CHOP TO THE TOP: Owen chases national series final
WOODCHOP: South Grafton axeman Chris Owen is as focused as he ever will be.
Owen is chasing redemption more than two years in the making as he returns to the top of the woodchopping tree at the Stihl Timbersports Australian Championships.
One of the biggest events in the sport, the national championships will pit the 16 best axemen in the country against each other over six timbersport disciplines.
It is an event Owen knows well, having competed in the 2015 championships, making it all the way to the final when a slip-up cost him.
Since then he has been working hard to get back into contention.
"This event is right up there, it is probably the most recognised competition in the sport,” Owen said. "I have gotten myself back to the level to get myself back in to the event just for sheer work ethic.
"But I want to compete at a level to keep me in the series. When you are in it, you can push yourself to stay up to that standard.”
The field of 16 axemen will be split into two qualifying pools, with the best eight to progress to the National Championships final tomorrow.
It means Owen has only one shot at each discipline to make it count.
He will compete in the springboard chop, tan underhand chop and a standing block chop as well as a single buck saw, a stock chainsaw and a hot saw which uses a jetski engine.
"The hot saw is going to be the real tester,” he said. "I will be using a 300cc rotex engine that has a bar and chain strap attached.
"They can cut through three 46cm logs in about six seconds. There is a lot of power in your hands and it is something that can be quite dangerous.”
Owen said there was a lot of pressure because of the different disciplines.
"There is a lot of pressure and you only get one opportunity at these cuts,” he said. "You can't afford a bad cut, but even more so you can't let a bad cut get you down.
"You just need to refocus for each event.”
While he has an opportunity to win the $20,000 first prize and a spot on the Australian Chopperoos team, Owen said it was far from his mind.
"At this stage I just want to get into the final, from there I guess anything could happen,” he said.