If you thought your plan see a dog’s confidence grow, a log reduced to splinters and some of the best barbecue in the world this weekend would mean spending a lot of time channel surfing between Animal Planet and the Food Network, put down the remote.
The Aflac Outdoor Games returns to South Commons on Friday for three days of high-flying pups, power saw-wielding lumberjacks and slow cooking.
Dogs and their owners get a chance to show off their Frisbee skills and take a dive into the pool in events like the Georgia State Frisbee Championships and the Ultimate Air Dogs. The grills roll out for foodies as barbecuers from across the country compete for titles at the 2nd Annual Pig Bowl.
And then there’s something with a little more torque: the Stihl Timbersports competition, where competitors go head-to-head in a battle with lumber.
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“This is one of those things most people say they’ve flipped through the channels and seen on ESPN and they just stop because they say, ‘Wow, that’s amazing,’” Stihl communications manager Roger Phelps said. “These are all people who love the sport. They’re doctors, lawyers, principals, teachers and small business owners. You can root for folks you like.”
The winners of the timbersports events will qualify to represent their respective countries at the Stihl Timbersports World Championships in Switzerland this September.
Don’t forget the amateurs. While the professionals may be competing for more than $300,000 in prize money and a shot at a world title, the collegiate competitors are vying for discounted equipment, $1,000 in scholarship money and a bye into next year’s professional circuit.
Here’s a look at what you can expect to see over the next three days at South Commons.
Stihl Timbersports events
Hot saw: This is the fastest of the timbersports, earning the description as the funny car of chainsawing. Many of the saws are modified with snowmobile or motorcycle engines and run at anywhere from 25-65 horsepower. Competitors have to slice through a 19-inch block of wood three times. Like the rest of the lumberjack-style events, this is head-to-head and timed. The overall lowest time in each event gets the most points.
Single buck: Competitors in this event have nicknamed the 6-to-7-foot manual saw used the “misery whip,” but it’s much less strenuous for spectators. The event was designed to mimic the days before woodsmen had snowmobile engines to disassemble and attach to their tools. Competitors must make one cut through a 19-inch block.
Springboard: This is the event where the competitors are responsible for creating their own ladder on a tree. Participants have to use an ax to cut a notch near the bottom of a 9-foot pole and wedge in a piece of wood to stand on. They do this a couple of times until they’re up to 8 feet off the ground, where they have to chop their way through the 11-inch section atop the pole.
Standing block chop: Using an ax, competitors hack a V-shaped cut into one side of a foot-thick vertical pole and then do the same on the other side. Then they let gravity do its job.
Stock saw: This is the event that levels the field. While some people in other events put together super saws and modify their other equipment, stock saw competitors are given identically-tuned chain saws to put three slices through a 16-inch piece of wood.
Underhand chop: This event hearkens back to a simpler time, before power saws and long before there were cranes big enough to lift full pieces of timber. Using an ax, competitors must stand on of foot-thick log that’s lying like a downed tree. Cutting wedges into different sides of the log eventually lead to it breaking into two shorter pieces with that satisfying crack and a few more points to go with it.
Boom run: This women-only event trades the chain saw for some footwork. The racers sprint across a chain of six or seven logs floating in a 70-foot pool, turn a barrel at the other end and spring back. The logs are different diameters and lengths, making sure there are a few surprises along the way.
Speed climb: A pair of 60-foot-tall poles are scaled with some help from climbing spikes in this event. There’s a race to the top of the pole, and then comes the dangerous part: Competitors descend while one of the only things keeping them at a safe speed is the requirement to put their spikes in the pole every 20 feet.
Agility dogs: This event is the one where people with excitable dogs race them through a colorful obstacle course and — don’t worry — there are no saws involved. There are, however, enough weaves, tunnels and jumps to make sure only the most focused canines make it through. There are separate classes for different experience levels, as well as a pro and open division. Oh, and the course layout changes from trial to trial to keep the pups on their padded toes.
Flyball: This event pits four-dog teams against each other in a relay race. The dogs race one at a time over four hurdles to a box, which releases a ball to the dogs when they touch it. With ball in mouth, the dogs return to the starting point and, once they cross the start line, the next dogs are released.
This competition is sanctioned by the United Flyball League International, so the dogs can qualify for bigger tournaments, and owners can track their pet’s statistics online at the U-FLI’s Web site.
Ultimate Air Dogs: This is a sort of belly-flop contest for dogs. They’ll be judged in three different competitions: Splash, Ultimate Vertical and Catch It!
Splash is a bit misleading as the dogs will be judged on the distance from the edge of the dock to the tip of their tail where they land in the water, not their wake.
Hyped as the crowd favorite, the Ultimate Vertical judges a dog’s vertical leap. Dogs jump from the dock and grab or knock off a rubber bumper hanging above the pool during their jump. The target gets 2 inches higher every round, and dogs who miss it are disqualified. The competition goes until one dog is declared the winner.
The Catch It! competition is like Splash, but the jumps only count if the dog manages to snag an object — a Frisbee or toy — while making the leap.
Georgia State Frisbee Dog Championships: The state title makes its first appearance at the Aflac Outdoor Games this weekend. Dogs will compete in four divisions and in two formats (freestyle and toss and fetch). Judged based on the number of catches, the landings and the distance.
Extreme Sports Archery Challenge: This competition pits archers against each other in four events: Peek-A-Boo, Runner, Gamble and Earn a Buck.
In Peek-A-Boo, two archers go head to head for accuracy on a target that pops up from behind a screen; Runner features a moving target; and Gamble offers the shooters a chance to chose their target from a field of several at different distances and with point circles of different sizes. The current leader will get to chose a target first in Gamble, and like a good pool hustler, must call the shot before taking it.
In Earn a Buck, shooters have to hit each designated area of a target and the faster they do it, the more points they get.
Pig Bowl BBQ Contest: The professional and amateur barbecuing competition returns to Columbus this weekend. Teams will compete in up to four delicious categories – chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket. First through fifth place for each event will be awarded, however, to qualify for Grand or Reserve Grand Champions status, teams must compete in all four.