Last week NC State student Logan Scarborough won the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate Series Southern Division, qualifying him to be one of six students who will compete at a national event in Oregon in late August to determine the nation’s best collegiate lumberjack. A Polktown native, Logan is a senior majoring in forest management and is president of the Forestry Club. He spoke with us Thursday afternoon about timbersports. At STIHL collegiate competitions, the disciplines that comprise the sport are stock saw, the single buck, standing block chop and underhand chop. (Click on each discipline for an explanation of each one.) After the jump, in addition to a Q&A with Logan, we have video of him competing in each discipline.
Last year at regionals you were disqualified in the stock saw discipline (for cutting over a 4-inch line) after sweeping the three other events. What did you learn from the disqualification that helped you this year?
I got nervous last year, and I had to practice more. The stock saw is about technique. It’s not really about being strong or being physically fit; you just have to know what you are doing. You have to try to perfect your lines. Every one of your cuts has to be straight up and down and perpendicular with the log you’re sawing.
Though you were disqualified at regionals, you were selected to compete at the national collegiate series last year as a wildcard. What did you learn from last year’s nationals that can help you this year at nationals?
I came in fifth last year at nationals. My stock saw was really good, but I messed up on some others. The underhand chop — when you stand on the log — we had to use regulation-size wood at nationals. The wood we were using to chop at regionals last year was one inch under regulation-size wood. So the wood was smaller. At nationals, I wasn’t really prepared for the regulation-size wood. It may not seem like much, but it is a lot harder to get through and takes more time to get through. I was nervous, too. I had never done anything in front of a camera before. Now I’ve had three different events that have been televised[on ESPNU] and it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I’m not as nervous, and I can concentrate on what I need to do.
How did you get started in timbersports?
I didn’t even know about timbersports until I got to NC State. The Forestry Club here has a timbersports team. I was in the Forestry Club, and it’s one of those things that if you’re in the Forestry Club, you also participate in timbersports. I thought it was kind of fun and something different to do. We’ve got about 25 members, and we compete in several competitions throughout the year. Virginia Tech hosts a small competition in February; we hosted one in November; and we went to a small competition at Haywood Community College. They’re more for fun and have more traditional events like logrolling. Everything is as a team except for the STIHL competition. For STIHL, you select one person from each school to go there, and that person trains throughout the year to compete in those four different disciplines and represent your school. When STIHL started offering this collegiate series, a lot more people started taking it seriously. My first two years here, I didn’t really take timbersports seriously because other people were doing it. My junior and senior year, I started taking it seriously. Everybody had graduated who knew how to do it. So me and a few buddies in forestry stepped up to the plate. Things went from there. Junior year I started preparing for regionals. And, really, I didn’t want to get embarrassed on national television, so I started practicing.
Why do you think you’ve been successful in the sport in such a short time?
I’m not really sure. It’s not that hard of a sport. You just have to take the time to practice. If you take it seriously, anybody can be good at it. I’m 6-foot-3 and 235 or 240 pounds, but anybody who is 140 pounds could beat me in the sport any day of the week if they know what they are doing. That’s another reason why I like the sport: A lot of different kinds of people can compete in it and be good at it. You just have to take the time to practice.
What is your practice schedule like?
It’s a sport that if you don’t practice at least three or four days a week, you’re not going to be good at it. It’s all about hitting your lines. We draw lines on our blocks before we chop them, and you’re expected to hit them perfectly or else your time is going to be a lot slower. You have to take time in practice and work on hitting those lines and being very precise with each cut. It’s not like a bicycle unfortunately. If you don’t practice it, you will lose it.
What other sports have you played and how have they helped you in timbersports?
I played baseball until I was 17. It’s funny because baseball actually hurts you in timbersports. When you do the standing block chop — when you stand up and chop a block that’s vertical — it’s really hard to break your baseball swing. And the last thing you want in timbersports is a baseball swing. That means you’re coming straight into the block, as if you’re hitting a line drive or grounder. That’s not what you want in timbersports. The swing you want is more of something that would give you a pop fly to a pitcher every time.
How did you learn to break that baseball swing?
It takes practice. But there is no point to practice if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s one thing I had to learn the hard way. I got some help about a year-and-a-half ago from Mike Slingerland. He’s a professional STIHL TIMBERSPORTS guy who lives in Rockwell. He’s helped me out a lot with practicing with me and explaining what I need to do. I don’t get to practice with him a lot, but when I do, he helps me out a lot.
Of the disciplines, which one is your favorite?
Probably underhand chop. I’ve been doing that one the longest and I’m better at it, I think.
Logan competing in underhand chop
The most challenging?
Stock saw. And I think any other guy would tell you that, too. That’s the one that could be the tiebreaker. There are so many working parts to it, it’s really hard to just not get disqualified sometimes. You have to do a down cut and an up cut. And the up cut — it’s called a switch when you cut down and cut through your first cookie and then come back up — it’s hard to get that one cut straight to make sure it’s not lopsided and too thick of a cookie. And you’re having to think about of all this in not even a half-second.
Logan competing in stock saw
What do you enjoy about timbersports?
I love the outdoors and that’s why I got into forestry. As far as the actual sport, I’ve always been an athlete. It kind of gives me a reason to be a weightlifter. I’ve always been a weightlifter, and I’ve always wanted to be physically fit. But when I got to college, I didn’t really have a reason to be an athlete anymore. Timbersports gives me a reason.
Would you like to stay active in timbersports after you graduate?
Definitely. It’s a fun thing to do. Unfortunately, there is a really big jump from college to professional timbersports. It’s too big of a jump. Only the top eight or top 15 in the world actually make a living off timbersports. That’s kind of unrealistic, but I’m definitely going to try to get as far as I can in it. At the same time, I’m pretty set on going to graduate school right now, and I’ve applied to NC State. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll hopefully work with a forest consultant to get my experience. I would like to become a forest consultant and have my own small business at some point.
What do you want people to know about timbersports?
I wish more people knew about it, honestly. I try to take time to explain to people what it is. Once everybody gets over the “Ha ha, chopping wood” part, it is pretty interesting to learn about. I’ve seen that a lot of people that don’t know about the sport like to hear about it.