On May 9, 2015, the New England Basque Club celebrated Txitxiburduntzi at Riki Lasa’s farm in Connecticut. Lovely weather held out for the whole celebration, which included herri kirolak, a delicious supper with a roast pig masterfully prepared by Patxi Gandiaga, as well as music and a raffle for top-class Gipuzkoa cider provided by Shacksbury of Vermont.
The Club was also pleased to host the 52-time world champion in timber sports, Mike Sullivan, as a participant in this year’s aizkolaritza competition. Sullivan enjoyed the Basque take on the sport for its mix of speed and endurance, individual skill and teamwork. These were the elements that first drew the Colebrook, CT native to wood-chopping. After seeing a contest on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and with the guidance of fellow sportsman Jim Colbert, Sullivan began the journey that took him – a former professional baseball player, a pitcher drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Reds – to New Zealand to train.
Now, Sullivan still loves competing in front of an engaged audience. One that appreciates the tactics and chess match nature of the sport, the need to think three cuts ahead, to strategize each chop, to stay meticulous and fast both for one’s own sake and the team’s. This is the delight of participating in the Txitxiburduntzi aizkolaritza, in front of spectators culturally steeped in this art and tradition. The Club thanks Mike and the other aizkolariak for their wonderful show of competition.
Amongst the occasion’s other festivities were txingaruten and harrijasoketa. The txingaruten was won by Mikhal Mrozowski from Poland, who carried the weights for five complete laps.
This year’s Txitxiburduntzi was a great success, allowing guests from as far as away as Iceland a chance to experience a bit of the Basque culture and its traditions.
Eskerrik asko denori!