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SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2007

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Daily file photo by Emily Saunders
Jenny Atkinson during the boom run competition at Point Mallard in 2006. Stihl TimberSports will return to Point Mallard this year on June 30.

Top lumberjacks to compete in TimberSports in Decatur

By Tiffeny Hurtado · 340-244

Decatur just couldn’t get enough of the sawdust or the sawyers last year so Stihl TimberSports Series plans to let the wood chips fly here again when the city hosts the final qualifying round before the battle for the championship in Stillwater, Minn.

The top 16 lumberjacks who survived the semi-finals in Dubuque, Iowa, will be joined by nine of the country’s best female boomrunners and nine world-class pole climbers to compete in the River City on June 30th and July 1.

Crews for the competition will arrive Monday to begin the weeklong set up of the competition that covers six disciplines of the trade.

ESPN and ESPN2 will be filming the event, and the competition will be broadcast later in the year.

Last year’s Timber Sports broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2 netted 250,000 viewers.

Strong turnout

More people than expected came out to Point Mallard last year to catch the debut, and it was such a fan-favorite, the Decatur-Morgan County Convention andVisitors Bureau brought Stihl Timber Sports Series back.

More seating will be available this year to accommodate about 1,500 spectators, said Tiffany Brightwell of the bureau.

Over 350 hotel room-nights have been booked so far for the Sthil crew, athletes and representatives and also the ESPN and ESPN 2 crews.

Roger Phelps, promotional communications manager for Stihl Inc., said that the decision to come back to Decatur was easy.

“You know, when we find a city we really like, it is always better the second time around,” he said. “Plus, we had to get some Gibson’s barbecue and white sauce,” he joked.

Phelps also said the competitors are anxious to return.

“The athletes really enjoyed the down-home Southern hospitality offered by everyone who attended,” he said.

Phelps’ 110-man crew will slave away in the hot sun next week, setting up the 60-foot speed climbing poles, the stage and the boom-running tank for the competition.

The top 16 sawyers will be competing for their place in the finals in Stillwater, and the grand prize winner will win a new Dodge RAM pickup and a prize purse valued at more than $300,000.

Phelps says that the crowd can not only expect a great competition, but also great giveaways and demonstrations from Stihl’s sponsors.

Dodge is the official truck of the Stihl Timber Sports Series, and some of their latest vehicles
will be showcased at the competition.

Cabela’s, the official outfitter of the Series, will have their “Cabela-tron” jumbo screen set up and will also give away prizes.

Carhartt is the official work wear sponsor, and will have a show trailer with displays and prizes.

“When we decide to come back somewhere, it’s because we enjoyed ourselves, and we’re interested in showing the rest of the country and world the best face of Decatur,” Phelps said.

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