Daily photos by Jonathan Palmer|
Carson Bosworth makes his final chop in the springboard event at the Stihl Timbersports Series at Point Mallard Park on Saturday.
Timbersports competitors hack the heat
By Tiffeny Hurtado
Local people kicked off their Fourth of July on Saturday at the Stihl Timbersports Series held at Point Mallard Park, where the world’s best choppers and sawyers fought for a trip to the finals.
Scorching heat couldn’t keep the crowd away as many huddled under umbrellas and hats, watching sawdust and wood chips fly in the final qualifying round before the championship in Stillwater, Minn., on July 19-22.
Fans responded with awe as competitors hacked through logs with razor-sharp axes or made precise cuts with high-powered saws.
You could often hear fans count the ax men’s swings and cheer them on if they ever looked tired.
ESPN and ESPN2 crews were filming all day, and that gave watchers even more incentive to yell and whoop when their favorite chopper came on stage or finished a clean cut.
The first pool of eight choppers and sawyers competed Saturday, and the next pool of eight will compete Sunday to determine who will continue in the series.
Timbersports is in town for the second year, and organizers said they were pleased with the turnout and competition.
“The fans are so great, we had to come back,” said Roger Phelps, Timbersports tournament director.
“They came out to see us even in this heat.”
Beating the heat
Many fans looked as if they had picked up some lessons from last year’s competition on how to beat the heat: put on sun block, wear a big hat and stay cool with a bottle of water.
“It’s much cooler this year than last time,” said Jenny Atkinson, a boom runner who will be heading to the finals. Boom running involves running across logs that are spinning and bobbing in water.
“Last year, I talked to some fans who said that it wasn’t even as hot as it could get down here,” Atkinson said.
Fans fill seats
Phelps estimated that about 2,000 people came out to see the competition.
Elizabeth Holschler runs the boom during a qualifying heat.
“We added seating for 500 more fans, but there was still some standing and watching,” he said.
The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau set up a tent that sprayed fans with a fine mist of cool water, and local vendors served homemade lemonade, fountain drinks and other snacks.
“I think the mist tent is an improvement on our sprinkler tent that we rigged up last year,” Phelps said jokingly.
As the temperature and humidity soared last summer, the Stihl crew purchased a lawn sprinkler and attached it to the inside of a tent to cool off spectators.
Stihl is the world’s largest-selling brand of chain saws, and the company supplies the hot saws and axes used in the series.
“Things have been going better than we ever expected,” said Todd McKeating, event-marketing specialist for Stihl.
“Everyone, the crowd and the people who have helped us this week, have all been amazing.”
Crowd gets prizes
If being on television wasn’t enough fun, Stihl and its sponsors — Cabela’s, Carhartt and Dodge — gave prizes to the more-than-eager crowd.
Dodge had vehicles on display along with its tent, and Cabela’s and Carhartt had show trailers so spectators could pop in to cool off and check out merchandise.
If you would like to see more Stihl Timbersports action, come out to Point Mallard on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The world’s best speed climbers and boom runners will join the next pool of choppers and sawyers. Admission is free.
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