IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! No, not Christmas… WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN! Every year in December, this fantastic tournament featuring men with muscles in places I’ve never even heard of starts, all leading up to the WSM final to crown THE Strongest Man on the planet! And so begins my yearly daily posts on the WSM tournament, starting with the Giants Live Qualifiers right up to the final!
Giants Live 1 – Sweden
The first event this year is taking place in Sweden, and here are the competitors looking to qualify for a place in the main competition:
Antti Mourujavi – Finland
Maxime Bourdrealt – Canada
Johnny Hansson – Sweden
Dennis Kohlruss – Germany
Derek Devaughan – USA
Stefan Solvi Petursson – Iceland
Dave Ostlund – USA
Adam Bishop – Great Britain
Mark Felix – Great Britain
Martin Forsmark – Sweden
Johannes Arsjo – Sweden
Hafthor Bjornsson – Iceland
Only a couple of names I’m not familiar with there, while everyone else is either a veteran or at least been around for a couple of years. THOR is obviously THE man to watch in this event, with Arsjo, Felix, Ostlund and Petursson all being capable of a very good result.
Event 1 – Farmer’s Walk
150KG in each hand, and a 40m course with only 60 seconds to complete it in! A hard event, and last year only 5 men finished the full course!
This year though, it seems like most people will finish and finish in a good time two, as the first 2 athletes have been and gone, finished. The first people we get to see are Adam Bishop, and Dave Ostlund, a podium finisher in 2008, but been plagued with injury for the last few years. Bishop absolutely FLIES down the course, but drops it right at the finish line, causing him to lose a few seconds and finish in 25 seconds. Ostlund managed it in 33. The 49 year old Mark Felix next against Martin Forsmark, but even at his age, Felix has one hell of a grip and is pretty fast too. Just under 25 seconds for the veteran! Forsmark struggles but does finish in under 40. Can Arsjo do any better? And can THOR do better than him? Let’s find out!!! Arsjo is away the moment the whistle blows, but Thor catches him up with the greatest of ease, until he DROPS it near the finish, and Arsjo not only takes the win, but gets himself a new world record with a time of 20.00 seconds!
Event 2 – Pressing Medly
This event features numerous implements that need to be pressed overhead in the fasted time possible! 172KG log is the last implement, but after already lifting 3 objects, that 4th one will be incredible difficult.
Adam Bishop gets 2 objects in 44 seconds, and now its Mark Felix’s turn along with Petursson. Petursson has been away injured for FOUR years, and not really looking in the best of shape, but Felix isn’t the best presser so he could have a chance here. Both men get 2 objects only, but in a MUCH faster time than Bishop. THOR up next against Johnny Hansson. Thor, being so tall, shouldn’t be great at pressing, but THE MOUNTAIN is so powerful his height doesn’t seem to affect him at all. He becomes the first man to get the third object up, and then even picks the 172KG log overhead like it was nothing! Devaughan and Arsjo get their chance and Arsjo knows exactly what time he needs to beat in order to get another win over Thor. It looks like he might not get it, but he just edges out Thor and its another win for the hometown hero!
Event 3 – Deadlift
A classic event, the deadlift. And in WSM tradition, they are using a car! The most reps wins, and the car weighs almost 800lbs for the athletes!
A few athletes have gone already, with Forsmark leading on 6 reps. First up for us to see are Hansson, and one of the best deadlifters in the world, Mark Felix! He might not be the best in pure weight, but for reps, Felix is rarely ever beaten! 7 reps from Felix in 30 seconds puts him ahead, while poor Hansson can’t manage a single rep. Felix is finished on 7, and perhaps the 49 year old is showing his age. It had to happen some time, right? Thor Vs Arsjo once again next! Again, being such a big man should not be good for Thor in this event, but the power he has overcomes the odds every time. Just like Felix, Thor gets 7 in 20 seconds, but is able to squeeze out an 8th to take current first place! Arjso is stuck on 6 with 10 second left, but also squeezes out an extra to tie with Felix in second place.
After 3 events, this is how the scores are looking:
Arsjo is still on top, but Thor is closing in on him. Meanwhile Adam Bishop isn’t having a very good event, same for Petursson too. Mark Felix is doing well in 4th, but will want to get at least a 3rd place finish overall.
Event 4 – Loading Race
Skips, wheely bins and sacks. Not a usual loading race, even by WSM standards! This will be interesting to see!
Adam Bishop smashes his head against the skip during his run and seems to have busted himself open, hope he’s ok. Felix and Forsmask do well, both finishing the course. Can Arsjo and Thor do better? I’d think Thor would easily win this one just to size and speed. Arsjo struggles with the wheely bin, and Thor is now way ahead of the hometown hero. Thor wins comfortably in 44 seconds, 4 seconds faster than Felix. Arsjo managed it in 54 seconds, which is a disappointment for him after making a big mistake on the first object. Good points for Mark Felix here, coming in second place, while Arsjo ends up 6th, no doubt giving Thor the lead overall now.
Event 5 – Keg Toss
7 kegs, going up in weight, that must all be thrown over a 5 metre wall. Awesome.
Felix struggles with only 3 kegs, which won’t help him at all. Arsjo starts off well with the first barrel, but the second doesn’t make it over and he wastes time arguing with the referee about him needing to throw it again. He does manage all 7, but his time was hugely disappointing to him personally. THOR is expected to win this with ease, and he likely will if he doesn’t make a mistake. 20.24 for Thor, and shockingly, he’s the winner! And he probably could have done it faster too, as it seemed he was being a little more careful to not make a similar mistake to Arsjo.
With 3 men doing all 7 kegs, they have the chance to break the world record for a single keg! Rather than weight, its all about height, with 7m the current record held by Arsjo. 7.1m is what they are attempting today. Hansson goes first, but doesn’t make it. Can the current holder do it? No. Almost, but not quite. Thor goes last, and well, I’d be shocked if he didn’t do it! And he did! With ease!
5 events down and 2 new world records! And this is only the qualifiers for the main WSM competition! Here are the scores going into the final event:
The last place finish in the keg toss puts Felix down into 5th place, but he is still well within reach of a potential 3rd place finish. Thor is sitting comfortably on top, and Arsjo, while technically could still win, realistically is only going to finish in 2nd.
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
The final event is of course the Atlas Stones. 5 giant balls of stone, all going up in weight, that must be lifted onto platforms in the fasted time. Many WSM titles have been won and lost on this event, so its only fitting that most competitions end with it. Thor considers himself KING OF THE STONES, and for good reason too. I doubt he’ll be beaten here.
Felix up first, and he needs to beat 44 seconds from Hansson and hope that Devaughan does worse. He manages it in 38.86 seconds, but lost some time when some tape got stuck to his hands which would have ruined his grip on the stone. A real shame for him because he could have done much faster. Arsjo does better in 36 seconds, but we still have the mighty THOR to go. Thor is having a casual stroll with these stones, winning with ease in 33.96 seconds and seemingly barely even trying! That is impressive! But does Felix’s time land him in 3rd place overall?
The final scores are:
Thor gets the win, Arsjo only in second which is normally a very good place, but he’ll be disappointed in his hometown/country. The story here for English fans is that Mark Felix’s time on the stones means he leaves with 3rd place! I’d love to see him make it to the final again this year after his incredible performance last year.
Well, one Giant’s Live down, 4 more to go, I think? Either way, I’ll be posting about them every day here on Big Cal’s World!!!