CBC NEWS — Quebecer Stéphanie Bélanger-Naud was all smiles when she stepped onto the centre podium, was handed her trophy, and showered in sparkling wine after winning this year’s STIHL Timbersports Women’s Pro Canadian Championship.
According to a report by CBC News, the 24-year-old master’s student is the country’s best female lumberjack — or lumberjill — having chopped and sawed her way to the top at last month’s national championships in Mississauga, Ont.
The annual STIHL Timbersports championships bring competitors from across the country test their skills in six intense lumberjack-style skills, from block chops to chainsawing to axe throwing.
“It was a very good feeling,” Bélanger-Naud said. “I was very thankful to be there.”
Bélanger-Naud started practicing wood chopping eight years ago when she started university, and she’s been competing professionally for four years.
She grew up on a dairy farm in Brigham, in the Eastern Townships, and was an all-around athlete — playing volleyball and basketball in high school — but joining McGill’s woodsmen team was her first foray into timbersports.
“You get a lot of adrenaline from it, it’s a good way to pass your energy,” said Bélanger-Naud, who also runs, bikes and swims to stay in shape.
“I started it and got the passion for it,” Bélanger-Naud said. “It’s a sport you can always get better at.”
She said she appreciates that not only does the sport get her out of a gym and outside, she likes the technical aspect of it.
“My favourite is the underhand chop,” she said. “It’s an event where you simulate cutting down a tree in two while standing on it, so it’s a horizontal log where you’re standing on it and you chop in between your feet.”
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