Story and Photos By GAYLE WILSON
Canada's professional axe throwers got the opportunity to sharpen their skills in Liverpool on August 25 and 26 as they competed for $11,000 worth of prizes in the Canadian National Axe Throwing Championship.
Based on the results of the championship held at Centennial Park on the Mersey River, which attracted more than 50 competitors including many from abroad, the event was a good opportunity to practise.
The winners in the top three categories were from overseas, with Anki Hedberg of Sweden taking gold in the women's division, Finn Standing from Ireland gold in the junior division and Udo Hoffman from Germany gold in the men's division.
"Oh they have their hands full for sure," said Darren Hudson, a World Champion log roller and 20-year lumberjack veteran from Barrington who helped organize the event alongside Ryan McIntyre, president and founder of the North Nova Lumberjacks Society.
"The Europeans are really serious about the sport right now. And they're putting it to us," Hudson admitted.
The top overall Canadian in the competition was Karl Bishoff of British Columbia.
But Hudson noted that "the sport is growing and we're putting a lot into the infrastructure."
Hudson owns the licensed axe throwing facility, the Timber Lounge in Halifax, and will soon open another in Moncton.
Referring to the championship as the "the first event of this calibre in Canada," Hudson said it was "a great opportunity for league members to grow in the sport, and grow in the axe family, and "to be able to come to these events and experience this passion that we all share."
Hudson noted the sport is growing both in Canada and internationally.
"People are learning how great a sport it is and it was shown here today by the excitement," said Hudson.
A steady flow of onlookers made their way to Liverpool's waterfront park to watch the event.
As to whether the championship can be expected to return to the town next year, Hudson would say only that the town has the right of refusal.
"But the highest bid will get this," Hudson advised.
Nonetheless, he added, "We love the venue here. It's incredible. The scenery and it's beautiful for throwing. Really works good. For international competitors to come see this for the first time, it's fantastic."
Hudson and McIntyre had been touring the international competitors around the area for the previous two weeks, he said.
"A lot of them, this is their first time here and they're putting it on Instagram, social media and telling our story and attracting other visitors to this area."
Not to put too fine a point on the matter, he added, "We have had an axe-trordinary time."