Here we go! After 5 incredible Giants Live qualifiers, its now time for the 40th WSM Competition!!! Who will be named the 2017 WSM? This year’s field is arguably going to be the greatest field EVER, from all time greats competing against up and comers looking to make their mark. But of course, before we get to the finals, we have to go through the heats. Only 2 mean from each heat will move on to the finals, and heat 1 is about to begin with the following names:
Colm Woulfe – New Zealand (3 times New Zealand’s Strongest Man)
Tom Stoltman – Scotland (2nd place Scotland’s Strongest Man in 2015 & 2016)
Matjaz Belsak – Slovenia (4 times Slovenia’s Strongest Man)
Mark Felix – England (12 World’s Strongest Man appearance)
JF Caron – Canada (6 time Canada’s Strongest Man)
Brian Shaw – USA (4 time reigning, defending World’s Strongest Man)
With Brian Shaw here, this heat is all about that 2nd qualifying spot. 5 men competing for ONE place in the final is going to be a huge challenge. Caron is probably the favourite to go through with Shaw, but Belsak is a real dark horse for sure.
Event 1 – Load and Drag
2 sacks, each weighing 110kg must be loaded onto a platform at the bottom of a 12m course, then the 350kg cart must be dragged back up the 12m course! What a way to start this heat off! I can see some of the guys not finishing this at all!
Woulfe, Stoltman and Belsak are first up.Belsak is off to a good start, but he might struggle with the cart due to his small size. Stoltman is a big man and SHOULD be good here, but he seems to be struggling the most. Woulfe is clearly ahead of everyone else, but nobody has finished this, as I expected. Now lets see what the other 3 men can do. Shaw finishing is very likely, but I don’t think Felix will. Caron at the very least should come away with second place overall, either beating everyone else’s distance or simply finishing the course behind Shaw. Shaw looks to be taking his time with the sacks, probably knowing he’s in the best position to drag that cart. However, its Caron who is in the lead and looking like he might finish, while Shaw is looking too casual. I guess he’s just going to do enough for a qualifying place rather than wasting energy winning everything. Caron takes the win, but doesn’t finish. Shaw does just enough for second place. He’s always been known for taking it easy in the heats and saving energy for the final. A very smart strongman!
Event 2 – Log Lift
How many reps can our strongmen do in 75 seconds? 158kg is a little heavier than the Giants Live weight, so 7 reps from Caron back then might be a little too much. 6 from him might be a winner, but as I wrote that, we see that he and Colm have already been, with Colm getting 1 rep and Caron managing 5. Belsak is a great presser though and might edge out Caron, which would push Shaw to get at least 5 as well for a joint second place.
First men we see are Felix and Stoltman. Felix has never been good at this event, but I think he should get 2 reps to beat out Colm. Stoltman is also not good, and he really struggles to get his first rep. Felix picks the log up for a second rep but has to drop it and might have injured his shoulder. Not good. Stoltman on the other hand gets that 2nd rep which was crucial to beat out Felix and Colm, and then even manages a 3rd! Now for Shaw and Belsak. Shaw will likely stop at 5, so its all up to Belsak. He’ll want 6 to beat out Caron and get some good points. Both have reached 5 reps, and Belsak does indeed get his 6th rep for the win. Shaw on the other hand runs out of time, but still presses it overhead. Seems he WAS looking for 1st place points here, but sadly he will have to settle for tied second.
Event 3 – Fingal’s Fingers
5 fingers must be flipped over 180 degrees in 60 seconds. They range from 145kg to 170kg. Shorter guys will struggler here while Shaw SHOULD run through them with ease.
Felix went first with Woulfe, but seems Felix is injured and couldn’t even lift the first finger. He is refusing to give up on the competition though! Colm got 4 fingers in 42.72 seconds, which is a very good result. Now we see Belsak and Stoltman. Stoltman has the height, but Belsak might have the experience here to beat him. Neck and neck for the first 3, but the 4th one might separate them, and it does! Stoltman can’t get it, while Belsak beats Colm’s time and attacks the 5th, but can’t do it. Excellent result from the smaller man! Finally we have Shaw and Caron. Shaw, as I said, SHOULD run through these. Caron will likely do all 5 too, or at the very least 4 in a good time. Shaw is going well as we expected, but he still seems to be going fairly slow. He does all 5 for first place, while Caron only does 4 and not in the best time either. Bit of a surprise!
Half way point for the first heat, and here are the scores so far:
Shaw is in the lead as everyone expects, but that poor performence in th fingers pushes Caron down into 3rd, giving Belsak a huge opportunity to take the second qualifying place. With 3 events left though, Caron can still take back second place. Felix, despite not wanting to retire from the competition with his injury, has no choice. A real shame. Stoltman has also had to pull out after hurting himself in the fingal’s fingers.
Event 4 – Deadlift
350kg deadlift for reps! Caron and Shaw are world class at this event, so expect a 1-2 finish for them!
Coulm has been and gone, with 2 reps, while Belsak got a huge 7 reps! He’s really pushing Caron and Shaw with that number! With 2 men injured, we only have Caron and Shaw left. Caron is up first, and he should at least match that 7 from Belsak, but just how much further can he go? Just 1 more as he runs out of time. Great stuff from Caron as usual! Now for Brian Shaw, who probably didn’t want to have to push himself this much in the heats. Despite having 15 seconds left, he stops at 8 to tie for first place. Again Shaw likely saving energy while remaining in good points.
Event 5 – Bullion Toss
For those who don’t know, a bullion is one of those big bars of gold/other precious metals! Here, I don’t think the bullions are worth much, but they do weigh between 17.5kg and 25kg! They must be thrown over a 15’6″ bar in the same way kegs and other implements have been thrown over in the past! Will the odd shape throw our competitors out of their rhythm though?
Woulfe went first and managed a respectable 6 bars. Now for Belsak who really needs to beat Caron here. Unfortunately his height might cause him problems, as he struggles with the 5th bar, only managing 4. Not a good result. Caron’s time now and he’s making the first 4 look easy. One more to overtake Belsak and he does it with ease. And then the 6th goes over in a faster time than Woulfe! The 7th doesn’t go over, but realistically he isn’t going to beat Shaw here is Shaw goes all out. 6 are over in the fastest time, and the 7th goes over just as easy at the rest. And then just for the hell of it, the 8th is up and over and Brian Shaw has already qualified for the finals!
One event left, lets have a look at the overall scores:
Shaw is through to the final, and Caron looking like he’ll join him. There are slightly new rules this time around, with the person in 1st place after 5 events automatically qualifying for the final and not having to even compete in the final event! With 2 injuries and Shaw through, I don’t think its possible for Belsak to make up enough points even if he were to win the final event and Caron came in last! Then again, I’m not entirely sure how this new system works…
Event 6 – Last Man Standing
Ok… right. So it seems that points no longer matter here. Which is kind of stupid imo. The 2 men at the bottom of the leader board (Woulfe and Belsak in this heat) must compete against each other by lifting an Atlas Stone over a bar, with the other man having 15 seconds to pass it back over. When one man cannot do it in the time, he is eliminated and the next man up the leader board (Caron) comes in to continue the game. The last man standing wins and goes through to the final. So someone could come in last place in the first 5 events and then still win against someone who could have come in second place in all 5 events. Not really fair, and I can’t say I like this new system at all.
We begin, and the commentator claims this is a fair way to do things. No. No it is not. Anyway. Both men are going well, but they are beginning to tire, and Woulfe cannot continue. Now here comes Caron who is fresh, which I guess makes it a little more fair for him as he technically should have already qualified based on his points, but yeah, I still don’t like it. Props to Belsak for keeping going as long as he has so far, but I don’t see him going much longer. Hell, whoever wins this is going to have knackered themselves out and won’t be in the best condition for the final. Another reason I don’t like this. Belsak gives up after a valiant effort and Caron goes through, as he should have anyway. Hopefully they don’t do this again next year.
And there we have the official results. Shaw and Caron are the first 2 men through to the WSM Final.