THUNDER BAY – Skill competitions involving heavy machinery don’t happen every day in the city.
That makes Taranis Training’s Ultimate Excavator Challenge, which was held on Saturday at their Rosslyn Road training yard, all the more captivating.
Participants are tasked with taking the controls of an excavator and scooping three basketballs off pylons and depositing them in a garbage can, while not knocking anything over or dropping a ball.
It may sound simple, but organizer Heleena Stephens says that’s most definitely on the case behind the controls when the clock starts running.
“We focus on people who have run an excavator before because it does take a bit of skill, especially with the money on the line. About 40 seconds is all the time you have but we definitely try to promote it with people who haven’t jumped on one before,” she said.
They also set up a practice ring to allow people to get experience of operating the excavator.
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Last year’s inaugural edition drew inspiration from a similar event held in Las Vegas and organizers decided to give it a shot. There were 30 competitors last year, with close to that number expected for the second time around.
It attracts workers from all over the city eager to show off their precision.
Dave Hitchman, last year’s runner-up, has worked as a heavy equipment operator for 25 years and says after the lengthy a career the skills come naturally.
He went in with the goal of claiming the $1,000 prize and says his goal is to keep his approach simple.
“Just get in and do it,” he said. “It helps if you have the knack for it, good hand-eye coordination.”
Stephens said organizers are hoping to raise more than $2,000 for the Northern Cardiac Fund.
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