wish someone had shared with you when you were starting out?
EL: I break everything down into progressions. How to read the wood, setting it up, respecting the tools, position and proper swing, to finally getting to chop or saw. When I first started, I was set on top of a log and told to swing. I missed out on a lot of the how and why.
PW: Maybe it's because we're in the thick of it, but it definitely feels like lumberjack sports are becoming more visible. What do you think the future holds for the sport?
EL: Social media has definitely let us build the sport more so than just regular television or stumbling upon a competition at a county fair. Of course, the sports and its followers will continue to grow. I would love to see it in the Olympics one day, but realize that it probably won't.
PW: What's the greatest challenge you've set for yourself in 2017?
EL: I don't really set challenges. I just go as hard as I can, and enjoy the ride!