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Hewitt threepeat's in Springboard
By Craig Lamb
Great Outdoor Games staff

  • Final results for the 2002 Springboard competition

    Mitch Hewitt
    Mitch Hewitt chopped his way to the Springboard's gold medal.
    LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — In a lumberjack sports version of David versus Goliath, 160-pound professional axeman Mitch Hewitt out-chopped a man nearly twice his size to win the Gold Medal at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games' Springboard chopping event.

    In less than a minute, the Aussie chopped two notches up a nine-foot pole, inserted a springboard to stand on inside each pocket, and then proceeded to lop off a 12-inch diameter block of ash nailed to the pole's top. Hewitt did it not once but four times to advance through the qualifying round, the quarterfinals, the semifinals and finally the medal round to take the gold.

    Hewitt went head-to-head with New Zealander Jason Wynyard, who stands 6 feet tall and weighs an even 300 pounds. In the semifinal round, it was Wynyard who posted the 2002 GO Games Springboard event's fastest time at 43.71 seconds. Yet in the medal round Hewitt toppled his ash block first in 43.87 seconds. Wynyard took the silver in 52.04 seconds.

    New Zealander Dave Bolstad earned the Bronze medal in 47.40 seconds to the 55.47 fourth-place wood chopping effort of Dave Jewett from the United States.

    The Springboard competition has been held since the GO Games began three years ago. And it is Hewitt who has won the gold each time. This year the defending gold medalist bettered his winning time from 2001 by less than a second.

    What's this 23 year-old's secret to winning?

    Dave Jewett
    U.S. competitor Dave Jewett finished fourth in the timber event.
    The answer could be in the genes. Hewitt's great grandfather began a winning family tradition of springboarding in the 1920s. The passion to chop wood was passed all the way up the family tree to Mitch, who began woodchopping at the tender age of 10 and was coached by his world champion springboarding father.

    "At this point I don't put too much pressure on myself," said Hewitt, a pro axeman and banana farmer living in Wamuran, Australia. "My weakness is strength, especially when I go against Jason and Dave, who are much bigger men. So what I try to do is get the board up the pole quicker to make up the time."

    "I wasn't going to put too much pressure on myself going into this because the best axemen in the world are here," he continued. "All I wanted to do was just come out and give it my best."

    Like Hewitt, timber sports are a family tradition Wynyard's father a top competitor during the 1950s and 1960s. Wynyard, who at the age of 16 was the youngest axman to make the New Zealand National Team, is a champion in his own right. And the fulltime lumberjack pro from Auckland has a standing rivalry with fellow New Zealander Bolstad. From their native islands to North America, the two countrymen routinely lock axes in springboard competitions.

    This year's GO Games was no exception. The semifinals were a kiwi showdown with Wynyard edging Bolstad for the medal round by a time of about five seconds.

    "It's always a challenge going up against David," said Wynward. "I'm sure that we'll be sharing many more heats."

    And that might come as soon as Friday when Wynward and Bolstad compete in the GO Games' Men's Endurance event at The Oval in downtown Lake Placid. And they will not be alone. Joining them will be Hewitt, Jewett, and other top timber pros in the ultimate test of timber sports endurance.

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