Like falling off a log: World champion log roller brings her sport to Vallejo

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a sport that dates back to the days of lumberjacks floating giant logs down a river -- but now, a new high-tech version is coming to the Bay Area at the Cunningham pool in Vallejo.

"My mom is actually a seven-time world log rolling chmapion," said Abby Delaney, who came here from Minnesota to teach a class to pool staff.

"She's teaching me and my staff how to teach this to the kids of Vallejo," said recreation supervisor Justin Saroyan.

Standing up on top of a giant red log and rolling it with your feet without falling isn't a skill most people are born with.

"Definitely kind of threw me off for my first couple tries," said pool manager Michael Kemp. "I definitely needed some help."

VIDEO: Want to try a new sport? Dig your heels into log rolling
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It's a sport that dates back to the days of lumberjacks floating giant logs down a river -- but now, you can try out a new, high-tech version.

Delaney is more than happy to help, since her company's mission is to spread the love of log rolling, and grow it into a popular sport. The team's first challenge: logs are heavy.

"The logs weighed 500 pounds. It was just difficult to bring them into swimming pools," she said of the traditional red cedar logs used in elite log rolling competitions.

Abby and her team designed a plastic log called the Key Log that weighs only 65 pounds. The extra mass comes from filling it with water. Foam baffles inside keep the water from sloshing around -- and on YouTube, Abby is seen in a video screaming with joy after testing the first prototype that felt like the real thing.

Now, she's traveling around to start log rolling programs at pools across the country -- and even in other countries. Though this first class was just to teach the instructors, she did give a brief lesson to this klutzy reporter -- who won't be quitting his day job. Graceful or not, log rolling is always a workout.

"I was having to go forward and go backward and I felt I was doing some sort of dance with my arms and legs," Kemp said.

But when playing for real, thoughts of burning calories might fade away: you'll probably be thinking about winning.

"This is definitely a competitive thing, and our staff's really competitive," Saroyan said.

Competition is head to head: two people on the same log.

"And you're each basically trying to be the last person on top of the log," Delaney said.

Matches can last for seconds or minutes, and though there's sometimes a tie, it's usually obvious who won. Delaney thinks that makes log rolling great for spectators.

"Our goal for Key Log Rolling is to make log rolling an Olympic sport," she said.
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