Timber! Meet the American Lumberjack Champions

West Virginia clan has long lineage of lumberjacking competitors

The chain saws are buzzing, the axes are flying and wood chips are going everywhere–it must be another gathering of the Cogar family.

Chopping wood is rewarding for a West Virginia clan that boasts at least 20 members who've cut timber in various forms of competition, including 79-year-old patriarch Arden Cogar Sr.

"You know, my father is 80 years old, and he can still whoop my butt any day of the week," said Arden Coger Jr., Arden's son and four-time lumberjack champion.

Three of them are about to take their lumberjacking skills to a world stage.

In June, 26-year-old Matt Cogar became the youngest U.S. overall champion of the Stihl Timbersports Series. He unseated his cousin, Arden Cogar Jr., who held the American title four of the past six years.

The pair will joined by Matt's father, Paul, on the five-member U.S. team that will go up against more than 20 other countries for world bragging rights Oct. 25-26 in Stuttgart, Germany.

The world championships will have six events. Three are manual chopping events: underhand, standing block and the springboard chop. There are three mechanical events: steel stock saw, the hot saw (a big souped-up chain saw), and the one-man cross cut saw (cutting through a 19-inch piece of wood).

Local and regional competitions help keep the Cogars' skills sharp. And at the recent Mountain State Forest Festival, six family members earned prizes.

"Lumberjack sports is just like golf, believe it or not," Cogar Jr. said. "Your technique is the most important thing. It's how you deliver the ax. It's how you deliver the saw."

The Cogar family's roots in logging date to the 1930s with Arden Cogar Sr.'s father and brothers. That easily transferred over to competitive chopping, which includes a wide variety of chain saw and ax events.

Aside from the three pros, the competition bug has trickled down to Kristy Cogar, Arden Jr.'s wife. She won a world women's title in her fourth year of competing, and the couple's two daughters, Kiara and Carmen, also compete. 

"We have four generations of Cogars that have been associated with lumberjack sports, and I'm hoping we can pass it on to a fifth and a sixth," Arden Cogar Jr. said.

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