The Squamish Days Loggers Sports tradition continues this year with more fun and excitement to be shared by both competitors and spectators. Loggers sports competitions are true sporting events with competitors requiring strength, skill and stamina. The participants, like any athletes, must train and work diligently to reach the level of skill required to win any of the events.
Each participant competes in one of three classes: novice, intermediate or open. Two victories move a competitor in novice or intermediate up to the next class.
Bull’s eye is the name of the game for the Axe Throwing event where contestants throw a double-bladed axe at a 36-inch target sitting five feet off the ground. Each contestant stands 20 feet from the targe and gets four throws; one for practice, and three to total their score. A bull’s eye is worth five points with the remaining rings decreasing in value to a single point. Any part of the axe stuck in the target counts, as long as it sticks.
A definite crowd favourite, birling (also known as log rolling) is the event everyone knows about without ever having gone to a loggers sports show. Both men and women compete in this exciting competition where two people battle it out while keeping their balance rolling on a 15-inch diameter log in a pond of water. The winner of a match is the person who manages to force the other competitor off balance causing him or her to fall into the water. With a two-minute time limit for each match, the winner is determined by whoever wins two out of three matches. The match starts with birling on a 15-inch log and if no one wins after two minutes then a 13-inch log is used. If the match continues with no winner, once again the log is replaced with an even smaller 12-inch log.
Teams of three competitors take turns chopping through a massive block of cottonwood (22 – 26 inches). Not only must they be fast, but they also have to be accurate – each competitor must take a minimum of eight swings but no more than 12 to get through the log in the shortest time possible. Squamish Days has challenged the competitors even further on occasion, by holding a two-man butcher block, with competitors taking turns chopping through an 18 – 20 inch block of cottonwood.
In a head to head battle, two contestants race across logs secured in the birling pond carrying a 34-kilogram, eight-metre-long standard rigging choker; and this is just the start. Once clear of the frigid waters they must jump across two log obstacles and set the choker to a dummy pole, and then they are required to dash back to where they started to end the race in the midst of laughter and cheers from the audience.
The aim is the same for all classes of hand bucking, with entrants cutting through the log as fast as possible using a crosscut saw. There are single hand bucking, double bucking and the Jill and Jill competitions, plus we’ve added a special Peg & Raker demonstration for 2014 to showcase the evolution of hand bucking. Also, crucial to the athletes, is a coach/oiler/wedge handler who helps the speed by squirting lubricant on to the saw and pressing a wedge into the top of the cut.
Skill and stamina are what it takes to win this event which originated in Squamish. Contestants must run along an eight-inch diameter alder pole fixed at an angle. Once at the end of the pole, they must start their saws and cut off the end of the alder log, then run back to where they started. This is a timed event and takes about 12 to 14 seconds to complete. Penalties are incurred if the log is not cut at exactly the right point. This only came into being once chainsaws began to be used.
To watch some sawdust really fly, be sure to check out the speed bucking event. High performance saws, also known as “hot saws” are used for this loud event. Saws of 140 cc or less are used by Open class contestants who must cut a large block with two cuts, one from above and one from below. The Douglas fir, 20 to 22 inches in diameter, is mounted horizontally ready for cutting. The saws must have single-cylinder engines and be started manually. Modifications are allowed to be made to the “hot saws” but must follow certain regulations. Novice contestants take part in this extremely exciting event as well, but have a 15-inch diameter log and must use a regular saw of 100 cc or less. Three cuts are made – one down, one up and one down again.
Competitors cut two staggered springboard notches in one side of a tree. Once the boards have been set into the board holes – or notches – the entrants climb to the top board and chop halfway through the tree. Once completed, they return to the ground only to start up the other side of the tree to complete the cut. Intermediate and Novice competitors are only required to use two boards, going up one side of the tree.
In the Standing Block Chop the block is vertical in a stand. Competitors will chop halfway through the front of the block, then turn and finish chopping through from the back side.
The Team Relay is a fun event held at the conclusion of both the Loggers Sports Shows. Two teams Of 6 (5 men and 1 woman) compete head to head in a variety of events that could include: tree climb, underhand chop, axe throw, obstacle pole, springboard chop and of course an event that ensures the competitors get wet! Each year the judges create a new and exciting relay course so make sure you stay for the action.
Considered one of the most strenuous and physically demanding of the events, tree climbers must ascend an 80-foot tree which tapers off at the top, and fly back down again before their competitor. Because of the size difference in the pole from bottom to top, adjustments to the climber’s rope are made throughout the two-way climb. A lightning-fast twenty seconds or less is all it takes for top competitors to finish this exciting event.
Open climbers ascend all the way to 80 feet and back down; however, the competition is made a little easier for intermediate and novice classes to encourage as much participation as possible. Intermediates climb to the 60-foot mark and back down. Novice climbers also go to the 60-foot mark, but the trip back down is not timed.
The powersaw tree falling event is unique to the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Show. Competitors must draw for a position in this event with only 20 trees available. On go competitors race to the base of their tree to start their saws and begin their cut. Both speed and accuracy are important in this event since competitors must not only down the tree the fastest, but also hit a marked peg.
Tree topping is another dangerous and exciting event at the loggers sports festival. This timed event starts as an 80-foot tree climb and when the competitors reach the top they must adjust their equipment and complete a single buck through a log mounted at the top of the tree. Their time stops when the round of wood hits the ground.
Strength is a must in the Underhand Chop event, though technique usually determines the winner. Footholds are cut on an anchored block where contestants must chop halfway through the block they are standing on and turn around to complete the chop from the other side.