Part of the action in the quarterfinals of the boom run took place before the event had officially started.
After posting a preliminary run that made her the first seed, Alyse Schroeder fell in a warm-up run, badly bruising her leg.
"I hit the log, my ankle twisted, and then I nailed my knee," Schroeder said, "and my foot was caught in the log."
Although they wear spikes to keep traction, Schroeder said that the rain and windstorm preceding the competition had some effect on the competitiors, but that she managed to put the pain and the weather out of her mind for her quarterfinal run.
"That wind will just blow you off the log," she said, "but when that adrenaline is pumping, you don't even feel it."
Schroeder sits in third going into tomorrow's run, posting a time of 13.5 seconds; she was slightly edged by both Shana Martin, with 13.3 seconds and Katie Rick, at 13.08.
Martin said that her time was "terrible," but that she was "just happy to be dry." Claiming the log arrangement and her competitor, Tanya Fischer, staying right on her heels, made for a rough run, Martin was glad to be through to tomorrow's competition.
Leader Katie Rick has had the fastest time after the first quarterfinal run in the past, and "didn't manage to pull off the win" in the next run. But, she says, she likes the difficult weather conditions which play to her consistency.
"I'm pretty steady," Rick said. "I don't have lightning-fast speed, but I'm steady. The win doesn't change anything for me mindset-wise, but I feel good about it."
New mom Jenny Atkinson managed to fight her way to Georgia in the elimination heat as did Tanya Fischer, who eliminated 2008 world champion, Taylor Duffy.
Despite heavy rain and high winds, the speed climb event managed to complete their quarterfinal round. Perennial favorites Derek Knutson and Brian Bartow lead the field with times of 12.62 seconds and 13 seconds flat, respectively. They will be joined in the semifinals by Stirling Hart, who defeated Wade Stewart with an opening round time of 12.73 seconds, and Cassidy Scheer, who narrowly defeated Shane Sabin with a time of 13.29 to Sabin's 13.75.
Scheer's time was especially impressive considering he overcame a leg injury suffered in the qualifying round when his toe gaffe sliced into his upper thigh, creating an approximately one-inch deep gash.
"I actually live and work in Costa Rica now and I just flew back to the U.S. about a week ago," said Scheer. "So I haven't had much time to train at all, and coming down I just don't have that comfort level." In preparation for the semifinals tomorrow, Scheer said he plans to "just keep it clean and keep moving."
But it was Bartow, who is also the reigning 2008 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS speed climb champion, and Knutson, who finished a close second last year, who literally ran away from the field. Both recorded the only sub-12 second times of the day during qualifying, and, at opposite ends of the bracket, could be headed for a final round collision course on Sunday.
But don't count Hart or Scheer out, says fellow competitor and veteran speed climber Guy German.
"This is a do-or-die race," he said just after being defeated by Knutson. "If Derek (Knutson) or Brian (Bartow) make a mistake you could easily beat one. One slip or disqualifying move and you could have a whole new guy advancing."
The top six competitors who will move on to Columbus, Ga. for the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Finals are: Brian Bartow, Derek Knutson, Cassidy Scheer, Stirling Hart, Wade Stewart and Guy German.