Chopping champion: David Moses parts the Stihl trees
June 7, 2012
By Allyson Balansay
David Moses Jr. is a man with an axe, a mohawk and a talent for lumberjacking that is taking him all over the world.
Moses became involved in timber sports 21 years ago and his successes continue to accumulate. In March, the Snoqualmie resident won the Stihl Timbersports’ Western Qualifier and he is scheduled to head to nationals in Tennessee early this month.
“My dad’s been chopping since ‘72,” Moses, 48, said of his original inspiration. “I wasn’t interested in lumberjacking at first, and I tried a bunch of other sports. I wanted to get into something that I really enjoyed, but none of them seemed to work for me.”
The lack of inspiration in traditional sports prompted Moses to ask his father for coaching.
“I ended up liking it and doing pretty well a few years later,” Moses said about chopping.
Moses’s father, David Moses Sr., 68, also had a moment of inspiration after his son approached him.
“When he decided to ask me to train him, I had actually been thinking about quitting at that time,” his father said regarding the sport. “But when I started training with him, I got better, so I stayed with it.”
In 2005, Moses competed in his first Stihl Timbersports Series, a logging-skills competition that is one of the longest running shows on ESPN. Brad Sorgen, a producer at Stihl Timbersports, said Moses started competing on a note different from other athletes.
“David’s definitely one of our most unique competitors,” said Sorgen. “He came onto our team later — in his early 40s — and is our only American Indian competitor.”
Sorgen said Stihl selects the top 40 competitors each year based on their chopping times. There were 500 applicants this year. The 40 are divided into regions, and Moses is a top athlete from the West. While national championships are on Moses’ mind now, the ultimate goal is to advance to the world championship, which takes place in Norway Sept. 7-9.
Stihl competitions consist of six disciplines, or six different styles of chopping, which competitors employ to saw trunks in half as fast as they can. In the Western Qualifier, Moses achieved a Series rarity.
“David is the first to win almost all six disciplines in the same competition,” Sorgen said. “That’s something that’s never been done before, and I don’t know if it will ever be accomplished again!”
When asked about his greatest success so far, Moses reiterated the five out of six wins. Sorgen said the sixth discipline that he did not take overall, the hot saw competition, is the most unpredictable event.
Sorgen described it as “controlled chaos running across the stage with chainsaws.” The hot saw is a “custom-modified, crazy loud, 60- to 70-horsepower machine,” specific to each competitor. Athletes create their saws from bike, motorboat and other engines, and the event is the crowd favorite.
A family affair
While the near-sweep is his biggest accomplishment, Moses said competing alongside his father is the proudest moment in his years of competition.
“In Squamish, British Columbia, they have a three-man standing butcher-block chop in their world championship,” Moses said. “Each of us — (friend) Branden Sirguy, my dad and me — took turns chopping the block.”
Cheered on by chants of “Come on, Senior!” and “Come on, Junior!” the trio was able to halve the 25-inch diameter trunk in just under three minutes, winning the championship event.
“I’m really proud of him and I hope he continues to do well,” Moses Sr. said of his son. “His plan is to still be doing this when he gets as old as I am!”
The father-and-son chopping duo is fortunate enough to have trust land passed on from Moses Sr.’s father. They use the land, in the Snoqualmie Meadowbrook area, as a practice site. Moses’ sponsors provide the chopping wood.
“Practicing is generally events-specified. If I need to practice underhand (chopping), or single-hand, I can try them all. I’m fortunate enough to have the space and sponsors for that,” Moses said.
“All my upcoming training is to see how I’m doing against other competitors, and to learn what I need to make it into the finals,” Moses said about his preparation for nationals, which were June 1-3 in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. “I see where the competition is up and find out which events will be the toughest for me.”
“Just based on times and size of wood, David is in the top five,” Sorgen said. “You see him out there—he’s got that mohawk going on and he’s extremely motivated. He keeps getting better and better and he really has an opportunity to win the overall title.”
While Moses sustained an injury to his ankle on the first day of the nationals competition, he rested and was able to compete with his relay team June 3. Although his team didn’t win overall, Moses reflected on his Facebook page that the championship was “all in all a good trip. Good friends, good times,” and he thanked his wife, father and fans for their prayers of healing.
On the Web
Learn more about David Moses and the Stihl Timbersports Series, and see a schedule of his competitions, at www.stihltimbersports.us.
Allyson Balansay is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.