COLONIE — The first ax-throwing entrepreneur in the Capital Region is now a champion at his sport.
Mark Mirasol of Rensselaer, co-owner of The Lazy Axe in Colonie, came back from a deficit to win the Big Axe Tournament at the World Axe Throwing League Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 12.
Mirasol and his throwing partner, Gary Dater of Scotia, had high hopes for the Standard Hatchet Dual Tournament (which is Mirasol’s favorite discipline) but they had an off night, while their opponents threw very well.
They did better in Standard Hatchet individually: Mirasol captured 5th place and Dater took 13th out of 128 throwers.
Mirasol was all smiles as he discussed the win Tuesday at his home base on Central Avenue.
“For me it’s almost validating to see my hard work paying off,” he said. And to compete against the giants of the sport, to have his name mentioned in the same context as theirs, is thrilling, he added.
Ax-throwing is not demanding like triathlons or tackle football, but it is athletic. Mirasol credits his years playing tennis with building the wrist, arm and shoulder strength needed to master the sport.
He was not, however, a natural thrower, and he’s had to train relentlessly to build his accuracy: A minimum of a half-hour a day and often two hours a day.
He and his wife, Kristyn Muller Mirasol, were on vacation in the Great Plains in the summer of 2018 with not much by way of diversions when they first tried their hand at it.
“And I was terrible at it,” Mirasol admits. “I have no shame in saying I was terrified of trying it.”
The problem, he says, looking back with an experienced eye, is he would spring back after throwing, worried that the ax would bounce back at him.
He got better, even without an ax-throwing venue in the Capital Region.
In the summer of 2019, the couple opened The Lazy Axe, then the first such venue in the area. (There are now four others.)
Dater was an early patron, an excellent thrower who dominated competitions and inspired Mirasol to begin competing in early 2020.
Muller Mirasol also has become a serious competitor, as well as an organizer with the WATL. The couple won a jack and jill tournament in Pennsylvania shortly before Mirasol headed off to the WATL world championships.
He won four matches in the Big Axe discipline, then lost one and got bumped down a bracket. He fought back to win five matches and squeezed out the victory in a three-match final for the title.
“As you get to the higher levels, it’s focus, it’s concentration, it’s performing under pressure,” Mirasol said.
That’s the competitor talking. The entrepreneur is more about the experience than winning. The name of the business — The Lazy Axe, not something like “Throw To Win” or “Battleaxe Bunker” — reflects the relaxed atmosphere the couple wants to project.
“Our goal is to make it as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to try,” Mirasol said. “There’s a perceived danger to it because it’s a sharp object and in theory you’re not supposed to throw it. For us, we want to make it not intimidating to try out, to enjoy the activity for what it is.
“It’s fun first, safety first. I think the competitive piece was born out of people really enjoying it.”