From the leafy suburbs of Mel­bourne to world cham­pion wood chop­per

Lau­rence O’Toole spon­sored by Ko­matsu For­est

Australian Forests and Timber - - Profile -

From a kid who grew up in the leafy eastern suburbs of Mel­bourne, Lau­rence O’Toole’s choice of hobby-turned-ca­reer was vastly dif­fer­ent to most city dwellers. In­stead of the norm of footy, cricket and the like, he chose wood chop­ping.

“Wood chop­ping was pretty much a sep­a­rate life to all my other friends and week­end ac­tiv­i­ties.

While they all played football I went chop­ping at coun­try shows with my dad and from a re­ally young age I knew that I wanted to try make a ca­reer out of it,” he said.

And what a choice it was .... he is cur­rently spon­sored by Ko­matsu For­est and has com­peted against some of the best in the world, all around the world, and has been highly suc­cess­ful.

His favourite dis­ci­pline is the un­der­hand chop. He ranks in the top three in the world in both un­der­hand and stand­ing block chops and is cur­rent US Open Cham­pion in both th­ese events.

Now 196cm and 92kgs, O’Toole said he has “been chop­ping since I could walk, and I’m 37 now”.

He is a third gen­er­a­tion world cham­pion and learned from his fa­ther.

Th­ese are the events Lau­rence com­petes in:

Un­der­hand chop – the com­peti­tor stands with feet apart on a 30-35cm white pine log. At the sig­nal, he be­gins to chop through the log with his rac­ing axe.

Stand­ing spring­board – a dis­ci­pline based on the need for old time log­gers to es­tab­lish a cut­ting plat­form above the mas­sive root bases of old growth trees; the com­peti­tor uses an axe to chop pock­ets into a 270cm po­plar pole and then place 15cm wide spring­board plat­forms into the pock­ets

Hot saw – the ath­lete uses a cus­tomised chain­saw with a mod­i­fied en­gine, usu­ally taken from a per­sonal wa­ter­craft or snow­mo­bile

Sin­gle buck – the lum­ber­jack makes one cut through 50cm of white pine us­ing a sin­gle man cross-cut saw. The com­peti­tor may have a helper wedge his cut into the log to pre­vent the saw teeth from stick­ing.

The un­der­hand chop is O’Toole’s spe­cial­ity. While it looks po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous, he said he only “cut my foot once when I was 7 do­ing what I had been told not to do, other than that noth­ing”.

Lum­ber­jack­ing, is “more of a part-time job for me than a hobby. I prac­tice a cou­ple times a week”, O’Toole said.

“I’m spon­sored by Ko­matsu For­est and they want me to go ev­ery­where I can. I travel all over Europe, North Amer­ica and Aus­tralia to com­pete.”

His re­sults so far this year are pretty im­pres­sive:

Hot­saw elim­i­na­tion World Cham­pi­onship in Web­ster WV USA

USA triple crown Un­der­hand, Stand­ing Block and Spring­board at the Amer­i­can Na­tion­als in Mor­gan­town WV, USA

Teams re­lay World Cham­pion, Cana­dian Un­der­hand and Stand­ing win­ner.

Hot­saw World Cham­pi­onship win­ner at Pow­ell River, Bri­tish Columbia, Canada

Lum­ber­jack World Cham­pi­onship Un­der­hand win­ner at Hay­ward, Wis­con­sin, USA

Over­all, Lau­rence’s best USA sum­mer yet, be­ing the first Aus­tralian to win ma­jor Hot­saw races in Amer­ica with his new Ko­matsu For­est Hot­saw all whilst driv­ing 18,000 km across the coun­try to par­tic­i­pate in all events.

Au­gust:- 1st @Bris­bane Ekka 300mm stand­ing block hard hit­ting Aus­tralian cham­pi­onship

Au­gust:- 1st @Royal Ade­laide show 300mm uh hard hit­ting Aus­tralian cham­pi­onship

“I’m still based in Mel­bourne but I spend the ma­jor­ity of the win­ter months in Amer­ica on the lum­ber­jack cir­cuit.

“I like pretty much all out­doors stuff, fish­ing, wake­board­ing and I love train­ing in the gym,” he says.

I’m still based in Mel­bourne but I spend the ma­jor­ity of the win­ter months in Amer­ica on the lum­ber­jack cir­cuit.

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