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Boot spurs are no laughing matter; Duffy once miscalculated his free fall and dug his spurs in a little too late, coming down hard on top of the spurs in a crouching position. It turned out to be a real pain in the backside.
"I sat on my spurs and sliced my rear," he said.
On average, it takes a professional speed climber around 17 seconds to climb up a 90-foot pole and 4 seconds down in a controlled free fall.
Duffy won his first world title in the 60-foot speed climb at the age of 18. He also holds two more titles in the 60-foot climb and two titles in the 90-foot speed climb. Duffy traveled cross-country and throughout Canada and Australia, participating in lumberjack shows and competitions to help offset the cost of law school.
While campaigning for Congress, Duffy appeared in a number of TV ads donning a red-and-black-plaid jacket, either carrying an ax or logrolling. He appealed to the Wisconsin lumberjack culture by promising to "dunk our career politicians" and to "bring the ax to Washington."
Even though he was referring to federal government spending, Duffy did bring an actual ax to Washington. A six-pound Australian ax sits in the corner of his office behind his desk.
While he is competitive in logrolling and speed climbing, he also dabbles in chopping and sawing events. Though normally razor sharp for chopping events in lumberjack competitions, Duffy said his office ax had been dulled.
Aside from the preparation for and intensity of one-on-one competition, Duffy said speed climbing has instilled in him a sense of gracious determination.
"In competition you see people who win and lose, and you have to learn how to lose gracefully," he said. "You have to be able to come back in the day and compete again, not hold a grudge and put everything into the next fight."
Duffy brought the lessons he learned in lumberjack sports to Congress.
"We have to be able to argue hard on the floor for our ideas. But at the end of the day, if you don't get it, you can't take your ball and go home," he said.
Duffy has six children with his fellow "Real World" cast member and wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy. The older children are already logrolling. Will the rest follow suit and continue the family lumberjacking tradition?
"I hope they will," Duffy said.