You have seen linemen out restoring power after big storms, but did you know they also have a competitive side?
That will be coming out Saturday when they show off their skills at the annual Eversource Line Workers Rodeo.
There are ropes, there’s wrangling, but this is no regular rodeo.
“Definitely energy cowboys!” Stephen Cook, an apprentice lineman in Tolland, said.
The rodeo is run by Eversource and it’s for linemen
“This is where I'd say the best of the best come and test skills against each other,” Cook said.
Every year more than 100 Eversource workers from across the tristate area compete, displaying what they’ve learned through their high level of training.
“These are skills that the linemen use out in the field, they're doing work that they would do on a daily basis, just that they're competing against each other,” Cliff Williams, director of Electric Field Operations, said.
They polished those skills at their final practice, accomplishing feats like scaling a 40-foot utility pole.
“Most of the time we'll climb when we're not at we're not able to get a truck to the pole physically. Sometimes it's more realistic to just put your hooks on and climb,” Conner Parker, a line helper in New London, said.
They’re practicing overhead skills.
“The guys climbing the poles of working from the bucket,” Williams said.
They are also refining splicer skills.
“The guys that work on the underground structures and equipment,” Williams said.
A crucial piece of the training is the hurt man rescue.
“It's like simulating a hurt guy on the poles,” Parker said.
Line worker Parker simulated the rescue at practice.
“Because it's an emergency situation, you got to put your gear on as fast as you can, climb up the pole, tie the knot, and save them in a timely manner,” he explained.
For some, it’s their first rodeo.
“This is my first year,” Cook said. “But I'm feeling pretty good about it.”
“I'm always a little nervous,” Parker said. “I like to compete myself, and I'll be as ready as I can be.”
The Eversource Line Workers Rodeo is a day filled with fun, but not one without quite the competitive edge. The winners will go on to compete at the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas later this year.
“They go head-to-head, see who is the fastest, be a little smooth, best technique,” Cook said.
In todays’ day and age with modern technology, crews are not climbing up poles quite as much as they used to, but they know these skills are still crucial for safety.
“Line work, it's deemed one of the most dangerous lines of work in the world,” Williams said. “So it does take a whole lot of skill. To do this work, these guys are highly trained. Their apprenticeships last four-and-a-half years, just to be a fully qualified lineman.”
While keeping safety at the forefront, the rodeo also brings smiles.
“It's really exciting to have guys here with us. and perform and do their best,” Parker said.
Some are even wrangling in new friendships.
“My favorite part about it is you meet new people, other guys from other districts, you get to bond with them a little bit, hang out on the weekends,” Cook said.
The Rodeo will be Saturday May 7 from 8 a.m. until about 3 p.m. at the Eversource Training Center in Berlin.
Vendors will give visitors a close look at the equipment the line workers use, and there will be food trucks and many activities for kids.
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