Airdrie axe throwers extraordinaire Kendra and Nick Kolomyja will once again battle against the world’s best this weekend.
After competing at the World Axe Throwing League’s (WATL) world championships in 2019, the married couple from Reunion are returning to the biggest annual tournament of their sport in Fort Worth, Texas from Dec. 10 to 12.
The Kolomyjas’ foray into the world of competitive axe throwing began in 2016, when they tried the sport for the first time at a birthday party. Five years and thousands of throws later, the couple is excited to represent Airdrie, and local venue Rival Axe Throwing, at worlds for the second time.
“That's one of the things that's really great about being able to compete at a tournament at this level,” said Kendra.
“[Rival] are such big supporters of the community, so it's really great for us to be able to do something on a bigger stage to promote our home team, and to throw and represent Airdrie, Alberta, and western Canada.”
The 2019 WATL world championships were held in Tucson, Ariz. Despite it being their first time competing at that level, the Kolomyjas fared well, with Nick finishing fifth and Kendra finishing 25th, in a field of more than 60 competitors comprised of the best axe-throwers from across the world.
While their scores in 2020 would have qualified them for the world championships a second time, Kendra said last year's tournament was limited to American competitors, due to travel restrictions pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A year later, Nick said the couple’s experience from 2019 and their improvement since then bodes well for their prospects at the upcoming WATL championships, which will be televised on major sports networks in the United States.
“I know last time, being on ESPN was quite the experience,” he said. “It was different throwing under the lights like that, having a camera right beside the target, and having bleachers full of fans sitting there.
“It's definitely a different aspect when you're [competing at worlds]. Knowing that I've been there and going, ‘OK, it's going to be like this,’ I know I have to take that into account.”
According to Nick, he and Kendra have been ramping up their training in preparation to take on the world’s best. The couple fashioned an axe-throwing target in their garage a few years ago, and have spent countless hours since then perfecting their techniques.
“You get to the point where you wake up at 4:30, and before going to work, you want to get 10, 20 throws in,” he said. “You work 10 hours a day, come home, shower, throw some more, have dinner with the family, put the kids to bed, and then come back out and throw until 11 p.m.”
Though they are more dedicated to axe throwing than most people who take to the sport, Kendra added one of the best things about the activity is how accessible it is, regardless of age or mobility.
“We have people in our leagues who are anywhere from eight years old up to 80 years old,” she said.
“It's something everybody can do together as an activity. It's one of those things that is really worth getting more people aware of and having an opportunity to try it.”