North Shore Rollers
Posted at: 08/28/2012 6:31 PM
| Updated at: 08/29/2012 11:12 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
At 11 years old, Luke Johnson has found his passion for log rolling. And he practices anytime and anywhere.
"I go on my barrel in my yard and then sometimes we'll go to the pond and also we practice at the pool," Johnson said.
But Luke's favorite spot to work on his skills is a training pond tucked away along the Gunflint Trail.
"It has boom running and all the logs and it's lots of fun," Johnson said.
The space belongs to three-time log rolling world champion Jenny Atkinson. She spends time each week training young lumberjacks and jills.
"It's so fun for me to see kids falling in love with the sport and just seeing their skills go up," Atkinson said.
10-year-old Paige Everson says Atkinson inspired her to take up the sport.
"I saw Jenny doing it at our Fisherman's Picnic, and I just thought it looked really cool so I decided to try it," Everson said.
Log rolling and boom running seem simple enough, but once the log starts moving, it becomes an unpredictable opponent.
"You need strength, balance, agility, perseverance, focus, determination. everything that embodies all aspects of athleticism, which is why it's so much fun," Atkinson said.
Everson and Johnson are improving each day, but are still challenged in competition.
"Trying to balance and stay up on the log and keep your feet moving," Everson said.
"The hardest part is probably concentrating. People are yelling your name, but you have to concentrate on the person's feet and what they're about to do," Johnson said.
Jessica Berg-Collman has trained with Atkinson for five years, and she won the semi-pro world title in Hayward last month, an achievement she earned with hard work.
"It's such a difficult sport. You're using every single muscle in your body, especially for the boom run also," Berg-Collman said. "You have to have endurance is the big thing. You have to be in shape."
Johnson is working toward the same goal. After all, there's no better feeling, than being the last roller standing.
"It feels like, I practiced all these years and it finally pays off," Johnson said.