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Winter Team Previews: McGill Woodsmen and Woodswomen

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Located on the Macdonald Campus, the Woodsmen have been part of McGill’s varsity tradition since 1954, when the Macdonald Aggies entered and won the McGill University Outing Club’s second annual Woodsmen competition. Women first entered the competition in 1971, and over the past 40 years, McGill’s teams have won over 100 competitions, giving them the greatest winning record of all McGill varsity teams.

The Woodsmen and Woodswomen compete within the Canadian Intercollegiate Lumberjacking Association (CILA). CILA was formed in 1997 and includes five other teams from Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. A typical Woodsmen competition involves multiple events based on showing personal prowess in lumberjacking. Schools compete in teams of six, with McGill and other universities sending two teams for both the Woodsmen and the Woodswomen competitions. Of the 24 people making up the McGill Woodsmen and Woodswomen, 18 are from Quebec, and the rest are Ontario natives. Every team member has their own specialty event in which they compete. Events include anything from axe throwing, to timed chainsawing, to woodchopping–of which there are multiple different types. There are four competitions held in Canada each season hosted by four of the six registered CILA schools. The first two happened at the University of New Brunswick and Sir Sandford Fleming College. The third is at Mac Campus and the fourth and final competition at Dalhousie University.

Last year, under the leadership of Head Coach Kyle Bray, the McGill Women’s 1 team came in first and the Men’s 1 team came in third during the CILA Championships. McGill’s Woodswomen have stayed strong so far this year, coming in third overall at UNB and earning a perfect score in three events: The Horizontal Chop, the Team Crosscut, and the Accuracy Chop. The Woodsmen regained their first-place overall finish most recently at Fleming College, getting perfect scores in the Cross Cut, Swede Saw, the Underhand Chop, and the Choker Race. The McGill Woodsmen have maintained third and fourth place this season, earning a perfect score in the Vertical Chop and the Team Crosscut at UNB and in the Quarter Split at Flemming. 

McGill will be hosting their third competition of the season, the 56th Annual Woodsmen Competition, at the Macdonald Campus on Jan. 23. Quebec natives Philip Gautier and Michael Breault will lead McGill’s Woodsmen, hoping to break into second place this competition while Captains Stephanie Bélanger-Naud and Ingrid Laplante, also of Quebec, will work to lead the Woodswomen to another first-place finish.

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