CORVALLIS, OR - Billed as the original extreme sport, the Stihl Timbersports Series attracts the world's top lumberjack athletes in a competition based on historic logging techniques. Recently the competition made its way to Corvallis where collegiate and professional lumberjacks competed in the Western Qualifier.
"This is the 27th year of the Stihl Timbersports Series," said producer and event marketing specialist Brad Sorgen. "We saw it as a pretty good opportunity to take folks who work in our business, get a practical application and put a nice little competition together, using traditional forestry skills."
Those skills include the springboard chop, the stock saw, the standing block chop, single buck, underhand chop and the hot saw.
"Every event that you see here there's a lot of danger," said Glide lumberjack Mike Forrester. "There's a lot of stories of people with cuts, missing toes and chains hitting them."
The top four pros advanced to the U.S. Championship while the collegiate winner earned a $1,000 scholarship and moved on to the college championship.
The professionals who compete in the Stihl Timbersports Series aren't just lumberjacks. They hold regular jobs as well and they're incredibly athletic.
Jeff Skirvin, from Clatskanie, is a high school art and forestry teacher.
"It's a lot of practice," said Skirvin. "You'd be amazed at how much technique is involved. It's the same thing as a batter, right. If a batter doesn't have good explosive hips and fast hand speed, he doesn't hit the ball very far. Same with his ax."
Forrester, yes that's his real name, is a contractor from Glide who played football at Oregon Tech.
"It takes a lot more than a person thinks to actually do this, a lot more technique, a lot of money involved in it and just the perseverance to actually put your time in it," said Forrester. "It's just not something you're going to accomplish. Most choppers don't get to that elite level for eight to 10 years."
Jeff and Mike are at that elite level. Both qualified for the U.S. Championship. Forrester finished second with 35 points while Skirvin placed third with 29 points. David Moses from Snoqualmie, WA was the professional winner with 44 points.
The collegiate competition will air on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, April 15 at 1pm PDT. The professional competition will air Sunday, April 22 at 1pm PDT on the Outdoor Channel.