Chainsaws and ladies are not usually two words that go hand in hand, but women such as Tokoroa's Kylee Treadaway have proven otherwise.
Treadaway first used a chainsaw 15 years ago but only took up the competitive sport eight years ago. Since then, she has been a regular at the Stihl Festival of Logging.
"My partner Henry Hale has been competing for 20 years, and I would always go along and watch with the other wives and partners. The competitions always looked exciting and fun, and some of us girls started talking about having a go, and so it began."
Treadaway admits to being extremely nervous and even a bit scared at first, but once the adrenalin kicked in, she was hooked.
"It was very daunting at first, and the chainsaws were very loud and heavy. But Wayne Jones, the competition co-ordinator, taught us all how to hold the chainsaw correctly and operate it. It has become easier over time, although performing in front of huge crowds at Mystery Creek is still nerve-racking."
Competing at various events around the North Island, Treadaway finally tasted victory when she took out the Ladies' Race at last year's Fieldays.
"I have had a lot of second and third placings, and it was very close but I managed to win the ladies' race last year, so I will definitely be back to defend my title.
"All the ladies are very good competitors, so I will have to be on my toes."
As well as the ladies' race, in which competitors have to cut three discs or biscuits in the fastest possible time, Treadaway also competes in a relay team, and is usually the last cutter.
"The first cutter puts the bar on, and even though I can do it, I am hopeless at it - so it's just as well I go last and do the wave cut, which is a down cut, up cut, then down cut sequence.
"Previously, we have had six- person teams, but it is changing this year to three-person teams, and each of us will have to perform two tasks, which should be a lot of fun and hopefully make it more interesting."
Celebrating all things to do with chainsaws, the Festival of Logging has been a firm fixture at Fieldays for more than 20 years and is popular with the crowds, says co-ordinator Wayne Jones.
"We always have a great turnout of competitors from all walks of life. Not all of them are loggers, and this year there are 12 women, including Kylee, competing, so it should be a great event not just for us but for the public as well."
Several competitions will be held over the four days, showcasing the contestants' chainsaw skills - including the carving competition, in which sculptures will be created and sold, with proceeds going to St John Ambulance.
"There will be plenty of action and events for the public to watch, including the Logging Skills competition, ladies' races, wood split and the Stihl Hot Saw Race, which features the modified chainsaws," Jones said.
"We pride ourselves on our safety record. We have never had an accident, even though the competitors all push hard to get a favourable result."
- Waikato Times
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