Log rolling championships bring lumberjack sports to Orland Park

ORLAND PARK -- In log rolling the rules are pretty simple: two people stand on the same log and try to make their opponent fall off by moving their feet one way or another. Whoever stays on the longest wins.

Nineteen competitors, some from as far away as Florida and California, came to the U.S. Log Rolling Open in Orland Park on Lake Sedgewick Saturday. Katherine Rick, Director of the U.S. Log Rolling Open, said the tradition was started by a bunch of lumberjacks over 150 years ago and is particularly popular in the Midwest and Canada.

Six-time world champion log roller Shana Verstegen won last year. She says it takes tremendous athleticism to compete.

"You obviously need great balance, leg strength important for control of the log, core strength to keep yourself balanced on top of the log, a lot of foot technique and reactivity, definitely endurance," Verstegen said.

The current World Log Rolling Champion, 19-year-old Ellie Davenport, has an especially interesting story because in 8th grade she was diagnosed with a serious case of scoliosis, but she says the condition has actually made her a stronger competitor.

"I think it helps me sometimes - people have said I kind of recover kind of outrageously (fast); I think that is because of my spine," Davenport said.

Log rollers competing in Saturday's Open range in age from 16 to 41 years old, but Verstegen said she'll continue competing even long after that.

"I'm probably not going to win for the rest of my life, but it's something I love doing, love the people, love the uniqueness," Verstegen said.

If you'd like to try log rolling, there is a program at Palos Pool in Orland Park.