Elite athletes across the country have spent the month of June competing in the Stihl Timbersports qualifier competitions in hopes of securing a spot in the U.S. Championships in late July. Stihl started the lumberjack competition series in 1985 at U.S. logging competitions and it has since grown into a worldwide sporting event. “The Original Extreme Sport” includes national competitions in 27 countries, all culminating in the Stihl Timbersports World Championships (Individual and Team Relay), which is scheduled for November 3rd this year in Stuttgart, Germany. The sport has grown so popular that it now also includes Collegiate and Rookie Divisions, as well as a Women’s Division. Below is everything you need to know about Timbersports just in time for this summer’s championships on July 30th in Milwaukee, WI!
History of Timbersports: The extreme sport evolved from lumberjack competitions that have their roots in the logging camps of the 1800s. The camps provided convenient bunkhouses and dining halls for the men who cleared North American forests—the lumber men, or the lumberjacks. Life as a lumberjack demanded six days of work each week, from sunup to sundown. Distraction and relaxation were limited but one of the most common forms of entertainment was casual betting. Some records suggest that the first competitions started at camps in the 1890s as friendly bets on feats of strength. By the 1900s, timber sports were an entrenched part of logging culture.
Modern Lumberjack Competitions: Today there are several lumberjack competitions across the U.S. and world. Stihl Timbersports began in 1985 and happened to get picked up by a new network at the time, ESPN. It’s now the network’s longest-running TV production, aside from SportsCenter. Stihl’s version of the wood-cutting competition tests all the skills a professional lumberjack uses. The competition requires a high degree of acumen and experience in woodcutting with tactical knowledge of handling heavy, high-duty equipment for cutting into the wood. The Stihl Timbersports Competition, similar to others, currently has six disciplines:
1. Springboard – The competitor uses two springboards to ascend to the top of a nine-foot pole and chop a firmly attached 12″ diameter block from the top of the pole. The block must be chopped from both sides.
2. STIHL Stock Saw – Competitors begin with both hands on the log. When the signal is given, the sawyers, using identical STIHL professional MS660 chain saws with a 20-inch bar and 33RSC3 chain, make two cuts through identical logs. No more than 4″ of wood, which is marked by a black line, can be cut.
3. Underhand Chop – The competitor stands, feet apart, on a 12″-14″ log. At the signal, he begins chopping through the log. Before chopping all the way through he must turn and complete the cut from the other side. Time ends when the log is severed completely.
4. Single Buck – Competitors make one cut through 18″-20″ of white pine using a single man cross cut saw. The competitor may have a helper to wedge the log and keep the saw lubricated. Time ends when the block is clearly severed.
5. Standing Block Chop – Competitors race to chop through 12″-14″ of white pine. The competitor must chop from both sides of the log and the time ends when the block is severed.
6. Hot Saw – In this event the competitor uses a customized chain saw with a modified engine. At the signal, the competitor starts the estremely difficult to control hot saw and makes three cuts. The competitor must cut no more than 6″ from the log which is marked with a black line.
Divisions and Competition: Three divisions include Men’s Rookie, Men’s Professional, and Women’s Professional. The players from Men’s Professional Division, after competing through the disciplines, qualify for the National Championship. The Men’s Rookie Division and the Women’s Professional Division go through qualifier competitions from where the top four players from every division qualify for the National Championship. Currently, there is not an international event for women. There is no age limit for the professional divisions for both men and women. Competitors as young as 20 and as old 50 compete in the same contests. However, the Rookie’s Division has an age limit of up to 25 years.
2023 Championship: Stihl will hold the Individual and Team World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany on November 3rd and November 4th. Throughout 2023 there are also championship events held in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Sweden outside of the USA tournament leading up to the event. Last year the Australian Chopperoos beat the United States in the championship to win it all and take home the trophy. It’s worth noting, last year was Australia’s fifth title, which is the most in timbersports history. Click HERE to watch the highlights from last year’s event!