Chopperoos swinging for a 3Peat
The Australian Chopperoos have set their sights on an unprecedented third-straight STIHL Timbersports Relay crown at the 2016 World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany on November 11.
No team has ever achieved a three-peat, but Australia has given itself the best possible chance by selecting the same five lumberjacks who set a new world record last year.
STIHL Timbersports Australian Champion Brad De Losa will team with Jamie Head, Brayden Meyer, Mitch Argent and Laurence O'Toole to chase history at the Porsche-Arena in front of an expected 10-thousand fans.
There, the top talent from 21 other countries, including the USA, Canada and fierce rivals New Zealand, will attempt to dethrone Australia across the four disciplines of Stock Saw, Standing Block Chop, Single Buck and Underhand Chop.
"The intensity of the competition at Worlds is like nothing else you experience – these guys are the best of the best," Meyer said.
"Our team is pretty excited to get over there and go for that third title. We have been training pretty hard and hopefully it will all pay off.
"I'm looking forward to experiencing that atmosphere with so many people in the crowd, it is STIHL's 90th year anniversary so it should be even bigger than previous years."
New Zealand is the only other country to win the World Relay since it was first held in 2010.
They will have 12-time individual World Champion Jason Wynyard at the helm and are seen as Australia's main challenger.
"The Kiwis are definitely our biggest threat, then there is America and Canada, who have really strong choppers," Meyer said.
"I think there could be some surprises from Germany, being their home competition, so who knows.
"It all goes so quickly when you are up on stage that you really just have to concentrate on yourself, we won't have time to give them much thought then."
The Chopperoos are yet to officially announce which athlete will compete in each discipline and selectors will have a hard time picking between Meyer, Argent and O'Toole for the chopping.
Meyer holds the Australian and World records for Underhand, as well as the Australian mark for Standing Block, while O'Toole is consistently quick and reliable, and the value of Argent's raw power was on full display in the 2015 final when he came from behind to beat the Kiwis.
Singlebuck star De Losa is competing in the Single Competition the next day and will manage his load by sharing the sawing with Head.
It is a formidable Australian line-up, which De Losa believes has improved significantly over the past 12 months.
"We have a really good group. It is the same five blokes as last year, everyone is competition ready and the younger blokes now have some extra experience," De Losa said.
"Last year we won it and set a new world record and I can't see why we can't do it again.
"It is all about being consistent. If you make a mistake it results in a 15 second penalty, and with such strong competition we won't be able to afford to make any sort of error."
Of the five Chopperoos, 22-year-old Mitch Argent is the one who will have benefited most from his experience at the 2015 STIHL Timbersports World Championship in Poznan, Poland.
It was his first trip outside Australia.
"I was chucked in the deep end a bit, so it is good to know what to expect this time around. I will be able to relax a bit and not get as worked up," Argent said.
"I was really lucky to have Jimmy (Head), Brad and Laurence there to help me along the way, I would have been lost without them.
"Now I know what is coming, I can't wait to get over there, chop wood and chase that third straight title for Australia. To be a part of history like that would be really special."
The Chopperoos will travel to Germany one week before competition, where they will set up a training base at the home of STIHL in the town of Waiblingen.
Once their equipment is competition-ready and they have adjusted to chopping the softer European wood, the athletes are planning to squeeze in some sightseeing in the lead-up to the team relay on November 11.
The following day, De Losa will fly the flag for Australia in the individual competition, which takes place over six disciplines with the addition of Springboard and Hot Saw.
De Losa previously won the individual World Championship in 2013.