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First Golden Potato Championship - Vancouver, WA, July 10, 2021 - Rivellese report


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I flew from NY to Portland to attend Frank and Addam Chaudoin's Couch Potato Strong "Golden Potato Championship" -- really an arm lifting contest, with the four qualifiers (Rolling Thunder, Saxon Bar, Axle, Silver Bullet), but with a golden potato lift at the end.  I went because I wanted to get all the qualifiers done, but I am glad to have met Frank and Addam Chaudoin, the hosts, and a bunch of other fun and friendly gripsters and armlifsters in an area of the country I've never seen.  I made a long weekend of it and flew to San Francisco to meet some college friends who live near there, also, so it was a good trip albeit too short.

As for the comp, success!  I mean, I didn't win it, but I beat my own bests in 3 out of 4 arm lifting events and almost hit it with the fourth, and got acquainted with the golden potato, and made new friends.

Rolling Thunder:  my previous PR was also from an arm lifting comp, the 2019 Fort Worth Show of Hands, where I got about 167 pounds.  Somehow, I managed to pull 80.5 kilos this time -- 177 pounds -- which was a huge PR.  I weighed in at 79.5, so it was over body weight.

Saxon Bar: I wasn't really sure how to do my attempts, because I never competed on 3 inch Saxon before.  I was hoping for 175 because I think that's about the most I've lifted in practice, or maybe the least I've missed lol.  I've pulled over 200 on 2-inch and 2.5-inch, but I have trouble with wide pinch and the few times I have tried the 3-inch, I had trouble passing 170.  Plus we were doing kilos, with 5 kilo jumps, and that threw my reckoning off a tad.  So I started at 70 kilos (about 154 pounds) and it felt pretty easy.  I decided to go for broke and skipped the next jump, and I tried 80 kilos (176).  Not cake, but not close to failure and I felt like I had more in me, so I considered going for another 10 kilo jump (to 198) in order to have a shot at then breaking 200.  However, I played it safe, and went for 85 kilos (187).  I got good air but dropped it before lockout, doh!  Almost knocked myself out on the effort, too.  But, for my fourth attempt when I tried it again, I eked it out. 187 was a PR for me, since it was the most I can remember ever doing on it, but I had never really maxed out before to know what my real PR should have been.  There might be room for improvement here given that I can pinch more on narrower bars and Euro, but this was a positive result for me and hopefully a benchmark from which to improve.

Axle: For those who know me, you know my grip is stronger than the rest of me.  All my life I never worked out until I found grip and arm lifting, and it is those disciplines I consider first, and working out things like deadlift, bench, etc. are secondary to me.  So, my max deadlift in workouts is only about 300 pounds, no matter how I hold it -- because it isn't the holding it that is holding me back.  I'm sure that's not awful for a 50-plus guy in the general population who weighs under 180, but certainly not impressive among athletes.  So I started the axle at 125 kg (275), knowing I can get on the board with that, and figuring that 5kg jumps would get me to a PR if I made my 4th attempt.  It worked.  On the 4th attempt at 140 kg (308), I could feel the strain on my body getting that much weight to budge and then to lockout -- it went up slow, and the struggle was to get it there.  I am sure it looked much harder to see me doing that than it looked when the other guys did their maxes -- usually the weight goes up quick and easy, but the hands look shaky or lopsided and they struggle not to drop it.  By contrast for me, I'm not sure I could have lifted an ounce more, even with straps.  It was the right 4th attempt for me anyway.  But since I was up there at lockout, I figured I may as well have some fun with the fact that it was getting it there, and not holding the bar, that was the difficulty.  So, when the judge said down, I played around and held it for a few seconds, made a crack or two, then slowly and gingerly lowered it and softly touched it to the ground without a sound.  People said I risked losing a good lift, and maybe so, but I really wasn't going to drop it, and could have held it longer.  Lesson for me:  there is room for improvement here, because if I can strengthen my core and legs, I can up my axle without improving my grip at all.  I think my hands could hold 350 DOH if only the rest of me could lift that much!  But until I do it, that's just bluster.  I hate deadlifting but maybe it's time to try it, at least a little.

Silver Bullet: This was last, which is too bad because it has usually been first when I've competed it, and I was a little wiped, but of course everyone else was wiped, too.  There were two big guys (Jason and Chris) who (easily) took up the first and second spots on every other event, but neither of them was a gripper specialist and that's really my first and best grip event -- so this was the event I had a shot at winning.  My PR was 12 seconds on a 3.5, and I figured I'd have a shot at beating that even a little tired, because I've improved on grippers since last time I did silver bullet, and it was not a hard 3.5 (rated only 170).  Anyway, no way I was getting even a second on that 4 (rated 210), so it was 3.5 no matter what, just a question of how long.  Well, good thing there were four attempts.  First time, I dropped it at 2 seconds.  It just wasn't a great set, and I had to do too much work to get the hold.  I was in second place, with Jason holding it for 5 seconds.  So for my second attempt, I really focused on the set, got it nice and deep, got a decent enough hold, and made 11+ seconds.  This was enough to win that event.  My third effort was less than 11, and Jason and I challenged each other to get just one second on the 4 for our last attempts, but neither of us could get a hold on it at all.  Besides Jason, I don't think anyone else even got past a 3. 

After the arm lifting events, we tried the golden potato.  It is a fun implement!  Closest thing to it that I've done before might be grab ball, but I felt like the hold feels better on the potato and I can lift about 30 pounds more.  I was gunning for a body weight lift since I managed that on RT and Saxon, but I fell a little short, landing in the 160s I think.  When the comp results are posted, if they are, I guess I will see exactly, but I know we put 175 on there for me to try and I missed that.  I bought one, so I can play with it.

So my goal at the comp was to qualify for worlds and the Arnold, and of course time will tell on those questions.  But, as far as comparing myself to myself, I beat my comp (and workout) PRs on 3 out of 4 qualifiers, almost matched it on the 4th, and learned a new implement.  I made some friends.  I also bundled the trip with a side trip to San Francisco and saw other friends.  This was a win win win weekend.

Thanks to the Chaudoin brothers for running the comp, and to the folks I met who helped them and who were a pleasure to compete with and against and to talk to.

Until the next one!

- Vin

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Great write up Vinnie, I wanted to do this meet but I'm Canadian so we're still waiting for less restrictions. Would have been nice to meet you and the Chaudoin brothers. I laughed at your "3.5(only rated 170), must be nice haha your a beast man that is a very impressive silver bullet hold espicially after all that fatigue from the thick bar events! Maybe you should be the next guest on the Golden Potato Podcast. 

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