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NESDAY | JUNE 4 | 2008

Wednesday.July 13.2016 Powell River Peak »


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Logger sports are back! When Powell River Logger Sports organizer Bob Marquis first announced he was going to bring the popular event back to Willingdon Beach after an 11-year absence, a lot of people doubted it could happen, or that there was still enough local interest in the sport. Now that we are just days away from the glorious return of Powell River Logger Sports, which promises to be even bigger and better than it once was, it is very clear that no one should have doubted Marquis. With the overwhelming buzz around town about logger sports, the strong prevalence of logger culture and the fact that something called “lumbersexuals” is actually a real thing (read Dave Brindle’s page six story on local loggers to find out more), it appears the timing could not have been better. The dedication Marquis and his crew of volunteers have had to Powell River Logger Sports’ return has been quite obvious over the past few months. One only needs to look at the newly named Loggers Memorial Bowl amphitheatre at Willingdon Beach to see the

effort Marquis and his crew have put into fully realizing their vision for a permanent venue. With the help of a $50,000 grant from Powell River Community Forest last fall, the park infrastructure is now something all community groups can have access to through City of Powell River’s parks, recreation and culture department. It is also a home for what hopefully will become an annual logger sports event in Powell River again. If the number of events Powell River Logger Sports has planned this year and level of community interest is any indication, there is no reason why this reboot will not stick. Back in early December, the Peak quoted Marquis as saying, “I have a vision for bowl seating. We don’t mind helping out with the park and building a legacy.” And what a legacy they have created. Powell River Loggers Sports events run Friday, July 15, through to Sunday, July 17. Wear your favourite lumberjack gear and wear it proudly. Things are about to get logger-y.

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A guide to logger sports Lumberjacks square off in multiple events SHANE CARLSON

With two world, two North American and eight Canadian championships up for grabs, lumberjacks from across Canada, as well as international entrants, have travelled to Powell River to battle for the titles in several categories. In addition to championship events, a variety of other competitions are also scheduled. Originating from logging camps in the late 1800s to determine each camp’s top lumberjack, logger sports competitions pay homage to the history of forestry and logging with exciting, fast-paced events and highlight the traditional importance of the forest industry. Categories at Powell River Logger Sports include novice, intermediate, open, ladies and kids.

Axe throw Standing 20 feet from a 36inch target placed five feet off the ground, competitors throw a double-bladed axe four times each;

the top three results are added for a total score. A bull’s eye earns a maximum five points with values decreasing incrementally to one point throughout the outer rings. If the axe sticks, it counts.

Chair carving Using only a chainsaw and one piece of wood, competitors carve out the best chair they can produce within a time frame of four minutes. Judges determine a winner based on appearance. Artistry and speed are important factors in this event.

Chokerman’s race In this physically demanding race, competitors run through an obstacle course carrying a 34-kilogram, eight-metre-long choker. The choker must be set to a log before returning to the starting line as quickly as possible.

Hand bucking Classes of hand bucking include single, double and Jack and Jill.

Competitors use a crosscut saw to cut through a log as fast as possible. Assistance is provided by using lubricant on the saw and pressing a wedge into the top of the cut.

Hot Saw Using a high-performance saw with a maximum 140cc, competitors cut a large block with two cuts, one above and one below. Regulations for this loud event allow for some modifications to the saws.

Husky Challenge While using a chainsaw under 100cc, competitors use their strength and knowledge to cut three pieces off the end of an 18-inch log.

Nail Drive In this timed event, competitors use power, accuracy and a claw hammer to pound four-inch spikes into a log as quickly as possible.

Obstacle Pole In a timed event, competitors’

skills are tested as they run with their chainsaws along a log fixed at an angle. At the other end, after starting their saws, matching cuts are placed into each side of the log until a piece comes off. Competitors then shut down their saws and race back to the other end.

100cc PNE Cut Competitors precisely cut three pieces off the end of an 18-inch log, within six inches of each other, using a 100cc chainsaw.

Relay Consisting of one female, two novices/intermediates and one open competitor, each team displays its proficiency using axes, chokers, chainsaws and crosscut saws to complete multiple challenges. While strength and determination comes into play in all areas, overall speed determines the winner.

Springboard Chop Classes of springboard include two boards, four boards and two

man. Competitors cut two notches into one side of a tree. Once the board has been set, intermediate competitors climb on and chop halfway through the tree, then turn and chop through the rest of the way. Open class competitors climb down at the halfway point and repeat the whole process on the other side of the tree until the block falls.

Tree climb This physically demanding and strenuous event features climbers ascending an 80-foot pole using a rope and spurs before quickly descending back down before their opponent reaches the bottom. Topnotch competitors complete this exciting event in 20 seconds or less.

Underhand Chop Strength is an important factor in determining the winner of this event, but technique comes into play as well. Standing on footholds cut into an anchored block, competitors chop halfway through the block before turning around to complete the chopping from the other side.

Supporting locally • International Choral Kathaumixw • PR Minor Hockey Association • Friends of the Patricia Theatre • PR and District SPCA • PR Minor Baseball Association • PR Kings Junior A Hockey Club • PR Film Festival • Powell River and District United Way • Townsite Heritage Society • PRISMA • PR Educational Services Society • Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164 • Pacific Salmon Foundation • Texada Aerospace Camp and many more



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Logger sports taps tradition


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Three-day festival celebrates forestry’s lore CHRIS BOLSTER

Long gone are the days of burly, bearded men perched high above the forest floor on springboards, notched into the sides of giant Douglas fir, pulling handsaws through trees several metres thick. Long gone are the days of having to invent and build equipment, often made out of old farm machinery, to cut further up a hill and

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farther into a glen. The days of bunkhouses, steam donkeys and the greased skid row are also a thing of the past. Times have changed and the old ways have given way to industrialized extraction, but the forest industry itself is not gone. While handsaws and steam donkeys have been replaced by feller bunchers and logging trucks, the romanticized 19th and early 20th century notion of the flapjack-eating, plaid-clad logger continues on.

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events, burnout set in and by the late 1970s organizers pushed pause. “Things came up and people moved and whatnot,” said Marquis. A few years later, Marquis, his brother Bill and friends decided to try staging a comeback. “We tried to bring it back, so we had it one year up at the Powell River Recreation Complex,” he said. Later, Marquis would help construct the first amphitheatre at Willingdon Beach as a location for the games. It was the event’s overall excitement and audience enjoyment that drove Marquis in the beginning, but after his brother Bill died in 1984, the year after winning big at the Powell River event, he became more determined to use the show to pay tribute to his brother and other loggers who lost their lives in the woods. One of the trophies was renamed in his brother’s honour. Bob continued the tradition of the show in Bill’s memory and for all those other families who sacrificed so much for the logging and forest industries, he said. During the more than 20 years Marquis was involved, the show grew from having a couple thousand dollars up for prizes to over $50,000 in 2005. The show became one of the largest in Canada with national television coverage on TSN three years in a row, he said. This year’s show promises to pick up where things left off, said Marquis. “This year we have $60,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs,” he said. “That really brings in your top-notch competitors.”


After more than a decade of waiting, Powell River will witness a return to celebrating those cultural connections with the one of its most popular community events: Powell River Logger Sports. Residents and competitors will once again gather at Willingdon Beach to celebrate the excitement of competition and recognition of the importance of the forest industry to the local and provincial economy. Willingdon is steeped in the history of forestry. In the early 1900s, old locomotives dumped logs that were boomed together in the bay and pulled by steamship to market. The history of logger sports in Powell River can be traced back to chopping and sawing events staged as early as 1910 at Willingdon Beach, when one of the first organized logger-sports events was held. This year’s show brings the event back after an 11-year hiatus, largely due to the efforts of organizer Bob Marquis and a group of dedicated volunteers. Marquis grew up in a forestry family and around heavy equipment. His father owned a logging company and his brother also worked in the woods. Marquis said he started competing in logger sports events in the 1970s. “Logger sports really got going in the early 1970s and it was national competitor Ken Nelson who got me into it,” said Marquis. “He lived in Powell River and was a hulk of a guy. He was six-foot-six, 300 pounds plus. ‘The Bull of the Woods’ people called him.” According to Marquis, Nelson helped organize the event at Palm Beach Regional Park, but like all community organized


5 Wednesday.July 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

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Local loggers primed and ready


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It has been said that you can shave with the well-sharpened blade of a logger sports axe. Those axes, just some of the equipment being used at upcoming Powell River Logger Sports, can also cost upwards of $500 each, according to Powell River logger Jeff Coburn. Fellow local logger Brett Marquis, Coburn’s partner in the upcoming double-buck competition, said competitive lumberjacks refer to the single buck as “the misery whip,” because it punishes the body with its physical toll. Working with an unwieldy saw requires a precise motion to keep the teeth from binding in the wood, said Marquis. These competitors are not big-city “lumbersexuals,” a recent urban fashion trend for men who need to grasp some outdoor-based ruggedness by wearing plaid shirts, suspenders, work boots and neatly trimmed beards. These guys are the real deal. Both Coburn and Marquis, born and raised in Powell River, are training to compete in most of the logger sports events taking place from Friday, July 15, to Sunday, July 17, at Willingdon Beach. International, Canadian and local lumberjacks will all be chasing a share of $60,000 in prizes. According to both men, the money is less of a factor than participating in the first logger sports held in their hometown for 11 years. Each looks forward to competing in front of a hometown crowd. “I’m ecstatic,” said Marquis, whose father, Bob, is responsible for bringing the competition back to Powell River. “The fact that it’s coming back is a beautiful thing.” Coburn said competing in front of friends and family will be exciting. “It’ll be fun, a lot of laughs and lots of shenanigans,” he said. Coburn and Marquis partnered and won the double buck, a timed competition, at Port McNeill Logger Sports in 2015. They hope to repeat that success this weekend.

Marquis’ first show was in Kaslo, BC, prior to Port McNeill. “I didn’t do too badly,” said Marquis. “I didn’t win any money.” Logger sports competitors can win money and, according to Marquis, they can win a lot. “Absolutely, you can make money,” he said. “People do this as a career. They’ll do the circuit over the summer and have a job for the winter.” According to Coburn, winning is just a bonus. “It’s the experience,” he said. “People are what it’s actually all about. The sporting is fun, but the people we’ve met out of town who will be coming here will be the best experience.” Joining the professional tour is not Marquis’ aspiration, however.

He works for his dad at Bob Marquis Contracting. “I run excavator, chainsaw, drive truck, man on the ground and whatever needs to be done,” he said. “I enjoy what I do for a living; this is a hobby.” Marquis and others involved in Powell River Logger Sports say they are professional athletes. “It’s not just a bunch of loggers coming out of the bush,” said Marquis. His dad triggered his interest in logger sports when he was about six or seven years old, said Marquis, and he is just getting back into it after about five years out of competitive events. Sons and daughters often follow their parents into logger sports because they grew up around the sport, he said.

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RAW STRENGTH: Brett Marquis wields a one-man bucking saw to cut through a tree trunk. DAVE BRINDLE PHOTO

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7 Wednesday.July 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

Welcome participants, families and friends




Good luck to all the participants






Welcome back, Logger Sports Thank you to all the organizers and volunteers for bringing this great event back to Powell River 604.485.2726


AXE MAN: Jeff Coburn [above] aims at the bull’s eye while training for the axe throw, one of multiple events he will compete in at Powell River Logger Sports. DAVE BRINDLE PHOTO READY TO THROW: Don’t mess with axe-wielding competitors participating in logger sports events this weekend, including [top photo, from left] Rosalee Pagani, Andrea Rietman, Christine Bolby, Shelly Rickson and Lisa Holman. DAVE BRINDLE PHOTO

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Lady Logger. According to Rickson, she became involved with the sport because of her work at Olympic Log Sort operating a power saw. She will compete in the axe throw and buck saw events and said she doesn’t feel overshadowed by her male counterparts. “I’ve worked in this industry for 21 years,” said Rickson. “Trust me, I’ve had to stick up for myself plenty of times. They know; don’t mess with Shelly.” Meanwhile, Coburn said he plans to compete as a novice and intermediate in axe throw, double buck, obstacle pole, stock saw and the 100cc limited hot saw, as well as the chokerman’s race Canadian championship and the underhand chop. Coburn will also be on the Canadian national relay team. Everyone on the sixmember team does a certain event, he said. “I have no idea what my best event is,” said Coburn. “The ones I enjoy the most are running a saw because that’s what I do for a living, so it kind of comes naturally. Obstacle pole is one of my favourites, too.” For more information on Powell River Logger Sports, go to powellriverlogger


Marquis said the adults throw an axe, while children have the hatchet throw. Differences in other events are easily noticeable as well. “We haul an 80-pound choker, the kids get a five-pound choker,” said Marquis. Coburn’s four-year-old son Pearson is already into the sport, following his dad around during training. “I want to do logger sports,” said Pearson, who is entered in the kids chokerman’s race and axe throw. “I can’t keep him away from it,” said Coburn. Competing as an adult for the third time, Coburn’s focus has been on being a good sawyer before turning to chopping, which, he said, is very dangerous. “A sawyer is running a handsaw,” said Coburn. “I’m a big guy and I run chainsaw all day, so I do better in chainsaw events. The only things I don’t do are climb and log rolling. I’m over 200 pounds. There’s not a weight limit, but guys like Al [Allan Knapp, also from Powell River] who weigh a buck-70 get up that tree a little bit quicker.” Shelly Rickson’s dad was a logger. The Powell River resident has not competed in logger sports since the last time Powell River Logger Sports was held here 11 years ago, when she won

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8 Wednesday.July 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

Marquis brings back the big show


With the final pieces of Powell River Logger Sports coming together, organizer Bob Marquis sat down with the Peak to talk about bringing the well-loved community event back after an 11-year hiatus. What does it feel like to have this event brought back? It’s great. It all started with Facebook. I’m not a Facebook kind of guy, but what really got it going for me was reading some of the comments on there. This community missed it so much. It’s just a fantastic event and the excitement of it all is just nuts. It must have been a ton of work to get the show going again? You have no idea. You wouldn’t want to be my friend. They were all getting calls every weekend about something to do with logger sports. We all have lives and work, so we tried to fit it all

in. We’ve done what we can to put on a good show for the community. Powell River has a deep, historical and cultural connection to logging and the community interest in logger sports reflects this. The forest industry is the reason for every small town up and down this coast. We’re lucky to have that renewable resource. The trees grow every day. Everyone throughout Canada can trace in the history of their family tree to someone who worked in the forest sector in some way, shape or form. What has the response been like from logger sports associations? When we decided to put it on, I went to the annual general meeting for Canadian Logger Sports Association to vie for Canadian championships. I entered the room to a standing ovation. People had heard we were coming back on the circuit and it just blew me away. They welcomed us with open arms. We ended up getting several Canadian championships. We vied for some of the world championships, like we had in the past, and we were able to secure those. I got a hold of the American Lumberjack Association for a North American championship and was able to pick an event. I chose the unlimited hot saw championship; that’s a huge, popular event.

For people who have never been to a logger sports show, what can they expect? They’re going to be blown away. This is going to be a world-class show. They’re going to say, “I thought this was all just chainsaws, axes and a bunch of burly guys running around in checkered shirts.” No, these guys are professional athletes. For top dogs in the Canadian, European, New Zealand and Australian circuits, it’s not uncommon to make $150,000 to $200,000. Those are the guys at the top of the game. If you win the Stihl Timbersports Series, that’s $50,000 and a pickup. For anyone attending Logger Sports for the first time, what are the events not to be missed? The tree climb and the chopping events are awesome. Of course, there’s also the hot rod power saws event and the women against the men events. The world championship relay is just going to be nuts. There’s a lot of action going on. What are your thoughts about Powell River’s new amphitheatre? Love it. I’ve always wanted to create a legacy for everyone to use. We’re only one weekend a year and if we’re going to put that much work in, it needs to be good for everyone. That’s what it is. For more information, go to

BULL’S-EYE: Powell River Logger Sports organizer Bob Marquis demonstrates to onlookers the fine art of axe throwing, a key component of the upcoming three-day event. CHRIS BOLSTER PHOTO

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Logger Sports athletes from near and far More than 60 competitors expected at Willingdon Beach DAVE BRINDLE

Contestants from across Canada and all over the world, including New Zealand, Australia, United States and Germany, will join local lumberjacks to vie for $60,000 in prizes at Powell River Logger Sports. Men and women will battle headto-head and against the clock in events that showcase strength, speed, balance and accuracy. Some of these athletes are already world and Canadian champions. The axemen cometh and few choppers in the world are better than Jesse Whitehead. The Auckland, New Zealand native excels in the standing and horizon chop. In August 2015, Whitehead teamed with Stirling Hart from Maple Ridge, BC, to win a world championship in the open twoman relay. He also earned a Canadian championship in the

springboard chop. Both events were held in Campbell River, BC. Hart followed in his father Greg’s cork boots. When the elder Hart, a world-champion speed climber, retired from the sport Stirling was ready to compete. The two-time member of Team Canada claimed tree climbing world championships in 2013 and 2015 and was Stihl Timbersports Canadian champion in 2014. Another Canadian champion in springboard is Karl Bischoff. A winner of two national titles, Bischoff visited Powell River in the 1980s when Powell River Logger Sports first began. At 61 years old, Bischoff is one of the old-timers of the sport. The rancher from Celista, BC, has been involved for nearly 40 years. According to some in the logger sports circuit, Bischoff is known as “the godfather of woodchopping.” Bischoff’s son, Carson, will be competing as well. All-around competitor Mitch

WORLD CHAMP: Vancouver’s Stirling Hart is one of several holders of world and Canadian championship titles who will be competing in Powell River Logger Sports. Hart’s specialty is tree climbing. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Hewitt is a contender in multiple events. At the 2015 Squamish Days Logger Sports Festival, the native of Scotch Creek, BC, won logger of the day and open logger of the day. Previously, Hewitt

won a springboard chop world championship and has registered wins in obstacle pole bucking, axe throw and standing butcher block. He has been competing in Europe for four years with the

Stihl Canada team. Female competitors from outside of Powell River to watch for are Sarah Mooney, from Ucluelet, BC, and Katelan Spencer, from Smoke Lake, Alberta.

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10 Wednesday.July 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »


Logger Sports schedule

Endurance, strength and grit


Friday, July 15, to Sunday, July 17

Powell River Logger Sports will take over Willingdon Beach this weekend as the long-awaited event returns after its 11-year hiatus. While the weekend schedule remains fluid throughout the event days, there will be no lack of logger action. Nearly 20 logger sports events will take place during the weekend at the newly christened Loggers Memorial Bowl amphitheatre at Willingdon Beach. The event will also feature local vendors and exhibitors stretched across the entire beach site.

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Welcome loggers and families ENJOY YOUR STAY Joe Huetzelmann and Team 668V38LS

Friday, July 15 2 pm Gates open with a trade show, food and exhibitor booths and lucky program sales The following events take place between 3-7 pm: Peter Couliver Memorial Chop World championship Chair Carve World championship Relay Event Kids’ Axe Throw Kids’ Chokerman’s Race Approximately 7 pm Awards ceremony

Admission and information

Good luck to all the competitors

Powell River Logger Sports Saturday and Sunday daily admission is $10 for a family of two adults and two kids, $5 for anyone over 12, and $3 for 12 and under. Friday admission is by donation to Powell River Action Centre Food Bank. Lucky programs are available for $3 and include prize draws.

Come watch some fantastic live action

A logging truck’s worth of firewood will be auctioned off each day to the highest bidder. Chainsaw art carvers will be featured in the gravel parking lot during the event. Starting on Thursday afternoon, July 14, 10 chainsaw carvers from all over North America will turn logs into statues. With a nautical theme, Powell River carver Clint Bleaney will join carvers from BC, Nova Scotia, Alaska, Washington State and more.

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Buses between Willingdon Beach and Town Centre Mall will be free of charge. Just tell the bus driver you are going to Powell River Logger Sports. The parking lot across from The Chopping Block will be for disabled drivers only.

11 Wednesday.July 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

Saturday, July 16 10 am Gates open with a trade show, food and exhibitor booths, lucky program sales and the Celebrity Axe Throw elimination round 12 pm Opening ceremonies begin with the singing of “O Canada” and speeches by dignitaries The following novice events take place throughout the day: Canadian championship Tree Climb Canadian championship Axe Throw Obstacle Pole Underhand Chop Husky Stock Saw Challenge The following intermediate events take place throughout the day: Canadian championship Double Buck Underhand Chop Springboard Chop (two boards) Chokerman’s Race Ladies Axe Throw Ladies Nail Drive The following open event takes place throughout the day: World championship Two-man Springboard 2 pm High Tree Act on the 80-foot poles Approximately 4 pm Awards ceremony 7 pm Powell River Logger Sports Dinner and Dance at Powell River Recreation Complex with live music from Nanaimo’s Femme Fatales and Powell River’s own Paradise. Cost for this event is $50 per person for dinner and dance, or $30 per person for dance only (begins at 9 pm). This is a 19+ event (no minors). Dinner is catered by The Convenient Chef.

Sunday, July 16 10 am  Gates open with a trade show, food and exhibitor booths and lucky program sales. The following open events take place throughout the day: Axe Throw Canadian championship Underhand Chop Canadian championship Obstacle Pole Canadian championship Springboard (four boards) Double Buck Single Buck Chokerman’s Race Jack and Jill Canadian championship 10cc PNE Cut North American championship Unlimited Hot Saw Cut Underhand Chop 1 pm Judging begins for chainsaw carving competition 2 pm High Tree Act on the 80-foot poles Approximately 3 pm Awards ceremony 4 pm Closing ceremonies and a grand prize draw

Welcome back Powell River Logger Sports Enjoy a weekend of fun, excitement, action and entertainment

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s u n s h i n e c o a s t f u e l s. c a

12 Wednesday.July 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

Welcome to the 2016 Powell River Logger Sports



Let the games begin MEMORIES

Mayor Dave Formosa

Chair Patrick Brabazon

Hegus Clint Williams

Powell River was built on forestry.

Our existence was forged in part by the skill, toil and sweat of pioneer loggers in the forests. To now exemplify and celebrate that through logger sports is a tribute to them. May the games begin.

Welcome to the Traditional Territory of the Tla’amin Nation, where the forests and trees have been integral to the Tla’amin people for centuries. First nations people have been outstanding members of the logging industry. We look forward to the logging competition.

The logging industry’s excellence here for more than a century is built on great loggers. That legacy will continue at the loggers’ games in the new logger sports venue.

PEAK Logger Sports 2016  
PEAK Logger Sports 2016