<strong>Photos by Michael Penn </strong>| Juneau Empire                                Alea Oien competes in the spike driving contest.

Photos by Michael Penn | Juneau Empire Alea Oien competes in the spike driving contest.

Miners clean up at Gold Rush Days

Oien wins All-Around Resource as top-point getter

The obstacle pole buck requires speed, balance and some know-how with a chainsaw.

Ryan Friend had all three down on Sunday to win the logging competition, in which contestants walk across a propped-up cedar log, slice the tip off with a chainsaw and return to the start as quickly as possible. The Greens Creek miner completed the task in under 17 seconds en route to winning Co-Bull of the Woods honors at the Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park.

Not bad who someone who spends much more time around minerals than lumber.

“A miner beating out the loggers, that’s kind of nice,” Friend said.

Ryan Friend competes in the hand mucking contest during the Mining & Logging Competition at the 29th Annual Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Saturday, June 22, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Ryan Friend competes in the hand mucking contest during the Mining & Logging Competition at the 29th Annual Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Saturday, June 22, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The obstacle pole buck was one of over 30 events packed into the two-day festival. The competitions began on Saturday morning and didn’t end until Sunday evening. The Gold Rush Days have been a mainstay in Juneau since 1990, after being established as a way to inform the public about mining and highlight “past, present and future of mining and logging in Alaska and in the Juneau Gold Belt.”

[Juneau family finds community, competition at Gold Rush Days]

Alea Oien won the All-Around Resource (highest-scoring competitor), Babe of the Woods (highest-scoring logger) and Best Female Miner (highest-scoring miner).

In addition to garnering Co-Bull of the Woods honors, Friend also won co-Best Male Miner. Eddie Petrie was the other Co-Bull of the Woods, and Josh Olson was the Co-Best Male Miner. Juneau Gold Rush Commission Chairman Jerry Harmon said it’s uncommon for there to be ties for either of those awards, let alone both.

“It’s partly what makes it worth coming here,” Oien, 52, said of winning All-Around Resource.

Oien, who has been competing at the Gold Rush Days since the mid-90s when she worked at Echo Bay Mines, credits her success to watching others, and then putting new techniques into practice.

Heath Coro competes in the hand mucking contest as judge Bill Wilcox watches during the Mining & Logging Competition at the 29th Annual Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Saturday.

Heath Coro competes in the hand mucking contest as judge Bill Wilcox watches during the Mining & Logging Competition at the 29th Annual Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Saturday.

“I just keep an eye on what works for everybody, and I incorporate that into what I do, and then I remember it for the whole year and employ it the next year,” Oien said.

Oien won six events total this year: women’s spike driving, women’s hand mucking, women’s choke setter race, women’s obstacle pole buck, women’s horizontal chopping and women’s log rolling. Oien said she’s not one to shy away from competition.

“I just like a challenge, that’s about it,” she said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


More in Sports

This photo shows a high school basketball in the TMHS gym. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
TMHS boys bounce back against Kayhi

Another day, another 2-point game.

TMHS sophomore Kerra Baxter (22) dribbles while surveying the court during a loss to Wasilla. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
TMHS loses two to Wasilla

Similar final scores, but two very different games.

Anna Dale, a senior and the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears Varsity hockey team’s assistant captain, goes above and beyond on and off the ice. Dale talked with the Empire about her love for the game and how hockey will continue to play a role in her future after high school. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire) Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Transcending Treadwell: Anna Dale hopes to play hockey at the next level and inspire others to get on the ice

“She’s somebody who takes some risks, keeps people together and goes to bat for the team.”

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears hockey team played against Houston High School’s Hawks Friday evening at Houston’s home, one of three weekend of away games for the team. (Courtesy / Judy Campbell)
Crimson Bears hockey takes home mixed results from away games

The team preps for upcoming weekend home tournament and #LivelikeMatthewC game

Kayhi’s Lindsay Byron (21) tries to block Juneau’s Skylar Tuckwood (13) as she attempts a layup Friday at Ketchikan High School. Juneau won 40 to 33. Photo by Christopher Mullen Ketchikan Daily News
JDHS girls net big conference wins in Ketchikan

Crimson Bears girls find two wins against Lady Kings.

Courtesy Photo / Robert Casperson 
JDHS junior Sean Oliver and senior Orion Dybdahl pose for a photo on Saturday after earning all-tournament honors at the O’Brady Invitational tournament in South Anchorage.
JDHS boys basketball takes 3rd place in O’Brady Invitational tournament

Crimson Bears beat Bartlett and and South Anchorage but fall to West Valley.

Sophomore Addison Wilson races toward the basket late in TMHS' comeback win. Wilson was one of four players on her team to score 9 points. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Thunder Mountain girls storm back for a Saturday night win

They play again at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

JDHS senior Orion Dybdahl takes the ball down court while being closely guarded by two defenders on Wednesday night’s game. Dybdahl led the Crimson Bears in scoring with 19 points. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
JDHS loses close game against Colony

Wednesday night’s game was Suicide Prevention Awareness.

Most Read