Lumbersexuals far and wide were put to shame last week as the best ax wielders from across the globe assembled for the 57th annual Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wisconsin. Competitors of all ages gathered in the small town's sacred proving grounds with hopes of leaving with a year's worth of bragging rights in their respective categories: chopping, sawing, pole climbing, log rolling or boom running. Live vicariously through their talents—and beards—on the following pages…
The springboard chop requires both balance and a well-muscled blow; lumberjacks are required to chop divots into two sections of the thick pine where springboards are slotted and then used for standing. Once atop the second springboard, the competitor must completely cut through the top of the log round.
Summer in Wisconsin is a bit warm and muggy for the traditional lumberjack garb, but beards and oversized biceps were plentiful around Lake Hayward. The amateur men compete in the underhand chop event.
DW-40 and grease bottles could be spotted all across the cutting and sawing stage throughout the event. Keeping saw axe blades properly lubricated is a huge focus for competitors who rely on minimal friction to shave seconds off their time. In the double and single buck (shown), non-competing contestants lend a hand with the lube.
If wielding a super-chainsaw or swinging an axe beneath your legs doesn’t frighten you, perhaps you might also consider becoming a pole climber. These acrobatic stuntmen rapidly scale a 60 or 90-foot vertical log with nothing more than a thick rope, then freefalling to the base faster than you can tie your shoes.
The log-rolling community is full of talented athletes with exceptional balance and footwork, many of whom begin their training at an early age and compete on a regular basis throughout their childhood. When tied rounds occur, competitors are put onto thinner logs, each of which roll more quickly than the last, presenting more of a challenge for each heat.
The Pinery Boys come together each year to serenade the arena with traditional a-capella logging-camp songs which date back to the 1880s… Needless to say, they look the part. Song lyrics reflect the dreams, joys, sorrows, work and play of the everyday life of a lumberjack, but spectators can expect a good amount of commentary and “dad jokes” as well.
The hot saw requires a spectator’s full attention, as most contestants finish sawing through their 3 log rounds in 10 seconds or less. The enormous and extremely loud chainsaws are custom-built using components from snowmobile and motorcycle engines.
In the final event of the competition–the team relay–both men and women from various categories join together for a touch and go race combining a boom run, underhand chop, pole climb, double buck and hot saw.
The countless log rounds shaved off during the sawing events are branded throughout the competition. Spectators gather autographs from the lumberjacks throughout the weekend and bring home a slice of Wisconsin wood—and history.