Watch a Fast and Furious Bout of Competitive Tree Felling - Atlas Obscura
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Watch a Fast and Furious Bout of Competitive Tree Felling

Chop chop!

For regulars at the annual Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Australia, scenes like the one above, in which men simultaneously climb and chop wooden poles in a crowded arena, are routine. But for the rest of us—whoa.

Competitive tree felling involves sharp axes, thin planks, and serious clambering. Contestants must first chop notches along one side of their thick wooden pole, slip the planks into the notches in order to climb to the top, and then hack away ruthlessly at the highest segment of the pole. But since that alone won’t do the trick, they’ve got to quickly climb back down and repeat the process on the other side, until they’ve finally lopped off that top hunk of wood, to wild cheers from the crowd.

Competitive tree felling gets so competitive, in fact, that many contestants must be given handicaps. During some rounds, start times are staggered, with the top dogs joining 10 or 20 seconds into the chopping. Yet these human beavers are so good with a hatchet that they’re often able to come blazing in from behind.

Sydney’s tree-felling contest, which has been taking place since 1987, is hardly the only of its ilk. You’ll also find competitive tree-chopping in other areas of the globe (mostly Canada). Check out the Lumberjack Championship.

Other variations include the two-man standing block relay, a logging competition obstacle course, as well as the U.S. TIMBERSPORTS Series and World Championship—which includes events such as “single saw,” “stock saw,” “underhand,” and “hot saw.” The German manufacturer STIHL sponsors both men’s and women’s competitions.

We should probably remind you not to try any of this at home, no matter how robust and beefy you think you might be. Unless you’re Canadian—in which case, you were probably stacking wood straight out of the womb.

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