Barbara Klaus

Barbara Klaus

Women plow at Olds

You won’t find the term ‘plowwoman’ in the dictionary, but you will find two such people going for gold at the World Plowing Championship in Olds on July 19-20.

You won’t find the term ‘plowwoman’ in the dictionary, but you will find two such people going for gold at the World Plowing Championship in Olds on July 19-20.

The Austrian entry of Barbara Klaus and Margareta Heigl stands out among the 28 other teams in the competition for their youth — at 24 and 21, respectively, they are among the youngest competitors — but moreso for the fact that they are the first all-woman team to compete in the championship, now in its 60th year.

The duo from the state of Lower Austria in the east of the country have been plowing for years, and this year beat out a deep crop of plowmen in their national competition to earn the right to compete in Olds. Heigl says the two are the only female plowers in Austria.

“My two brothers were plowing, and I always said when I was a little girl, ‘I want to plow too.’

“We don’t know why more women are not plowing. We like it,” she said.

Team Austria is bigger than just Klaus and Heigl, though, with mechanic Mario Schildendorfer and coaches Josef Heigl and two-time WPC winner Hermann Altmann, nicknamed the “über guru” also having made the trip.

The women’s tractors too, festooned as they are with dozens of sponsors’ stickers, recently arrived in shipping containers.

The team has been in Olds for more than two weeks, practicing in some area fields in the dark Alberta soil they say is “very sticky; very different from Austria.”

By the end of the week, competitors from as far afield as New Zealand and Kenya will all have arrived, with many teams shipping over their equipment from their home countries.

There are two categories of competition at the WPC — conventional and reversible plowing, with each team member focusing on one category.

Team Germany’s Sebastian Murkowski will seek to challenge for reversible gold, a fitting category for the 26-year-old who certainly did not take the conventional way to get to Olds, starting in Seattle and then hitchhiking his way to Central Alberta.

Murkowski worked on a neighbour’s farm as a youth, and benefitted from the German plowing federation’s age cut-off at 35. When his neighbour, also a plowman, had to quit upon his 35th birthday, his equipment was sitting unused until Murkowski decided to give it a try.

He finished ninth in his only other WPC in Sweden in 2011, and is grateful he arrived early this year to get a handle on the prairie soil.

“It’s a really interesting type of soil. It’s totally different from at home. It’s difficult,” he said.

Plowing the unique dark prairie soil also projects to be a challenge for Danes Flemming Thorsager and Søren Korsgaard, who are teamed up again 10 years after they competed together at the WPC in Guelph, Ont. Thorsager, 46, had retired from plowing, but came back in 2012 to win the Danish conventional title.

“My oldest son is old enough to drive a tractor now and he wanted to go to the plowing competition last year, and the old man said ‘Well, I can pack up and go with you.’ When I was qualified, I couldn’t say no to go to Canada,” he said.

While the Danish pair are an experienced twosome, they predict that the plowmen from the British Isles will be the ones to beat in 2013.

Brits and Irishmen, they say, are able to compete all through the wintertime due to their climate and soil, gaining more experience.

Competitors from Northern Ireland have won 10 times in the conventional category at the WPC, while Englishmen have taken nine of the 21 reversible titles handed out since 1992.

But history also favours the Austrian team, as their compatriots have won 12 conventional titles in the WPC’s history.

One of the men who will be determining 2013’s winners is judge and Canadian Plowing Organization chairman Lynn McDonald.

He and 27 other judges will be considering the consistency of furrows, the presence of wheel marks, and straightness in their evaluations.

Although some competitors have spent thousands of dollars getting themselves and their equipment to Olds, there is “not one red cent” in prize money given out at the WPC. Instead, winners will receive the Golden Plow trophy.

Olds is the first location to host the WPC twice, having also been the site for the 1986 event.

This year’s event corresponds with Olds College’s centennial.

Daily admission tickets are available for $10/person or $5 for seniors and youth. Contact Rachel at 403-507-7718, email rmaudclarke@oldscollege.ca or visit Olds College for tickets.

The competition starts at 10 a.m. each day.

For more information, visit www.worldplowing2013.com.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andre Penner
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 needs better promotion: experts

National Advisory Committee on Immunization makes recommendations

A man receives his COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Olympic Stadium marking the beginning of mass vaccination in the Province of Quebec based on age in Montreal, on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Most Canadians confident federal vaccine rollout is back on track: poll

Fifty-six per cent of respondents confident in vaccine supply

Air Transat and Air Canada aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
International air travel a fraction of pre-pandemic times

International air travel during pandemic less than a 10th of what it was before COVID-19

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Economic activity has slowly and steadily grown since last spring

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
From record player to CD

When I first began dating my husband, he drove a little old… Continue reading

Opinion
Ottawa banks on Big Pharma making Canada pandemic-proof

Liberal fireball François-Philippe Champagne may be brand new to his portfolio as… Continue reading

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones
Health: Keep blood pressure under control

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the things you think you… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Most Read