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2020 Gripmas - Rivellese Report


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My first Gripmas was the Last Gripmas in Ohio in 2018, but it has become clear that there is a new tradition in a quirky, antique-car-adorned gun factory called Charter Arms in a little town called Shelton, Connecticut --  the new Gripmas, courtesy of promoter extraordinaire Tank Andrade and his wife Amber and son Anthony.  I was 187 pounds a few days ago and thought it best to get down to the 83kg weight class, since that is the only class I have ever competed and I did not want to have my stats uploaded to 93.  I made it easily just by eating light all week, and once I made weight, I asked Tank for my breakfast sandwich to be sausage and egg.  He handed me a bacon and egg sandwich.  Well, who doesn't love bacon, so I ate it, and of course it was good, because, again, bacon.  There were 7 total competitors:  three of the four New York Yankers (me, Anton Torella, and Tom Flescher; I heard something about our usual fourth, Anthony C., having to clean the living room floor with a toothbrush for his fiancee' ...), Tim Butler and Andrew from New Jersey, Jedd Johnson from PA, and Chez the gripper guru from Westchester, NY.

Here's what went down from my perspective: 

(1) I was salivating for the first event, the dynamometer ("dyno"), because anyone who knows my strengths/weaknesses knows that my best grip event is crush except that I suck at setting grippers.  So what more tailored to my strengths could there be than an instrument that says, "just hold me, squeeze me, say you'll never leave me OR set me."  My PR on dyno (supplied for the event by Tim Butler) was previously 218, but I had never done it as an event where I warmed up and timed my attempts.  Before warming up, I took a shot at it and got 209.  So I decided to warm myself up with grippers, for a good 15 to 20 minutes before the attempts, incrementally closing harder grippers up to a COC 3 rated 150.  Funny, but I didn't see Jedd warming up grippers ...  So anyway, Chez pulled the number 1 in the random assignment of order, and it began.  Chez going first kind of made the whole thing anticlimactic because once he posted 280 on the thing, it was just going to be a battle for second place.  Tim Butler went second and broke 200, so that was the new number to beat, no one realistically contemplating chasing Chez on it.  Tom fell a little short of Tim, but then Jedd posted a pretty hefty 226 -- and I kinda thought since I was next and he was handing me the dyno, that when he said "Ha" and looked at me as he handed off the dyno, it was as if he were saying "This is for last year, when you got me on the TNS grippers, beat THAT."  And I remembered how I felt last year when I beat Jedd on the crush event, and thought to myself, "Um, yeah, no, I can't beat that."  So I took the dyno and ... TWO.  FREAKING. HUNDRED.  FORTY.  TWO.  242.  That was way more than I expected, and I credit the warmup and the "Ha."  I can't actually remember whether I "Ha"-ed Jedd back, but he was very gracious in congratulating me for an excellent, if unexpected, dyno result.  Andrew and Anton also posted in the 200 range, but I came in second only to Chez on that one.

(2) Euro would be my next best event normally, but I thought I would try the wide width instead of the narrow one.  I warmed up a bit much, and 187 went up pretty easily in practice.  But by the time of my first attempt to get on the board at 182, I had already torn both webbings by my thumbs, and the 182 was easy but exacerbated the tear.  I kind of figured I wasn't going to be able to do four attempts, so for my second attempt I just went for 196 because I pulled 194 at Gripmas last year on the same Euro and 196 would be a PR.  I got good air on the 196, but not enough, and the blood on both hands was telling me that that was it for Euro.  The good news is that I now know that 52 mm is better than 58 mm for my hand, because I never get tears like that with 52 and if we do Euro next year I will stick with the narrower width and get that 196!  Or more! 

(3) The one hand Napalm's Nightmare 2 inch rolling handle!  I had never tried this before, so I really didn't know where to start or how much to jump.  I figured it would be significantly easier than a rolling thunder, so I came in at 165 because that was near my rolling thunder PR.  Pretty easy actually.  175 wasn't too bad either, and 190 did not feel maxed.  Tried 200 for my final attempt and was annoyed that it also did not feel max -- I felt compelled to hold it for five or six seconds before putting it down because I was annoyed at myself for not taking bigger jumps or starting higher.  But I really did not see myself pulling 200 on a rolling handle.  After my final attempt, I actually tried the next couple of weights and got up to about 210 before failing.  Kind of liking this implement!

(4) Little Bighorn.  Just screw LBH.  I hate it.  Like the overexcited elephant member it is.  Because someone said they thought doing LBH was like stroking an elephant, I now have to have that image associated with this already anathema event.  So nothing else to say but that I pulled 160 and then failed my final attempt somewhere near my PR in the high 160s.  Not by too much.  If only I hadn't been thinking about elephant D.

(5) Medley of kettlebells.  This was simply bottoms-up kettlebell clean and press, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 pounds, starting from lightest and getting only two attempts on each, then out once you fail.  I got through 40, but on 50, I failed both attempts.  Had it been timed, I would have gotten 50 as well, because I came back after the medley ended and got it.  No one else did worse than me on this medley, and only Jedd got to the 80 pounder AND also managed to get out a second rep with it!  Nice going Jedd, I guess you maybe are stronger than me lol.

TL/DR:

No one was surprised that Jedd came in first of 7.  But it was indeed a competitive comp -- Anton, Tom, and I finished in the bottom three not because we suck, but because the top four were really, really good.  Or maybe because we wore Tom's wife's "New York Yankers" tee shirts.

At the end of the comp, I asked Tank if he had another breakfast sandwich I could eat for lunch.  He pointed me to the bags, and I eagerly took out a sandwich from a bag marked "sausage," desperate to right the grave injustice done me earlier when I had asked for sausage but received bacon.  Yet again it was bacon, dammit (and again I ate it voraciously, because bacon)!  Methinks there was a little switcheroo at the deli.

Many thanks again to Tank for hosting this awesome event.  I do like this tradition.  Beating Jedd at a crush event I mean.  Well, maybe also Gripmas.  Looking forward to more comps in 2021!

Edited by Vinnie
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Jedd Johnson

You got me two years in a row, brotherrrr!!!! Arrrrrgh! Lol. Good job buddy.

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climber511

It really makes me feel good knowing The Gripmas Carol tradition continues in such capable hands!  And congrats to all who competed!

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3 hours ago, Jedd Johnson said:

You got me two years in a row, brotherrrr!!!! Arrrrrgh! Lol. Good job buddy.

And I only rib you about it because I know how good you are and that neither you nor anyone else is unsure of that.  I was surprised to do that well and it motivates me to do better in other areas of grip (where I most certainly will not beat you lol).  

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Jedd Johnson
52 minutes ago, Vinnie said:

And I only rib you about it because I know how good you are and that neither you nor anyone else is unsure of that.  I was surprised to do that well and it motivates me to do better in other areas of grip (where I most certainly will not beat you lol).  

Keep up the good work brotherrrr!

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Great write up vin. Your dyno score was huge. You impressed my friend Robert. He kept commenting on how big your forearms are and how impressive your lifts were 

Edited by Chez
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