Words: Andreas Rottenschlager 
Photography: Oliver Jiszda  

They came, they sawed, they conquered: blood, sweat and iron socks with world championship lumberjacks

DISCIPLINE:  Standing Block Chop

Stirling Hart

(25, Canada)

“I was 21 when my axe slit my right cheek open during a competition. There was sticky blood everywhere. I had 88 stitches. I didn’t recognise my face after the operation, which was a horrible feeling. But the first time I went to a bar after that cheered me up; everyone wanted to hear the axe story. Especially the women. The scar has been my best friend ever since. And it gives me motivation. In 2014, I won my first national championship title.”


“The scar has been my best friend ever since”
Stirling Hart
Stirling Hart

HOW TO WIN IT: “It’s a numbers game: Four 45-degree strikes from above, then from below. Change sides. Repeat”


Dirk Braun

(44, Germany)

“When the national championships were held in Winterberg in 2003, the organisers were on the lookout for a local hero. So of course they asked me. I was working as a forest manager and was a competitive bodybuilder. I came sixth without any preparation. That spurred me on. My training regime since then has been: 5am, weights; 7am, my forestry job; 5pm, timber sport training. I’ve bought floodlights to light up my garden at night. My wife isn’t so keen on that part.”



“I even saw at night” 
Dirk Braun
Dirk Braun

HOW TO WIN IT: “The weight-power ratio is important: The saw weighs 28kg and runs on a 72hp kart engine. It’s louder than a fighter jet” 

Discipline: Stock Saw  

(44, USA)

“Most people think I’m a full-time lumberjack, but I have a day job as a lawyer. Law is what I studied and I specialise in accidents in the workplace. Litigation and timber sport competitions have a lot in common: you prepare for months in advance to hit the nail on the head on the day. As a lawyer your tools are specialists and paperwork, as a lumberjack an axe and
a saw. But the same rule applies for both: preparation plus sweat equals success.” 


“I stay fit with yoga”
Arden Cogar
Arden Cogar

HOW TO WIN IT: “Every cut takes full body movement. Which is why i’ve devloped yoga exercises for lumberjacks. They keep shoulders and hips flexible”   


MArtin Komárek

(38, Czech Republic) 

“I grew up in a small town. I first saw competitive timber sports on TV when I was a teenager, and thought, ‘Wow! They are real men.’ At 21, I gave up my job as a paramedic and spent a whole year’s wages on sport axes from New Zealand. My parents asked if I’d gone mad. Now I’m the five-time European champion. I think of it like this: chopping tree stumps releases endorphins. Timber sports make you happy.”

“I spent a year’s wages on axes” 
Martin Komárek
Martin Komárek

How to win it: “Keep your balance. The force of your strikes comes from your legs, abs and shoulders”   

Discipline: Single Buck 

Jason Wynyard

(41, New Zealand)

“I grew up in the Kaingaroa Forest, the largest plantation in the southern hemisphere. It’s 2,900km2 of Monterey pine; I sort of had to chop my way out of there. I’m a six-time world champion and the current champ. The bad news is that with every competition comes the potential for mistakes. Timber sport is a constant search for perfection.”


“Timber sport is about perfection” 
Jason Wynyard
Jason Wynyard

How to win it: “Your saw takes a lot of sharpening. That’s hard work, but it takes more wood out of the log with each cut” 

Discipline: Underhand Chop 

Brad DeLosa

(37, Australia)

“Australians are good at axe sports because we’ve had competitions for more than 100 years. I entered my first one when I was 16, and in 2013 I was crowned world champion. I’ve learnt
an aggressive chopping technique. The crowd love it. The fact that timber sports are becoming increasingly popular is down to the increase in sedentary jobs. People like to watch big guys hacking through blocks of wood.”

“I use an App to practice” 
Brad DeLosa
Brad DeLosa

HOW TO WIN IT: “Well-placed swings of your axe. You can practice them in the same way you would your golf swing. There’s an iPhone video app called “Coach’s Eye” and it’s brilliant” HOW TO KEEP YOUR FEET IN ONE PIECE: “We wear iron socks under our shoes, in case the strike of the axe goes astray” 

Read more
02 2015 The Red Bulletin

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