By Adrian Flygt, 10/6/2015
Getting Your Start on the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series
For 30 years, the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series (STS) has been assembling the best lumberjacks from all across America. A motley crew convenes annually to chase bragging rights, fast times and a new Ram Truck. With so much on the line, it should come as no surprise that the path to this stage is long and difficult. If you want a chance to prove you are one of the best axemen or sawyers in the US, there are some simple steps to follow.
The easiest way to get started in STS is to be born into a lumberjack family. Names like Lentz, Cogar and Slingerland have been at the top of the leaderboard on the Series since 1985. With a father or brother in the sport, access to coaching, properly tuned gear and travel to other contests is easy. When part of a family is already involved, talking about a practice arena in the yard, or a log pile, is much easier. Unfortunately, this path only applies to a select few.
If your family is not already part of the lumberjack world, the second path involves joining a college team. For more than 75 years, colleges and universities all over the U.S. have hosted lumberjack contests sponsored by forestry clubs. Modern collegiate teams now exist solely to compete in STS. Once you are a member of a team, you earn access to logs, axes and saws, in addition to coaching from more experienced teammates. Programs like Paul Smith’s, Finger Lakes Community College, and the University of Montana have produced numerous top-tier professional lumberjacks.
The last chance to get into STS takes the most time and energy. Start by attending regional contests, meeting professional competitors and acquiring basic gear like stands and a training axe. Then start practicing. A lot. Many professionals post their training videos on YouTube - watch them and try to duplicate it. Consider sharing your own training footage to receive some feedback. After a few hundred logs, consider registering to compete at smaller, local contests to see how you stack up to other professionals.
This is only the start of the journey. STS is invitation only, so after attending a few seasons of regional competitions, keep practicing and get faster. Record your fastest times in the six Series disciplines and submit them in the Spring as directed by the website. Your resume will be ranked against all other lumberjacks in the U.S. who’ve applied. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the call and have a chance to race in a qualifier. If not, keep training and we’ll see you in the stands.
Whether family, college or chasing the dream yourself, getting started in STS takes time. No one path is better, but the family connection is easier. The Series ranks contains doctors, lawyers, foresters, loggers, teachers and many other flavors of hard-working guys. If you practice and make fast cuts, you too could have a chance to chop and saw on the biggest stage in the U.S.