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Bartow Polishes Poles in Wisconsin

By Ken Boness

Hayward, Wisc., was the site of the 49th annual Enbridge Lumberjack World Championships® (LWC) July 25th-27th, 2008. Nearly one hundred competitors from around the world were on hand to compete for championship status in various events as well as allaround titles for both men and women.

Nancy Zalewski (Wisconsin) captured the All-Around Lady Jill honors, while Jason Wynyard (New Zealand) earned a tenth consecutive Tony Wise All-Around Title. By the end of the show, champions and competitors alike had experienced ups and downs, but no one experienced ups and downs faster than Brian Bartow’s performance on the 60’ and 90’ poles.

60-foot Speed Climb
Hailing from Grant’s Pass, Ore., Bartow returned to the scene of past championships. Having won the 60’ Speed Climb consecutively from 2003 through 2006, Brian watched Wisconsin’s Cassidy Scheer take top honors in 2007.

Cassidy Scheer wasn’t among the competitors this year, but that’s not to say it was easy for Bartow as the competition was keen. On Friday, Brian took top honors with a 12.77 time, but Derek Knutson (Wisc.) was close behind at 13.00 seconds. Then on Saturday, Knutson finished well ahead of Bartow; 13.08 compared to 16.43. In between the two were Joel Kapp (14.60 – Mich.), Shane Sabin (15.47 – Wisc.) and Guy German (16.31 – Neb.). But Sunday saw Bartow regain his form to tally a 12.49 time, which was not only good enough to win the event, but also proved to be the best time on any of the three days. Knutson, incidentally, finished more than a second behind at 13.53, followed by Sabin (14.80) and Kapp (15.02).

90-foot Speed Climb
The 90’ Speed Climb was a different story. Bartow had won in 1999 and 2000, and consecutively from 2004 through 2007. Coming in as past champion, Brian obviously was regarded as the man to beat. And try they did.

Brian climbed in 21.71 seconds on Friday, with Stirling Hart (B. C.) registering a 22.79, Knutson coming in at 24.14, and Sabin finished at 27.23. German tallied 28.49, but Kapp had some problems that ballooned his time to 37.34. Every athlete strives for consistency, but none can do it better than Brian Bartow. Both Friday and Saturday, he made the 180’ round trip in precisely 21.71 seconds. Saturday saw Knutson improve his time to 22.00, while Hart posted 24.61. The remainder of the field: German – 25.09; Sabin – 25.69; and Kapp – 31.03.

The finals on Sunday can be a time of great joy or disappointment. The latter became reality for Guy German as he had a bit of trouble and took precautions to avoid possible injury. His time of 32.39 placed him last of the four finalists. Hart popped up and down the pole in 22.89 to secure 3rd place. Knutson hit the pads at 22.89 which was a decent time.

Reigning Champ
But the real story of the day was Bartow. His times were consistently outclassing the other climbers, leaving only himself to beat if he climbed with the rhythm he had been exhibiting.

Most men lunge up the pole when the title is at stake; Brian was launched. Having set the 90’ record of 19.87 in 2006, Bartow dropped back to earth in 19.88 to take the event by three full seconds, missing his own record by the smallest of margins.