Veronica’s brief rest after big win at St Helens carnival

VERONICA Youd is relishing a quick break after taking out a woodchopping title at the St Helens Athletics Carnival. However, the New Norfolk resident won’t have much time to rest on her laurels – or her sashes. Mrs Youd, who married into chopping royalty and has assumed that role quite well, defeated a solid field on Saturday at St Helens in the Ladies 11-inch Underhand Handicap. The competition included world champion Amanda Beams.

Mrs Youd took 1 minute and 49 seconds to sever the chunk of hard eucalypt, the energised attack leaving her happy to enjoy a quiet Sunday. “I feel exhausted today. I’m not doing anything,” she said during her interview with the News, “but you can’t afford to rest too long.”

Veronica Youd in prime position on the podium at St Helens, with the placegetters and Lyons MHA John Tucker.

This week Mrs Youd will jump back into her training routine, with an eye toward her next competition at the Longley Hotel on Saturday, February 10. The following Saturday, February 17, she plans a Derwent Valley homecoming — challenging the field at the Bushy Park Show. “There’s a lot of events in the summer and we’ve got to be selective in where we go,” she said. She won’t compete at the Hobart Regatta because the chopping events are scheduled for February 11, which is too close to the Longley and Bushy Park competitions.

Mrs Youd, who was raised on a farm outside New Norfolk and has been comfortable with an axe since childhood, started competitive woodchopping six years ago. Her husband John’s family includes generations of world champion axemen.

About her success on Saturday, she said every victory was precious. “Every sash you win is special because it’s not easy to win,” she said. Nevertheless, she said the St Helens title was not a photo finish. “I had a clear win and it was surprising to me,” she said. “You have to really cut at your peak to take out a win because of the way the handicapping is done.”

The competitions are organised so that the less-skilled choppers get a head-start on whacking their logs. While that group is chopping away, the more skilled choppers must wait for a set time to elapse (their handicap) before they can begin to chop their own logs.

In Mrs Youd’s case, after the chopping started she had to wait 79 seconds to swing her axe. Earning that 79-second handicap took a great deal of hard work over many years, she said. “It’s not an easy sport. It takes a long time to build up your skills and your strength.”

RICK SANTOS

See more Derwent Valley and Central Highlands news online and read our print edition every second Friday.

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