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2023 November - World Armlifting Championships - Eric Roussin

Eric Roussin

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I had the pleasure of competing in two major grip contests in these past two weekends. I didn’t bother to do a write-up about King Kong, given how much I wrote about developments on the GripBoard and also because I did a recap video with Zach for The Grip Show.


In terms of my individual performances, I can sum them up as follows: I was happy with my Pinch Block lift (a PR), I was okay with my Jug lift, and I feel I slightly underperformed on the Crusher and Finnish Ball. Happy to have finished top 3 in the 93 kg class.



This write-up will focus on the Armlifting USA World Armlifting Championships which took place in Orlando at the Olympia Sports Festival on November 3-4.


I arrived in Orlando late Thursday afternoon. I had to rush to the convention center to make weigh-ins and get my competition t-shirt and weekend wrist band. Getting to the weigh-in room took longer than I expected. I asked the Uber driver to bring me to the convention center. He did, but to a different concourse (I didn’t realize the Olympia was in the Western Concourse). It took me a while to figure out where to go and how to get there. Lots more walking than I expected. Normally this would be fine, but I was lugging about 20 large King Kong medals in my bag. I was happy to learn that many King Kong medalists were competing in Orlando, providing me with an opportunity to save on shipping and to have fun in hand delivering the medals to the winners. But man, that bag got heavy after a while… (By the way, YES, my bag got pulled aside when it went through the x-ray machine at the airport. Luckily I was able to keep them in my carry-on bag, which was the only bag I brought for the weekend.)


I arrived at the weigh-in room at about 6pm and met several competitors. This included Jason Dingey, to whom I happily gave three medals (second in the 120+, second in the masters, and top Crusher lift). I also managed to hook up with my teammate Zach Ebel and his friends. We decided to go out for dinner along with Derik Hudson and Bruno Gonzalez, the lone Chilean representative at the contest. We ate some good food and enjoyed some great grip talk. After supper I checked into my hotel, which was just a couple of blocks from the venue. I was staying with Armlifting USA President, contest organizer, and friend Riccardo Magni. We both turned in early. (When I get a weekend away, I tend to sleep a lot – something that’s hard to do when I’m back home with my family.)


On Friday morning, Riccardo had already left for the venue before I even woke up. I strolled into the convention center a little before 9am, in time to catch all of the day’s armlifting action: the masters, 70 and 80 kg men in the morning and the women’s classes in the afternoon. I was also able to unload a bunch more medals, including four just for Sarah Chappelow (first in the 100+, top Crusher lift, top Jug lift, top Pinch Block lift). I still owe her a gorilla sculpture in recognition of her Queen Kong of Grip title. With a much lighter bag, I was then quite happy. 


I got the chance to meet and see new lightweight grip stars Jesse Hagedorn and Ben Galper in action. They each won their respective weight classes. I was also able to cheer on my teammates Stefano Fortugno and Maxim Gervais in the 80 kg class. The highlight of the morning for me was to watch 15-year-old Maxim get 20+ lifts with the heaviest weight in the Raptor medley – enough to secure second place. This kid will have an amazing future in this sport if he sticks with it!


The women’s field was top notch. The weights lifted were incredible. I don’t remember all of the figures, but I do know that Sarah Chappelow managed a Grandfather Clock lift of 221 lbs and she appeared to have more left in the tank! Wow! The believe the classes were won by Anastasia Daudy (masters), Grace Van Hoy (60 kg), Tammy McClure (70 kg), Haley Gow (80 kg), and Sarah in the unlimited class. All super strong competitors! I was particularly happy to see my teammate Kathy Facey earn a third place finish in the unlimited class.


On Saturday morning it was my turn to compete. The men’s 90 kg and 100 kg classes were run concurrently. There were five guys in my class (the 100) and the 90 class had seven or eight. First up was the 2”x5” Saxon bar. We were doing 10 pound jumps. I had the top result of the two classes with a lift of 260 lbs. Not a record, but it was becoming tough, so I opted to stop there rather than got for 270. Next was the Grandfather Clock. We were also doing 10 pound jumps. After locking out 251 lbs pretty easily, I couldn’t quite hold 261 at the top long enough to receive the down command. Devinlee Brown, who was competing in the 90 class, had the lift of the day locking out 276 – more than any competitor in any weight class! Last up was the Raptor medley. There were three Raptor handles set up: one loaded to 151 lb, one loaded to 171 lbs, and one loaded to 186 lbs. Each competitor had to lift the three in order, from lightest to heaviest, and then continue to do as many repetitions as possible with the heaviest weight within a 1-minute time limit. Devinlee set the bar pretty high, with 29 reps of the heaviest weight (he could have kept going had he not run out of time). Despite being in different weight classes, I wanted to try to surpass his mark. In the end, I tied him with 29 reps as well. The raptor medley proved to be an exciting event, both to compete in and watch. I was definitely feeling it at the end of the minute. Cliff Keiner had the second best result in the medley in the 100 class with 25 reps (I believe). Going into the medley the scores for 2ndthrough 4th spot were very tight. Cliff’s performance in the medley launched him from fourth all the way to a second place finish. Zach Mullins took third. I was happy to win a second world armlifting title in a row.


The heavier men were in action in the afternoon. The 110 class featured my teammate and defending champion Zach Ebel. But this year another top Canadian gripster was also in attendance: Mike Schiml, fresh off a stellar performance in King Kong. The two were neck-and-neck throughout the contest, but in the end Mike came out on top, eking out just a couple more lifts in the medley. The 125 class was deep. Alexey Tyukalov proved to be the strongest, with a 2x5 saxon lift of 310 lbs, a Grandfather Clock lift of 271 lbs, and I believe 19 reps on the Raptor handle loaded to 220 lbs! Odd Haugen fought valiantly to a second place finish. Mike Saffell also reached the podium. In the unlimited class, Jason Dingey came out on top. He had an impressive lift of 300 on the Saxon helped. Derik Hudson took second.


All in all, it was a fun and entertaining couple of days of lifting. A bunch of us got together for supper – I think we were close to 30 or 40. At one point Jen Tibbenham brought out a grip challenge – a sort of crimp grip tug of war between two competitors. Tammy challenged me. We went left handed. The match seemed to last forever. I eventually won, but it took more effort than anything I did in the armlifitng contest! Super fun. I enjoyed spending time talking to a lot of different people, but decided not to stay too late because my flight home was leaving at 6:25am. I have to say that I really appreciated pushing the clocks back one hour to get an extra hour of sleep. Riccardo’s flight home was leaving just a bit later, so we went to the airport together before parting ways.


Zane and Riccardo did a great job with the contest. They also surprised Odd, but making him the first inductee in the Armlifting USA Hall of Fame. It was great to see.


The next big armlifting event will be the Arnolds the first weekend in March. In you qualify, I encourage you to attend – it’s quite an experience!

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It was a great experience!  So many awesome performances.  Good write up.

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