About The Sport

Woodchopping

Woodchoping is a sport that has been around for hundreds of years in several cultures. It is thought that the sport of woodchopping originated as the result of a bet between two men in a bar in Tasmania back in 1870, to see who could fell a tree the fastest.

The aim of the sport of woodchopping is to be the first competitor to cut or saw through a log or other block of wood. Woodchopping competitions have grown in popularity around the world and are practiced in regions where forestry is or has been an important part of the economy. Competitions are now held in USA, Canada, many European countries, New Zealand and Australia.

The most prestigious competition to compete in is the Sydney Royal Easter Show, often referred to as the 'Wimbledon' of woodchopping. Woodchopping at the show is more than 100 years old. Axemen travel from far and wide to compete in Sydney against the world's best, where five world championship titles are up for grabs each year. These are for the 15 inch (375mm) Standing Block, 15 inch (375mm)Underhand, Single Handed Sawing, Double Handed Sawing and Tree Felling events. The wood for each discipline is Silver top Ash from the South Coast of NSW, which is hard wood that requires the competitors to use alot of stamina and skill.

The main woodchopping disciplines that can be witnessed at many agricultural shows around Australia include;

Underhand - This event is when the axeman stands on the top of the log and uses a downwards motion to chop the log in two as fast as possible. This is done by cutting a scarf in the front side and then turning around on the block and completing it from the other side. These scarfs are generally offset from each other, the degree of offset depending on the size of the log and the axeman’s preference.

Standing Block-  This event is done by an individual cutting a scarf in one side. Once the first side has been completed the individual starts cutting another scarf on the opposite side, slightly higher than the first, generally about two inches higher but can vary with each axeman’s individual preference.

Single Handed Sawing - This event is often considered the hardest discipline in wood chopping. The competitor pulls and pushes a razor sharp saw specifically designed for the event. The saws vary in length from five foot six inches to six foot four inches

Double Handed Sawing - This event consists of two people pulling and pushing a saw to cut a log. It is far faster than the single saw event as there are two people using the saw yet times for this event can be 2 or 3 times faster in the same size wood. The saws used in double tend to be a lot hungrier, that is, they cut and draw more wood out with each stroke. This, however, makes it far harder to push and pull the saw.

Tree Felling - In this event the axeman cuts a small pocket in the side of a pole and jams a wooden jigger board with a metal shoe on the end of it into the hole. The shoe is designed to grip into the wood when pressure is put on it from the top. After the axeman has climbed on to his first board he then cuts another pocket. Once up on his second board he proceeds to cut the block on the top of the pole. This event goes up to three boards high. The axeman goes up one side of the pole and cuts their first scarf in the side of the block. Then the axeman comes down and repeats this on the other side of pole. This event is seen as the marathon event of wood chopping and it typically lasts three to five minutes.

  

Timbersports

The Stihl Timbersports series, billed as the Original Extreme Sport, attracts the worlds top lumberjack athletes in a competition based on historic logging techniques. The series is seen by more than 20 million viewers annually in more than 62 countries on networks such as Eurosport and ESPN, where it is one of the longest running shows.

Athletes compete in a variety of disciplines based on traditional logging skills to determine the best all round lumberjack. Disciplines include; hotsaw, single buck, springboard chop, standing block chop, stock saw and underhand chop.

The highest ranked competitor from each country is rewarded with the opportunity to compete for their country in the World Championships which is held annually and hosted by various European Countries.

Hotsaw - In this discipline, the competitor uses a customised chain saw with a modified 250 or 300cc engine, usually taken from a personal motorcycle or snowmobile producing around 60 to 70 horsepower. At the signal, the competitor starts the saw and makes three cuts. With only six inches of wood to work with, precision is key. If the competitor saws outside of the designated six inches or fails to saw a complete "cookie" (term used to describe the circular piece of sawed-off wood), he will be disqualified.

Often described by competitors as both a favorite and the most difficult discipline, the primary challenge with the hot saw is the reliability of the custom saw. U.S. competitor Matt Bush set the record in the hot saw at 5.085 seconds in 2003.

Underhand Chop - The competitor stands with feet apart on a 13 inch (325mm) white pine log. At the signal, he begins to chop through the log with his racing ax. 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. The challenge in this event is precision, as well as the location of the cuts.

A competitor uses a variety of cutting patterns and varies the number of cuts based on skill level and wood conditions. This can be one of the more dangerous disciplines because a competitor is swinging a razor-sharp racing axe at approximately 70 mph between his feet. Jason Wynyard set the record in the underhand chop discipline at 12.11 seconds in 2003.

Single Buck - The competitor makes one cut through 19 inches 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. The single buck is referred to as the "misery whip" because of the physical toll a body endures while using it.

A key strategy is to keep the saw as level as possible so that it creates an even cut and the teeth don't catch in the wood. Jason Wynyard set the world record for the single buck at 9.39 seconds in 2007.

Standing Block Chop - Mimicking the felling of a tree, the competitor races to chop through 12 inches (300mm) of vertical white pine. The competitor must chop from both sides of the log. The time ends when the block is severed. Precision is the key to success in this event. Stamina is the primary challenge because this is one of the most physically exhausting events.

David Bolstad set the world record for the standing block chop at 12.28 seconds in 1999.

Stock Saw - The stock saw discipline is a true test of operator ability. The competitor uses a MS 660 STIHL Magnum" chain saw and begins with both hands on the log and the chain saw idling on the deck.

At the gun, the sawyer makes two cuts through 16 inches (400mm) of white pine. With only four inches of wood to work with, precision is key. If a competitor saws outside of that or fails to saw a complete cookie, he will be disqualified.

Martin Komarek from the Czech Republic set the record in the stock saw discipline at 9.45 seconds in 2010.

Springboard Chop - A discipline based on the need for old-time loggers to establish a cutting platform above the massive root bases of old growth trees, the competitor uses an axe to chop pockets into a 3 metre poplar pole and then place 6-inch (150mm) wide springboard platforms into the pockets.

Climbing up on the springboards, the competitor chops through a 12-inch(300mm) diameter white pine log at the top of the pole. This discipline is a true challenge of strength and dexterity, because the competitor must power through the chop while balancing 2.5 metres in the air.

The springboard chop record is 32.77 seconds set by New Zealander David Bolstad in 2000.

  

Reference:

www.stihltimbersports.us

www.nswaxemen.asn.au

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

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