The 'real' games
One of the most recognizable participants in ESPN's Great Outdoor Games even to those who don't know much about outdoor sports is speed climber Sean Duffy, better known simply as "Sean" from "The Real World: Boston."
Duffy, who grew up in Hayward, Wis., started log rolling at 5 years old and speed climbing at 15. He has participated in every Great Outdoor Games, but has not medaled. Though he is well seasoned, on Thursday night Duffy lost in the first round of Speed Climbing to Brian Bartow, a three-time Games gold medalist.
"He's great," Duffy said. "He's a young guy, and this is all he does. I have a job, a wife and three kids."
Duffy, 33, is the district attorney in Ashland, Wis., and is married to Rachel Campos, a member of "The Real World: San Francisco" cast.
The boys from Keystone
Of the 15 medals ever awarded for rifle shooting at the Games, 10 were won by Pennsylvanians. And with seven competitors in Rifle and Shotgun events this year, the Keystone State is increasing its chances of success by dominating the field of marksmen.
Why so many participants from Pennsylvania? "It's in our blood," said five-time Great Outdoor Games Rifle competitor Randy Hollowbush of Topton. "Daniel Boone was from Pennsylvania. So are we."
Doug Koenig of Alburtis considered by many to be the best all-around shooter in the world leads the Games' all-time Rifle medal count with four, while Mike Cumming of Altoona and Carl Bernosky of Ashland have claimed three medals each.
"Pennsylvania has the perfect culture to produce champions," said Chris Dolnack of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which sponsors and organizes the Games' shooting events. The Rifle event is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Tenoroc Shooting Sports and Training Facility in Lakeland. Admission is free.
Family ties abound in Timber events
Several competitors are making the Great Outdoor Games a family event this year.
Sisters Abby, Lizzie and Katie Hoeschler of LaCrosse, Wis., are among the top professional log rollers in the world and will compete Friday at 7 p.m. for the gold medal and $10,000. The three sisters practiced for the Games together but say competition is fierce when they face off during an event.
Meanwhile, five-time women's log-rolling champion Tina Bosworth is married to Carson Bosworth, who won a silver medal in the Timber Team Relay in 2004.
"We met at an event," Tina Bosworth said. "The rest is sawdust."
Tina Bosworth practices with her brother, J.R. Salzman, a lumberjack who swept gold in three disciplines at last year's Games: Log Rolling, Boom Run and Mixed Doubles Boom Run. Salzman also is an ESPY nominee for Best Outdoors Sports Athlete. He is competing Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the Log Rolling and two hours later in the Boom Run.
Age no barrier for Speed Climbing athlete
Even against a competitor half his age, Guy German, 51, of Columbus, Neb., advanced through the first round in the Speed Climbing competition after getting out to a great start Thursday afternoon. German, the sixth seed, defeated third seed Brandon Hintz, 23, of Seabeck, Wash.
German thought of retiring after winning the bronze medal at the 2004 Great Outdoor Games, but after his body held up for another training season, he decided to return.
"I wasn't really sure in my mind that's what I wanted to do," German said of retiring. "When I got back in fall from competition season, I just kept working out, thinking I would just take it one day, one week at a time. I just kept the momentum going, and soon enough, I was signing papers to the games."
Late Thursday evening, Brian Bartow of Grants Pass, Ore., swept gold in the event. Second place went to Wade Stewart of British Columbia and Cassidy Scheer of Hayward, Wis., took third.
Hot Saw seeds advance to semifinals
There were no big surprises today in the quarterfinals of the Hot Saw competition as the top four seeds advanced into Friday's semifinal round. The No.1 seed and world record holder in the event, Harry Burnsworth of Mill Run, Pa., advanced with a time of 6.3 seconds for his three cuts.
The fastest time logged in the round was accomplished by the No. 3 seed and defending champion, Matt Bush of Croghan, N.Y. He finished his three cuts in 6.06 seconds. The No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, Dave Jewett of Pittsford, N.Y., and Mike Sullivan of Winstead, Conn., also advanced into the semifinals.
Both the Hot Zone semifinals and finals begin at 4 p.m. Saturday at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Irlene Mandrell to provide commentary
Accomplished shooter and country music singer Irlene Mandrell will provide on-site commentary for the Great Outdoor Games' Shotgun and Rifle events at Tenoroc this weekend. Mandrell is an award-winning artist, Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars inductee and host of the annual Irlene Mandrell Celebrity Shoot, which benefits the charity Wish Upon a Star. Shooting events are scheduled at Tenoroc on Friday and Saturday beginning at noon.
The Games will be aired on ESPN and ABC Sports July 13-17, 2005. Click here for the broadcast schedule.