While Olympians were battling for gold in the land where the Olympics were born, Jody Asimakopoulo, of Soldotna, took the chainsaw in the first ever Backwoods Woman competition at the Ninilchik State Fair. Jody is Alaskan born, but her husband Nick hails from Greece. The Backwoods Woman champion says her sister put her up to it at the last minute because they wanted the chainsaw to do some tree stump carving at their mother's place. "It was a lot of hard work, there was a lot of heavy wood to carry and stack. I think the older women had experience on their side and seemed to do better, but it sure was a lot of fun," said Asimakopoulo.
While in Greece medals were determined by one hundredths of a second, it was a match stick that did in Ninilchik challenger Vanessa Bock. Contestants had to haul water running through an obstacle course while carrying a simulated baby, then on to frying some bacon and eggs, without breaking the yoke and continuing with baby care. Then while the egg was cooking carry and stack fire wood some 30 feet away, and with only 5 matches start a fire and keep it burning for at least 60 seconds. Point penalties were issued for breaking a yoke, dropping a baby, and needing more than 5 matches to start the fire. "Wind was the major factor with the fire, it was all local stuff here from the woods, dry branches and a little moss, but I needed an extra match," said Bock, who ended up in fourth place after posting the leading time of 7 minutes 12 seconds. Bock however, plans to enter again next year.
Fun was what inspired fair manager Mary Clock and Vickie Steik to create the Backwoods Woman event and premier it at this year's fair along with other new events like the racing pigs. Helping to implement the uniquely Alaskan challenge is the person who will be taking over the fair manager's position next year Lara McGinnis.
"What stood out to me most in this event was the spirit of the woman who entered. It truly brought out that spirit that Alaskan women are known for; we were more interested in helping each other out than we were with winning. I hope they keep it up, but next year, I think my sister will have to enter too," added Backwoods Champion Asimakopoulo. Jody expressed hearty appreciation to the women who organized the event, as well as to Homer Saw & Cycle who donated the Stihl chainsaw prize. "It was really a great prize to win, and no I'm not giving it to my husband, but I'll share it with him and be back next year to crown a new queen," said Jody.
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