Nowadays, athletic buffs can test their mettle with everything from bootcamp military workouts to on-the-verge-of-passing-out crossfit sessions in gyms across America. But here's a challenge that's been touted as the "original extreme sport" that we bet most gym rats haven't tried yet: Timbersports!
The challenge seems simple but is physically and mentally grueling: Athletes are judged by how well they handle an axe or a chainsaw. Road Trip host Marc Istook recently headed to North Carolina State University to get an up-close view of some of the country's best budding lumberjacks.
NC State's collegiate team includes champion axeman Griffith Wilson, who is currently training for the 2014 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate Championship. This modern-day young Paul Bunyan showed Istook the skills and safety measures used with crosscut saws, chainsaws, and more; explaining that concentration and focus is just as important as strength.
"It’s a mental game, because if you’re not focused on what you’re doing, you’re not going to be safe and you’re not going to put accurate hits in the wood," he noted. "You’re gonna be slow.”
That's not to say there aren't considerable physical challenges to the sport, as well. Timbersports harkens back to an era when motorized equipment to handle lumber simply didn't exist, and men had no choice but to swing an axe or pull a saw. Therefore, some techniques that have all been lost to technology, such as cross-sawing, are resurrected and perfected here.
Single-buck sawing involves one person manning a cross-saw, and is so physically intense that it used to be called the “misery whip.” The vertical log event simulates taking down a tree the way they did it in the old days: One man and an axe.
What's the most difficult part of tackling a tree? “Just keeping your form and putting your hits where you want them," Wilson explained. "Accuracy wins over strength.”
Wilson, who hopes to own his own logging company one day, is proud of the growth and development of his chosen craft. When asked why he and his teammates decided to pursue Timbersports, he was honest: "There’s a lot of bragging going on, somebody had to back it up,” he joked.
Howver, in all seriousness, “It has evolved into a professional sport," he added.
We bet most professional athletes couldn't hang in as well!