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10 Things: Lumberjack World Championships

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  1. The Lumberjack World Championships has been held at the Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward, Wisconsin every year since 1960. Over 100 participants compete in 21 events for $50,000 in prize money. The competition is split up into men (lumberjacks), women (lumberjills), and team events.

  2. In addition to the Lumberjack World Championships, other lumberjacking competitions around the world include ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, The World Logging Championship, The Stihl Timbersports Series, and various interscholastic competitions, including the Southern Forestry Conclave and the European Championship in Forestry Skills.

  3. In the block chop event, competitors use a five-pound axe to chop all the way through a standing aspen log 12 inches (300 mm) in diameter and 28 inches (710 mm) tall as fast as they can. The current world record is a blistering 15.94 seconds, set by New Zealand’s Jason Wynyard in 2006.

  4. In the hot saw, competitors use a customized chain saw with a modified engine, usually taken from a personal watercraft or snowmobile. When the judge yells start, competitors make three horizontal cuts in a 20-inch (510mm) diameter white pine log. All three cuts must be made in a six-inch span, and must go cleanly through the entire log. Matt Bush of the United States set the world record in the event at 5.085 seconds in 2003.

  5. There are various speed climbing events at the World Championships, in which competitors race up and down 60-foot (18m) or 90-foot (27m) tall cedar poles. Contestants wear specialized climbing cleats and hold on to a special harness that loops around the other side of the pole to hoist themselves up step-by-step. Brian Bartow holds both the 60-foot and 90-foot pole climb records at 12.33 seconds and 19.87 seconds respectively.

  6. The boom run is a race between two opponents running simultaneously across two parallel chains of floating logs tied end to end from one dock to another. The logs tip and slope perilously depending on which side the contestant’s weight is, leaving many competitors in the water.

  7. Logrolling—or ‘birling’—is an event in which two contestants stand on either ends of a floating log in a body of water and compete to see who can stay on longest. They wear special spiked ‘birling’ shoes, allowing them to grip the log better. The aim is to spin the log rapidly by running quickly in place, forcing the other contestant to keep up or fall off. Competitors also often dig a heel into the log to stop the rotation quickly, and try to make their opponent fall off. The cardinal rule of logrolling is to never take your eyes off your opponent’s feet.

  8. Jack and Jill is a team event composed of one male and one female competitor per team. Using a two-person bucksaw, the teams must cut through an entire 20-inch (510mm) diameter white pine log, alternating pulling and pushing cuts from each side. The world record time for the Jack and Jill is 6.17 seconds, set in 2005 by Jason and Karmyn Wynyard.

  9. The team relay consists of teams racing through a selection of lumberjack sports including a 60-foot climb, a hot saw, a block chop, and more. In one format, the team to complete all of the events the fastest wins. In an alternative format, teams earn points for finishing in the top three in each event, and the team with the most points walks away victorious.

  10. At the end of the competition, the Tony Wise All-Around Champion–named for the founder of the original Lumberjack World Championships–is awarded to the lumberjack who scores the most points across all the events. Wynyard is the current champion with a total of 11 Tony Wise awards to his name.

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