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Sullivan goes worst to first in Hot Saw
By Sam Eifling
Great Outdoor Games staff

  • Hot Saw final results

    Warrick Hallett conjures up a dust storm in Thursday's Hot Saw event.
    For a guy who just barely got started, Mike Sullivan made a fantastic exit.

    Seeded last after barely escaping the preliminaries in the Hot Saw competition Thursday morning, Sullivan turned in three of the four fastest times of the rest of the tournament and defeated Gaston Duperre in the finals for the gold medal.

    He placed seventh in the event the last two years. The medal was his first in his eighth ESPN Great Outdoor Games event.

    Sullivan, 42, won with consistency as much as speed. His 6.15 seconds in the finals was the second-fastest time of the afternoon, just behind his 6.11 in his semifinal win over Mel Lentz. He and Duperre appeared to be matching each other stroke for stroke until Duperre went for his third cut and caught only the edge of the log, scraping off only a tenth of a full disk. He recovered and sliced off a third disk, managing a time of 7.71 seconds, but the match had been determined.

    Sullivan credited some modifications to his engine for the win, told the crowd he had wanted to win the event "so bad," accepted his gold medal and made a quick escape. A victor needn't linger with his work completed.

    Hot Saw medalists take the podium (from left): Mel Lentz, bronze; Mike Sullivan, gold; Gaston Duperre, silver.
    Duperre sauntered back to his table with his silver medal and his monstrous self-made chainsaw and munched a couple of baby carrots. He explained that he was using a shorter bar on his saw than usual, and was focusing on the second disk falling completely when he just clipped the third cut. Besides, he could hear that Sullivan was slightly ahead, perhaps because Duperre had grabbed the saw handle a finger too far forward with his back hand, and had to adjust in mid-swipe.

    "Before sawing, you decide you have a plan - to go safe, or go fast" said the 50-year-old Quebec resident. "I decide to go fast, for win. And while you're going fast, sometimes you make a mistake."

    Duperre finished the day in high spirits. He had seemed genuinely crestfallen that Matt Bush was one of two sawyers not to survive the preliminaries, telling Bush: "You're my favorite. You're the only reason I came."

    The silver was Duperre's first GO Games medal, with his best finish in five past events sixth place in the 2001 Hot Saw. The event's head-to-head format threw him off mentally in the past, he said, so he prepared extensively the last two weeks, practicing hoisting the saw and the up-and-down switch for a half hour a day.

    Bill Clement (left), ESPN's lead hockey analyst and host of this year's Timber events, chats up gold medalist Mike Sullivan after his come-from-behind win.
    The time spent paid off in a deep field that flipped completely from the qualifying round of 10 sawyers. Sullivan advanced as the eighth and last seed, after needing four passes and 10.72 seconds to cut three full disks. The top four seeds - Harry Burnsworth, Warrick Hallett, David Bolstad and Jason Wynyard - all lost in the quarterfinals.

    Duperre advanced from the quarterfinals by just .04 seconds, his margin over Bolstad's 6.80 seconds. The Canadian improved to 6.42 seconds in his semifinals win over Jerry Scutt, who needed 8.06 seconds after getting hung up on his second cut. Sullivan's outstanding semifinal time of 6.11 was more than enough to surpass Lentz, who suffered a 15-second penalty on what would have been a fine time of 6.38 seconds.

    Lentz regrouped, sawing smoothly and evenly to defeat Jerry Scutt in the consolation round, a rematch of last year's Hot Saw finals. Lentz completed his third cut in 7.13 seconds, about the time Scutt was wrenching his saw free of his second disk, which was stuck to the log like a hangnail. Scutt finished in 12.24 seconds.

    "The chain just didn't seem hungry," said Scutt, 50. "I was really pulling on it to work the saw more. Sometimes you get a little too much pressure on it for power, and the saw doesn't have enough, and you can stall it in the wood."

    Lentz, 43, acknowledged that the bronze medal, which he also won in 2000, wasn't quite the prize that his 2001 gold was.

    "Yeah, but it's better than fourth," he said, laughing.

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