Lineman’s rodeo draws hundreds to compete
More than 150 three-person lineman teams and 211 apprentices, in addition to hundreds of spectators, crowded the grounds at the National Agricultural Hall of Fame Saturday for the 27th Annual International Lineman’s Rodeo.
Apprentices and journeyman-linemen teams of utility linemen from around the world compete in the rodeo’s various events, which test the skills linemen use day-in and day-out. Nearly 700 competitors were scored on agility, speed, work quality and application of safety procedures.
Competitions included the hot-sticking event, in which the teams attempt to replace three wires in less than 21 minutes. There was also the Hurt Man Rescue event, in which linemen must climb a pole and safely rescue a dummy hanging near wiring.
Linemen also were challenged individually in the speed climb, which tests how fast they could climb a pole with an egg in a basket, then descend with the egg in their mouth — without breaking the egg, of course.
These events take place every year, but some “mystery events” offered linemen a fresh challenge, such as a transformer change-out.
Members of the Army Corps of Engineers 249th Unit Battalion watched their fellow corpsmen compete in the hot-sticking event. The alpha squadron, based in Hawaii, brought two teams, as did the bravo squadron, based in North Carolina.
While battalion teams have been attending the competition since 2005 to take part in the military division, it was the first year for Capt. Shawn Polonkey, an alpha team member.
“I’ve been pretty impressed,” he said. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be.”
While Polonkey is based in Hawaii, the Detroit native said he’d enjoyed interacting with several of the teams attending the event from Michigan.
Each year, prior to the competition, a two-day safety and training conference is held to promote work safe practices. The conference this year took place at the Overland Park Convention Center.
Local linemen from KCP&L earned top honors in several events.
David Johnson, lineman-splicer apprentice, placed fifth in Apprentice Hurtman Rescue. Brian Felix, lineman-splicer apprentice, placed first in Apprentice Mystery Event No. 1, which was called Replace Bad Poly Bell Insulator, and second in Apprentice CPR.
The team of Daryl Foster, lead lineman splicer — which included teammates Steve McCauley, lead lineman splicer, and Paul White, lone lineman splicer — placed second in the Journeyman Senior Team category.
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