The Netherlands' Martijn Harms chipped off the 2021 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® season in style by winning the first ever Virtual European Hot Saw Challenge with a stunning performance of strength, speed and skill.
Harms, who is a five-time Dutch national champion, secured his first international title by beating Switzerland's Christophe Geissler in the final, having also seen off competition from France's Pierre Puybaret and Austria's Armin Kugler in the knockout contest.
Harms got off to a flyer in his quarter-final opener against six-time Austrian national champion Kugler, posting a time of 5.95 seconds – his fastest of the entire competition – with the Austrian bowing out at the first stage with 6.79 seconds.
Harms faced a stiffer test in the semi-finals, with five-time French national champion Puybaret putting the pressure on with a time of 6.58 seconds. Harms rose to the challenge with a time of 6.26 seconds to cut a path to the final of the new competition.
In the final, Harms marginally improved his semi-final time, posting an impressive time of 6:21 seconds which was enough to see off Switzerland's Christophe Geissler – a 10-times national champion – by half a second.
In the small final, Germany's Danny Mahr defeated fellow losing semi-finalist Puybaret with the third quickest time of the entire competition, 5.81 seconds. He set the quickest time, 5.57 seconds, in the quarter-finals.
The full results for the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Virtual European Hot Saw Challenge can be found here.
STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Virtual European Hot Saw Challenge Champion, Martijn Harms, commented: "This is a real surprise. Winning the title means a lot to me because the Hot Saw is one of the most wonderful TIMBERSPORTS® disciplines.
"It was really unusual to compete alone, but this virtual competition was the perfect idea to allow us to compete in a strange year for everyone."
The first ever Virtual European Hot Saw Challenge saw the eight athletes with the best Hot Saw times from 2020 face each other in a head-to-head knockout competition, with quarter-finals followed by semi-finals and a final. Each athlete competed from separate locations in their home countries, observing local hygiene requirements, with their performances observed by STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® officials and the times and video footage sent to and approved by official judges.
Each athlete completed three heats in the Hot Saw – a fan favourite amongst the six traditional TIMBERSPORTS disciplines – with the first counting towards the quarter-final, the second towards the semi-final and the third towards the final. Heat times were only counted if the athlete qualified for the next round.