Promoting emerging talent is a top priority for STIHL TIMBERSPORTS®. Each country with a national series has its own standards and programs for spotting and promoting talented new athletes. Every year in Europe there is a unique opportunity for the best rookies to receive structured training at the highest level, to learn from internationally established athletes and trainers and to test their skills under competitive conditions: At the Rookie Academy, the next stars in TIMBERSPORTS® are in training.
Recruiting emerging talent in European countries
As a first step, the individual countries themselves are responsible for spotting and training young talent. Approaches differ from country to country. In Austria, for example, there is an independent club structure. These are active in the areas of agriculture and forestry and offer the opportunity to try out forest and logger sports. Logger sports clubs of this kind also exist in other countries, such as France, Wales and England.
High up in northern Europe, almost all active Swedish athletes gathered their first points of contact with extreme sports via a TIMBERSPORTS® course, led by former athlete Hans-Ove Hansson, in a forestry school in Älvdalen. In addition, TIMBERSPORTS® is constantly raising its profile with the help of a show concept. Through a network with Norway and Denmark, athletes from all three countries are continuing to train and further develop together. An ample range of training camps and regular joint activities are key factors in making it to the top for athletes such as Ferry Svan or Emil Hansson.
Poland, on the other hand, focuses on genuine logger sports families that enrich the sport. The Groenwald and Dubicki families, who are currently each represented by three active athletes, deserve a special mention. In addition to the family ties serving as a reference point for the sport, many active athletes are on the lookout for new talent. Another point of contact is the voluntary fire brigade - many athletes regularly maintain contact with each other here.
Germany is pursuing a different approach. The focus is on an extensive talent scouting program; its foundation being a training base that is unique in Europe. The site in Mellrichstadt regularly offers talent scouting sessions for potential new athletes under the age of 30 and action camps providing a unique first impression of TIMBERSPORTS® for all age groups. Similar to Sweden, shows throughout Germany are also used to raise the profile of the original extreme sport and to create initial points of contact. Step by step, the emerging German talents will be scouted, further trained and taken to the next level with rookie competitions.
The Netherlands takes the rookie elite to the next level
At the beginning of each year, the most promising talent from Europe are scouted and then invited to one of the most extensive training camps in the TIMBERSPORTS® world: For several days, the elite of European rookies and well-known established athletes and trainers travel to the Netherlands to best prepare the rough diamonds at the Rookie Academy for their next steps. On the premises of trainer and Academy Director Bart Jansen, where, among other things, the competition wood for most TIMBERSPORTS® competitions is processed, everything then revolves around performance optimisation and mental as well as physical training. This enables future TIMBERSPORTS® athletes to learn how to better withstand pressure during competitions in addition to optimising their technique and preparing for competitions in the best possible way. Great importance is placed on imparting more knowledge and sensitivity for the tools and the wood. From video analysis and one-on-one talks to a final trial of strength under competitive conditions, Europe’s most promising talents are thoroughly promoted and challenged.
Global Sports Director Spike Milton is especially proud of the progress of the rookie athletes: “It is remarkable how dedicated the rookies are to the training. Driving these young athletes forward is what the Rookie Academy is all about. Youth, speed and strength – they have everything that it takes,” adds Spike Milton. Some promising athletes such as Michel Perrin (ITA), Edvin Karlsson (SWE), Marcel Steinkämper (GER) and Szymon Groenwald (POL) have already been able to develop their talent at the Rookie Academy and subsequently prove themselves in national and international.
For some participants, the training camp in the Netherlands also offers the opportunity to prepare for the Rookie World Championship and get a feel for the competition. On 9 June, the world's most promising rookie athletes will compete against each other at the Onderzeebootloods at the Port of Rotterdam (NED) to find out who will succeed Australian Jack Argent as Rookie World Champion.