Two competitive axe throwers from Airdrie will experience the pinnacle of their sport Dec. 6 to 8 at the 2019 World Axe Throwing Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
Nick Kolomyja and his wife Kendra will join 62 of the world’s best urban axe throwers at the World Axe Throwing League’s (WATL) biggest competition of the year.
“Going into this stage, it’s time to turn it on and prove it,” Kolomyja said. “Am I at that level? You see some of these people who don’t miss, ever. But then people come up to me and say, ‘You don’t miss either.’ For me, it’s going to be a big proving thing.”
Kendra said the couple has competed in the sport for nearly three years, after trying it out at a birthday party held at Rival Axe Throwing.
“We didn’t suck too badly at the beginning, so they told us there were leagues available,” she said. “We thought it would be a fun way to get a night out once a week, with just the two of us and no kids.
“We got completely hooked and we’ve been doing it ever since.”
The Kolomyjas started competing in the Airdrie-based league, quickly advancing enough to attend tournaments around North America. Since then, competitions have taken them to Philadelphia, Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit and other cities.
Both agreed their favourite aspect of the sport is it’s tight-knit community.
“It’s like a great big family,” Kolomyja said. “We’ve made friends [through the sport], because we’ve been travelling so much.”
Along with friends, the Kolomyjas have picked up multiple accolades along the way. At the Alberta Masters’ Games in Rocky Mountain House this summer, they each won gold in their respective divisions.
They’ve also been successful as a team, winning the inaugural WATL Duals Tournament at the Throwdown Axe Festival in Colorado in June, where Kolomyja also took second place in the singles tournament.
Kendra said the pair works on their throwing skills daily, anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, either at Rival or in their garage where they have set up an axe throwing target.
“With life and kids, just being able to sneak into the garage is a little easier than going somewhere,” she said. “Most people who are competing at a really high level have access to some sort of regular practice.”
The effort has clearly paid off, as the athletes have rapidly climbed the WATL charts – Kolomyja is now ranked seventh in the world, while Kendra is ranked 12th.
That’s no small accomplishment, as WATL boasts more than 2,500 athletes at 160 locations in 17 countries.
“All of the leagues, when they’re sanctioned by WATL, feed into a central database, so when you’re competing locally, you’re competing at the same time against throwers from across the world,” Kendra said. “They’ve got venues in Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and all across Canada and the U.S.”
Following the world championships in Arizona, the couple will take a brief hiatus from competition before the local WATL-sanctioned league at Rival kicks off again in mid-January 2020. Kendra said the next big competition for the pair is the 2020 Canadian Open in April, at a to-be-determined location.