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Eric Roussin

2018 February - Canadian National Grip Sport Championships - Eric Roussin

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Eric Roussin

For the fourth year in a row, I hosted the Canadian National Grip Sport Championships on the final Saturday in February. The weather was not kind this time, with freezing rain all weekend, making travel conditions difficult. But the weather did not stop 12 brave men and 2 brave women from joining me to compete in Canada’s first major grip contest of the year.

In the days leading up to the event, it was looking like we’d have 18-20 competitors, but a few had last minute changes of plans (or simply got cold feet). So we didn’t break an attendance record this year, but 15 was still a very decent turnout.

Though there were 15 competitors, I should mention that I held an informal kids grip contest on the Friday night for my kids and their friends. 17 kids between the ages of 5 and 12 competed! Had I had the time, space, and patience, I’m pretty sure I could have had 50 kids participate. (My kids are apparently great at convincing their friends that whatever they do is awesome.)

The kids contest featured three events: max lift with the Andrew Dube I-Beam, max crush on a Dynamometer, and a 10-item medley. I adjusted the medley slightly for each age group so that it wouldn’t be too easy or too hard for any particular category. Though extremely loud, the kids contest was a blast, and I was able to capture lots of cute pictures and videos.

On Saturday, things got off to a good start: almost everyone arrived early, so the weigh-in and registration process was a breeze. 9 of the 15 competitors had attended last year’s contest, so they knew the drill (me, Rob McMurren, Dan Fleming, Andrew Dube, Matt Smith, Philippe Tremblay, Justin Major, Gus Bush, and Keith Steffensen). Mathieu Charbonneau, Nick Carignan, Mark Lacina, and Colin Dore had all previously competed in a grip sport contest, but it was a first time for the two women: local armwrestlers Julie Lalonde and Natasha Batt.

I thought each of the men’s classes would have 4-5 competitors. But a couple of competitors lost quite a bit of weight over the past year, so the 105 kg class was the biggest with six competitors. There were four in the 83 kg class, six in the 105, and three in the 105+ class.

The first event was the Saxon Bar deadlift (using two hands, with the three-inch width). We used last-man-standing format, and the weight increased in 11-lb (5 kg) increments). Justin and I were the only two who lifted 212 lbs. I came close to locking out 223, but to no avail. Justin was successful. He could have tried for more, but having secured first place in the event, he decided to conserve his energy for the rest of the contest.

Next up was the World of Grip Shallow Hub. This was a very competitive event. There was a three-way tie for first, with me, Mark Lacina, and Nick Carignan tying with lifts of a little over 48 lbs.

The Dube Cube Bearing lifts saw many of the same people who did well with the shallow hub do well with it. Nick and I both lifted around 31 lbs, but failed at a little over 33. Mark Lacina won this event. After getting 33, he attempted a world record, but on this day it was not to be.

On to the Wrist Wrench. I was certain Justin Major (a 6’4”, 300-lb 21-year-old), would win this event. A few days before the contest he came over to try some of the events and easily lifted 120 lbs with the Wrist Wrench. On contest day, he lifted 127+ lbs. Dan and I took second in the event, with successful lifts of 111. We both failed at the next increment (5.5 lbs heavier).

For the Dynamometer, each competitor took three attempts (either hand) and the best result counted. My best was 206 – not a PR, but I was satisfied. Dan broke his record on the device with a squeeze of 234 lbs! Justin came a close second at 230.

The Little Big Horn seems to be one of those “love it or hate it” events. I love it. I ended up lifting the most weight on the day, with a lift of 198 lbs. I felt I could have done a bit more, but probably not enough to beat Lucas Raymond’s 93 kg weight class record, so I decided to keep my energy for the rest of the contest. Dan took second with a lift of 187 lbs – a record for the 83 kg class.

With the two-hands tips tester, performances were great across the board, with 9 competitors lifting 265 lbs or more. Justin, Dan, and I were successful with our attempts at 311 lbs. The next jump was to 326 lbs, where only big Justin was successful.

The women jockeyed for position throughout the contest – each won two events and they tied on the remaining three. The winner of the medley would win the contest. What happened? They each completed 12 of the 20 feats. Because they were still tied using the countback method, the tie was finally broken by bodyweight, making Julie the class champion.

Designing the medleys is always a lot of fun. So many things to consider: who will be attending the contest? What are their approximate strength levels? Is there a good combination of easy, medium, and hard items? Are all major aspects of grip strength being tested? I like to think I do a pretty good job. This year, both women lifted 12 of 20 items (not the same ones). Considering this was a first contest for both of them, I think 12 means I hit a decent balance.

For the men’s medley, there are a handful of events I regularly feature, but I make subtle adjustments. For instance, if almost everyone failed on a lift the previous year, I may drop the weight by 10-15%. Conversely, if there was something that was too easy (i.e. everyone is successful) I may add a bit of weight. Once again, I think I did okay with this year’s design. There were 30 items, with scores ranging from 3 to 28. Interestingly, everyone either completed 10 feats or less, or 21 feats or more. Not sure what this says. I won the medley portion. The only two feats I didn’t accomplish was closing a CoC #3 gripper and tearing a deck of cards. With the effort required to close just a CoC #2 in the medley, I knew by that point in the day I wouldn’t be closing the #3. As for the deck of cards, I’ve torn decks before, but it always required significant effort and time – I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it in the medley. The CoC #3 is the only feat that wasn’t successfully completed by at least one competitor.

By the end of the day, Dan had won the 83 kg class, I had won the 105 kg class, and Justin had won the 105+ kg class. 69-year-old Gus Bush won the 50+ years division for the second year in a row.

I want to thank Andrew Pantke (FBBC), Grip N Bend, and Andrew Dube for supplying some great supplementary prizes for the contest. No one went home empty-handed.

Thank you to Rob who ended up doing almost all of the weight loading for the contest. I have a tendency to always want to do everything myself when I run a contest, but I have to say being able to let someone else help was quite pleasant.

And thank you to all of the competitors who came out to take part in the contest. It makes all of the organizational effort worthwhile.

The next stop for many of us will be the NAGS Championship on June 2nd!

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Awesome job, Eric.  I will make it to Ottawa for a contest someday...

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Nice writeup. Thanks for sharing.  You've got a crazy strong group.  Love the jrs comp too!

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