STIHL NZ Arb NTCC 2009
STIHL / NZ Arb National Tree Climbing Championship
Proudly sponsored by STIHL New Zealand
STIHL / NZAA NTCC 2009
Marlies Laser relates here version of events of the National Tree Climbing Championship held in the Pollard Park, Blenheim.
(Article from Tree Matters 44)
Co-ordinator: (origin from Latin ordinare ‘put in order’) someone whose job it is to make different groups work together in an organised way to achieve something and to see that that work goes harmoniously.
For all but one of the last five years Rick Mexted from Hamilton has been the coordinator for the regional and national climbing competitions in New Zealand., a position which sounds prestigious indeed… but looking behind the scenes, it emerges to be somewhat complex and laborious. This year’s national event turned out to be my initial introduction to this arduous Executive occupation.
After witnessing the smooth flow of events during the earlier regional competitions (big thanks to all regional competition organisers!), I was in good spirits to take on this new task.
Soon it was time to fly to Blenheim and, to be honest, the pleasant images in my head were about wine tasting and lying around in the sun.
This was until I realised that, on Friday morning, the setup of the competition trees started at 7:00am. Yes, this is before the first coffee shop opens in picturesque Blenheim.
However, thanks to the voluntary helpers’ ability to work without caffeine in their system (and at this point, I would like to thank amongst others Rick, Mark, Rossy, Hiske and the guys from Sicon Tree Specialists) everything got taken care of exemplarily fashion.
Following that, we took a trip to a local nursery to pick up lots of little Kowhai tree prizes, we tied the generously sponsored Stihl vouchers around them and brought them to the Montana Brancott Winery – the competition awards ceremony location.
In the meantime, we received calls and messages from climbers who must have spent a great deal of time reading the competition rules and we discussed issues like, “Can I bring a ladder to the speed climb event?” (for future reference, the answer is “No!”); always aiming to interpret the rules in the spirit of the competition of course.
We made it back to the Marlborough Convention Centre just in time for the gear check that started at 4:00pm, with just one hour left before the NZAA Annual General Meeting was scheduled to commence.
Nearly all 35 climbers turned up to the gear check in time; ropes were discarded, some premature single line ascending techniques were rejected and the Stihl competition t-shirts were handed out. Black was the colour for the climbers, red for the judges; any suggestions or ideas for next year?
The Preliminary Events
At the first light of the next morning (yes, prior to coffees again), we headed out to Pollard Park to finalise the last touches to the national championship trees.
At 7:30am all the climbers were ready to go. Each with a group list and a rotation schedule in the hand, I took them on a guided tour through the events. Now it was time to begin the contest.
Belayed Speed Climb
The Belayed Speed Climb event, which tests a climber’s ability to quickly ascend up a tree, was set up in a medium-sized plane tree.
The event was overseen by Jerry Lynch and the fastest time of the day (around 23 seconds) was achieved by James Kilpatrick; Nicky Ward-Allen won the event in the women’s section.
In the neighbouring plane, the Secured Footlock event was held. This tests the competitor’s skill to quickly climb up a static rope using the footlock technique.
The head judge for this event was Andreas (Rossy) Ross who logged the record-breaking time of 13.94 seconds for the 15 metre ascent, which was pulled off by James Kilpatrick.
The fastest time in the women’s event was achieved by Nicky Ward-Allen when she ascended the 12 metres in 15.30 seconds.
The Throwline event is where a climber has to install throwlines and ropes in various heights in the tree from the ground. This was convened by Kevin Squire.
After Matt Miller opened up the targets, by removing an obstructive branch from the tree, it was then a lot easier for the subsequent competitors to position their lines in some of the targets (thanks for that, Matt).
Drew Bristow won this event with 18 out of the 20 total points; Chrissy Spence won the event with 15 points in the female section.
The Aerial Rescue event, which tests the contestants’ ability to take control of an emergency situation and to bring an aerial dummy safely to the ground, had Tim Lovejoy as head judge. The rescue dummy (Woody) was suspended in mid-air with a stuck climbing line. In order to get the dummy off its system, the competitors had to either manually lift the 80kg dummy up (like Chrissy Spence did, the female winner of the event) or to create a mechanical advantage system that allowed the climber to carefully raise the dummy while having it attached to the dead end of the own climbing line. James Kilpatrick lifted the dummy in a very skilful and experienced manner and consequently won the aerial rescue event.
The Work Climb event requires the competitors to climb to several stations in a tree and style and poise are as important as a fast time for this event. The head judge for this prominent event was David James. Scott Forrest, last year’s NTCC winner, prevailed over the other competitors and so did Chrissy Spence (last year’s Asia Pacific and NTCC winner) in the women’s division.
It was a truly exciting day. It was without a doubt evident that tree climbing competitions are designed to simulate the working conditions of arborists, while utilising the highest level of professional skills and safety in a competitive yet supporting environment. This year’s climbing competition once more provided a great opportunity for arborists from around the country to learn about new techniques and equipment from one another. The competition also introduced the public to the skills that professional arborists use to carry out tree work in a safe and efficient manner.
While every competitor had their best go at each of the events, David Glenn and the scoring team processed the incoming scoring sheets. Soon after the preliminary events ended, the Masters Challenge qualifiers were announced; James Kilpatrick, Scott Forrest, Andy Neverman and Jawand Ngau-Chun for the men’s challenge; Nicky Ward-Allen and Elena O’Neill for the women’s challenge. Chrissy Spence decided not to enter the Masters and, as a substitute, was setting up the stations in the selected tree.
Overall Preliminary Results
For the full scoresheet of the Overall Preliminary Events, please CLICK HERE.
The Masters event really is the championship round of the competition. It is designed to judge the contestants’ overall efficiency, skill and expertise in the tree. They are judged and scored on their knowledge and their ability to demonstrate mastery of innovative climbing techniques, use of equipment, poise in the tree and safe working practices. We saw a lot of that in Blenheim!
The stations in the not overly tall but very widely spreading oak were located in the periphery of the canopy in all directions; one was even placed in a neighbouring tree.
The judging team that consisted of Thilo Beeker (our local foreigner), Craig Webb, Rossi, Tim Lovejoy and myself, observed a variety of inventive and inspiring techniques during the 20 minute climbs. Worth mentioning was a setup where the climbing line is being pulled up with the ascending line, (one of the setups was so secure that it could not be retrieved after the climb), a triangulation redirect involving the spliced end of the climbing line being directed around a second point, a traverse system setup with the hitchclimber pulley, and a number of retrievable redirects to enable the transfer over to another tree. What a display of experience, technicality, delicacy, detail and smooth climbing styles! And what a fine crowd of spectators encouraging the climbers to “hustle” and to “go for it, it’s all yours”. (Thanks, Zane, you are the best cheerleader ever!)
The final placings from the Masters were, in the Men’s, Scott Forrest (1st), James Kilpatrick, (2nd), awand Ngau Chun(3rd) and Andy Neverman (4th), while Nicky Ward-Allen took the Womens title over a none-to-well Elena O’Neill who battled on bravely against the odds.
Not long after the Masters ended, and some irreplaceable volunteers took down the station in a somewhat cheerful yet controlled manner (thanks Drew and Chrissy), the Conference Dinner that included the climbers’ awards ceremony began in a beautiful vineyard chateau setting.
Accompanied by pictures of the climbing competition and the odd paper plane, a delicious three course meal was dished up. Then the winners from the preliminary events were honoured with kowhai trees and Stihl vouchers and the NZ champions were announced.
Congratulations to Nicky Ward-Allen and Scott Forrest for their outstanding climbing accomplishments and their moving speeches. Asplundh and Treescape kindly sponsored $3000 each to help our new champions to represent New Zealand at the ITCC (International Tree Climbing Championships) in Chicago in July next year.
|Men’s Winner||Women’s Winner|
|Scott Forrrest||Nicky Ward-Allen|
This year’s spot prices were handsaws sponsored by Silky and went out to Antony Romano-Wickham (best student competitor), Eru Harris (biggest mishap for getting his climbing gear confiscated in Wellington), Matt Palmer (the guy who is always there), Zane Wedding (best ever cheerleader), Mat Miller (for thoughtfully breaking the hindering branch in the throwline tree) and David Stejskal (for being helpful all day, getting stuck throwlines and broken branches out of trees).
And finally, thanks to everyone who actively took part in the events in Blenheim; without you it could not have happened.
For my part, I will try to leap into the big footsteps that Rick left for me and I am in good spirits to pick up the coordination of the climbing competitions in New Zealand.
In addition to that, I am more than happy to collect and consider the feedback that anyone might have. Please email me your comments and thoughts about the climbing events, the competition structure, the final ceremonies or how you could be involved in it. I am looking forward to hearing from you!
STIHL / NZAA National Tree Climbing Championship 2009
Proudly sponsored by STIHL New Zealand