Powell River Loggers Sports takes place Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, at Willingdon Beach, and for the Coburn family, the games are a major event.
Jeff Coburn was born and raised in Powell River, and for the past 14 years has worked as a faller with his contracting company Edgehill Timber.
“I am an actual real lumberjack,” said Jeff. “So all this stuff comes pretty easy because it's what I do everyday.”
When the concept of bringing logger sports back to the community was proposed a few years ago, Jeff got his start in the sport.
“I was falling trees for Bob Marquis and he asked me if I’d ever seen logger sports before, and I said ‘no.’”
Marquis told him he used to compete and wanted to bring the event back to town.
“I was fortunate enough to have Bob train me personally, passing on his skills and knowledge of events, such as double-buck sawing, chainsaw bucking, obstacle pole racing and chopping,” added Jeff. “He found I picked up on things a lot quicker than most, as my day-to-day job involves all the above.”
When Jeff’s two sons Braeden, then aged eight and Pearson, then five, saw what their dad was doing, they wanted to try.
“My dad did it first and then we learned from him,” said Braeden.
The boys also participate in soccer, hockey, baseball and karate, said Pearson.
Marquis taught the boys how to throw axes and run choker. When the time came to compete, it was a new experience for the entire family.
“For me, I’d never even been to a logger sports show in my life and the first time I ever went to one I was a competitor,” said Jeff. “Braeden won the choker race and placed second in the axe throw in his first year and Pearson came fifth in choker, and he was five years old competing against 12 year olds. Pretty impressive.”
After a weekend of successful competing, Jeff was awarded the Bill Marquis Memorial Novice All Around Logger trophy.
“Bill Marquis was a faller like myself and Bob,” said Jeff. “He passed away in a falling accident and the trophy is named after him. Bob personally presented the trophy to me in front of five thousand local fans. It was a very meaningful moment.”
The following year, Jeff repeated the feat.
“I practiced hard and once again received the Bill Marquis trophy, matching a record tied with only Bob Marquis himself.”
Last year Jeff faced tougher competition.
“I advanced to the intermediate class, which is no joke,” he said. “Lots of these competitors come from overseas and compete at a professional level all year round for a living.”
The competition was a tight one, with the all around intermediate logger results tied between Jeff and two out-of-town competitors.
“An axe throw was the deciding factor to determine the winner,” he said. “I threw a bullseye.”
For the third year, Jeff won the all around in his category. This year, he and his sons are looking forward to more competition and fun, however, it is the feeling of pride in his profession that the sport brings that stands out most, he said.
“Bob’s inspiration and the knowledge he passed on to me, along with hard work and a passion for the sport runs deep in my veins,” said Jeff. “It’s due to my love for my job.”