Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Credit Where Credit is Deserved

I had an amazing weekend at the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward. And yes, it was extremely cool that I was able to pull off both wins with my torn ACL. I got a lot of great attention (see photo from Duluth Trading Company below) and heard my name and knee story announced multiple times at the competition. But after all of this hoopla and excitement, I needed some time to level my head and realize it was ONLY a knee; no superhuman feat. There are two competitors from this year’s Lumberjack World Championships who are walking miracles, one of whom hardly got any credit at all for his amazing comeback.

In February of 2007 Dave Jewett suffered renal failure. After 6 months of dialysis Dave underwent a kidney transplant thanks to his father Bill. Now, less than a year later, he is back on top as one of the World’s best lumberjacks. After a bit of a struggle early in this season, Dave finished as the top American at the Lumberjack World Championships. Dave serves as an inspiration to all of those who have undergone transplant surgeries. There is a reason why his nickname is “Super Dave”.

Iraq, December 19th 2006: JR Salzman’s convoy was hit by and IED and he lost his right hand. Multiple surgeries later, JR ended up with only four fingers on his left hand, and a prosthetic lower right arm. Not to mention traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder which is so common in wounded soldiers. After a year of treatments at Walter Reed Hospital, JR finally moved back to Wisconsin with his wife Josie, and tried to return to a somewhat “normal” life. Not long after moving back, JR was back on the log. We took a GREAT trip up to Canada in early July and JR wowed everybody with his incredible log rolling skills, despite the new balance issues with the prosthetic.
He had a bit of rough weekend at the Lumberjack World Championships, most likely do to all of the crazy attention he was getting, but he still was back at it and did his best.

In the beginning of the weekend I tried to whine and complain about me knee to both of these amazing men, and was put back in my place immediately. These guys are your real champions from the Lumberjack World Championships. Congrats boys.

Click here for a video about Dave's Journey.
Click here for a video about JR's Journey.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

End of the Season

Log Rolling? We're here to kick some butt sawing!

This exciting lumberjack season ended with a contest in beautiful Grand Marais, Minnesota. Hosted by Jenny and Neil Atkinson we competed along the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior in not only log rolling and boom running, but also double and single cross cut sawing, and axe throwing! Now keep in mind, although many of us log rollers call ourselves lumberjacks, most of us have no clue how to handle a saw or axe. Thus, the jill and jill team of Shana Martin and Taylor Duffy and the jack and jill team of Dave Sievert and Shana Martin were quite pathetic. The funny part was that we all took this quite seriously, and were extremely mad when we did not win. Now not only am I going to have to buy a choker (see “Canadaland”) but I am also going to have to learn to saw! I’ll put this stuff off until after surgery…

The log rolling was fun as always, especially with the colorful commentating of Taylor and myself. My head was completely somewhere else and I ended up taking second place to Jenny Atkinson. The pattern continues with Jenny and me taking turns at winning contests. Next one is mine! :)

Sunday we all drove up the Gunflint trail to Jenny and Neil’s beautiful cabin on the lake. We ate probably the BEST pancake breakfast I’ve ever had (this was part of Jenny’s plan, to stuff us all before we had to compete) then warmed up on her enormous boom runs. We had a great morning and afternoon of boom run competition, and with the status of my knee, I was pretty darn pleased with how well I ran. Taylor had an amazing day and took first, but she deserved it. After a fun (and cold!) swim in beautiful Clearwater lake, we said our good byes for the summer and left on our 9 (yep, 9) hour drive home. The sadness of the end of summer was dampened by the enormous bag of Kettle Corn Fiona got for me. If you ever want to make me smile, get me some fresh Kettle Corn, and NOT the microwave stuff.

Once again it wasn’t the competition that made my weekend, but the time I got to spend with my amazing friends. This tournament I was also accompanied by Amber, Fiona, and Amy who made the trip even more enjoyable. These girls make me so proud. Not only are all three of them involved (and excel) in so many other activities, they also log roll because they love it. Doing the boom run on Sunday all three of them fell multiple times. Despite the crowd yelling for them to give up and swim to the dock, ALL THREE of them remounted those darn logs over and over until they finished. And not only did none of them give up, but they smiled and laughed through the entire thing. That, my friends, is what this sport is all about. Not the prize money or sponsorships (although those are wonderful!), or medals and tv time; but the friends we make and the fun memories we create every summer. Sure I had a blast winning this summer, but I also had just as much fun five summers ago when we got kicked off of the go cart track, or 4 summers ago when we all played laser tag and rode the sky coaster. I have so much fun watching the next generation of rollers create the same memories and it means the world to me to see them smile and laugh, whether or not they win or lose.