Timbersports: The Most Exciting Sport You’ve Never Heard Of

Behind the scenes of the ultimate spectacle of athleticism, strength, power and precision.

Jason Wynyard of New Zealand competes in the Stock Saw discipline.
Jason Wynyard of New Zealand competes in the Stock Saw discipline.

There are people out there that would have you believe things like snowboards, BMXing and bodyboarding constitute extreme sports – but they’ve clearly never heard of Stihl TIMBERSPORTS®.

An extreme sports competition series unlike any other, its roots lie in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, where workers in the timber industry would hold competitions to determine who was the fastest in a range of wood chopping and sawing disciplines that closely simulated their everyday work.

These events required tremendous athleticism, strength, power and precision and soon evolved into a series of sports disciplines that rank among the most intense on the planet. Today the world’s best athletes compete in a series national and international events featuring three axe disciplines and three sawing disciplines, each time facing off against each other and the clock.

Springboard, Underhand Chop and Standing Block Chop are the classic axe disciplines; Single Buck (single-man cross-cut saw), Stock Saw (standard chainsaw) and Hot Saw (tuned, customized chainsaw with up to 80 horsepower) are the sawing disciplines.

Brad De Losa in the Hot Saw discipline.
Brad De Losa in the Hot Saw discipline.

It’s big, loud and a lot of fun and, what’s more, it’s coming to the UK. On 19-20 October, the Echo Arena in Liverpool will be hosting the Stihl TIMBERSPORTS® World Championship.

There’s plenty riding on it too, with Team GB looking to make the most of the home advantage, whilst the 2017 individual winner Jason Wynyard and team competition winners New Zealand will also be hoping to retain their titles as athletes from over 20 nations battle it out.

On Friday October 19, the national teams will compete against each other in a knockout system, where the disciplines of Stock Saw, Underhand Chop, Single Buck and Standing Block Chop are completed by four athletes in a relay.

Jason Wynyard in the Single Buck discipline.
Jason Wynyard in the Single Buck discipline.

The on Saturday, October 20, the world’s top twelve athletes will then compete against one another in all six disciplines as part of the individual competition. In each discipline the competitor is awarded points according to their achieved time, with the athlete achieving the highest number of points declared the Individual World Champion.

So what does it all involved? Well, thankfully the good folk behind the event have provided a handy guide to help you understand and enjoy every minute of this sensational sporting spectacle.

Underhand Chop

This discipline simulates cutting up a felled tree. The athletes stand on a horizontally positioned block and must cut through a 32 cm thick trunk with their axe. The block has to be chopped from both sides. Cutting through from one side only leads to disqualification in this discipline. The best European times in the underhand chop are under 20 seconds.

 

Stock Saw

In this discipline all the contestants use the MS 661, a standard STIHL chainsaw. After allowing the saw to warm up it is then placed on the ground. On the “Go” signal it is seized and applied to the wood (diameter 40 cm). Two cookies (discs of wood) of a certain thickness must be sawn from the horizontal tree trunk in one down cut and one up cut. 

Martin Komarek of Czech Republic.
Martin Komarek of Czech Republic.

 

Standing Block Chop

The Standing Block Chop simulates the felling of a tree. The objective is to chop through a 30cm diameter wood block as quickly as possible, from the side. Precise delivery of the axe blows and a powerful swing are decisive for quick success in the Standing Block Chop, Top European times in this discipline are around 20 seconds.

Mitch Hewitt of Canada in the Hot Saw discipline.
Mitch Hewitt of Canada in the Hot Saw discipline.

Single Buck

The competitor makes one cut through 46cm of white pine using a single man cross-cut saw. The competitor may have a helper wedge his cut into the log to prevent the saw teeth from sticking. Time ends when the block is clearly severed. The primary challenges of this event are technique, brute strength and stamina. 

 

Springboard

In this discipline, two springboards are slotted one below the other into a vertical tree trunk. The aim is to cut through a block of wood on top of the trunk (diameter 27 cm) at a height of about 2.80 m above the ground. Springboard is also described as the “supreme discipline” because as well as precise technique and strength, it also requires balance and skill from the athlete.

The Stihl Timbersports World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway.

Hot Saw

This discipline uses specially tuned, extremely powerful chainsaws. The aim is to cut three cookies of a specified thickness from a horizontally positioned trunk (diameter 46 cm) as quickly as possible. The particular appeal of this discipline is controlling the concentrated power of the chainsaw (up to 62 hp). With a chain speed of 240 km/h and a weight of approx. 27 kg, these machines demand maximum performance from the athletes.

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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.