WRAP UP: 2020 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australian Trophy
The sound of chainsaws racing and axes chopping replaced the sounds of waves breaking at St Kilda beach on Saturday, 7th of March, as the 2020 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australian Trophy welcomed almost 5000 fans to the foreshore to cheer on Australia’s highest ranking STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® athletes.
15 athletes went head-to-head in a series of relay style knockout matchups throughout the day in a bid to be crowned Australia’s new Trophy Champion at the end. In each match-up, two athletes completed four disciplines back-to-back, starting with the stock saw, before moving to the underhand chop, followed by the single buck, before finishing on the standing block chop. The fastest athlete from each match-up progressed to the next round, culminating in a grand final between the last two remaining competitors.
Woodchopping legend, Laurence O’Toole did not disappoint, as he axed the competition and defended his title for the second year in the row in a thrilling grand final in time of just 1:04.94, beating fellow Victorian, Brayden Meyer by just 0.9 seconds.
HOW THE DAY UNFOLDED:
The day started with all athletes setting a qualification time in the time trial, and it looked like reigning world champion, Brayden Meyer (VIC), was going to blow the competition away once more setting a time of 1:05.38 – almost six seconds quicker than O’Toole. Brad De Losa (NSW) secured third place in the time trial with a time of 1:11.75, while Glen Gillam (VIC) took fourth in 1:12.62.
Finishing at the top is the ultimate reward, with athletes placed in the top four securing themselves a spot in the quarter final, skipping the knockout elimination round, earning themselves a rest. Athletes that placed five to 12 then went on to battle it out for a spot in the top eight, while athletes that placed 13 – 15 were immediately eliminated.
After a grueling elimination round, the final eight were locked in and that much closer to being crowned the 2020 Australian Trophy Champion:
Laurence O’TOOLE (VIC)
Brayden MEYER (VIC)
Mitchell ARGENT (QLD)
Brad DE LOSA (NSW)
Glen GILLAM (VIC)
Jamie HEAD (QLD)
Kody STEERS TAS)
Chris OWEN (NSW)
Waiting patiently in the quarter-final for the four victors of the elimination round were the four fastest athletes of the time trial, Brayden Meyer, Laurence O’Toole, Brad De Losa, and Glen Gillam. With an extra 30 minutes of rest up their sleeves, the odds were stacked strongly in their favour.
In heat 1, the fastest man so far, Brayden Meyer, didn’t need to dig too deep into his energy reserves, despatching Chris Owen comfortably by 17 seconds. Heat 2 on the other hand was a tasty affair with long-term rivals, Glen Gillam and Mitch Argent, going head-to-head.
The history with Argent and Gillam goes back a few years in STIHL TIMBERSPORTS®, with the pair battling to claim the coveted anchor spot in the Chopperoos team; a spot Argent had locked up for many years, until he failed to qualify for the Chopperoos in 2018. Gillam seized the opportunity, helping the Chopperoos to claim the world title in 2018, and followed that up in 2019 by out qualifying Argent once again, leaving him as the reserve.
Whilst at the 2019 World Championship, Gillam struggled to recreate his heroics of the previous year and captain, Brad De Losa, called on Argent to see if he could inject some much needed speed to improve the team’s times. Argent did not disappoint, and Gillam was left out for the reminder of the championship as the Chopperoos claimed victory.
Amazingly, Argent showed no signs of fatigue in the quarter final match-up against the rested Gillam, setting at time of 1:10.49; just 0.09 seconds off his personal best which was enough to take down Gillam who struggled to keep with the Queenslander in the single buck and the standing block.
The remaining heats followed the form guide, with favourites Laurence O’Toole and Brad De Losa comfortably beating their opponents in Jamie Head and Kody Steers.
With the competition now reaching the pointy end and the crowd showing a hunger for more action, the pressure on the final four athletes to deliver a thrilling performance was well and truly on, and deliver they did. The first semi-final put young powerhouses Brayden Meyer and Mitch Argent up against each other, whilst the other saw two legends of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® series, Brad De Losa and Laurence O’Toole, went head-to-head.
Meyer and Argent did not disappoint. The pair were neck-and-neck in the first two disciplines, the stock saw and underhand chop, however Meyer pulled away from Argent in the single buck as the Queenslander struggled to get into his rhythm. For most, a three hit lead into the final discipline, the standing block chop, might seem uncatchable, but when the man behind is the best in the world, a three hit lead sometimes isn’t enough. Meyer maintained his composure to set the second fastest time of the day in 1:06.67; and while Argent did catch-up, it was too little, too late.
In the second semi-final, O’Toole and De Losa put on the closest battle the Australian Trophy has ever seen, with the video judge called into action to split the pair.
De Losa got saw to wood first in the stock saw, a discipline he knew he had to create a lead in against the big hitting Victorian, however O’Toole worked the STIHL MS 661 C-M Magnum chainsaw to its absolute maximum to cut the first complete cookie. De Losa showed great agility in the transition to the second discipline, the underhand chop, once again hitting the wood first. The pair matched each other hit for hit with De Losa keeping his slender lead as they made the transition to the single buck. Both sawed like men possessed, O’Toole with his back to De Losa, just hoping that the king of the single buck didn’t open up too big a lead.
His hopes weren’t answered as De Losa dropped the disc first and got a hit and half lead in the standing block, as he looked to be in control of his own destiny, however O’Toole had other plans, catching De Losa and beating him on the final discipline by just 0.21 seconds, securing a spot in the grand final against Meyer.
GRAND FINAL: O’TOOLE VS. MEYER
After 4 hours of competition, all that remained were two competitors, eight blocks of wood, and a crowd of thousands ready and waiting to cheer on their favourite STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® athlete to victory.
Both athletes got their stock saws to the wood simultaneously, matching each other through the one cut of the 40cm poplar log. As the cookies dropped to the floor, Meyer took a small advantage in the transition to the underhand chop, placing his first hit just ahead of O’Toole.
At the half way stage Meyer kept his slight advantage, if O’Toole was going to make up the gap he needed to find something in the single buck, as it was unlikely he could find it in the standing block, a discipline that Meyer is the Australian Record holder in. O’Toole found what he needed, running his single buck saw to perfection, dropping the cookie a fraction ahead of his rival.
Meyer looked to have the advantage, making the turn to the backside after just nine hits. O’Toole followed shortly after on ten hits, however one up hit, followed by three devastating drives, and his block was on the floor 0.9 seconds ahead of Meyer’s, setting a new Australian record of 1:04.94.
O’Toole did it again! Back-to-back Australian Trophy Champion, $20,000 in his pocket, a new Australian record to add to his long list of accolades.
The STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australia series airs on 7mate every Saturday from 12.30pm (AEST).