KREM 2's Mark Hanrahan shares the story of a Spokane woman who has worked her way to the top of the ranks and holds multiple world records. KREM
Erin Lavoie owns Predation CrossFit gym and if she is not teaching a class, she is tearing through a workout fulfilling her passion for fitness.
Another one of Lavoie’s passions? Competing in lumberjack sports.
Lumberjack Sports consists of events like the underhand chop, ax throw and log roll. Sports that in the past were commonly associated with men.
But Lavoie, a Spokane woman, is now one of the top athletes in the sport.
She is a world class lumberjill.
“I've gone all over the world. It’s been pretty cool. It’s funny how far wood chopping has taken me,” Lavoie said.
Her journey with lumberjack sports began more than 15 years ago. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight.
"When I was in high school I remember coming home and I saw this sport on the TV one time and I just thought, god that looks so stupid, why would anyone want to do that? What a weird sport,” Lavoie said.
But, that all changed after a chance encounter at Spokane Community College.
"I actually went to school at SCC, right after I graduated. I went to school for forestry. They had a team that practiced just down the hall from all of my classes,” Lavoie said. “Wandered in one day just kind of bored, picked up an ax for the first time. Practiced for like 3 days and then went to my first competition. That was it.”
Lavoie has been destroying logs and records ever since. She holds three world records, including the Guinness World Record for the most Christmas trees chopped down in two minutes.
To get the world record, Lavoie had to beat the previous record at nine Christmas trees. She cut down 27.
The Guinness World Record title is just one of her many accomplishments.
To name a few: She was the Iron Jill World Champion 2004, Bronze medalist at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games 2004, Iron Jill world Champion 2005 (with a perfect score of 500 points), World record holder in the underhand chop for 2017 and the Sydney Royal East Show Underhand Champion in 2017.
She was the first American to win the underhand chop at Sydney Royal East Show.
"You know I just work hard. That's really the bottom line. No matter what I'm doing. I work hard and try to be the best at it,” Lavoie said.
When asked what her least favorite event is, Lavoie said without hesitation, the ax throw. The rules are relatively simple: You stand 20 feet back from a 36-inch target and try to hit a bullseye.
Simple in theory, but complicated in execution.
While the ax throw is not her favorite, she is right at home with the underhand chop.
"My favorite and best event is the underhand chop. You stand on a, usually an 11-inch log, chop it in half, turn around chop the other half between your feet,” Lavoie said.
This is the event Lavoie holds world records in. It requires strength, technique and skill. She consistently smashes through logs in less than 30 seconds.
Lumberjack sports extend beyond the previously mentioned events. There is also the log roll, where athletes battle to stay on the log. There’s a climbing competition, where competitors race to the top of a pole, among other events.
It pays to be a well-rounded athlete, which is where Lavoie has an edge.
"Now, I think more of the fitness side of the sport is catching on. I don't know if I had anything to do with that, I like to think I did since I own a CrossFit gym. That was what I spread and what I brought to the field was my CrossFit background in order to, you know, try to defeat the field,” Lavoie said.
Competitions have taken Lavoie across the globe, but in recent months her success has attracted more attention at home. In July, actor George Takei from Star Trek fame shared a 60 second documentary of Lavoie. The clip went viral.
In early October, The Ellen Show flew Lavoie to Los Angeles to tape a segment for the show.
"I was very surprised with all of that attention. Its awesome. and, you know one thing leads to another,” Lavoie said.
Lavoie said she is not sure what the future holds with her. For now, she will keep training at her gym and competing in lumberjack sports where she has worked her way to the top.