Skip to main content

Is This Modern-Day Lumberjack Competition the Coolest Sport in the World?

To cut to the chase, yes, the Stihl Timbersports Competition is, indeed, the coolest sport in the world.

How could it not be when all six disciplines that make up Stihl Timberpsorts involve chainsaws, hot saws, axes, wood-chips and saw dust flying, massively muscled arms moving faster than your eyes can take it all in, and the deafening roars of a crowd who are there to see some of the finest lumberjacking in the world? What makes this competition even cooler is that, well, it’s made up mostly of men in their prime. This isn’t a sport for young bucks — most competitors don’t hit their stride until their mid-thirties, some into their early forties. This is decidedly for the men, not the boys.

And one of those men, Matt Cogar, has been the reigning U.S. champ for six years in a row (2012-2018). Looking more like The Mountain from Game of Thrones than a normal human, Matt Cogar is just the latest of the Cogar clan to make his name in the Timbersports world. His cousin, Arden Cogar, Jr. (who is also a trial lawyer!) is an ardent Timbersports competitor, as well as his father, Arden Cogar, Sr. (who made the Timbersports final at the age of 60 in 1994), and Matt’s father, Paul. Hailing from the forests of West Virginia, the Cogars are the unofficial First Family of Timbersports, and seeing any one of them compete is a chance to watch true experts in their field.

The 2019 Stihl Timbersports Competition will take place July 26-28 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before you attend — or watch live — here’s everything you need to know about the six intense disciplines of the event.

Single Buck


Perhaps the most iconic of the disciplines, the single buck requires contestants to use a long saw weighing between 15 and 18 pounds to cut through a 19-inch diameter piece of white pine. Most competitors can do this in around 11-12 seconds. Our own attempts cocked in at over a minute, so trust us when we say it’s so much harder than it looks.

Standing Block Chop

Stihl Timbersports Competition Standing Block Chop

The most traditional-looking event in the competition involves chopping through a vertically oriented 12-inch-diameter white pine log. While this event may look like a bunch of guys swinging baseball bat-style at a chunk of wood, there’s a very nuanced method to getting that wood chopped in half in the fastest time. It involves first cutting one side at an upward angle and then the other at a downward one, until the final blow completely severs the top of the block, often knocking it a dozen feet downstage. This event is hands-down one of the most extreme, high-intensity, anaerobic exercises a person could do.

Stock Saw

Stihl Timbersports Competition Stock Saw

Featuring the second-most powerful saws that Stihl builds, the Stihl MS660, the stock saw event requires competitors to start their saws and cut down, and then cut up in the four inches of wood allotted. It’s that simple, but this simplicity belies the event’s true difficulty — cuts can go at an angle, creating wood discs of “cookies” that aren’t the same thickness throughout, or that have thinned at one edge to the point of being incomplete. The goal is to cut two wood cookies of stable width in the fastest time. Since this discipline features equivalent machines, the contestants’ speed and skill are the determining factors in who wins this race. Most times for individual competitors are separated by less than a second.

Underhand Chop

Extreme Cuts: Underhand Chop

The underhand chop is the most visually frightening of the events. Contestants plant their feet firmly on a 3-foot-long log and swing their axe from above their head directly between their feet to cut halfway through the log before turning around (without touching the ground) and chopping through the other side until the log splits in half. As Stihl says, “The underhand chop mimics how early lumberjacks would cut fallen logs to length in the woods and is usually the first chopping discipline a competitor learns.” Times for this event come in at a mere 20 seconds.

Springboard Chop

One of the most exciting (and dangerous, mostly due to falls) disciplines, the springboard chop requires the competitor to first chop with an ax a notch at around belly-button height into a nine foot poll, insert a springboard into the notch, climb up onto that springboard, and then chop another above and repeat. Once both springboards have been chopped and inserted and the competitor is standing on the top one (about six feet above the ground), he’ll chop at the final log. The event is over when the top log has been cut through and knocked to the ground. Times for the springboard chop typically clock in at just around one minute.

Hot Saw

Hot Saw
Chase McPeak/The Manual

The loudest and craziest of the disciplines, the Hot Saw ends every Timbersports competition and frequently makes or breaks the contestants due to an individual hot saw’s fickle nature. Using a modified chainsaw where the only thing remaining from the chainsaw is the chain itself, this beast of machines is more often than not hand-built using 250-350cc, two-stroke engines that began life powering a dirt bike or snow machine. The goal of this discipline is to fire up the hot saw (which doesn’t always happen immediately since these machine function on the “ragged edge” of maximum power) and make a down cut, up cut, and a final down cut in around 5 seconds. The hot saw is also the most expensive piece of equipment, with some costs coming in at $10,000.

Article originally published August 23, 2017. Last updated with the 2019 dates and 2018 winners.

Chase McPeak
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chase McPeak is the former Lifestyle Editor. Chase regularly appeared on Beards, Booze, and Bacon: The Manual Podcast where…
The 10 best Hugh Jackman movies of all time
Grab some popcorn and log in to your streaming services to follow along with our list of Jackman must-sees
Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano in Prisoners

For well over two decades now, Hugh Jackman has been one of Hollywood's most defining movie stars. He's the kind of actor who can do it all: sing, dance, tear up on cue, shoot metal claws out of his hands, etc. Because of his vast array of talents, Jackman has had one of the most varied careers of any major star of his era. He was critical to the early success of the superhero trend, and that role has certainly defined how he's perceived by the public. In between playing Wolverine in various films, though, Jackman has also made time for great movies in a wide array of other genres.

If you like these Hugh Jackman movies, you might want to check out our list of the best Brad Pitt movies as well.

Read more
The best shows to binge on Peacock in July
Lots of NBC hits are on Peacock now — here are the best shows to watch
Gabriel Macht wearing a light gray suit

There are definitely too many streaming services. Thanks to Netflix's revolution, every broadcast network and parent company decided that they had to get in on the streaming wars. Peacock TV is NBC Universal's streaming service, and although it may not seem like the most attractive option, there are actually a number of great Peacock movies and shows available on the service that are hard to find anywhere else.
Some of those popular shows are Peacock streaming originals, although there are plenty that initially aired on NBC or elsewhere, and have wound their way to Peacock thanks in part to the complicated nature of TV rights. Regardless of where the best Peacock shows came from originally, though, all the ones on this list are well worth checking out. Looking for more streaming options? We also have your guide to the best shows on Netflix, the best shows on Hulu, and the best shows on Paramount Plus.

Suits (2011)

Read more
Succession (and fashion) fans will probably love Apple TV+’s newest series
What to know about Apple TV plus' La Maison
The Apple TV Plus Logo

Thanks to a multi-billion dollar technology business, Apple is in the rare position of not relying on its streaming service as a primary driver of revenue. That means that Apple puts out fewer shows and movies than its competitors, but also that those shows and movies tend to be of a slightly higher quality. For their latest series, Apple TV+ has announced that they'll be diving into the world of fashion for La Maison. Here's everything we know about the new series and where it's drawing its inspiration from.
La Maison: A feud between two fashion empires
La Maison will be set in a contemporary French atelier and will focus on two feuding families who are akin to the Arnaults and Pinaults. The show was created by showrunners José Caltagirone and Valentine Milville and was based on an original idea from executive producer Alex Berger.

The series, which will be in French, will feature a roster of great talent.

Read more