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2022 December - World Armlifting Championship - Eric Roussin

Eric Roussin

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This past weekend I travelled to Las Vegas to compete in the World Armlifting Championship. This is the replacement contest that Armlifting USA organized in the absence of there being an open APL World Armlifting Championship in Russia this year (and likely any time soon).

One of the things that made this trip special for me was that is was the first time that I had travelled such a long distance with a team to compete in a grip contest. We were four from Ottawa: me, Stefano Fortugno, Kathy Facey, and Zach Ebel. Though Stefano, Kathy, and Zach each only had a year and a half or less in the sport, they all managed to qualify for the contest based on their results in this summer’s Armlifting Super Series. The four of us have been training together every week for most of the year, which has been a lot of fun.

The event was part of the Olympia weekend festivities in the convention centre area of the Venetian Hotel and it was contested over two days. Day 1 consisted of the Double Overhand Apollon’s Axle Deadlift and the Country Crush 3”x4” Pinch Blocks, while Day 2 included the 3”x4” Saxon Bar and the 2” Country Crush. On each day the women would compete first, followed by the men’s classes up to 100 kg, and finally the men’s classes 110 kg and above. With the Ottawa team represented in all three groups (Kathy in the 80+, Stefano in the 80, me in the 100, and Zach in the 110), I stayed around the competition area most of the time to take in all the action.

With respect to my performances, I was quite pleased overall. The Axle deadlift has always been a good event for me. Training hadn’t been the most consistent for me since early November and I was sick for a couple of days a few weeks ago, so I didn’t expect to be hitting a PR in this lift. And while I didn’t, I did surprise myself with a lift of 192.5 kg (approx. 425 lbs), which was good enough for the event win. I expected my main competition in this event to come from Washington’s Andy Munsey. At the Arnolds earlier this year we both got up over 400 lbs. But I learned that he suffered an injury in King Kong in late October which continues to give him pain with the axle. I think he still lifted 175 kg, but in normal circumstances he’d be able to lift more.

For the Country Crush Pinch Blocks, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is an awkward lift and I wasn’t sure how lockout would be judged. By the way, though they are called “pinch blocks” I don’t consider this to be a test of pinch strength. For me, it’s all about wrist flexion. With my background in armwrestling, I knew I would do well. I managed to lift 82.5 kg (approx. 182 lbs), which was both a PR and a weight class world record. (To be fair, the top lifts in each class were world records as this was the first time the event was featured in a sanctioned contest.) I believe Andy lifted 80 kg to take second in the class.

I had big expectations for the Saxon Bar. It is one of the few events where my training numbers have gone up considerably this year. The Saxon Bar used in the competition also felt great, so I thought that I might be able to hit my goal of 115 kg. It turns out I was right. I got 115 kg (253 lbs) and even felt I could do a bit more, but I was starting to get a skin tear in my thumb webbing. So rather than push it (and almost certainly getting a much bigger tear), I decided to save myself for the 2” Country Crush. I think Andy lifted 107.5 kg with the Saxon, which was a PR for him.

With the Country Crush being the last event, I knew that I had a very good chance of winning the title, as it is a strong event for me. I think the most weight lifted by others in my class was 165 kg. At that point, I knew I still had a lot left in me and had won the contest, so I decided to jump straight to 182.5 kg (approx. 402 lbs) to go for a contest PR. I got the weight up, and feeling content, decided to call it a day. Andy finished in second in the class and Colorado’s Steve Millard took third.

I got to leave with a lot of hardware: a medal for the World Championship win, and both a medal and a cool championship belt for the combined scoring from the Super Series and the World Championship. :)

With respect to my team’s performances, I’m happy to report that we all did well. I believe Stefano and Kathy reached or slightly exceeded their target weights for the four events, and Stefano managed to secure a third place finish in the 80 kg class behind Will Reed and Michael Rogowski. As for Zach, he totally kicked butt! I knew he’d do well, because he’s good at thickbar events, and in training he was very strong with the Country Crush pinch blocks. So he was confident in three of the four events, and while his pinch strength lags a bit behind, I knew he’d still put up a respectable number. In the end, he lifted enough to finish at the top of his class! World Champion with less than a year of dedicated grip training! I believe he lifted 180 kg with the axle, 82.5 kg with the pinch blocks, 90 kg with the Saxon bar, and 170 (I think) with the Country Crush. Zach also happens to be good at vertical lifts and has better crushing strength than me, so I expect you’ll be seeing his name of lot in upcoming contest results.

With our team’s performance, someone even asked if there was something special in the water up in Ottawa – which I think was a great compliment! In addition to the Ottawa group, there were three competitors from Alberta. Ian Wheat actually finished at the top of the 90 kg class, so Canadians took the 90, 100, and 110 classes. :)

A few stray observations:

  • Tammy McClure is a beast. She had a perfect year, winning every event in every armlifting contest she entered. She even outlifted Sarah Chappelow in the Country Crush Pinch Blocks event, though overall Sarah ably demonstrated why she’s the reigning Queen Kong of Grip. Her axle and Country Crush lifts were out of this world!
  • Carl Myerscough came to break world records, and that’s exactly what he did. He finally broke the axle record, after chasing it for six years. His lift of 237.5 kg was strong and decisive – incredible to watch live! Then on Day 2 he broke the Saxon Bar world record (his own) with a lift of 136.5 kg (300 lbs)! Absolutely amazing! I think it’s only a matter of time before he officially gets the CoC #4 certification, after which it will be time to come up with new challenges!
  • I’ve come to realize that I just perform better in single venue contests. Not sure if it comes down to the slightly different factors that come with multi-venue contests (e.g. humidity, seasoning, etc.), or if I get more of a boost when I’m in the same room with my competition, but I just lift more when I compete in the same setting as my opponents. While I was disappointed with most of my results in this year’s King Kong contest, I was very happy with what I was able to do this weekend.

Riccardo Magni did a great job organizing this event, and I look forward to attending the next one: the Arnolds in March!

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