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Harmony man crowned Stihl Rookie Canadian Champion on his way to world timbersport competition


Morse training hard to refine technique, build strength

HARMONY, NS - With a Canadian rookie championship under his belt, a Harmony man is looking to chop his way to international timbersport fame.

Twenty-two-year-old Connor Morse of Harmony has arrived on the national Stihl Timbersports scene in a big way, winning the 2018 Rookie Canadian Championship in his first attempt at the title this past July in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. Morse’s win was televised across the country on TSN4 on December 19.

“It was always a lifetime dream to be on TSN, so it was pretty cool, I was pretty happy that I got to be on and it aired,” Morse said.

The TV appearance has brought Morse a lot of recognition and he enjoyed getting to sit back and watch the competition with his family. He always reviews videos of his events to pick up on nuances he can improve on. In this regard, the TV coverage was a great learning experience.

He said the easiest way to describe Stihl Timbersports is an international lumberjack association. National competitions are held in the Rookie division (men under age 25), the Women’s division and the Pro division. The Pro division is considered open, so anyone over age 25 can enter. National champions move on to compete at the world championships.

Morse said it’s known as “the original extreme sport.” In the Rookie division, participants compete in four events: the underhand chop, the standing block chop, single buck and stock saw. All the events are timed and the fastest competitor wins. Morse placed first in the underhand, single buck and stock saw and second in the standing block.

“I had personal bests, actually, in every event,” Morse said. “It was the best wood I ever chopped too, and I trained a lot for that competition, so that helped.”

Rookie champion Connor Morse shows you behind the scenes at the world championship!

Posted by STIHL Timbersports on Friday, 19 October 2018

He excels the most at the underhand and single buck. In the underhand, competitors stand atop the block of wood and chop it in the centre, between their feet, with an axe. The single buck involves sawing through a block of wood with a six-foot long cross-cut saw. In the standing block, competitors use an axe to chop through a block of wood stood up vertically and competitors use chain saws in the stock saw event.

Morse said that although the quality of the wood they work with at Stihl competitions is very consistent, the piece you must use comes down to a draw. If you happen to draw a bad block such as one with knots in it, it can drop you down in the standings considerably.

Morse grew up on the family cattle farm and started on his current path at age six, taking part in woodsmen competitions in 4-H. He competed on the college circuit for four years during his time as a student in the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture in Truro before moving on to the Stihl competition. He earned his way onto the national stage at a qualifier in Memramcook, New Brunswick.

Morse said the national Rookie champion automatically becomes the sixth member of the Canadian relay team, essentially a spare. In November, Morse attended a seven-day training camp in Spain before going to the Pro world championships in Liverpool, England, with the relay team.

Morse was part of a team during his college years but he enjoys the fact that the onus is on him alone to focus, train hard and perform well in the Stihl competitions. His goal is to advance into the Pro division when he reaches age 25. Morse also competes in Maritime Lumberjacks Association events during the summer months.

There is always room to improve. Being one of the smallest guys in the competition, Morse said technique is key to his success. He’s focusing on further refining his skills and building strength as he prepares for the world Rookie championships coming up in Sweden this May.

When it comes to the axes they use, Morse said it’s like taking seven-pound razor blades, attaching handles to them and swinging them as hard as they can. Safety is key when it comes to timbersports, such as the chainmail guards Morse wears for protection.

Morse said he is fortunate to have Green Diamond Equipment of Kentville sponsoring him by providing a Stihl 661 chainsaw so he can practice for the stock saw event.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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