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UW-RF STUDENT WINS COLLEGIATE CHAINSAW COMPETITION

By Jenna Wegner
UW-RF University Communications

NOV. 18, 2005-- A broken thumb didn’t stop Green Bay Packers’ Quarterback Brett Favre from playing in a football game, and a broken finger certainly wasn’t going to keep University of Wisconsin-River Falls sophomore Mike Femling out of the Soren Eriksson Game of Logging chainsaw competition.

Femling, a horticulture major from Hastings, Minn., received the opportunity to compete in the national chainsaw competition through plant and earth science Professor Michael Kaltenberg’s chainsaw course. While Femling was familiar with operating a chainsaw, he had never used it in a competition until he was invited to the competition in St. Louis, Mo., in September.

During the competition, Femling competed in five different categories: speed cutting, spring pull, precision cutting, creating a hinge and back cutting. Competitors are either awarded or deducted points based on operation of the chainsaw, hazard identification, identification of four areas of the bar and the plan for cutting, which the judges must know before the participant proceeds to cut.

Femling was first FISTA (Forest Industry Safety Training Alliance) certified by the Game of Logging through the chainsaw course because he placed in the top two of a competition during class. The FISTA certification gives him the invitation to the national competition.

For winning the collegiate division of the chainsaw competition, Femling received $1,000, and he also got to keep all the safety gear he used. If he hadn’t participated in the collegiate division he would have placed third overall in the landowner's competition, which is extremely well for being the first time participating in the competition, according to Kaltenberg.

Femling had nothing but kind words for the logging industry. He noted that during the chainsaw competition there was also a trade show, which he toured with the other participants. " I was extremely impressed with the logging industry and it was a unique opportunity to see how we get our lumber," stated Femling.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls first adopted the chainsaw course, taught by Kaltenberg, into the curriculum in 1990. The program is sponsored by Game of Logging (GOL) and was developed by Swedish logger Soren Eriksson.

The goal of GOL is to reduce the accidents associated with professionals using chainsaws. Eriksson, who originally came to the United States to help increase safety and decrease workmen’s compensation-related claims, decided to teach landowner’s and eventually college students proper chainsaw and safety skills. Eriksson also made a trip to UW-River Falls to aid Kaltenberg in getting acquainted with the course and to demonstrate methods of teaching students proper chainsaw etiquette.

The chainsaw course is offered every fall semester and is open to all majors, but Kaltenberg said that it’s an excellent support class for conservation majors. The class meets three Friday afternoons and one Saturday. Students will learn the benefits of possessing a good understanding and ability to operate a chainsaw. Besides learning how to correctly fell a tree, safety is a major factor in the class and widely stressed. There is no special course fee and all equipment is provided for the students.

“Numerous students have never touched a chainsaw before and end up being one of the best students in the class,” said Kaltenberg.


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Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:06:48 Central Daylight Time

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