New Brunswick

Rod Cumberland says lumberjack games gaining popularity

Rod Cumberland started out competing in lumberjack competitions for almost 30 years, now he commentates on them.

Lumberjack competitions remain popular because it is a part of Canada's heritage, says Rod Cumberland

Rod Cumberland started out competing in lumberjack competitions for almost 30 years, now he commentates on them.

Four years ago, Cumberland, a six-time New Brunswick provincial lumberjack champion, started working for The Sports Network (TSN), using his expertise in woodsmen competitions to provide colour commentary on the television broadcasts.

Cumberland, who lives in Keswick Ridge, has travelled the country and the world for the job. He said the sport is a big deal in many small communities across the country, particularly on the east and west coasts.

"It is a big part our heritage, obviously, chopping trees. that is how we settled our land in Canada … people are drawn to it. It is part of their past," Cumberland said.

"It is still growing, which is amazing, it is still on the upswing."

He will provide commentary on local competitions in St. Stephen, as well as flying to events in British Columbia and New York.

The former provincial biologist is now teaching at the Maritime College of Forest Technology, which he says has been his biggest challenge with his work at TSN because he is in the classroom from September to April.

The lumberjack events are not aired live, so Cumberland travels to the competitions to watch them and conduct interviews.

Then he does the recordings in the fall to get the programs ready for broadcast.

He says he has a lot on his plate right now.

His children are competing in the competitions now too, so he goes to watch them and he still competes himself. His son just won a world championship in Italy.

With that and his conflict with teaching in the fall, he may not be working for TSN for long.

He said he thinks it might be time for someone younger to take his place.

Cumberland said he is grateful for the experience he's received from commentating on the events.

He said the sport is continuing to grow in popularity, especially in Europe.

"It has obviously boomed in the last 10 years," he said.

"When we went to the show in Europe, it was just like a rock concert. The stage was unbelievable."

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