Stihl Timbersports, a curious lumberjack competition

Imagine a sports competition in which the participants are not runners, jumpers or gymnasts but lumberjacks, armed with chainsaws and other similar implements. Well, this competition exists and it’s called Stihl Timbersports.

We live in a time when practically every game or sport is worthy of becoming a show. Something that happens with traditional sports, such as football or basketball, but also with other games, such as computer games, as we are seeing with the rise of eSports. But there is still more room to generate a show thanks to the good eyesight of certain businessmen such as those responsible for Stihl, who, in a display of originality, created a competition many years ago… for lumberjacks.

Introducing the Stihl Timbersports Series

For those who do not know this particular competition, we are talking about the Stihl Timbersports Series. A kind of sport in which participants face different tests related to cutting wood equipped with chainsaws, axes and other similar tools, in order to make the best cuts in the shortest possible time.

The operation of the competition is quite simple. In each edition of these particular games, the participants must carry out different cutting tasks on logs of varying sizes, using the brand’s tools for this. Among the specific tests of these games we have the cutting of trunk sections using a large hand saw, the cutting of wooden trunks with an ax or chainsaw, the climbing test, in which the participant must climb a tree creating the holes in which to place the slats or the fast cut test, in which users use the best chainsaw of the brand to obtain the shortest time possible when cutting logs and turning them into firewood, literally.

All these tests are either individual or in direct competition, each of the participants obtaining a series of points depending on the position in which they remain in each test. Obviously, the winner is the contestant who has obtained the best total score after adding the points of each of these tests. An honor that in the 2018 world edition went to the Australian Laurence O’Toole, who finally led the American Matthew Cogar by 8 points. An edition in which, in addition, some world records were broken within the different tests that this sport consists of, which demonstrates the current good level of «Wood Sports»

A competition with history

Despite what it may seem, this competition is not something new, but rather has been in dispute for many years. In fact, the first edition of these particular lumberjack games took place in 1985, with the victory of Mike Sullivan. By the way, in all the years that this competition has been in dispute there has never been a winner from a country other than the United States or Australia, reflecting the dominance of these two countries in the competition.

Subsequently, alternative competitions to the main one would emerge, such as the Nations Cup, or regional competitions for Europe, the United Kingdom or Canada, among others. And as a curiosity, in Canada a female version of these games has been played since 2015, to show that they can also cut a lot in this particular sport.

During all these years, the competition has had a growing media coverage. So much so that there are currently more than 20 million viewers that the different competitions are capable of gathering in front of the television, residing in one of the 62 countries in which the event is currently broadcast. A number and media coverage that continues to grow with each new edition, so surely this particular sport will continue to be with us for a long time.

And in Spain, too

As if Stihl did not have enough with the coverage given to this sport worldwide, we also have our own team in Spain. Specifically, we are talking about the Hacha team, which is based in the Soria town of Covaleda. This team has its own training field, where users on foot can find out what it feels like to carry out the tests carried out by professionals in competition. Some competitions in which some of the members of this particular team of lumberjacks have also been part, although for now with somewhat discreet results.

In addition to these high-competition tasks, these cutting professionals also have a curious ability to carry out wood carvings, using various types of chainsaw for them. High-precision work with truly impressive results that we can even see live, within the exhibitions that the members of this team usually carry out.

The Spanish precedent

As a small bonus for this article, you have surely heard of the aizkolaris competitions that take place in the Basque Country. A precedent for these lumberjack games with much more antiquity. In fact, the first documented events have been going on for a couple of centuries. These competitions, along with stone lifting and other rural sports typical of this land, require the use of large beech trees, which the aizkolaris must cut using conventional axes.

So, compared to the «woodcutter games» that we have mentioned, in this case no other help is used than that of a conventional ax and the strength of the muscles of the woodcutters. The ax used during the process has a weight of about 2.4 to 2.8 kilos and a curved edge, to facilitate the exit of the ax during the cut. By the way, the pace used by the aizkolaris during the cut is so considerable that it is common for them to use at least a couple of axes during the process.

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