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Thursday, July 7, 2005
Wynyard takes Stihl TimberSport title

By Steve Bowman
Great Outdoor Games staff

BRANSON, Mo. — Jason Wynyard is vindicated, sort of. Wynyard won the Stihl TimberSports Championship Saturday, reclaiming the title he had to himself for four of the past five years. Last year he was unseated as the king of the lumberjacks by Dave Bolstad.

Dale Ryan's poor finish in the Single Buck event took him out of contention.
This year, Wynyard's single purpose has been to regain the title. Saturday he succeeded, but not in the way he had hoped.

"I really don't deserve this,'' Wynyard said. "I did almost everything I could wrong. But anything can happen, and it's just unbelievable that I won.''

Wynyard's statements weren't made with the pretense of being gracious. Many of those watching the championship between the top 12 lumberjacks in the world would have to agree.

Wynyard finished eighth in the Springboard and Stock Saw and fifth in the Underhand Chop. Midway through the competition, it appeared as if the expected two-man race between Wynyard and Bolstad had changed to a two-man race between Bolstad and Dale Ryan.

A season-long battle

From the start of the Stihl TimberSports Series in June the competition between Wynyard and Bolstad has been at center stage. Wynyard made no secret that he was intent on winning back his title, while Bolstad was intent on keeping it. Through the series, the two big lumberjacks from New Zealand dominated the Series, setting up the showdown in the Championship.

Final Point Standings

52 Jason Wynyard
51 Dave Jewett
49 Dale Ryan
43 Dave Bolstad
43 Kerry Head
41 Dion Lane
34 Harry Burnsowrth
33 Mike Sullivan
32 Matt Bush
31 Mel Lentz
30 Carson Bosworth
28 Brad Turner

Early on Ryan, though, looked as if he would be the spoiler for both of them. And by the time the day was over, Dave Jewett would surprise even himself by being in a position to win.

In the Stihl TimberSports Series, a total of 26 lumberjacks compete in six events, three sawing events and three chopping events. For two days leading up to the finals, each of the competitors qualifies for the individual events. Depending on how well they do cutting or chopping in the qualifiers they may compete in all six, or just a few to garner points in the finals.

At the Championship, though, there are no qualifying days, and the 12 competitors must compete in all of the events. Like a track meet, the lumberjack with the most points at the end of the day wins.

Bolstad and Ryan started the day on top. Bolstad blew away the field in the Spring Board, posting a 38-second round. Ryan followed him, while Wynyard struggled to an eighth place finish.

Even Wynyard admitted that there were shades of the 2001 competition, when Bolstad rushed through the competition winning four of the six events. The Stock Saw, though, put Ryan on top, where he would stay until the final event.

Ryan could only post a sixth place finish but Wynyard finished eighth in that event, while Bolstad was dead last.

"I continually had that little voice inside of me telling me 'To keep my head up,'" Wynyard said.

But every time he looked up, Ryan was there. Even after the third event, the Standing Block Chop, which Wynyard won, Ryan continually moved ahead of him. Ryan finished third, garnering enough points for four-point lead over Bolstad and six points over Wynyard.

And it got worse in the Underhand Chop when Bolstad and Ryan finished one and two, respectively, while Wynyard could only manage a fifth-place finish, giving Ryan a nine-point lead with two events remaining.

"I would have bet the bank that Ryan was going to walk away with it,'' Wynyard said.

Single Buck miscues

David Bolstad jumped the gun in the Single Buck, and removed any chance he had for a repeat.
But strange things can happen in a sport where success is measured in tenths of a second. In the Single Buck, a competition Wynyard typically dominates, he finished second to Jewett. Meanwhile, disaster struck for Bolstad and Ryan. Wynyard didn't waste any time running through the door that they left open. And he wasn't the only one rushing through.

With one event remaining Jewett, Wynyard and Ryan were tied for first with 41 points and Bolstad had fallen to fifth, four points out of the lead.

Immediately, the tremors of excitement were evident, with Jewett representing America, Wynyard representing New Zealand and Ryan representing Australia, all of them battling it out in the final event, the Hot Saw, for the championship title.

The battle didn't last too long, though. Wynyard made three cuts through a 20-inch log in 5.84 seconds, finishing second, while Jewett was third and Ryan was fifth.

"I can't tell you how many hours I've spent working on the Hot Saw,'' Wynyard said. "But I still can't believe it. Any win is good, but it's just amazing to me that I did so bad in two events and came back.''

Wynyard finished the day with 51 points, followed by Dave Jewett with 50. Ryan was third with 49 points, while Bolstad and Kerry Head tied for fourth with 43 points.