These days former world champion woodchopper Alma Wallace keeps her axe sharp just for events close to home.
But don't be fooled. Like all champion athletes, she gets that look in her eye whenever she grabs an axe, despite having "retired" from top-tier competition three years ago.
The 52-year-old from Ōtaki was in the thick of the action again at the annual Levin AP&I Show at the weekend, showing the skills and determination that had made her a legend in the sport.
Although Wallace had scaled back her career, she remained incredibly fit and still looks forward to competing at shows like the Rural Games in Palmerston North, and the Levin AP&I Show.
"It doesn't matter how big the show is, you get on that saw and you still get nervous. But that's why you do it. You have a passion for something and it excites you," she said.
Woodchopping had always been a family affair. She hailed from the Barrett family in Taumarunui - her late grandfather Mick, her late father Trevor, and many cousins and brothers had represented New Zealand.
Now, her sons Perry and Welby were avid woodchoppers keeping the tradition alive. They were in action at the weekend. Perry had represented New Zealand at age grade level, a mark Welby was aspiring to reach, too.
In 1983, when Wallace was 13 years old, she lost her mother Diane Winiata-Barrett, at the age of 35. They still hold annual memorial woodchopping events at the Hia Kaitapeka Marae - memorial events in the name of her father, mother and grandfather.
Her mum used to compete in woodchopping, as did her Aunt Ann, but they were pioneers and rare exceptions in a male-dominated domain.
"It's acceptable today. But it wasn't back then," she said.
Women were still not taken seriously in the sport when Wallace, in her late teens, decided to take up an axe at competition, inspired by her late mother. She entered a show in the King Country - and won a memorial in her mother's name.
"And that was just pick up an axe and go as hard as you can, as hillbilly as it sounds," she said.
But Wallace didn't pick up an axe again until she was 30, when it was announced they would be selecting a NZ womens team for the first time.
Wallace, along with the likes of Sheree Taylor, had blazed a trail for women in the sport ever since. There are regular women's competitions, and it is now common for women to compete against men.
She first represented the New Zealand "Axeferns" womens team 18 years ago. She won the Australasian title in 2007, and the World underhand title in Wisconsin, US, in 2012.
At 70kg, Wallace had always bucked the stereotypical mould you would expect to see in a sport that rewards size. But she was incredibly strong.
"It's not about brawn. Dad taught me from a young age that it is all about technique," she said.
Her father identified early on that with good technique, the quickest way to the centre of a log was by cutting down the angle through marking a small scarf. But it demanded accuracy.
"He was a mathematical man," she said.
Wallace still chops off a 51-second handicap in the women's division, often giving her competitors a huge head start.
"My mark won't come down. The only way that will happen is if I keep losing, but I'm too competitive for that to happen," she said.
She had always specialised in chopping, but would jump on the saw, too, if a team was short.
The Levin show was also a chance for Wallace to go up against current New Zealand champion Kylea Heaton from Hamilton, who was also competing at the weekend.
Heaton said she only took up the sport five years ago - after watching Wallace in action one day.
"I thought to myself, 'I would love to be able to chop like that'," she said.
"I wanted to be like her. She was real supportive and helped me a lot. Three years ago I got serious and thought, 'if I train, I can do this'."
It was surreal for Heaton then to beat Wallace overall in the 2021 Stihl Series winning the chainsaw and single saw events, although Wallace managed to hold onto the underhand saw title.
"You have to listen to the right people and really think about what you are doing. Everyone thinks it takes a strong person and that if you are strong you are going to be good at this. But strength alone will only get you so far."
Heaton said through sponsorship a little bit of prizemoney went towards the costs of competing, but ultimately the motivation was prestige and a sense of accomplishment.
Meanwhile, the woodchopping at the Levin Show again drew a huge crowd - fortunate as New Zealand went into a Covid-19 red light setting the next day.
The first day of the Levin Show was run by the Ōtaki Axmans and Womens Club and the second day by the Horowhenua Axemen and Women's Club.
Competition came down to the wire on Sunday in a cut off for first and second as Horowhenua Axemens Team and the South Island Team were deadlocked with 12 points.
In a nail biting final, just two blows seperated the top two teams.
1st - Horowhenua
2nd - South Island
3rd = Otaki
3rd = Oroua
5th - Upper Hutt.