Branden Sirguy received more than the competition from the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series World Championship held in Lillehammer, Norway, on Sept. 7-8.
But he got a medal, too.
Sirguy, of Port Angeles, Wash., was part of the United States squad that took the silver medal in the team relay competition. But he also got to spend some extra time exploring the land of his Norwegian ancestors.
“Great trip. Wonderful,” Sirguy said. “We got the silver to bring home, then I got to visit some places where my family was from. Couldn’t be happier.”
The American team consisted of Sirguy, Arden Cogar Jr. of West Hamlin, W.Va., his cousin Matt Cogar of Diana, W.Va., Warrick Hallett of Glencoe, Minn., and Dave Jewett of Pittsford, N.Y. The Americans started with the fourth best time in qualifying for the event, which includes stock saw, underhand chop, single buck and standing block chop.
It was also during qualifying that U.S. squad caught a major break when the New Zealand team, one of the chief favorites to win the gold, suffered a stall during the stock saw portion of the event.
“Apparently, their guy accidentally let his hand hit the choke,” Sirguy said. “That probably cost them about 15-20 seconds.”
It benefited the U.S. because it placed the two favored teams, New Zealand and Australia, in the same side of the bracket for the rest of the competition.
“Those were the teams that won the gold and silver last year,” Sirguy said. “Big break for us.”
Competing in front of more than 10,000 fans at Hakonshall Olympic Hall, the Americans defeated Canada in their heat, Sweden in the second round and Samoa in the semifinals. New Zealand defeated the Aussies in the other final to set the gold medal match.
For the first time this year, the final round was competed in two parts, with the team’s cumulative times used to determine the winner.
“One of the big factors in a competition like this is the wood,” Sirguy said. “Not every piece of wood cuts the same. Some cut better than others. Splitting the final round takes a little bit of the luck out of the equation. If you get a block that isn’t so good, at least you have a chance to get a better one.”
The Kiwis won the final round to take the gold, but Sirguy said he was proud of the Americans’ showing.
“Would have loved to get that gold, but I thought we performed well throughout,” he said.
After the competition, Sirguy began his the ancestral sightseeing portion of the trip. He was the guest of Ole Ivar Lierhagen, a Norwegian timbersports national champion.
After sightseeing in Lillehammer, Sirguy traveled about two hours away in the Gudbrandsdalen valley to a dairy and sheep farm where his great grandmother was born.
“Apparently my grandmother and the older gentleman on the farm have the same great-great-great grandparents,” Sirguy said. “Really an awesome experience from beginning to end.”