It’s the second heat of the WSM competition 2014! Terry Hollands and Mike Burke have already qualified, but who is competing today for their chance to be the World’s Strongest Man?
Rafal Kobylarz – Poland (1st WSM appearance)
Dave Ostlund – USA (3rd place – 2008 WSM)
Ben Kelsey – England (1st WSM appearance)
J F Caron – Canada (8th place – 2012 WSM)
Robert Oberst – USA (9th place – 2012 WSM)
Hafthor Bjornsson – Iceland (3rd place – 2012 & 2013 WSM)
Event 1 – Loading Race
Load 2 barrels (120kg) and 2 sacks (125kg) down a course and lift them onto a platform!
Wow, this is one hell of a group in heat 2! Ostlund has done very well in the past, and earlier in the year won a team challenge event when he paired with the reigning WSM Brian Shaw. J F Caron looked fantastic a couple of years ago and if he’s gotten into better shape he’ll be tough to beat! Oberst burst onto the scene last year and did well to qualify for the final too, so he is certainly a contender here. And then we have the mighty THOR. Being realistic this is probably only a 2 man race with Thor and Ostlund being the favourites for the top 2 qualifying positions, but the 1 and 2 spots could go either way. However Oberst and Caron could easily steal one of those places away, with Kesley and Rafal unfortunately being big underdogs to make it through ahead of some of these true heavyweights. Ostlund blasts through all 4 implements in the first grouping, in a little over 38 seconds. I think Thor might be in with a good chance of beating that, with Caron possibly doing it too if he’s still in as good of a shape as I remember him. Oberst might not have the conditioning here to truly compete though. Thor does indeed beat the 38 seconds, and Caron also beat out Ostlund too! Looks like this will indeed be a very, very close heat!
Event 2 – Fingal’s Fingers
5 fingers, ranging from 200-320kg, must be flipped 108 degrees within 60 seconds!
A new rule added to the event this year is that they cannot allow it to drop onto their shoulder. While it has allowed some men in the past to power over a finger, it can seriously hurt the shoulder and neck area and has been banned for safety reasons. Thor is absolutely the favourite going into this event, being so tall and powerful. Flipping up a 3 meter finger is definitely a big man’s event, and not being allowed to put it on your shoulder might actually be a disadvantage for some of the smaller men who might be able to power it up and over that way. Kesley struggles here with Rafal using his height advantage to gain a comfortable lead, and he gets all 5 over in 44 seconds! Poor Kelsey only manages 3. Caron and Oberst are next to go head to head. Both men are tall, but perhaps the bigger frame of Oberst will help him defeat the Canadian in this particular event. Rafal’s time stands up as Oberst fails to beat it, missing out on the 5th finger by SECONDS. Caron was someone I would have expected to do well here, not beating Oberst, but still getting all 5 perhaps. Unfortunately he too struggles to get just 3 like Kelsey. Thor and Ostlund are the final 2 men and this is going to be a great battle! Wow, Thor is going through these like they were nothing! Ostlund is tearing through them too but compared to Thor he looks slow, despite the fact they both finish under 40 seconds for 1st and 2nd places!
Event 3 – Deadlift
Weight ranges from 280 to 370kg. Every time they complete a lift, another barrel is loaded onto the apparatus, and they must complete all weights in 60 seconds.
Surprised at Oberst only getting 4 reps here, I would have thought this was a good event for him. Caron is an excellent deadlifter so both he and Thor should do well. Unsure on Ostlund as it has been a while since I last saw him deadlift. Rafal gets a respectable 5 reps, which is great for him during his first WSM appearance. Ostlund is up next, leaving the 2 favourites (in my opinion, and seemingly whoever decides who goes when in events’ opinion haha) for last. Deadlifing in the past was always considered a bad event for the taller man, but in recent years people like Brian Shaw and Thor have shown that height isn’t always a disadvantage here. Can Ostlund do the same? Well, not quite. He only makes 4 like his fellow American Oberst. Thor is second to last, allowing Caron to go last and show that he is a real contender. Thor is on 6 reps, and decides that’s enough as he’ll come in 2nd place at LEAST, depending on what Caron can do. Smart. Save energy for the final! So, can Caron get 6 points here? He beats Thor on time with 6 reps, and he too decides to call it quits as he will get maximum points without needing another lift!
This is how the leaderboard is looking at the halfway point:
Thor is firmly in first place and as I predicted, he’s likely to get one of the qualifying places. Caron might be in second place right now, but only 3 points separate him, Ostlund, Rafal and Oberst! Poor Kesley is down in last and would need a miracle to get a qualifying position.
Event 4 – Car Walk
Athletes must walk a car, weighting 455kg, down a 25 meter course within 60 seconds!
Get good balance on the lift, and realistically ANYONE can do well. But that’s easier said than done, as we often see. Kelsey gets a good balance but the weight causes him to drop it numerous times, and having to lift it up time and time again will tire him out. Towards the end his balance is horrible, but he does finish the course, so he can certainly be proud of that. This is all experience for him in his first WSM appearance. Ostlund goes well, being taller does help him lift it up further and get a better balance, however he does drop it half way. His time is good enough for the current lead, but that drop might come back to haunt him with someone like Thor still to come. Coming off a win in the deadlift, Caron is struggling with the car walk. He gets off to a very slow start and then drops it a couple of times right at the finish. 44 seconds for him is enough for current second place, but you have to believe Oberst and Thor will knock him further down the leaderboard in the end. Thor is almost running down the course, making it look like he forgot the car! 22.16 seconds. Impressive, and will be extremely difficult for Oberst to beat! It’s a slow start for the American, and he is not looking comfortable at all. These mistakes are going to cost him, and it’s good news for Caron! Wow, in a huge surprise, Oberst doesn’t even complete the course, placing him last. He looks to be in a lot of pain, hopefully he isn’t injured. We learn after the event that he is unfortunately injured with a torn hamstring. We should see him again next year though and with any luck he’ll be back better than ever!
Event 5 – Viking Press
150kg’s must be pressed out for as many reps as possible in 60 seconds!
The apparatus here is probably going to be the biggest problem, as it puts bigger men in an awkward position. That being said, Thor gets 6, putting him in 1st place currently with only Caron and Ostlund to go! Ostlund looks tired early on but does manage to tie Thor on 6, while Caron moves ahead with an impressive 8 lifts! The final event is going to be very interesting!
With just 1 event to go, here is the leaderboard:
Thor has already qualified now thanks to his excellent performances so far. The real battle is between Caron and Ostlund for 3rd place! Just like the first heat, it all comes down to the Atlas Stones!
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
Lift all 5 stones onto platforms, weighing from 130kg to 185kg, within 60 seconds as fast as you can!
Both Kelsey and Kobylarz can be proud of getting a few stones up and ending their competition on a high note. Hopefully they’ll be back again next year! Thor has already qualified but still flies through all 5 stones in 21.33 seconds!!! And finally, Ostlund Vs Caron! USA Vs Canada! Ostlund needs to finish… 3 places ahead of Caron I think? I can be done, especially with Ostlund being very good at this event and Caron not being the best. Thor’s time is nowhere to be seen, but Ostlund makes it into second. Caron gets 4 stones slower than Kobylarz, but he DOES get the 5th one up, allowing him to stay in second place and qualify for the final! An excellent battle!!!
The final standings:
Thor was his usual unstoppable self throughout, and I cannot WAIT for the final to see how he does against Brian Shaw! J F Caron returning to form after missing last year due to injury, and heartbreak for Ostlund, just missing out after returning from injury for the first time since 2010! However, it turns out there will be 12 men in the final this year rather than just 10! Those final 2 spots are wildcard spots, and Dave Ostlund has to be a serious contender for one of those spots right now!