HANOVER, N.H. -- Dave Jewett settled into the TV commentator’s booth alongside partner Kevin Holtz as he’d done throughout the 2012 season of the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series presented by Ram Trucks. Calling play-by-play action is Jewett’s regular gig, although he broke from that routine at the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Northeast Pro Qualifier.
That’s because Jewett competed to defend his title at the contest held at Dartmouth College. It also meant Holtz called the six disciplines as a solo act whenever his cohort was on the competition deck as contestant No 15. The balancing act worked all around as Jewett won the overall Northeast title for the second consecutive year.
“Usually after any other competition I’ve got a headache about right now, but I actually feel great,” Jewett said moments after the win. “Mentally speaking, today was probably my best competition in a long time. I wasn’t really stressed out. I’d call it more like a controlled stress.”
Comments over Jewett’s mental state are necessary to understand the back-story behind his game face. Leave that explanation to Holtz, also a veteran lumberjack and Jewett’s travel partner.
“Dave and I travel all over the country together doing competitions and TV,” Holtz said.. “Because I know him so well I can honestly say the guy is a head case.”
Jewett agreed with his friend’s candid diagnosis. “Sometimes my blood pressure will get so high I’ll almost blank out because I’m so nervous,” he said. “Basically I’m usually on mental autopilot.
“But this time my mind was totally in the moment. I was focused on every chop and not ahead or behind. I feel like it was more like a controlled stress.”
Holtz fashioned this made-for-TV analysis about Jewett’s performance.
“The key to success today for Dave was the springboard, getting started out on the right foot and putting that momentum forward,” he said. “If that had gone wrong it would have made it hard for him to dig out and come back.”
Four lumberjacks adanced from the Northeast qualifier to the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® U.S. Championship. Along with Jewett, they included his friend and training partner Mike Sullivan, Nathan Waterfield, and Richard Jordan. The championship is June 1-3 in Pigeon, Forge, Tenn.
Jewett completed the springboard some 2 seconds ahead of Waterfield in one minute. Jewett was confident but the voice in his head said something wasn’t totally in tune with his choice of axes.
“In the springboard I wasn’t using a bad ax. It just turned out to be the wrong ax in my mind,” he explained.
With that comment it appeared Jewett had gone into his self-described mental “autopilot” mode and lost focus. If so it was Holtz who swiftly brought him back to reality.
“Kevin might not be on stage for any given heat but he sees everything,” noted Jewett. “So it turned out good for me calling the college heats and talking to him during the breaks.”
A pivotal exchange occurred during one of those breaks. That happened as the final chopping event was coming up. Jewett told Holtz he wanted to win the underhand chop as he’d done in route to victory last year.
“He said to use the very same ax I had used to win last year, so I did,” recalled Jewett. “I hadn’t thought of that at the time. It was by far a good choice because I annihilated that wood.”
Added Holtz, “That was a pivotal moment for him because it got his mind right for the finish.
Jewett amassed 8 points in the springboard and another 4 and 7 points, respectively, in the stock saw and standing block chop. He won the underhand chop in 21 seconds to add another 8 points to his overall score of 28.
He got one final coaching session from Holtz prior to the final event, the hot saw. It’s a discipline that sometimes provokes leaders like Jewett to take the conservative approach when there’s nothing more to gain in a qualifier.
“Dave and I have talked about that final scenario all season long,” began Holtz. “We’ve both come to the conclusion that you’ve got to treat the hot saw like you are in the final championship. To truly be a top competitor you’ve got to treat it like everything is on the line.”
Holtz continued, “And he did exactly what I thought he would and went for it. It was really his chance to see what that machine would do under race conditions. Now he can go into the championship knowing that feeling.”
Jewett didn’t win the hot saw and didn’t expect to either. That’s because he was matched up in the heat with Mike Sullivan, owner of arguably the fastest hot saw in the series. The two veterans finished in 5 seconds with 1/10 of a second between them.
The region surrounding the competition is renown for its collegiate forestry sciences academics and storied woodsmen teams. Ten schools competed in the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® College Qualifier that included a three-event slate for women. The lumberjills tested their best skills in the stock saw, single buck, and overhead chop.
Chelsea Black led Finger Lakes Community College to the overall win with 27 points. Next in the standings was Katy Noyes from the University of New Hampshire with 23 points. Natalie Scheibel was next with 23 points earned for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
SUNY-ESF faired even better in the overall college qualifier. The school’s David Andrews amassed 40 points to advance to the championship. Alfred State College followed in the final standings with the 34 points posted by Chris Savosh. John Tasker led Paul Smith’s College with 33 points for third place.
The final event in the 2012 series is the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® U.S. Championship. The championship is June1-3 at the Smoky Mountain LumberJack Feud in Pigeon Forge.