‘Teaching a new dog old tricks’

Norman McKenzie competes in the axe-throwing portion of the King Trapper competition. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Brent Mirasty stood out on the first day of the Winter Festival King Trapper competition.

While the more seasoned competitors came out in full buckskin, and even first-time competitor Kato Carriere in a buckskin hat and gloves, Mirasty, a relative newcomer to the competition scene, doesn’t have buckskin yet.

He came out in a pair of track pants, running shoes, a Prince Albert Raiders jacket and a Pittsburgh Penguins ballcap.

But once competitors changed out of their buckskin to get the rest of the competition underway, Mirasty fit right in, finishing near the top of the pack in a handful of events.

“It was awesome,” Mirasy said of the weekend of competition.

“It was a great learning experience. I got a whole bunch of tips from all the pros, and gained a lot of experience for next week in La Ronge.”

Mirasty got into these competitions at the same time as his brother. He got hooked, and has competed in a handful of King Trapper events since.

“I’ve got to work on everything,” Mirasty said.

“These guys are so fast. If you’re down by half a second you’re not in contention. That’s how close the competition is.”

While Mirasty will be working to improve his score in all the events, his first priority for next year is to get some buckskin for these competitions. He doesn’t see himself slowing down soon.

“I’m going to be competing until I’m old, so you’ll probably see me around quite a bit,” he said.”

While Mirasty is relatively new to the King Trapper competition scene, one of his fellow competitors over the weekend is even newer.

Saturday, Kato Carriere competed in the event for the first time ever. His results weren’t the best – he finished in last, but his spirit and positive attitude charmed the audience over the course of the weekend. Carriere comes from a family of competitors. He was happy to continue the tradition.

Kato Carriere works to cut a log during the King Trapper competition. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“The competition was amazing,” he said.

“I came in last place — that’s about where I expected to be. This is my first time competing, and all of these guys have 20,30, sometimes 40 years of experience on me. You know what they say, old dog, new tricks. But they were teaching a new dog old tricks.”

One thing caught Carriere off–guard was the technique needed for some of the events. He learned it isn’t about strength alone.

“Next time I compete I’ll know a little more what to do. I’m a big guy, I’m pretty physically fit, but I got beat in things like log sawing and he sack carry. Things like that, you’ve got to be real technical. The technical side, I’ve yet to master.”

Carriere doesn’t want this to be his last competition. He wants to set an example for other young people who might want to compete.

Seeing young people like Carriere and Mirasty competing is refreshing for some of the seasoned veterans, such as Norman McKenzie, who came in second in the 2018 event.

“It’s nice to see some new competitors coming in and trying out,” he said.

“We’re glad to help, us guys. We’re getting up there now in age.”

McKenzie said the competition is really friendly. Competitors help each other out, and try to encourage the young guys who are just getting into competitions for the first time.

He’s won the Prince Albert event before, but this year, he finished just a few points behind the winner, Richard Charles.

“It feels good,” Charles said following his victory. “I’m a little sore.”

This was Charles’ first time back in the Prince Albert competition in a few years. He had knee surgery about six years ago, and had to take care of that.

Abel Crane competes in the solo crosscut portion of King Trapper. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“It was tense, it was close, I had fun,” he said.

Charles was also keen to help the youngsters learn what it takes to win King Trapper.

“They said they had good experiences. Now they know what to do when they come back next year. We gave them some tips,” McKenzie said.

“The guys like us, like Norman, we’ve been here before and we teach them little pointers. After we’ve done our event, we give them a little fist pump and say ‘good job.’”

Carriere was appreciative of the support from the seasoned competitors. He’d also like to see more young people participate in future competitions.

“As the youngest competitor, I’d like to see more young people compete,” he said.

“A lot of these old timers were happy to see a young man like me competing. They all started when they were about 18, and a lot of their friends started when they were about 18. We need young people like me to compete. I want some serious competition when all these guys retire and they’ve shown me the tricks of the trade. Then, I’ll pass It along to all of my nieces and nephews, and they’ll learn some good things, too.”