I walked down to down to Lake Wingra Saturday afternoon to see if anything was happening. Something usually is, and yesterday was no exception. The Travel Channel was taping a bunch of Madison polar bears for a segment on boom running and log rolling. The weather certainly cooperated. Here the crew is focusing on host Bert Kreischer, left, with Madison logroller and boom runner Olivia Judd (demonstrating boom running below). Spread out behind them were Lake Wingra and the UW Arboretum in all their autumn glory.
Gayle Worland reported on the taping in the Wisconsin State Journal.
"I can't feel my feet right now," said Olivia Judd, one of about 10 seasoned Wisconsin logrollers, all under age 24, who braved the frigid temperatures of Lake Wingra to demonstrate just how a roller can wade into icy, shin-deep water, climb on to a 400-pound floating log and quickly set it spinning in a fleet-footed jig.I just stood there, tried to keep out of the way and took a few pictures of the watery mayhem.
Taping it all were three cameras, one encased in clear plastic and operated by a cameraman in chest-high fishing waders, as producers and comedian/show host Bert Kreischer stood close by. Kreischer also tried his hand - er, feet - at logrolling for the first time, with some slapstick results.
Boom running, as the name suggests, consists of running down a long line of slippery logs and trying to avoid falling into the water. Bathed in the golden light of a Madison autumn, flanked on both sides by the chilly waters of Lake Wingra (our smallest lake, it also cools off the fastest and is the first to freeze -- a month from now they could be ice boating here), Olivia tries to avoid taking a bath herself. She gets off to a flying start.
Olivia didn't get very far before things started to get interesting. She's already starting to lose her balance here. As a seasoned competitor, she doesn't throw her arms out in some ungainly fashion to try to regain her balance. No, she doesn't waste time or energy trying to avoid the inevitable. Instead, in the split-second she has before she hits the water, her hands are already reaching for her sweatshirt...
So as to raise the shirt before she hits the water and keep her clothes from getting any more soaked than they have to be. What poise. What grace under pressure. This was Olivia's first run, and the next time out she negotiated the entire line of logs without going into the water. She wasn't the only person to get soaked for the Travel Channel, only the one my camera happened to catch.
There's no scheduled airdate yet, but the Madison segment is expected to air next year. More details should become available this winter, according to Travel Channel executive producer Charlie Parsons, who used to cover Big Ten football games here for ESPN.
"On the Travel Channel we like to showcase the unique personalities of locations, both national and international," he said. "Madison is a very outdoorsy town, and it's got a nice energy to it. We had researchers poking around" to find quirky things to highlight in the city. Thus, logrollers.Lake Wingra on a sunny autumn day. There's no place like it.