........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

Loggers’ sports in Europe

....Come fly with us! Us, meaning four champion loggers from British Colum-bia and your obedient servant. Why, of course we were off to beautiful Finland at the invitation of the Finnish government, to participate in the Eighth Annual Chain Saw Contest for Forest Workers.
....The four champion chaps were old friends to North American loggers sports: Ron Hartill, Allan Boyko, Owen Carney and Gordon Hart. The day before we left Vancouver, Ron Ron had once again won the All Round North American Championship Award at the Pacific National Exhi-bition. Owen and Gordon had also been very successful at the same contests and we picked up Allan in Toronto where he had been a feature at the big Canadian National Exhibition Logger’s Show.
....B.C. or Canada could not have sent better champions or for that matter, better ambassadors to Europe. To

say they were enjoyed and treated with great respect by the people of Finland would be putting it lightly. They were, in show biz lingo, a smash hit!
....Fourteen nations competed in the contest that was held in the town of Jyvaskyla (pronounced E-vesk-e-la) about 273 kilometres north of Helsinki. From the moment we landed in Finland, we were guests of that government, as were all other nations, until the event was over four days later. The nations participating were Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, U.S.S.R, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Jugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Turkey, Japan and Canada.
....The competing teams were made up of three loggers, one technical advisor and the leader of the delegation. We were all provided with an interpreter in our own language. Ours was a young Finnish soldier by name of Kari Hay-hanen, a fine young fellow who will in later life be a teacher of English and
....Because of plane connections, we arrived on the evening of the first day, thereby missing the chance for our chaps to practice as the others had, in the forest of the next day’s com-petitions.
....We were flown to our site from Helsinki by Finnair – the airline that had taken us from Montreal to Finland and would take us home in 10 days. One can only say about Finnair that if there is a better, more friendly airline in the world, this old traveler has yet to see it.
....Thank you Finnair.
....On the evening of our arrival at the beautiful resort hotel of Rantasipi at Jyvaskyla, we were immediately plun-ged into the very formal Olympic style of flag display and speeches of welcome by the International Com-mittee of the Games. The formality impressed us with its sincerity and the five Canadians – with the help of young
REPRESENTING British Columbia at loggers’ sports in Finland were (left to right): Owen Carney, Squamish; Ron Hartill, Sooke; Bill Moore, Winter Harbour; Alan Boyko, Port Albernni; Gordon Hart, Whonnock. Photo taken at Normark on the Baltic Sea.
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Kari were soon into the swim of a truly international mixture of mother tongues. The hands and eyes and snapshots from home play a very im-portant part of this adventure, believe me!
The Norwegian team were a wonderful bunch and immediately hel-ped our fellows to understand what the competition was all about. It seems through the uncertainty of our good old Canadian mails, we didn’t receive the International Rule Books and so our friendly loggers didn’t have a clue as to what the contests were all about.
As we found, the first two day’s events were held in the forest and comprised the felling of a tree and then the limbing of the same tree. This was a far removed contest from what our lads had done at the PNE or the CNE or in any of the multitude of Loggers sports events in North America. Something like nine judges per contestant stood by while the logger had to go through a strict routine of checking his hard hat, safety shield, ear muffs, stand in the proper place, wear gloves, approach the tree correctly, trim the butt away from swell-butt, place the correct undercut, then the back cut. The tree must fall within a small arc of a designated stake, then the logger must retreat to the place of designated safety.
....The limbing contest was a traumatic experience of correct procedure with the chain saw – resulting in a perfectly smooth trunk of the tree – with speed in limbing, leaving a tree with no bumps sticking out.
Now granted, this is not your average crowd pleasing loggers sport as we know it in North America, but 1,000 people braved a devil of a cold windy day to watch this international contest. It was a very rare day in Finland for the winds reached force 10 at the games and we were withdrawn from the forest in mid afternoon because of wind-felled trees.
....Our chaps did not fare too well that day because of the unknown rules and we could only stand and admire the Finnish, Russian and other teams that had such excellent command of their chain saws. The mixture of safety and production was something to watch! It was so evident that the contestants cared about their chain saws and honed them to their finest perfor-mance.
....The second and last day of the contest was held at a very modern race track which afforded the crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 a good viewing opportunity. Here the last three contest events took place.
....In roped off areas along the track, contestants would enter to be judged by the judges of the International Committee. The first event comprised
the placing of the chain saw on a table for examination by the judges. Then the contestant stepped forward and quickly removed the bar and chain from the machine and replaced them correctly back on the saw and tightened them to the correct torque. If the contestant, by mistake, put his chain on the bar backwards, he was compelled to enter the next two contests with his chain so affixed.
....The next event was the underbucking of a turned log to a mid line and then the down bucking to exactly meet the undercut. Points were given for approach to the raised log, for stance, for the remembering of safety equipment and the return to the starting place.
....The fifth and last event of the two day contest was the bucking of a turned log that lay flat on a piece of plywood. Again points were given for procedure, stance and safety. And of course if your chain was on backwards – so long baby!



British Columbia Lumberman, October, 1977  
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saw bucking and chair carving. With the always attendant Guide Kari, we announced to the crowd the demon-strations of Loggers Sports that so many have viewed on this continent. And our lads were up to it.They had really enjoyed the five events, but now they were on familiar ground and could do a little strutting of their own.
....The big Australian chopping axes flew as our lads bit into the excellent birch logs our hosts had made ready for us. The axe throwing contest was exciting as Alan and Gord kept tying each other in scores. The chair carving
drew breaths, then cheers as the crowd watched. Then the four chaps
  RUSSIAN competitors using the Ural style chainsaw – considerably different from the chainsaws used in North America.
paired off and did the double bucking saw race. This was only excelled by Ron’s solo bucking race against Gordon. The big fellow zapped through the 20 inch log in record time.
....But the event of the demonstration was Owen Carney’s solo log rolling act in the lake in the center of the race track. Here the nimble footed Carney whirled and twirled himself about on the turned log trying, it seemed, to put himself in the lake water. A stiff breeze was blowing and Owen was taken across the lake to a reed patch. There he gave an adagio ballet twirl that had the crowd roaring, as he flipped into the water.
....It was a great show – different from the contest – but one had to wonder after it was over, that somewhere down the next four or five years there is the chance of the two types meeting for a true World Championship. With
the safety and production oriented European style meeting and the crowd pleasing skill of the west, maybe a super type of Loggers Sport will emerge. Five Canadians I know certainly hope so!
....We returned to our delightful resort hotel that evening to prepare for the final ceremony. And what a ceremony it was! In the auditorium, flags of all 14 nations were flying. A military orch-estra was warmed up. On stage were the three Olympic style winners’ stands. We were all seated at tables with our flags. Pins were exchanged and speeches were made. A winner would be called and the orchestra would strike up that contestant’s national anthem. The crowd would chant the country’s name. Congra-tulations were given. And in all humbleness I must say that when Ron Hartill of Canada was called up to re-
ceive his Gold Medal – well folks – all hell broke loose! Kanada – Kanada!
....If you like this industry, and if you like your country – and even more so if you like loggers – it was one sweet place to be that night. The com-radeship of working men, the respect they were given by dignitaries, the enthusiasm of competing and the mere fact that such people as Russians, Canadians, Turks and Finns et al could be brought together in such a fine setting contributed to a most notable event.
....There were so many sidelights to all that I have tried to describe. One memorable one was when a very dig-nified gentleman came to me and handed me five envelopes containing 145 Finn Marks each ($35.00) for our spending money. I protested a bit, but was told it was International Rules and we must take it. It was a new exper-
ience. All the delegations were driven back to Helsinki on the final day and given a well-guided tour on the way of factories, castles and small towns. The meals were superb, the hospitality was complete.
....I would like to tell you more next month of our trip and our observations of logging in Finland, our impressions of the respect that Loggers Sports is afforded in Europe, and of some of the people we met in the forest around Finland.
THE LIMBING contest in a typical forest stand in Finland.

....................Keep out of the bight, Bill Moore

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British Columbia Lumberman, October, 1977