Competing in Sydney Australia
April,  2000
Sponsored by Stihl Chainsaws

This past April The United States National Lumberjack Team competed at the "Olympics of Woodchopping" held in Sydney Australia.  Each year Sydney hosts one of the biggest and most prestigious lumberjack contests in the world.  Coordinated by the Royal Agriculture Society of Australia (RAS), the Sydney Royal Easter show draws competitors from all over the world.  It's where the who's who in lumberjack sports gather to test their skill against the best.

The Sydney Royal Easter Show attracts more than one million spectators each year.  The International Relay is one of the main spectator draws at the Sydney Royal Easter Show,

Carson Bosworth
and is considered the pre-eminent event in lumberjack sports.  Traditionally the relay has been a match race between the Australian and New Zealand national teams.  This year, in celebration of the new millennia and the summer Olympics being held in Sydney, RAS decided to open up the International Relay to all countries.  In response to this opportunity most of the top countries involved in lumberjack sports were represented at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

The relay event consisted of (in this order) Stihl stock saw, underhand block chop, standing block chop, one man crosscut, two man crosscut, another underhand and finally ending up with another standing block chop.  There were three challenge matches scheduled in a best of three series.

The United States National Lumberjack Team was sponsored by Stihl Incorporated USA.  The team consisted of Co Captains Melvin Lentz from Diana, West Virginia and Carson Bosworth from Bonners Ferry, Idaho.  Mel and Carson both chopped the standing block portion of the relay.  The underhand cutters were Paul Cogar from Diana, West Virginia and Arden Cogar Jr. from Webster Springs, West Virginia.  Harry Burnsworth from Mill Run, Pennsylvania operated the Stihl Stock saw, and Dave Jewett from Pittsford, New York was the single hand sawyer.

Dennis Daun and Mike Slingerland

Arden Cogar Sr. and Dave Jewett

Mike Slingerland from Rockwell, North Carolina and Dennis Daun from Round Lake, Illinois teamed up to compete in the two man crosscut portion of the relay.  Serving as the honorary team manager was Arden Cogar Sr. also from Webster Springs, West Virginia.

Two of the three challenge matches were held on the infield of the 45,000 seat baseball stadium that was built for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.  In the first challenge match last years champion, Australia, pulled out a narrow victory over a heavily talented New Zealand team.  The United States team came in a distant third.

Arden Cogar Jr.
The baseball stadium was nearly filled to capacity with screaming spectators there to watch the event.  I am sure that this was the first time anyone from America ever competed in front of a live audience of that number.  Everyone on the US Team was in awe of the electrifying affect of crowd.

The second challenge match was held before a standing room only crowd in the Olympic baseball stadium.  It was estimated that there were over 50,000 people in attendance. The place was just jumping.  Again the Australians, much to the delight of the hometown crowd, were victorious over the New Zealand and US Teams.  Even though there exists a fierce rivalry between the Australian and New Zealand teams in wood chopping, the capacity crowd remained on their feet giving all participating teams a standing ovation as they left the field.  The excitement and the feeling was indescribable.  It was an unbelievable sight to see.

With the Australians taking first in the opening two challenges and New Zealand and the United States both finishing second and third respectively the final top three places were determined. 

Arden Cogar Sr. & Harry Burnsworth
However there was still one challenge left.  There was nothing to compete for but pride.  Those polled that were in attendance said the third challenge was the best of the three.  The event was moved into the 5,000 seat wood chop arena, and it was filled to over capacity.  There were people packed into every corner of the arena.  Everyone there was treated to a very close match between the top three countries involved.  The United States jumped out to an early lead, and for a period of time looked as though they might be able to pull off an upset.  However, the Australian team anchored by David Foster came back, and just beat out the New Zealand and US Team for their third victory and a clean sweep of the event.

This years format for the International Relay was so successful that the RAS has decided to continue the event again next year opening it up to all countries who wish to send a team.  In fact there was talk of maybe making a series out of these challenge matches.  The thought would be to hold a challenge match on each of the continents of Australia, New Zealand and North America.  Who knows maybe someday lumberjack sports sports will be an official Olympic event.

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