Behind the Body: David Moses training to take home Timbersports title
While hockey players might grow playoff beards that make them look like lumberjacks, a real timber sports athlete opts for a different grooming technique to prepare for competition.
Although David Moses can chop through a 20-inch cottonwood log as if it’s a toothpick, it’s usually the top of his head that attracts the most attention.
"I'm the big Indian with the Mohawk so I'm kind of hard to miss,” Moses says. “I grow it out every time before a contest. It’s now a part of my routine.”
But Moses is known on the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series circuit for more than his hairstyle. The 50-year-old Native American from the Puyallup tribe who resides in to Snoqualmie, Washington has timber sports in his blood.His father, David Moses Sr., and grandfather both worked in the timber industry and competed in regional events.
David Jr. followed. When he was 26, he sought out his father and asked if he would be his coach. David Sr. agreed. There was one condition: his son had to stick with the sport the entire season. David Jr. kept the promise and then some. Now, 24 years and hundred of events later, Moses is one of top competitors on the STIHL series, which he joined in 2005. He finished fourth in the series in 2013 and was also a member of the US relay team that took home the silver medal at the World Championships in Stuggart, Germany.
After advancing through the Western Qualifier this May, Moses will look to build on that performance when he wields his ax and chainsaw in Central Park at this year’s U.S. Pro Championship on June 20.
“You obviously want to make the finals,” Moses says. “Once you get there, anybody has a shot at the title.”
Keep reading to see how Moses excels at the original extreme sport and how his sole focus going into New York isn’t just to cut down the competition.
50 years old
Training grounds: Snoqualmie, Washington. Moses owns a plot of land known as the “Yard” where he simulates all six STIHL series disciplines: the standing block chop, the stock saw, the hot saw, the single buck, the underhand chop, and the springboard chop. When he’s not laying down the lumber, Moses heads to Sculptor Fitness where his trainer, Debbie Lucas, puts him through a grueling regimen of CrossFit workouts.
Days in the gym per week: 3 to 4
Number of hours in the gym each session: 1.5 to 2
Go-to-workout besides event training: CrossFit workout that consists of box jumps, pull-ups, different variations of sit-ups, and kettle bell swings. “This year, I’ve worked a lot more on my core and leg strength and also used more resistance training,” Moses says. “It’s made a huge difference in my endurance level.”
Motivation to take up the sport: “My dad is the reason I compete,” Moses says. “He started doing the sport in 1972. My first memory of timber sports is watching him compete when I was 11 or 12 years old.”
Secret to success: Consistency.
Biggest physical challenge: Achilles Injury. In the semi-finals in 2012, Moses tore part of his Achilles tendon in the springboard event—where competitors chop pockets into a 9-foot poplar pole with an ax, place 6-inch wide springboard platforms into the pockets, then use the the springboard to construct a temporary staircase. When the board fell out, so did Moses’s confidence. Gradually, it returned. Moses came back to win the Springboard Chop in the Western qualifier in 2013. “It took me a while to get over falling and regaining the trust that my board will hold,” he says.
On his daytime job: Although Moses has the physical build of a modern Paul Bunyan, he does not devote all his time to timbersports. Instead, he also operates a tile and marble laying business with his wife Annette, who has competed in international timber sports events for over a decade. She even earned a spot on the US women’s timbersport team. But, like any good marriage, there is give and take. “Before the STIHL series my wife takes smaller jobs so I can dedicate more days to training,” Moses says.
On the relationship amongst timbersports competitors: “One of the things I like is that even though we are competing against each other, we are willing cheer each other on and encourage them to get better. The group is kind of like your summer family, since we travel all around and go to the same shows.”
On misconceptions about timbersports: “We are not just people in the timber industry,” Moses asserts. “We have lawyers, doctors, physical therapists—all different types of jobs reflected on the circuit.” And when asked to define the competition, Moses replies with the assuredness of a man that carries a big ax. “It’s definitely a sport,” he says. “And we’re definitely athletes. It takes years of practice to make what we do look so easy.”