The couple that chops together: Timber sports give David and Annette Moses’ life together a sharper focus | Slideshow

Today is the first time that David Moses has jumped onto a springboard since a fateful day last summer.

It was hard, but he took the leap in stride.

After winning the Stihl Timbersports Series’ Western Qualifyer last spring, Moses’ hopes for a first-place trophy at nationals fell after he tore part of his Achilles tendon at the national championship last June. As he climbed a vertical log, his springboard slipped, dropping Moses. His leg slammed against a metal tree stand.

Climbing back up, he found his ankle wouldn’t support him. But he fought on and competed the rest of the day. That meant last-place finishes in springboard, stock saw and the underhand chop. One legged, he finished ninth out of 10 competitors.

“I stayed in it,” he said. “I could have been a finalist, easily. I did all that hard work, and then it ended.”

He did a few more timber shows, went through the motions, but had lost momentum for the season.

Months later, on this cold March morning, Moses is healed, back in full motion.

Matched pair

David Moses may be a local timber sports celebrity—his likeness in cartoon form, flanneled, sporting his signature mohawk hairdo and brandishing a chainsaw was featured last year in the Seattle Weekly—but his wife Annette is right there by his side, chopping and sawing with the world’s best.

They’ve both been international competitors for the last decade.

Through the sport, “I’ve done things I never would have done,” says David. “I’ve been all over the U.S. and Canada, New Zealand, Australia twice. If I hadn’t been doing this, I never would have been to those places.”

Annette has traveled twice Down Under, too, on the United States women’s timber sports team.

Highly competitive, Annette went to her first women’s team event at age 47. The sport has sharpened her work ethic.

“It’s taught me that if you work for something and set a goal, you can do just about anything,” says Annette.

David Moses, Sr., David’s father, is their coach. He’s a crucial referee—without that third party to tell them what they’re doing right or wrong, they’d argue.

While disagreements can happen, Annette says this sport has brought them closer together.

They have their favorite events that they do solo—Annette loves the speed of the single buck. “It’s a quick spring,” she says, a burst of adrenaline that erases all frustration.

David likes the challenge of the springboard, but his best event is the single buck.

On the practice ground, they come together for the two-handed saw event. Both move the saw quickly, checking each other’s technique with David, Sr., watching over their shoulders.

Both breathe hard but stand tall after a flurry of chopping on an underfoot log. David is about getting it done, quick, says Annette. She does her own thing.

“When I’m out there, my mind goes blank. Everything goes to my training. If it was good, it’ll show it.”

Stepping up

Starting a new season, Moses has new parts for his chainsaw, but he sticks with his trusty axes.

“Once you get a good one, you keep it.”

His practice grounds on Indian Hill are little changed. He’s building a new shelter to keep out of the rain. There’s a large and ever-growing pile of cottonwood, provided by Moses’ wood sponsor, Edmond Co. of Tacoma.

Moses builds stamina at Sculptor Crossfit near Fall City. Days, he installs tile for Annette’s business, Snoqualmie Valley Tile.

Picking up an axe marked “Cotton,” for use on these cottonwood logs, Moses practices the standing chop, swinging the axe hard, controlling his breath. He’s careful to avoid knots in the damp wood.

Moses is training harder this spring. He knew his competition wasn’t going to wait for him. At the Western Qualifier in Oregon, he had won five of six events, a rare feat.

Moses was the oldest competitor in his division.

Now, Moses, 48, could be hitting his peak after 22 years as a timber athlete.

“A long time ago, this is when they used to peak,” says his father.

Forty-one years into the game, the elder Moses does everything his son does.

“Not a lot of 69-year-olds can do what I do,” he says.

“There aren’t too many of us in my age group,” he says.

His longevity is down to his own hard work. Moses, Sr., is a retired tree faller.

Moses, Sr., got his start when a fellow Weyerhaueser employee recruited him for a team heading to a logging show in Startup. They needed somebody who could chop, saw and throw an axe. Moses applied, tried it out, and was told, ‘You’re a natural.’ At the show, he got third in the saw and second in the chop. He was hooked.

Moses has learned that technique always outweighs strength and power.

“I used to think it was all pure power,” he says. Mastering his motions, he makes it look easy.

Moses is a competitive person, and timber sports give him focus and strength. He also likes the camraderie.

This is a sport where, if you shatter your best axe handle, your fellow athlete will give you one of his own.

“They’re quick to loan you gear, even if you might beat them with it,” says Moses.

“It’s like a big family,” Moses, Sr., adds. “It’s all family ‘til you step on the block.”

• David Moses competes April 26 in the Stihl Timbersports Western Qualifier at Missoula, Mont. That’ll be a busy weekend, as he takes part in a pro-am competition the next day at Fort Missoula.

The timber sports season rolls on through autumn.

David Moses, Sr., center, watches as his son David and daughter-in-law Annette Moses practice the jack-and-jill saw event. Both have their styles. Moses, Sr., is referree and coach.


The events

David Moses competes in the Stihl Timbersports Series, which tests skill in six events.

Hot Saw

In this discipline, the competitor uses a customized chain saw with a modified engine, usually taken from a personal watercraft or snowmobile.

Single Buck

The competitor makes one cut through 19 inches of white pine using a single-person cross-cut saw.

Underhand Chop

The competitor stands with feet apart on a white pine log, chopping through it with a razor-sharp ‘racing’ ax.

Standing Block Chop

Mimicking the felling of a tree, the competitor races to chop through a foot thick log of white pine.

Stock Saw

The competitor uses a Stihl Magnum chainsaw to make two cuts in four inches through a 16-inch horizontal pine log in this timed event.

Springboard Chop

A discipline based on the need for old-time loggers to establish a cutting platform above the massive root bases of old growth trees, the competitor uses an ax to chop pockets into a nine-foot poplar pole and then place six-inch wide springboard platforms into the pockets.

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