Fernie woodcarver Michael Penny returned from a nationally-renowned carving competition as a top-three finisher, one of his most prestigious competition titles to date.
The woodcarver, known locally for his giant chainsaw carvings of bears, wolves, and more, used his skills in carving animals to his advantage last weekend in Powell River.
Powell River Logger Sports is a well-attended annual competition on the Sunshine Coast, attracting thousands of spectators while lumberjacks of all kinds rise to the challenge in a variety of categories.
The show, which lasted three days, featured axe-throwing, standing block chop, two-man springboard and tree-climbing competitions, chainsaw carving and more.
To take the third place finish, Penny transformed a log into an intricate piece of art that wowed even the most critical judge.
“It was such a field of stellar artists,” said Penny. “I came in third place, I can’t believe it – I’m so happy.”
Penny’s winning piece was a scene of a mother cougar and her two cubs.
The judges admitted it was a tight race between first, second and third.
Top prize was awarded to Powell River native Clinton Bleaney who created a large composition of a helicopter high in the sky pulling timber off a mountainside.
Second place was awarded to Brian Widahl from Cochraine, Alberta who carved a giant black bear who was a chainsaw carver, creating a sculpture of a human from a block of wood.
The Logger Sports chainsaw competition was by invitation only, and Penny faced 11 other artists, some coming from across Canada and the United States. The carvers started on Friday with a log draw, each pulling a number to determine who was first to pick their starting log.
Penny received eighth pick, which forced him to change his game plan as there were no logs left suitable for his first creation idea; two wolves running side by side.
“I ended up getting a pretty big log, but it was triangular shaped, kind of a weird shape to it, and I wasn’t able to fit the two wolves into it; so I switched gears,” said Penny.
Chainsaw carvers had from Thursday morning until Sunday at noon to finish their carvings. Penny said they were full-on, the entire time. In order to do well at these competitions, Penny explained that you must be extremely organized and structured in your work.
Penny doesn’t just use one tool to make his pieces. To this competition, he brought eight chainsaws – packed into the trunk of a little blue sports car.
To see more of his work, stop by Penny’s shop beside Highway 3, across from Dairy Queen and the Silver Rock condos.