............THE FOREST






Norway – and the chain saw Olympics … Part II

Dick Herling came so close to win-ning a gold medal in the under and over bucking competition that we could taste it. Here we Canadians were in Norway up against the cream of European chain saw loggers. Dick has the Gold prac-tically in his grasp, when the 40th – and last – competitor beats out his points and our hero from Sooke comes out with a Silver.
....The chap was a Finlander, Matti Saastomoinen, who as it turned out came in second in the overall individual championship. So we had to settle for our only prize, but our hearts were young and gay, for we were “on the books” and the effort had been worthy.
Last month I wrote of our first few days at the World Chain Saw Competition in picturesque Norway. I’d like now to relate the events of the final day of the affair, and of course the further adven-tures of the Canadian teams – Jube Wickheim, technical advisor and judge, and Owen Carney, Ron Hartill and Silver Dick Herling, plus yours truly as delegation leader.
....Three contests were held on this last day. First came the “mounting of the chain saw blade.” The blade holding nuts are torqued by the judges to a set amount and the competitors chain is


placed on a table surrounded by three judges. At the word “Go,” the con-testant advances to the table from a set starting point and with speed and efficiency must undo the nuts, take off the chain and the blade, set them down, and put them back on again. Demerits are given for too slack or too tight a chain, improper tightening of the blade nuts, or for any slight cut to the hands from the chain.
....While this all sounds simple, it is a fundamental job with a saw that is too often done in a sloppy manner. The whole idea of these competitions is to drill home the care and maintenance of equipment, and the proper use of the equipment for efficiency, safety and speed. This is not a great, crowd-pleasing show, as we know in the west. It is competition in the proper use of a very important tool in the forest world – the chain saw.
....We noted in this contest that if by chance, in his haste, the competitor puts his chain on the blade backwards, he is compelled to advance to the next contest – bucking, with his chain still backwards. Don’t laugh, it happens!
The second contest is the under and over bucking competition that “Silver” Dick took his award in. Here two smooth logs, 35 cm in diameter, are fastened on saw horses and a disc must

be cut from each one. A red line along the center of the log denotes how high up the contestant must come with his undercut. Meeting the cut, angle of cut, safety rules, efficiency and speed are again the criteria of the three judges present.
....The fifth and final event is the bucking of two logs that lie directly on a plywood surface. Two to three milli-meters of sawdust are placed on the plywood to hide the actual bottom of the logs from the contestant. Again at the given command, he must pick up his already started saw, approach the first log and try to cut or come as close as he can to cutting off a disc. Then he does the same with the other log.
....The trick is to “feel” your way through the sawdust to within at least five mm of cutting the disc off. If the contestant touches the plywood with his chain he is disqualified. The event makes good sense, for in actual use in the woods there are often times when the logger must “feel” his way through a buck if he is to do his job correctly.
Ron Hartill had won the Gold in this event in Finland three years pre-viously, but while he did quite fair this time, there was to be no prize. Again I can only emphasize how good these European chaps are at the use of a chain saw.
....So we came to the competition’s end, and we noted the Russian protest for one of their competitors in the over and under bucking. They stated their man had been disqualified unfairly. After many committee meetings the Russian was allowed to do the event over again. This changed the Russian team score from fourth to second place.
....The last portion of the day was left for the Canadian demonstrations of our type of North American events. A large crowd gathered, and in a misty rain, it was our lads’ turn to be admired.
....Ron and Dick excited the crowd

CANADA’S Dick Herling bucks his way to a silver medal
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British Columbia Lumberman, November, 1980

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with their speed and accuracy in the horizontal wood chop. Then Owen did a demonstration of the Obstacle Pole Buck, followed by a chair carving contest between Jube and Ron. Appropriately, the chairs were presented to our Norwegian hosts.
....Then Owen took on Jube at the Axe Throw, and as if it were planned, Carney hit three bulls’ eyes in a row. Nothin’ to it!
....We had the crowd stirred up by this time, but when Ron and Dick challenged Sweden’s Rolf Johanson to a sawing contest between their double buck hand saw and his chain saw they really became aroused. Of course between the two Canadian lads they won – and easily – because they generate something like a thousand horsepower on that hand saw.
....The finale was up to Owen. We had set up on a small hill behind the crowd to the largest birch tree we could find. He had about fifty feet of climbing room and as the crowd turned about, still stunned from the saw race, they really got their jollies in watching Owen scurry up the tree and come down in leaps with his climbing spurs.
....With much applause and with a real sense of appreciation for our type of logger sport the European contestants gathered around to thank the Canadians.
....There is a great sense of fellowship at these competitions. While political feelings are not altogether put aside, they take second place to the knowledge that all the contestants earn their living from the forest and this common bond gives them a respect for each others’ talent. The fact that they are all champions in their own countries allows them to meet on an equal basis, and with the help of translators, compare forestry notes.
....The final evening in Norway was to be spent at the town hall of Brandbu,

where the awards would be given and where we would have our banquet and entertainment.
....After a hearty meal of Reindeer meat we watched and applauded as the indi-vidual and team winners were announ-ced, and went up to receive their Gold, Silver or Bronze. In team standings the Finlanders were a deserved first, with Russia second and Czechoslovakia third. In individual standings Jouko Keskiaho and Matti Saastarnoinen of Finland were first and second with Rein Shmidt of Russia third. Our Silver Dick Herling received a fitting yell of approval for his prize in bucking.
....After the presentations came more speeches and your humble servant was asked to say ac few words. I thanked our host, congratulated the winners and presented three new throwing axes – one each for Norway, Czechoslovakia and Poland (next year’s host). I told the crowd that we Canadians would get better at their competitions, but that we expected the Europeans to begin learning our style of competition. This thought was well received, and I predict that axe throwing will become an international competition in a few years.
The international aspect of the competition was also brought home to us when we were bussed, after the Canadian demonstration, to a nice wooded area where each delegation leader planted a pine seedling in front of his country’s name. Even the rain did not spoil this very nice touch.
....We had traveled nearly half way around the world to this excellent competition and had met so many of our peers. We five Canadians believed our effort was worthy and I can say once again – as I have so often on this page – that our industry, or for that matter Canada, could not send better ambassadors to such an international gathering than Wickheim, Hartill, Carney, or Herling. They do our name proud amongst our forest colleagues in

Bulgaria, Norway, Rumania, Den-mark, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Hungary, France, Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the U.S.A.
....As to the European style and system of loggers sports compared to our own, west coast variety, there can be little comparison. Ours is a spec-tator sport of a competitive nature that shows our public the skills of a logger under a high degree of excitement. The European style, so much like the Ontario Loggers Sports Association’s competitions, is directed at teaching loggers to work in an efficient, safe and productive manner. It is not meant as a crowd pleaser, although it does not lack crowds entirely.
....If I have any thoughts after seeing both styles for some years, it is to hope that our schools of forestry could use the European and Ontario way to better interest young people in the need for better workmanship and better safety, both done with efficiency. Remember, the Europeans we saw are also, in a way, our com-petitors in the market place. For those of you interested in that aspect, I suggest you support such worthy competitions in the future.
....I would like to thank the International Woodworkers of Ame-rica and the Council of Forest Industries for their partial financial support of our expenses. To some individual friends who came to our aid, we doff our hard hats. Thanks.
....Thank you Norwegians, for your wonderful hospitality – and for a glimpse of the forest around you. Atta’ boy, Dick!

.........................Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore
British Columbia Lumberman, November, 1980
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