Matt Slingerland, who comes from a family of timbersport competitors, will vie for the national title this weekend in Georgia.
courtesy of espn outdoors
Matt Slingerland can cut it. And he can chop, saw, and do most anything else you can think of when it comes to hacking into tree stumps, blocks, and other large hunks of wood.
Matt comes by his talent honestly. His father, Mike, is a 24-time world titlist in various logging, or timbersports, disciplines. Not only that, Matt's mom, Barbara, has also competed at the highest levels of the sport and still takes on the occasional challenge with her husband in so-called Jack-and-Jill competitions. Matt's twin brother and younger sister also compete.
Notable, too, all in the family have been remarkably injury-free despite years of muscling mighty saws, axes, and chain saws at high speeds. Credit a self-pronounced fanaticism for safety as well as chain-link socks and shinguards.
Now Matt, the slight younger Slingerland, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 160 pounds, may soon wield the biggest ax on campus despite having just wrapped up his junior year of high school. Later this month, he'll battle for the college championship in a nationally televised competition. "I'm expecting to be the smallest person there," Matt says, smiling. "And the youngest."
He'll be giving up as much as 90 pounds to competitors. Matt, 17, enrolled in a class and joined the woodsmen's team of a nearby community college in an attempt to qualify for one of six spots in the Collegiate Series Championship on June 28-29 in Columbus, Ga. He did, clinching a spot in the national championship in April.
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Matt is part of a sawdust-savvy movement making its way across the nation. They haven't quite made bowl games and March Madness brackets passé, but so-called woodsmen's teams are gaining popularity on college campuses in every region. The buzz saw leading the way is TV. Organizers of the STIHL Timbersports professional tour, created and backed by the chain saw company in 1985, hoped to generate new interest in the sport several years ago. Although ESPN has covered the competitions for more than two decades, backers wanted to ensure a steady infusion of new talent. Their solution: A collegiate series, aimed at developing up-and-comers for the big tour.
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