Midwest Energy had three teams representing at the 2013 International Lineman’s Rodeo, held Sat., Oct. 19 in Bonner Springs, Kan. The competition, which drew 210 teams from utilities from four countries, was intense.
There were four events per team. “We had two teams get deducted two points, on a scale of 400,” said Mike Stremel, Operations Training Manager, who organized the teams attending this year. “We didn’t bring back any awards this year, even though we were near perfect. That’s how tough the competition was.” Midwest Energy’s near-perfect scores helped the teams finish in the top quarter, as task completion times were also factored into the rankings.
Stremel said the event is valuable both for the training the teams get, and the camaraderie built between participants.
“When you’re on a pole, you have judges from other utilities looking at your procedures and grading you,” Stremel said. “That’s a fresh set of eyes that might show you a more efficient technique.”
Midwest Energy typically sends three or four teams to the event, and Stremel works with Operations Managers to ensure linemen have the opportunity to rotate into the event, ensuring everyone who wants a chance to compete gets to. This year, there were two journeyman and one seniors team competing.
“This was the 30th year for the rodeo,” Stremel added. “It was good to see how the rodeo has grown in popularity over the years, and the two apprentices we brought were glad to compete and saw it as a huge learning experience in their careers.”
Stremel said in addition to next year’s lineman’s rodeo, he’s looking at assembling a natural gas team for the National Gas Rodeo, scheduled for Sept. 11-13, 2014 in Colorado Springs.