June 1, 2009
Lumberjacks chop competition
5th annual Crown City Lumberjack Invitational held Saturday
CORTLANDVILLE — Andy Schreiner swung his axe furiously into a chunk of aspen, scattering wood chips into the air.
In about 30 seconds, three contestants had chopped through 13-inch-thick wooden sections of logs.
Schreiner, of Fulton, finished second.
“This is great,” said Schreiner. He and his wife, Erica, have competed in lumberjack competitions for about 15 years.
This year was the fifth for the Crown City Lumberjack Invitational, which on Saturday drew 27 competing lumberjacks from around the state — and some from outside the country, specifically from Australia and Canada.
About 100 people filled the stands inside the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex on Saturday to see the competition. The crowd roared, cheering on the competitors as they worked in different wood cutting events with saws and axes.
Scoring for the various lumberjacking events was based on the competitor’s times and winners were listed for their individual events.
Virgil residents Peg Engrasser and her husband, Dave, created the event to bring a unique competition to Cortland.
New York has several colleges with lumberjacking as a competitive sport, said Peg Engrasser. Among them is the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse and Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks.
Dave Engrasser said he and his wife have competed in the sport for about 16 years up and down the East Coast.
“We know it’s a great thing to see,” he said. “When you catch it in person, it’s awesome.”
The Schreiners practice in the woods behind their Fulton home. The object of the sport is speed and cutting with the proper technique. For them, it’s a hobby.
When asked about what matters most in technique, Andy Schreiner pointed to his brain.
“It’s all upstairs,” he said.
A person’s strength or how hard they strike with an axe does not matter as much as the precision and angle the axe hits the wood, he said.
This takes a lot of practice, they both said.
“We’re still fine-tuning,” Erica Schreiner said. “Yes, you want to go fast but a lot of times it’s about finding the right technique.”
This was Brad DeLosa’s first trip to Cortland, but he visited the United States from Australia to compete in the Stihl Timber Sports Series, a lumberjacking competition that brings competitors from around the world and the country.It began earlier this month and is being held Georgia.
This was a pit-stop, he said.
DeLosa has competed in lumberjacking worldwide for 16 years.
He takes about 20 seconds to chop through 13-inch wooden blocks with an axe.
“It’s just like a sprint race, really,” DeLosa said of the sport.
Lumberjacking is a popular sport in Australia, he said, adding that it began as a hobby. DeLosa said he had no idea how many travel opportunities the sport would grant him.
Over the years, DeLosa has competed in many countries — including China, Korea, Ireland and England.
“I just enjoy good competition,” he said.
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