Not just a bump on a log

Champion athlete brings sport to Steamboat

— Judy Hoeschler was a teenager when she became a world champion logroller.

Now she wants to bring her passion for the obscure sport -- in which competitors appear to "run" in place on a spinning log -- to Steamboat Springs.

Hoeschler, a longtime Hol--men, Wis--c., resident, grew up in the "Logrolling Capital of the World." Her interest in the sport was sparked at a young age.

"As a child, I loved movement and motion," she said. Hoeschler's childhood interest turned into a lifelong passion -- she is a seven-time world champion logroller.

At age 15, Hoeschler became a logrolling instructor, and she continues to teach the sport. During a demonstration at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center on Friday, Hoeschler explained the sport to aquatics director Rachael Rangel and a group of bystanders.

The log Hoeschler used in the pool Friday was Western red cedar, favored for its natural buoyancy. Usually, logrollers wear spiked shoes, but Hoeschler opted not to wear shoes because they would cause wood chips to settle on the pool's floor. Hoeschler instead rigged the log with carpet for traction.

"I am trying to introduce logrolling as a youth sport in Steamboat. It's hard to do, but really easy to teach," she said. "Our goal is to begin a Rocky Mountain division of logrolling."

So far, Hoeschler said the only mountain town that has expressed interest is Avon.

The sport -- which began as a competition for lumberjacks during the logging boom of the 1890s -- pits two competitors on a 20-foot-long log. The object is to knock an opponent off the log.

Hoeschler's 22-year-old dau--ghter, Lizzie, said there are two types of competitions -- running matches and bucking matches. During a running match, the two athletes run in the same direction. During a bucking match, the athletes run in opposite directions.

Lizzie isn't the only Hoeschler child who logrolls; her three siblings also are logrollers. Lizzie is ranked second in the world, and her sister Katie, 24, is third.

"We've being doing it since we were 4. It's a very challenging sport, and you have to be in good shape to compete," Lizzie said.

Rangel -- the Health and Rec's aquatics director -- said she didn't know much about logrolling before the Hoeschlers' demonstration. She initially was skeptical about introducing the sport to the center's programming.

"We've never seen it," she said. "It was a new sport for us. I wanted to see how it worked and how safe it was and how hard it would be."

Despite the cold temperatures and steady snow, numerous people stopped poolside to watch the logrolling demonstration.

If the Health and Rec brings logrolling to Steamboat, members could be rolling as soon as the spring. Hoeschler said a typical log costs about $500.

The Hoeschlers will present another logrolling demonstration Feb. 11 during the Winter Carnival. Anyone is invited to watch or try the sport.

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