practice for this. I consider the work I do is good enough practice."
That may be true, but the ISA competition isn't just another day at the office. For starters, athleticism is as important as skill. That's evident in the first two preliminary events, the belayed speed climb and footlock. The belayed speed climb is sort of like a reverse ski slalom in which the climber follows a rope that winds 60 feet up a tree. The footlock is a 40-foot speed climb straight up a rope. Arborists use these skills everyday, but you need to be in good shape to make the quick, strong pulls and lunges required to win.
The next preliminary event is the "throw line." This accuracy contest requires participants to throw a weighted line at targets placed at 40-, 50- and 60-foot heights in trees. Beasley says this is the easiest event, if you can call hitting a 3-foot-by-5-foot target at these distances easy.
Next comes the "aerial rescue." This is a simulated rescue of a dummy from 25 to 30 feet up in a tree. The event is timed, but contestants are also graded on safety. The fifth preliminary event is the "work climb," which simulates how a trimmer works a tree.
The five participants with the top cumulative scores from the preliminaries advance to the Master's Challenge. This final event requires climbers to employ all the skills they demonstrated in the preliminaries in one climb. Experience is as important as athleticism in this event. Once again, the judges aren't looking for who's the quickest at doing the tasks in the master's challenge-they're looking for who does them best.
Although the arborists come to the ISA contest to compete, the event isn't merely a test of tree skills. It's also a trade show for showcasing new equipment and a forum for arborists from different states to talk shop and swap ideas.
"I enjoy competing at these events," Beasley said, "but also, by going to these competitions, you see and hear about new equipment and new skills that might not be used in your area. The ISA competition is a chance to learn new techniques and new methods."
"One reason we have the competition is to show our organization off to the public," said Jim Skiera, the ISA's associate executive director. "The other is to let climbers learn about new techniques."
Boyer and Beasley began working on their tree techniques long before they