For the first time in its eight-year history, the Three Rivers Roleo log rolling tournament will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin (Fox Sports North).
“A lot of things came into play this year to make (the television appearance) happen,” said Katie Rick of Onalaska, director of the tournament. “We have established credibility with past years tournaments and we were able to switch dates to get everything scheduled in the month of July, which helped.”
As a Level Two tournament, Three Rivers Roleo is the second-highest ranked tournament in the Midwest for professional rollers. The level of competition allows for more ranking points among the professionals as well as prize money for the winners.
This year’s event will host about 65 competitors and features both professional and local amateur rollers.
“We have competitors coming from as far as California for the tournament this year,” Rick said.
Among the several world class professionals competing is J.R. Salzman, the world’s No. 1 ranked roller and a nine-time world champion. Salzman, a 36-year old Hayward, Wis., native, has been featured on several national media outlets, including ESPN’s E60 series, Fox News, and was also an ESPY winner.
Joining Salzman in the pro field will be Gretchen Green, the active No. 1 ranked woman roller in the world and Three Rivers Roleo defending champion, as she leads a deep competition on the women’s side.
Several local rollers will also compete in the tournament, including Bangor’s Emily Christopherson, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world.
Participants will compete in a double-elimination tournament. Amateur and adult sport participants will compete on carpeted logs while professional rollers take their spin on spike logs.
The lathe-turned, western red cedar spike logs were introduced last year and requires pro competitors to wear spiked shoes, similar to what lumbermen wore for years ago.
The Roleo event is a partnership between the Onalaska Enhancement Foundation and the Onalaska Park and Recreation Department, and is sanctioned by the U.S. Log Rolling Association.
This year’s sponsors include 24 different businesses, with U.S. Foods and The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern as the tournament’s title sponsors.
“Without our sponsors, this wouldn’t happen. So it’s definitely a huge support,” Rick said.
Different from past years, the tournament schedule will start with the professionals as they get the logs rolling at 11 a.m. Amateurs, including a division for rollers 7-and-under, will warm up at 2:15 p.m. and start competing at 3 p.m.