Richert wins again at Gold Rush

Oien, Clark also capture top honors at 15th annual logging and mining skills competition

Posted: Monday, June 28, 2004

Juneau logger Cal Richert didn't need to practice for the mining and logging competition at the 15th Annual Gold Rush Days. His job, owner of Last Frontier Forestry and Tree Service, has been keeping him in shape.

"I probably climbed 20 trees this week for work," Richert said. "I had a big tree job with some big fatties right out in the Valley over on Columbia. I was up in a couple trees for over two hours at a time."

Richert, a nationally ranked outdoors game competitor, showed up for the two days of competition at Dimond Park and won his second-straight Bull of the Woods title, and fourth in the last five years. The award is given to the male contestant with the most points in logging events.

"It was nice to see the crowds show up, even when it looked like it was going to rain," Richert said. "The weather was pretty good. If it was sunny like it's been, it could have been a lot worse."

Dennis Clark won the All-Around Male Miner award, his second in three years.

Alea Oien swept All-Around Female Miner and Babe of the Woods.

It was an impressive feat for Oien, a former employee of the A.J. mine and now an archivist at the Auke Bay Laboratory. She missed last year's competition while her family vacationed at their cabin up north. Her training regimen is limited to bike riding.

"I started out here just like those other girls that hadn't done it before," Oien said. "Most everyone came out here to do their best, and doesn't want to let themselves down."

Oien edged Nikki Richert, Cal's wife, another annual favorite.

"It was a different set of girls here this year, so it was kind of cool," said Richert, the Day Habilitation Coordinator for REACH. "A lot of people that had never done it before were trying it. Hopefully next year they'll come out as well."

In the Miners vs. Loggers Tug-O-War, the outnumbered mining team succumbed to the rank pond in the middle of the playing field after about 29 seconds. It was the loggers' first tug-of-war victory in several years.

Cal Richert and Hoonah logger Animal Austin renewed their annual rivalry in Sunday's logging events.

Austin, a Gold Rush regular since the beginning and a climber for Hoonah's White Stone Logging for the last 20 years, began the men's speed climbing with a nice sprint to the top of the 70-foot pole. But Richert had a faster time, despite two stutters past the 40-foot mark.

Richert went on to beat Austin in the men's tree topping - a race to the top of the 70-foot pole, followed by a quick cut through a stump at the top with a chainsaw. He also beat Austin twice in men's log rolling.

"He's a bit younger, and he's tough and he's tall," said Austin, who celebrated his birthday Sunday. "We take turns racing against each other in different shows. Sometimes he'll win, and sometimes, who knows, I might surprise him."

"Animal's really competitive, and he's always talking trash about how he's going to beat me," Richert said. "We've been friends for awhile."

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