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UWRF students compete in logging events

October 29, 2009

Two UW-River Falls students recently traveled to Ohio to compete in the National Game of Logging Competition.

According to the Game of Logging (GOL) Web site, the GOL is widely acknowledged as the premier timber harvesting training program in the country, offering hands-on training in a competitive environment. Top instructors across the country combine demonstration with participation to teach safety, productivity, conservation and cutting techniques. There are currently 16 training organizations that cover 30 states. Regional competitions are held annually by each training organization followed by a national competition for professional loggers as well as collegiate and landowner participants.

Students Rebecca Doro and Steven Wielgosh participated in the competition, held at the Guernsey County fairgrounds in Lore City, Ohio, as part of the annual Paul Bunyan Days. The competition focused on safety, control and precision handling of the chainsaw.

Wielgosh, a senior at UWRF, said preparation for competition depends mainly on practice.

“Practice is very important, as is becoming comfortable with the saws and understanding the reactive forces of the saw and the wood being cut,” he said.

According to Wielgosh, competition events included the speed cut (making a timed up-cut), the face cut or “notch,” (establishes the felling direction of a tree), the bore (used to safely establish the hinge that will assist in placing a tree safely on the ground), the precision bore (used when a tree diameter is larger than the bar of the saw), precision bucking (cutting a log without cutting surrounding timber), the spring pole (safely releasing tension of a smaller sapling tree that gets bent over when other trees are felled), and the final event of felling a tree (takes all skills and combines them in the process of identifying hazards, lean, hinge information, escape route and cutting plan). 

Wielgosh said that he has been using a chainsaw for quite some time, and that his interest mainly came from years spent cutting firewood with his father and uncle.

“They’ve been a large influence on my skills today and my understanding of chainsaws,” he said. “The class on campus interested me greatly and I was more than willing to take the opportunity to compete at the competition.”

Doro said she had different reasons for taking the class.

“I wasn’t really interested in competing at all when I took the class; it was more of a ‘see if I could do it’ thing,” she said.

Wielgosh and Doro both took the preparatory course ESM-191, chainsaw training, last September under the instruction of Professor Mike Kaltenberg. Competitors are selected from that class to participate in the following year competition. According to the eSIS course description, the course provides the basics of chainsaw operation, maintenance, directional felling and safety. It is based on the

“Game of Logging” chainsaw training program. Wielgosh and Doro assisted Kaltenberg with the class this fall.

In the competition Wielgosh went from third place to first in the final event of felling the tree.

“I was the only competitor to hit the target. A 4×4 foot target is attached to the tree top and the goal is to measure the height of the tree and place a spike where that target will hit the ground,” he said. “I was dead on for height, but approximately two feet to the left. I had over compensated for the wind that calmed as I released my tree.”

Kaltenberg said the competition had only five competitors this year, while there are usually 15-20.

Prizes were given to the top three finishers in the collegiate division. First place received a prize of $1,000 while second place received $500 and third received $250.