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Wynyard wins world

2/4/2010
Courtesy STIHL TIMBERSPORTS

The fifth STIHL TIMBERSPORTS World Championships was held in the mountains of Brienz, Switzerland. Over 4,000 fans packed the arena to see New Zealand's Jason Wynyard out-chop and out-saw 19 athletes from around the world to claim the 2009 title.

But it wasn't easy. Wynyard had to hold off Arden Cogar Jr. of the United States, Martin Komerek of the Czech Republic, and Brad DeLosa of Australia — and it all came down to the last event.

Springboard

In the Springboard chop, Ernesto Herrero set a time of 1:05 that held through several rounds until Cogar dropped the times below one minute with a 52-second chop.

The time held for three more rounds until Jason Wynyard and Brad DeLosa took the stage and set times of 0:43 and 0:42 respectively, to take the second and first spots.

Stock Saw

In the stock saw event, only two seconds separated the entire field. There were, however, several surprises, with Cogar bogging his up-cut to take a disappointing 12th place, Martin Komerek cutting an impressive 11:70 to take second, and Robert Ebner of Germany electrifying the crowd with an 11:50 in the final round to take the first position.

Standing Block

In the standing block, Rick Van Drielen set the pace early with a time of 32 seconds, but it didn't last long. Eamon Burke of Ireland shattered the time with a 20 second cut that served notice that the relative newcomer to the sport had come to play.

But experience won the day as Cogar cut the 12-inch block in 17 seconds, and Jason Wynyard stepped up with a first place cut of 14 seconds, which brought the crowd to its feet for the former world champ.

Single Buck

The single buck followed with no real surprises, with Brad DeLosa taking second and Wynyard first. Cogar, who faced Wynyard in the final heat, was matching the New Zealander stroke for stroke until the final push when he applied too much pressure, hung a peg on his single buck saw, and fell to fourth place.

Underhand

In the underhand, Arkadiusz Drozdek got the Polish contingency cheering with an impressive 23 second effort. Ebner followed in the next round and again Europeans had something to cheer when he bested the Pole by one second for a respectable fourth place finish.

But the chopping power of Cogar and the competitors from Down Under was too much for the field. Cogar placed third with 20.79 seconds, DeLosa second with a 20.57 and Wynyard shattered the mark with a 16.19.

Watching Wynyard's performance, it seemed as if the entire crowd could sense that the big New Zealander was making a statement and pulling away from the rest of the field.

Hot Saw

Always a critical and deciding event, the hot saw was true to form.

Only 13 points separated the top five positions, the closest point spread since the start of the world championships in 2005. Wynyard, DeLosa, Komerek, Ebner and Cogar were all in contention for STIHL TIMBERSPORTS gold.

For the first few rounds, times were set in the nine second range, until Spike Milton of the United Kingdom cut his three discs in 8.7 seconds. The time would stand for four rounds until Brad DeLosa took the stage, in second place at the time and only nine points behind Wynyard. DeLosa set the new leading time of 6.81 seconds with a furious cut.

But the Australian's time was not without drama, as judges had to go to super slow motion replay to determine whether a small nick in one of his cookies was the result of a potentially disqualifying cut-out, or caused by it hitting the deck. The tape revealed that his cut was a clean one, and he took the overall points lead.

Cogar was up next and needed an exceptional time to take the lead — a possibility considering he has cut in the low six second range before. As the gun sounded to start his round however, disaster struck.

Just prior to making his first cut and at full throttle, his machine threw the chain, effectively ending his bid for a medal position. After the event Cogar could only grin ruefully.

"I haven't thrown a chain on this machine for two years," he said. "The only thing I can think of is that I warmed up the saw three times. Mike Sullivan always says that if you warm up your saw more than twice, stop and tighten the chain. I didn't and it cost me."

The second to last round brought local Swiss hero Christophe Geissler and German Robert Ebner to the stage. The capacity crowd went wild when Geissler powered his saw through the 19 inch wood three times, turning in a blistering 5.92, followed closely by Ebner's 6.13.

The fans' cheers turned to groans, however, when head judge Rich Hallett disqualified the Swiss competitor for cutting over the allowed six inch line. Ebner's time held up, and put him in second place for overall points behind DeLosa.

This meant that the final round of the hot saw would determine who would be champion — Jason Wynyard vs. Martin Komerek.

Komerek stood to take at least second with a clean cut, and Wynyard, plagued with hot saw problems in the past, needed three complete discs to win the overall title. The competitors matched cuts through the first two passes, but a bobble at the start of his third cut caused Komerek to cut over the six inch line, removing him from the medal hunt.

As for Wynyard, he left nothing to chance with a blistering 6.08 second time, closing the door on his opponents and earning him his second STIHL TIMBERSPORTS World Championship trophy.

DeLosa took second, much to the delight of his mother, father, sister and wife who were in the audience. The surprise of the competition, however, was the third place finish of Robert Ebner. Only in his fourth year of competition, the German showed the impressive growth of the sport in Europe and the improved skill of the European competitors since it first took hold six years ago.

But the day belonged to New Zealander Jason Wynyard, and as he stood atop the winner's podium, a group of fellow Maori living in Switzerland and the UK took the stage and performed a Haaka war dance in his honor.

With the sun setting over the Swiss Alps at his back, Wynyard reflected on his win.

"This really means a lot to me," he said. "The field was better than it has ever been, the times faster, the point spread closer. To be able to claim the title of World Champion of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series for the second time is something that I will always be proud of. My thanks to STIHL for putting on a great event."