Back From Utah

I’m back from Hilo, Utah and the Stihl Timbersports qualifier held between 32 of the best ax men and sawyers in the world – at least the best we could identify from the applicants and their documented past performances in other competitions world wide.

The Stihl Timbersports competition pits highly skilled athletes against each other in what could be argued is the heavyweight class of skills loggers and woodsmen have used for centuries to harvest timber all over the world.

My humble job at Timbersports is as the “trim guy” who handles the only chain saw cutting not involved in competition. After each heat someone has to straighten the end of each piece of competition wood to as close to perfect as possible so the judge can add a fresh chalk line. If I do not do this correctly I receive laser beam stares from people who often weigh in at 250lbs and above and who are more often than not, 6’ 4” or so. I also cut the spring board poles for the metal “swing dogs” that hold the competition wood 9’ off the ground.

Once in a while I help run the Stihl 660 Pro saws through the test wood brought on site to match the four saws we use in competition. Several cuts are made and timed for each saw after they leave the factory dynamometer in Virginia Beach. In this event we were 5,500 feet above sea level. The carburetors had to be adjusted by Stihl field techs on site. This went well in Utah thanks to the Stihl techs.

Some long time Timbersports competitors have retired recently and American ranks are suddenly thin, as the April 28 Colbert Report spoof of Timbersports brought to light. The “down under crowd” is dominating the competition because they have so many good choppers who are serious about training for some races they do not have in Australia and New Zealand such as the “hot saw” event, which is basically a motorcycle engine made into a chain saw.

For the first time, Timbersports was streamed live on the net as we taped it for later use on ESPN.

Next, I am off to Columbus, Georgia for the finals. I hope the fans in Georgia are as enthusiastic as the Utah crowd was. What they lacked in size they made up for in volume when it came to cheering-on competitors.

You can catch some highlights on, http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/timbersports/index

Just click on photos.