By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – From Paul Bunyan on down, Minnesota has quite a tradition when it comes to lumberjacks.

So you probably won’t be surprised to learn that in the world of timbersports, one of the best in the country comes from right here in Minnesota.

Meet the latest Minnesotan looking to make his mark, Ben Whelan.

You might think it’d be easy to make your mark when you’re making it with a chain saw.

But spend a little time with Whelan, and you’ll understand exactly what it takes to get to the top of his sport.

“I’d seen it on TV here and there but I’d never actually even thought I’d be doing it up until I actually picked an axe up,” Whelan said.

The first time for that was three years ago when as a student at the University of Minnesota he joined the forestry club.

“I was hooked after that,” Whelan said.

He has been training hard ever since, he even has a trainer

There are four events that make up a timbersports competition, stock saw, single buck sawing, underhand chop and standing block chop.

“I think it’s just a huge rush to be up there. Hitting a log as hard as you can with an axe and chopping it in half as fast as you can, and you get that single buck saw going and you hardly realize how much work it is when you’re in competition,” Whelan said.

It’s all about speed.

The fastest guy wins, and in the stock saw Whelan had the fastest time in the country.

It helped him win the Midwest qualifier, and earn a trip to the national championships in Virginia at the end of June.

“I’m really excited to get the chance to go. It’s a huge step in all the time I’ve spent on this sport,” Whelan said. “It’d be unbelievable to win it, I don’t even know what I’d do if I won.”


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