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Kiwi tree climbers take out both titles at world champs

15th April 2016


Kiwi tree climbers take out both titles at world champs


L-R: 2016 ITCC champs, New Zealanders James Kilpatrick and Chrissy Spence (photo credit ISA).

Move over rugby, cricket and netball, there’s a new sport we’re tops at. New Zealanders have won both the men’s and women’s world championship titles at the International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC) in Texas this month.

Sponsored by Husqvarna, the 40th ITCC Masters’ Challenge took place on April 2-3 and Kiwi James Kilpatrick, originally from Tauranga, won the men’s master’s challenge while compatriot Chrissy Spence from Morrinsville took out the women’s event.

James Kilpatrick says the ITCC world title is the ultimate goal for climbers around the globe. “The challenge is not just physical but mentally tough too.

“Our Kiwi team has an impressive reputation when it comes to ITCC. Over the past five years we have been on the podium more than any other chapter and I'm proud and humbled to be in amongst this team of down-to-earth tree climbers doing what we love,” says James, who is now based in Germany where he works as an arborist.

The Masters’ Challenge is the premier event at the tree-climbing competition, where the competitors with the highest preliminary event scores showcase their skills.

The ITCC is run by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and, since 1976, the annual event has seen the world’s best professional tree climbers gather to compete against each other and the clock. The range of events tests their ability to professionally and safely manoeuvre in a tree while performing work-related tree-care tasks.

More than 60 arborists from 18 countries competed at the 2016 competition in Beckenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas.

New Zealand has an impressive - if little known - history in competitive tree climbing. Chrissy has now won the women’s world championship title four times and James has been Asia Pacific men’s champion three times before taking the global Masters title this year. Husqvarna ambassador Scott Forrest has claimed the men’s title three times.

Husqvarna has a long-standing association with the ISA and, as well as their coveted trophies, Chrissy and James both took home an armload of Husqvarna gear, including battery chainsaws to help them in their professional lives as working arborists.

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