In the second in our series of articles about the disciplines involved in TIMBERSPORTS®, the original extreme sport, we’re talking about a crowd-pleasing, axe-wielding discipline – the Standing Block Chop!
As with all TIMBERSPORTS® events, speed is the name of the game when it comes to the Standing Block Chop – athletes must chop through a vertically-mounted log using a razor-sharp axe in the fastest possible time to record the maximum number of points.
The log is usually either poplar or pine and has a diameter of 30cm for the individual men’s TIMBERSPORTS® World Championship, with smaller diameter logs used for the rookie championship and women’s competition, as well as when it is part of the World Trophy individual relay.
The axes used are specially-made racing axes, often produced by either Brute Forge, based in Australia, or Tuatahi, who are based in New Zealand. They produce many of the world’s racing axes and ship them to logger sports athletes around the globe. These axes are hand-crafted, cost hundreds of pounds and are so sharp you could shave with them!
This discipline isn’t just about wildly smashing at the log with the axe though – as detailed in the rules and regulations, the first hit with the axe must always be an upward cut. Subsequent hits will follow a pattern, with competitors chopping halfway through the log on one side before running round to the other side to chop through the rest of the log.
You may have noticed that competitors take a spare axe on stage with them too – the pure power used to chop through the log can sometimes prove too much for a wooden axe handle and a broken axe will cost athletes valuable seconds, which is where the spare axe comes into its own!
However, if an athlete loses his grip on the axe and it leaves his hand, he will get an automatic disqualification and receive no points, so a tight grip and maximum control is all-important in this event too.
Another way to get disqualified is to go over the maximum time limit allowed of two minutes. In practice, the times recorded by top national and international TIMBERSPORTS® athletes rarely even get near the one minute mark. The British record is 18.56 seconds and was set by Rob Chatley at the 2016 British Championship, and the World Record is an impressive 11.03 seconds! This was set by US TIMBERSPORTS® legend, Matt Cogar, who smashed through the previous record at the 2018 World Championship held in Liverpool.
The Standing Block is the sort of event where the roar of the crowd in a World Championship arena can really motivate you. Eight of the twelve athletes who took part in the 2019 World Championship managed to achieve either personal best times or new national records in the Standing Block!
What is your favourite STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® discipline? Let us know in the comments and keep an eye on the blog for the next TIMBERSPORTS® discipline post in our series.