The best lumberjack athletes in the country will gather in Milwaukee July 27-29 to thrill fans with amazing athletic performances in the Sithl Timbersports Series Championships. The competitions, presented by Stihl and sponsored by John Deere, Duluth Trading Company, and Harley-Davidson, will feature the U.S. Collegiate, Men’s Professional, and Women’s Professional Championships. For the second straight year, German Fest Milwaukee will host the event. A record 15,000 fans attended the 2017 U.S. Championships and another record crowd is expected this year.
“Having the Stihl Timbersports U.S. Championships return to German Fest is huge for us. The incredible event was a boon for attendance last year and brought thousands of new fans to our festival,” said German Fest President Eric Radue. “Local residents are already buzzing that this incredibly exciting sport will be back in Milwaukee this summer.”
The Championships will feature the top 20 male professionals, the elite eight collegiate athletes, and the best eight female athletes, all competing to prove they’re the best lumberjack athletes in America and move on to represent the U.S. in international competition. The men’s professional athletes will battle in six disciplines: the hot saw, single buck, springboard chop, standing block chop, stock saw and underhand chop. Diana, W. Va. native Matt Cogar has been dominant this decade, winning five straight U.S. Championship titles – the first American to ever accomplish the feat – and will look to further solidify his legacy this summer. The collegiate athletes will compete in four disciplines; standing block chop, single buck, stock saw and underhand chop, and the women will compete in the single buck, stock saw and underhand chop.
“Milwaukee was a tremendous host city and venue to hold our Championships last year. We are thrilled to bring our sport back to German Fest in 2018,” said Stihl Corporate Communications Manager Roger Phelps. “Fans will see a true test of extreme athleticism and extraordinary accomplishments, as our competitors participate in electrifying axe and chainsaw disciplines. And we’re proud – for the first time ever – to have our female athletes share the stage with the men as they compete for the Women’s Division Championship.”
The Stihl Timbersports Series has grown exponentially in its 33-year history. The Championships will air on ABC in October, with re-airs on ESPN2, and original programming on the NBC Sports Network in the spring. What started as a passionate, niche sport for professional lumberjacks has gained global popularity, millions of fans, and major exposure via broadcast and digital viewing, recognized as the second longest running show on the ESPN networks behind only SportsCenter.
“Every year is becoming a bigger challenge, and I’m honored to be able to represent the Stihl Timbersports Series as its reigning champion,” said Cogar. “I look forward to competing against the best in the country again in Milwaukee. The fans were incredible last year, and I can’t wait to perform in front of them again.”
The men will compete in five qualifiers around the country, with the top 20 athletes advancing to the U.S. Championship. Collegiate athletes face off in five qualifiers on campuses throughout the U.S., with the winner of each advancing to the Collegiate Championship (along with three wild card selections). Chas Haas from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse won the Collegiate Championship last year. The victory gives him the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the Rookie World Championship in Marseille, France on May 26, as well as a spot in the 2018 Professional Series.
The Women’s Division Championship will hold its qualifier in Cherry Valley, N.Y., with the top eight competitors earning a spot on the main stage in Milwaukee. For the sport’s full season schedule, visit STIHLUSA.com/STIHL-TIMBERSPORTS/Schedules/.
“The sport has come such a long way for female athletes. Getting to compete in Milwaukee is an unbelievable opportunity. It’s our time to shine,” said Women’s Division reigning champion and Chester, N.H. native Kendall Kunelius.
Both Cogar and Kunelius will have plenty of competition in defense of their titles. Matt Slingerland – at just 26-years-old – showed last year he has the talent to rise to the top of the sport, earning a third-place finish in 2017. Top athletes Walt Page, Jason Lentz, and Nathan Waterfield find themselves at the top of the standings each year, while legends like Arden Cogar, Jr. and Mel “King of the Lumberjack” Lentz still compete at a high level.
There are 40 female athletes competing in the Women’s Division, making a title repeat an arduous task for Kunelius. She will find tough competition from Martha King and Erin LaVoie, two athletes who have earned international recognition for their accomplishments and were at the top of the standings at last year’s Championship.
Fans looking to see more of the gripping action and developments throughout the year can follow the Series on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Tickets for German Fest are $9 using the promo code STIHL2018 and will also get attendees into the Championship. Fans can purchase tickets by going to http://germanfest.com/get-tickets/.