There were double celebrations for one wood-chopping family after this weekend’s STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® British Championship when siblings Glen and Zoe Penlington both took home a TIMBERSPORTS® title!
The first ever British Women’s STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Championship took place on Friday 17 June with a field of 8 women taking to the stage to battle it out for the top spot. The women’s competition involves three out of the six TIMBERSPORTS® disciplines – the Stock Saw, the Single Buck and the Underhand Chop. Points are accumulated for the fastest times with the person with the most points after all disciplines being crowned the ultimate winner.
Zoe made a strong start in the Stock Saw discipline, where athletes must cut two discs or ‘cookies’ from a 40cm log, using a standard STIHL MS 661 C-M chainsaw. She recorded a time of 16.28 seconds giving her third place in the first round. Beth Parker from Southport took the early lead with a time of just 13.69 seconds.
Next up was the Single Buck, also known as the ‘misery whip’! This involves a 2-metre-long manual crosscut saw that is used to cut a single cookie from a 40cm log and Zoe scored another 5 points in this discipline giving her a total of 11 points. At this stage of the competition, three athletes were tied for first place, with Justine Narusa and Beth Parker also on 11 points, meaning it was all still to play for going into the final discipline.
In the Underhand Chop, athletes stand on a 27cm log and chop through it between their feet, using a specially designed racing axe. The axes are incredibly sharp, and this requires full-body strength and stamina, as well as accuracy when swinging the axe. This is Zoe’s favourite event and it certainly showed on Friday when she secured first place in the discipline with a time of 1:12.25 taking all the points and bringing home the overall title.
Zoe was ecstatic to have won the first ever British Women’s Championship and thanked her family: “I really couldn’t have done it without my family behind me. My dad and brother have been training me and my mum has been helping me keep it together when I’ve been nervous. I can’t wait till next year now.”
Justine Narusa took second place, whilst Sarah Cox rounded out the podium in third place.
On Saturday 18 June it was time for the British Pro STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Championship and the pressure was on Zoe’s brother Glen to make it a Penlington double on the podium! After coming third in the 2019 British Championship and second in the 2021 British Championship, Glen was focussed on getting to the top spot this year and had certainly put in the training for it.
He had a strong start with a time of 34.47 seconds in the Underhand Chop but didn’t quite get the result he was aiming for in the Stock Saw, coming fourth in that discipline. The Standing Block Chop came next and at the halfway point, he was trailing John Lewis by 5 points. But a blistering time of 17.13 seconds in the Single Buck gave Glen 16 points and put him back in contention, just one point behind John.
The fifth discipline is the Springboard, where athletes use two boards to ‘climb’ a vertical tree trunk, then chop through a 27cm log mounted at the top. Glen holds the national record in this event so was feeling confident and he didn’t disappoint taking the maximum points again and putting himself firmly in the lead with only one discipline to go; the Hot Saw!
With a 15-point lead over John, Glen only had to score three points in the Hot Saw to secure the Championship, but this discipline had been his Achilles’ heel in previous events, getting a disqualification in both 2018 and 2019 for cutting outside the 15cm area that is marked on the log.
But this time, Glen held his nerve to finish the heat in a time of 10.17 seconds, getting 15 points and securing the overall British Pro Championship in style. He was joined on the podium by John Lewis, who had to be content with third place, and Graham Turner, who secured second place after coming 11th in the 2021 Championship!
“It’s been a long time coming”, Glen said after the competition. “I’m absolutely over the moon to have won. The pressure was on me after Zoe’s win yesterday, but I’ve done it! And I can’t wait for the World Championships in October now.”
Glen will have to wait to see if his times will qualify him for the Individual World Championship – only 7 Europeans get the chance to compete, depending on their times in their national championships. But he was pleased with his performance overall. In 2022, the Team World Championship also returns for the first time since 2019 so the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® GB trainers will now sit down to select Team GB and get started on preparations for that competition in Gothenburg, Sweden later in the year.
The British Rookie Champion also earns himself a ticket to Sweden to support the national team, and this was decided at the British Rookie Championship which took place on Sunday 19 June. Six of the best athletes under 25 went head-to-head with Jack Morris producing a dominant display. He achieved the fastest times in three out of the four disciplines in the competition to be named the Rookie Champion. Just like Glen and Zoe, Jack trains with the Welsh Axemen and is also from Knighton in Wales, so it is certainly the town to beat when it comes to TIMBERSPORTS® in 2022! Joe Gries and Luke Bray took second and third place respectively.
You can relive all of the competitions from the weekend by watching the full live streams here:
Or get the highlights from the Pro and Women’s Championship on the STIHL GB YouTube channel. Did you catch any of the live streams over the weekend? Who impressed you most in the original extreme sport?