6 more athletes will be competing for a place in the WSM final, but as always, only 2 from the heat can make it. Who do we have this episode?
Mikkel Leicht – Denmark (3 time Denmark’s Strongest Man in 2014, 2015 and 2016)
Rob Kearney – USA (Winner of the North American Open Giants Live 2017)
Mikhail Shivlyakov – Russia (3 time Russian’s Strongest Man in 2014, 2015 and 2016)
Johan Els – South Africa (Africa’s Strongest Man 2016)
Konstantine Janashia – Georgia (4th Place WSM 2016)
Laurence Shahlaei – England (Europe’s Strongest Man 2016)
Event 1 – Load and Drag
Again we have those 2 heavy sacks that need to be carried down the 20m course and loaded onto a platform, and the very heavy cart that they will have to drag back up the course. So far only THOR has completed the course. Will anyone do it today?
Leicht, Kearney and Shyvlyakov are up first. Mikhail is known for being one of the most fit strongmen in the business, but I think the cart is going to be far too much for him, and for the other 2 men as well. Kearney was very impressive in the NA Open Giants Live, but the cart will not move very far at all. Els, Janashia and Shahlaei take on this challenge now, and I think the cart will still be too much for them, but Janashia might just take the win here. Els is someone I’m not familiar with at all, but so far he seems to be going the best, and is clearly in the lead with the cart overall. Janashia catches up but is just behind the newcomer Els! Shahlaei really struggled with the cart and will not get very good points in this first event.
Event 2 – Log Lift
158kg log must be lifted as many times as possible in 75 seconds!
Els has been and gone, managing 2 reps, and Janashia got 3 for the current lead. Kearney and Leicht get to go head to head, and this should be a great event for Kearney. Leicht doesn’t get it up to his shoulders as easily as Kearney, but ones its up there he has no problems pressing it out. Tremendous strength on show from him. Leicht gets a 5th rep just before the whistle, while Kearney runs out of time and doesn’t get the 6th, so he has to settle for joint first place so far! Now to see what Laurence and Shivlyakov can do. Shahlaei used to be very good at max weight, but for reps he tires out quickly. Mikkel makes a mistake and doesn’t get a 3rd rep first time, so that will cost him time and energy. Both men get 4 each, but neither can go any further.
Event 3 – Bus Pull
The 15 tonnes bus we saw yesterday is back and must be pulled up a 25m course. Nobody but THOR completed the course then, can anyone else do it now?
Kearney managed just over 12m, Leicht with under 17m, and in first place with over 18m is Mikhail Shivlyakov. Up first for us to see is Els, and he looks like he is well build for this event. He slows down half way, but keeps on going and not only does he complete the course, he does it in a better time than Thor did yesterday! Time for the big Georgian to give it a go. He too looks well built for pulling events, and he definitely looks better early on, its just a case of him keeping up the pace. Another fantastic time of just over 42 seconds putting him in current first! Up last is Shahlaei, and well, I just don’t see him finishing this. If he does, I definitely don’t see him beating either time from Els and Janashia. And in typical fashion, when I make a prediction here, I tend to look like a fool! Shahlaei completes the course and gets second! Good pull!
3 Events down and 3 to go, so lets have a look at the scores!
Janashia currently on top, but with so few points separating everyone, the automatic qualifying spot after 5 events could go to just about anyone now, except maybe Kearney.
Event 4 – Deadlift
350kg for reps!
Leicht went first and managed 4 reps, with Kearney going after him and getting 6, but in currently first on 8 reps is the Russian! First for us to see is Els, and according to the commentators he couldn’t even LIFT this weight last year! Here though, he’s already managed 2, which won’t get him good points but will be an absolute personal best for him. He puts everything into a 3rd lift but almost passes out and falls back. Thankfully he doesn’t seem to be hurt too bad beyond some bruising, and on top of that, he ACHIEVED the 3rd rep! Incredible!!! Now for Shahlaei who is very good at deadlift, being a former record holder for max weight and usually good for reps too. 5 in a quick time, and he’ll want at least one more to tie with Kearney, and that is indeed what he does. Now to see what Janashia can do. He looks very strong here, getting 6 quick reps before taking his time for the 7th. 2 more will get him first place on his own, but just one more will at least tie him for 1st. He gives everything he has to the 9th rep, but doesn’t lock out in time. Such a shame.
Event 5 – Elephant Carry
200kg Elephant face shaped pieces of metal that must be picked up and carried as far as possible. We’ve seen this event done with many implements over the years, but never in the shape of an Elephants head!
Els and Kearney have been and gone, with 44.93m and 63.59m respectively. Always hard to say if those distances will stand up against the rest or not, as sometimes even the best can falter in an instant on this event. First men we get to see is Mikkel Leicht and Laurence Shahlaei. Typically in the past athletes could go alone, but here they get to go head to head which probably helps them as they have someone to compete against directly, rather than just a random distance. Leicht doesn’t get too far, dropping the Elephant after the first turn. Shahlaei keeps going a little while after the second turn for 65.99m in total and a current first place. He’ll be very happy with that result! Now for Shivlyakov and Janashia, the 2 main men battling for the automatic qualifying position. Shivlyakov gets past the 30m mark then loses all his energy. Janashia on the other hand keeps going and easily passes Shahlaei’s distance and drops it simply because he didn’t need to go any more!
Before we go into the awful Last Man Standing event, lets check those scores one last time:
So Janashia does indeed qualify, while Mikkel Leicht is eliminated. The rest will have to endure the Last Man Standing bullshit.
Event 6 – Last Man Standing
A game of pass the atlas stone. Sick of it already.
Kearney and Els go first, and it doesn’t look like they will last too long. Kearney is looking the weaker man right now, and yep, he’s finished. In comes Shivlyakov and you have to believe Els won’t have much left either now. He trades it back and forth a number of times, but gets to the point where he can’t lift it over any more. Last in is Shahlaei who should win now as he’s the freshest man, which is yet another reason I hate this. The first 2 men are never going to have a chance as they will simply be too exhausted to win ever head to head no matter how hard they try. When we just had the regular Atlas Stones, everyone was in the same position and could win or lose in a fair manner. Anyway. Shahlaei does of course win.
Janashia in his second WSM appearance makes it to the final for the second time. Shahlaei, after numerous injures over the years makes it there again too. Will be interesting to see how both men do in the finals.