Today was the opening day for this year’s World’s Strongest man. Set in Sacramento, California, the grand daddy of strongman competitions kicked off with some interesting events. First up was the loading race. Each athlete had to load a 220 pound cannon ball, a 275 pound anvil, a 300 pound sandbag, a 265 pound keg and finally finish with another 300 pound sandbag. Each implement must be picked up and brought to the platforms from eight meters (~26 feet) away. I don’t know about you, but five implements in a loading event sounds pretty brutal. Next up was a deadlift ladder. Each athlete had to complete five deadlift reps that increased in weight with each rep. In my opinion, I think that’s a cooler event to watch than another max effort deadlift event.
The winners of the load race in their respective groups were Tom Stoltman of Group 1, Mitchell Hooper of Group 2, Oleksii Novikov of Group 3, Martins Licis of Groups 4 and Luke Stoltman of Group 5. It’s not a surprise to see any of those names take first in their groups after the first day. Tom and Luke Stoltman are, of course, really good at moving heavy things. Martins Licis and Oleksii Novikov are two of the most well rounded athletes at this show, and I expect them to both be fighting for a podium spot. Mitchell Hooper is apparently having a great competitive season and it is no surprise to many that he is off to a good start. Oleksii Novikov had the best time with a blazing 37.25 seconds. The winners of the deadlift ladder mirror that of the loading race. Mitchell Hooper was best at this event today, posting an impressive time of 31.21 seconds. Interestingly enough, Luke Stoltman won the deadlift ladder in his group, but did not complete all five reps. There is a lot of the competition to remain, but it may seem that we are already starting to see who will get left behind. We will have to see how tomorrow shakes out. A few other things from day 1 that I thought were interesting to see were that Brian Shaw, Bobby Thompson and Mark Felix placed third, fourth and fifth respectively in group 2. In second place in group 2 is Gabriel Pena. Though I don’t know much about Pena, he is off to a good start, as well. Trey Mitchell took third in group 3, but I sort of expect him to shuffle things up. Just in front of Mitchell, is Adam Bishop. Based off of Bishop’s day 1 performance, I would say he’s off to a good start.
Tomorrow’s round of competition will feature the car walk and the log lift. If the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic was any indication of how the car walk will go, I would think Maxime Boudreault and Martins Licis will do well, as they dominated the timber carry during the Arnold. Yes, the car walk is an entirely different event, but I’ll stick with what I said. The log lift should be fun to watch. I expect to see Luke Stotlman, Bobby Thompson, Rob Kearny and Trey Mitchell have a good event with the log. Those are some of the names right off the top of my head that I expect to do well. And you can probably throw Martins Licis in that as well….basically the top half of the Austrian Oak event from the Arnold Classic. Perhaps using the Arnold Classic is again not a great metric or predictor as to how day 2 will go, but I’m going to stick with it. The log is my favorite event to watch and do. I’m looking forward to it.
I think that there are a lot of good names in this year’s World’s Strongest Man, and I look forward to tough competition. I am going to particularly watch Oleksii Novikov and Martins Licis. They are both well rounded competitors, and both have had a lot of success. I am also interested to see how Brian Shaw will do. Is he still one of the top dogs or is the sun setting on his career? There are probably a dozen more stories behind these athletes, but those are what I’m paying attention to. Let us know who you’re watching most and what events you’re looking forward to.
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