When Katie Rick and her brother Jacob Rick started the Three Rivers Roleo Log Rolling Tournament in 2008, they had no idea of what it would grow into.
What started as an attempt to bring awareness to a unique sport has catapulted into the one of the largest log rolling tournaments around. The event will continue to spin excitement starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at Great River Landing in Onalaska.
Besides offering professional and amateur rollers another chance at competition, the event is free to the public and will feature food vendors, a live band and opportunities to test your skill at log rolling and paddle boarding.
“It’s not just that we’re having this tournament be a part of our heritage of this area with a historic touch, but we’ll have something for everyone to try. There will be something for everyone in the family,” said Katie Rick, a professional log roller entering her 26th year of competition while also directing two tournaments.
Before becoming a large tournament that features a field of 27 professional competitors, it was an amateur tournament with no prize money or television coverage. Two years later, the professional competition was added, and in 2015 the Roleo became the only log rolling tournament to be televised after being shown on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin.
With a first-place prize of $1,000 in both the men and women’s competition, some of the top rollers in world will be getting their feet wet on the Black River this weekend.
Up-and-coming rolling star Livi Pappadopoulos will be making waves in the professional competition, along with 2016 world champion Ellie Davenport and reigning world champions in the women and men’s division — Meredith Ingrebretson of Hayward, Wis., and Jamie Fischer of Stillwater, Minn..
Although the Roleo has a fierce professional competition from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the tournament is welcoming rollers of all ages and experience levels to take the logs for a spin.
“It (Three Rivers Roleo) combines the true groups of log rollers from amateurs looking up to seeing the professionals,” said Fischer, who began the sport in the mid 1980s. “It’s not like it’s something where professionals in different sports don’t get to bond or see the community, where here you can go up and talk to them (professionals). Being able to talk to both the amateurs and professionals is great for the sport.”
The amateur competition is divided into age groups of 7-and-under, 8-10 years old, 11-13 and 14-17 with an adult sport division that will compete after the professionals.
“The highlight is the professionals, but we were founded as an amateur tournament and that’s our foundation so we want to keep those building blocks there,” said Katie Rick, who is ranked second in the world in the boom run, an event in which log rollers sprint across a chain of spinning logs.
“Jacob and my goal was to give the youth in the tournament something to look up to. Anyone can compete at the tournament, regardless of their level.”