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B.C. carver Ryan Cook set to judge world's best

First episode of chainsaw competition series, which stars actor Adam Beach as host, to air Aug. 8.

It is more of an emotional roller coaster ride than he expected. 

Beloved B.C. carver Ryan Cook is set to appear as a judge in a new reality show series that is, of course, a chainsaw carving competition. 

Not only does it feature local Cook, but it was also shot in Upper Squamish in the spring.

Hosted by Golden Globe-nominated actor Adam Beach, the 12-episode Discovery original series A Cut Above also features esteemed sculptor Katharine Dowson as a co-judge to Cook. 

On each one-hour episode, the carvers, who hail from around the world, compete to win Quick and Master Carve challenges while racing against the clock to avoid weekly elimination. 

At the end of the series, the artist who out-carves the rest wins a cash prize and is declared “A Cut Above.”

Cook said each episode had him teary-eyed, which is something he didn’t expect from the competition. 

“There’s so many twists and turns and [it’s] emotional. Like, the stigma of chainsaw carving is about to be smashed away,” Cook said. 

“These are true artists, baring their souls for national television, and it is an emotional roller coaster, but at the same time, you just don’t know what to expect. There’ll be laughs, there’ll be tears, there’ll be pain, there’ll be sorrow. There’s everything — this show was literally everything, every emotion.”

Cook said he and acclaimed actor Beach, someone he had followed since back in the Canadian actor’s North of 60 days, bonded through the series. 

“He’s such an amazing guy. Like, right away, we just instantly clicked,” he said. “We would cook dinner every night — we were kind of secluded to ourselves. And it was such a good experience getting to know him. He’s a really interesting, charismatic and thoughtful and emotionally connected guy. He’s really great.”

And while he knows chainsaw carving inside and out, his co-judge’s artistry is inspirational, he said. 

“She is an acclaimed sculptor. Her artistry is at a level that I would have to go to school for many, many years to even scrape the iceberg with. It’s pretty cool,” he said of Dowson

The contestants are all artists from near and far, including Canadians, such as Vancouver’s Brigitte Lochhead and Jesse Toso and Vancouver Island’s Junior Henderson of Campbell River. Others are from the U.S., Germany, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

“I think this is really going to resonate with everyone because it’s artists from all over the world who are carving and giving themselves to the process. And in the end, we do have to find the one who has a cut above the rest. But it was a fun adventure," Cook said. 

"I can't tell you how many times I cried. It was really cool. A lot of these carvers bared their souls. They're all from different backgrounds. All have crazy stories of triumph and what brought them to carving."

A Cut Above premieres Monday, Aug. 8 at  7 p.m. PT. / 10 p.m. ET.

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