NEWS Archive

Aivars Smaukstellis strikes again with winning SCL SERBIA

Aivars Smaukstellis Wins MLO SCL Serbia

Matjaz Belsak (Slovenia) is the overall leader of MLO Strongman Champions League at this point in the 2016 tour. IronMind® | Image courtesy of SCLMatjaz Belsak (Slovenia) is the overall leader of MLO Strongman Champions League at this point in the 2016 tour. IronMind® | Image courtesy of SCL

Setting the stage for IronMind, SCL director Marcel Mostert said, “In a very sunny 30 degrees [86 F] atmosphere, deep in the mountains of Serbia, the SCL train stopped in Zlatibor last weekend for stage 6 of the Strongman Champions League (SCL).

“The crowd was really great there, enthusiastic until the very end, and the Latvian strongman Aivars Smaukstellis took the title—proving again again that he is very strong, as he just finished in the deadlift 350 kg for reps, with 8 reps, which was just 2 less than Martin (aka The Deadlift Kid) Wildauer,” said Mostert.

“Speaking of Martin Wildauer, he got second place overall, and Matjaz Belsak took the third place, overall.
“The Icelander Stefan Solvi Petursson showed his power by winning the Framewalk, 340 kg over 40 meters in 20.67 seconds, and took fourth overall.

“Besides this great show and strong performance from all the athletes, the Strongman Champions League also launched its new sponsor, MLO Nutrition.

“MLO Nutrition is a supplement company that has combined the best from all sports in different lines.
“MLO International LLC has decades of experience in the field of health and sports nutrition and modes of training and competition preparation in the areas of fitness, bodybuilding, powerlifting, strongmen, competitive weightlifting and athletics. Therefore SCL will be named as the MLO Strongman Champions League, and we hope it will be a long and good marriage with our new head sponsor!

“Matjaz Belsak is now the new Leader in the MLO Strongman Champions League, followed by Dainis Zageris , J-F Caron and Krzysztof Radzikowski.

“Next stage nr 7:  SCL BULGARIA and this will gone happen in Plovdiv at 23/24 July, so stay tuned here on IronMind for the results, or watch us live at,” Mostert said.
Top 10 Results SCL Serbia

1. Alvars Smaukstellis Latvia 55 points
2. Martin Wildauer Austria 50.5
3. Matjaz Belsak Slovenia 49
4. Stefan Petursson Iceland 46.5
5. Jitse Kramer Holland 42
6. Andreas Altmann Germany 38.5
7. Lauri Nami Estonia 35
8. Vladimir Comorescu Romania 25.5
9. Vladimir Bulatovic Serbia 23.5
10. Marco Guidi Italy 10

Eric Dawson Hits a Homer at SCL Debut

Eric Dawson Hits a Homer at SCL Debut

Eric Dawson (USA) made a big splash in his SCL debut as he won the MHP Strongman Champions League–Holland competition. IronMind® | Image courtesy of Aryn Lockhart/Strongman Rage

Eric Dawson (USA) didn’t waste any time in his first appearance in the MHP Strongman Champions League (SCL)—he knocked it out of the park and claimed his first SCL victory.

Eric Dawson wins Strongman Champions League Holland

By Aryn Lockhart – Strongman Rage

Stage four of the MHP Strongman Champions League in Holland was the 100th competition in SCL for Marcel Mostert and Ilkka Kunnen. This epic competition came with quite a few surprises. The newcomer, Eric Dawson (USA), competed in his first Strongman Champions League and shocked everyone to take the win. With 14 strongmen from all over the world, Eric left quite an impression. This year’s competition saw numerous injuries from the original line-up preventing them from competing. Nevertheless, the field was strong and the capacity-filled audience kept the athletes battling to the finish.

The first event was the truck pull with only a harness. The initial start of the Truck Pull was tough requiring full power to get the first centimeters of motion. Eric Dawson took first with 33.98 seconds. Alex Moonen was a close second with 35.31 seconds and Holland’s strongest man, Jitse Kramer, took third with 38.35 seconds.

Event two was the Giant Dumbbell. With 90kg, the athletes found their rhythm and made it look easy. Each athlete had their own technique for this event. As the dumbbell fell to the ground with a resounding thud, it was an impressive reminder of the sheer weight being moved with one arm. In the last seconds, Eric Dawson, completed ten reps to take the win. Alex Moonen, Marius Lalas, and Aaron Page all finished the event with nine reps.

Event three was the Front Hold. With 15kg in each hand, this weight became excruciating as athletes worked through their muscles shaking to hold just a few more seconds. With his impressive shoulder strength, Bjorn Andre Solving won this event with 50.07 seconds while Alex Moonen and Grzegorz Szymański finished with 41.56 seconds.

The fourth event was a unique loading race that took athletes to their limits. Athletes were required to load two 100kg textile rolls into a metal frame and then pulling that frame to the finish line. The intense combination of both strength and cardio kept six athletes from finishing. Impressively Jitse Kramer was first with 1:07, Eric Dawson took second with 1:08 and Dainis Zagaris completed the course with 1:10.

The fifth event of the day was the Tire Flip. Eight flips in total. Once again Holland’s strongest man, Jitse Kramer, won this event finishing in a lighting fast 30.27 seconds. Second place was another Hollander Enzo Tauro who finished in 33.70 seconds. Third place in this event was Marius Lalas completing in 33.97 seconds.

At the end of the fifth event, Eric Dawson had only a one point lead over Alex Moonen. The Atlas Stones would determine the day’s winner. With the stones ranging in weight from 120kg to 180kg, the greatest challenge of this event was the varying heights. The first platform was taller than many of the athletes themselves. Jitse Kramer impressively won this event with 23.62 seconds. JF Caron completed the course in 25.59 and Eric Dawson took third in the event with 25.94 seconds. His placement secured his first Strongman Champions League win.

After the competition, I sat down with both Eric Dawson and Alex Moonen to talk about the day’s competition.

In only his third international competition, Eric Dawson left a lasting impression amongst his competitors. With this quiet, but friendly demeanor, he simply did what he knows best and had an amazing competition. “Realistically, I didn’t think I’d win. The events just lined up for me,” stated Dawson. “I had no mistakes and I was happy about that.”

Dawson was excited to receive the invitation to SCL Holland and remarked upon how well the event was organized and the energy of the crowd. He also talked about how he had never competed in the front hold and found it to be challenging in a different way. “I started shaking early, but I held on.”

Despite taking second, Alex Moonen was happy with his results. He gave everything and didn’t make mistakes. This was his first second place finish in the Strongman Champions League. He has three third place finishes and he’s anxious to get his first win. “Today was full of crazy, mixed emotions, but we battled to the end,” said Moonen. Alex talked about feeling gutted that he simply burned out during the Sled Pull, but he was very pleased with his performance in the Truck Pull. When I asked him about Eric Dawson’s performance, Alex stated, “I think everyone was surprised with how well Eric performed. He has strength and endurance. He’s the full package and he showed everyone today.”

Final Results
1.    Eric Dawson  – USA – 69
2.    Alex Moonen – HOLLAND – 65
3.    Marius Lalas – LITHUANIA – 62.5
4.    Jitse Kramer – HOLLAND – 60.5
5.    JF Caron – CANANDA – 57.5
6.    Enzo Tauro – HOLLAND – 52.5
7.    Bjorn Andre Solvang – NORWAY – 44.5
8.    Lauri Nami – ESTONIA – 41.5
9.    Andreas Altmann – GERMANY – 40.5
10.    Aaron Page – ENGLAND – 31.5
11.    Nemo Tasic – AUSTRIA – 23
12.    Dainis Zagaris – LATVIA – 21
13.    Bedo Hachikian – BULGARIA – 15
14.    Grzegorz Szymański – POLAND – Injured

Stay tuned: this coming weekend, the MHP Strongman Champions League continues with stage 5 in Latvia.

Mastodons in Holland: Coming Saturday!

Mastodons in Holland: Coming Saturday!

“Mastodons in Holland: Coming Saturday,” SCL Director Marcel Mostert told IronMind today. Part of the 16-stage MHP Strongman Champions League (SCL) series, the competition is slated for this coming Saturday (June 11) at 13.30 in Zelhem, Holland.   “It is a special title to win and to earn the respect of the Dutch strongman athletes and fans,” Marcel Mostert said of SCL Holland, which will be “broadcast 4 hours on national TV.”  IronMind® | Image courtesy of SCL“It is a special title to win and to earn the respect of the Dutch strongman athletes and fans,” Marcel Mostert said of SCL Holland, which will be “broadcast 4 hours on national TV.” IronMind® | Image courtesy of SCL

“Mastodons in Holland: Coming Saturday,” SCL Director Marcel Mostert told IronMind today. Part of the 16-stage MHP Strongman Champions League (SCL) series, SCL Holland is slated for this coming Saturday (June 11) at 13.30 in Zelhem, Holland, so if you want to see the big and the strong, this is the place to be.

With Krszysztof Radzikowski injured, Canadian strongman start J-F Caron will wear the yellow leader shirt, Mostert said.

“Since the beginning of the Strongman Champions League, we can see an impressive list of winners and to win the SCL Holland is prestigious—no Dutch strongman has yet won it,  because it’s for sure not easy,” Mostert said, and a quick look at the past winners proves his point:

Zydrunas Savickas      (2008)
Mikhail Koklyaev        (2009)
Travis Ortmayer         (2010)
Laurence Shalaei       (2011)
Zydrunas Savickas     (2012)
Zydrunas Savickas     (2013)
Hafthor Bjornsson     (2014)
Grzegorz Shymanski  (2015)

This will be a six-event competition and field will have 14 competitors, including:

• Gregorz Shymanski
• JF Caron
• Marius Lalas
• Sean O’Hagan
• Eric Dawson and
• Alex Moonen.

“Maybe  Gregorz Shymanski will be the only one who takes the title in a row like the big Z?,” said Mostert. “Watch it live in Holland, or on their On Demand channel at 14.00 hours.”  And speaking of TV coverage, Mostert said that SCL contests are broadcast in 95 countries, worldwide.

Keep you eye on IronMind for the results and post-competition commentary.

Zydrunas Injured, Vidas Blekaitis, Robert Kerney Win SCL Log Lift

Zydrunas Injured, Vidas Blekaitis, Robert Kerney Win SCL Log Lift

Vidas Blekaitis hits 202.5 kg, for a joint victory (with Robert Kerney) at the 2016 SCL Log Lift World Championships. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of SCL

When a last minute injury caused Zydrunas Savickas to withdraw from the 2016 Log Lift World Championships, Vidas Blekaitis (Lithuania) and Robert Kerney (USA) seized the opportunity.

Lithuania and USA Win the SCL Log Lift Worlds
by Marcel Moster
MHP Strongman Champions League

Vidas Blekaitis and newcomer Robert Kearney from the USA won the MHP/SCL Log Lift World’s 2016.
In a very nice sunny day in Kaunas, with a great stadium and a fantastic cheering audience, it was these two men who caused a sensation: With both hitting 202.5 kg, they  shared first place after 4 attempts. Vytautas Lalas (Lituania) could have ruined their party with an almost good lift on 205 kg. He was very close.

Marcos Ferrari from Brazil made a new national Brazilian record with 182.5 kg. Patrick Baboumian ripped his right tricep after he tried 180 kg.
Zydrunas Savickas injured himself just before, with a muscle in his neck. He expects it will be recovered soon. Therefore he could not compete, which was of course a pity for the world record holder, but for the contest of course it was very excited to see who would be number 1 in this crazy log lift battle and the 3rd stage of the MHP Strongman Champions League was again a hard one.

Final Results

Place:                                                                              Kg.                        Ranking points
1-2 Vidas Blekaitis           Lithuania                            202,5                   25
1-2 Robert Kerney           USA                                     202,5                   18
3 Vytautas Lalas               Lithuania                            200                       15
4 Dimitar Savatinov         Bulgaria                             195                       12
5-7 Dainis Zageris            Latvia                                 190                       10
5-7 Gregorz Szymanski   Poland                                190                       8
5-7 Graham Hicks            England                             190                       6
8 Bjorn Solvang                Norway                              185                       5
9 Marcos Ferrari              Brasil                                  182,5                   4
10 Matjaz Belsak              Slovenia                             180                       3
11 Saulius Brusokas       Lithuania                             175                       2
12 Patrick Baboumian     Germany (injured)            170                       1

The next stage will be 11 June in Holland, with stars as Vytautas Lalas, J-F Caron and Gregorsz Szymanski and Dainis Zageris at the start. 15 athletes will be there in a total over 6 events. It promises to be a great battle again, so stay tuned!

Marcel Mostert (right) interviews Vidas Bleikaitis (Lithuania) at the 2016 SCL Log Lift World Championships, where Blekaitis shared the victor with Robert Kerney (USA). IronMind® | Image courtesy of SCL

SCL Log Lift World Championships

MHP Strongman Champions League Stage 3: SCL Log Lift World Championships

Stage 3 of the SCL 2016 tour is the Log Lift World Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania. IronMind® | Image courtesy of SCL

The 2016 SCL Log Lift World Championships are tomorrow, May 21, and there is every expectation that the King of the Log Lift, Zydrunas Savickas, will once again deliver a new world record.

Live broadcasting and a field filled with impressive strongman athletes, “will make this world championships one of the most spectacular log lift worlds ever,” SCL director Marcel Mostert told IronMind.
Here is the line up:

1 Zydrunas Savickas              Lithuania
2 Vidas Blekaitis                    Lithuania
3 Vytautas Lalas                    Lithuania
4 Saulius Brusokas                Lithuania
5 Gregorsz Szymanski            Poland
6 Dainis Zageris                     Latvia
7 Graham Hicks                     England
8 Dimitar Savatinov               USA
9 Niels Gordijn                      Holland
10 Patrick Baboumian           Germany
11 Matjaz Belsak                   Slovenia
12 Bjorn Solvang                   Norway
13 Marcos Ferrari                  Brasil

The live broadcast is at 12.00 CET.


You can also follow IronMind on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Krzysztof Radzikowski Wins SCL FIBO 2016

Krzysztof Radzikowski Wins SCL FIBO 2016

Battling weather delays and traveling for 32 hours, JF Caron impressively won the 350kg Axle Deadlift at SCL FIBO with 11 reps, tying the mighty Zydrunas Savickas’ record. IronMind® | Courtesy of Strongman Rage

It was a battle to the end, but Krzystof Radzikowski edged out Matjaž Belšak on count back to claim victory at the Strongman Champions League-FIBO.

Radzikowski and Belšak Have a Repeat Performance Taking First and Second at SCL FIBO 2016

By Aryn Lockhart/Strongman Rage

On Saturday, for the second time in a row, Krzysztof Radzikowski won the MHP Strongman Champions League FIBO held in Cologne, Germany.  And for the second time in a row, to Matjaž Belšak’s disappointment, he took second place. In a fast-paced, heavy competition Radzikowski and Belšak went down to the wire finishing the competition with the exact same points (65.5). It was only because Radzikowski won two events that he was able to take the win.

This year’s competition, held at the largest fitness expo in the world, was witness to a new world record in frame carry and JF Caron tying the record for the axle deadlift held by Zydrunas Savickas.

The legendary Heinz Ollesch (12x Germany’s Strongest Man) hosted the tenth Strongman ClassX. With some of the best equipment in the strongman world, the stage was set for battle and 14 athletes from around the world were ready to get the second stage of the MHP Strongman Champions League underway.

The day began with the Conan’s Wheel. With 460kg (1,012lbs) pressing down and making breathing excruciating with every step. Andreas Altmann and Matjaž Belšak tied for first place with 1,120 degrees. Round and round they go. Third place in this event went to Dainis Zagaris far behind with 830 degrees.

Event two was the Giant Log. This log is larger than the standard log. It is 36cm wide and three meters long. With no surprises, Radzikowski won this event with 200kg (440lbs). He dared to break his world record from last year, with 207.5kg (456.5lbs), but just barely fell short unable to lock out his right arm. His 206kg (453.2lbs) world record would stand for another year. Second in this event was Dainis Zagaris with 190kg (418lbs) and Matjaž Belšak with 180kg (396lbs).

Event three was a 300kg (660lbs) frame for distance. Martin Wildauer previously held this world record with 60m. Grip strength and endurance are the keys to this event. This field of athletes had some of the best grips in the world. First place with a new world record was Stoyan Todorchev from Bulgaria. He won the event smashing Wildauer’s record with 80m (262ft). Stoyan is hard to beat when he’s carrying any kind of weight. He takes off with lightening speed and just keeps going. Second in this event was Cestmir Sima from the Czech Republic far behind with 55.30m (181.5ft) and third came from the giant newcomer from Ireland who stands over 2.1m (6’10”)tall, Sean O’Hagen with 51.15m (168ft).

Event four was the front hold. With 30kg (66lbs) outstretched in front of the athletes, there is no question, the front hold is one intense power event. Krzysztof won this event with 43.80 seconds. Andreas Altmann placed second with 42.04 seconds and Raffael Gordzielik from Germany took third with 41.60 seconds.

The fifth event before heading to the main stage was the atlas stones ranging from 140kg-180kg (308-396lbs). Last year Matjaž Belšak smashed the long standing record on these stones. This year he won the event with 20.59 seconds, but didn’t quite break his record. He was just under a second slower. JF Caron took second in this event with 23.03 seconds. Stoyan Todorchev took third with 24.81 seconds. JF Caron was finally starting to get into the groove. He had horrible travel challenges to get to the FIBO. While Germany was breaking into spring, Caron was dealing with winter storms and delays leaving Canada that left him traveling 32 hours to finally arrive at the FIBO on the morning of the competition. Without any rest, he was tapping into all of his reserves and still performing impressively. Despite his travel woes, he was still motivated throughout the day. In true strongman spirit, after Caron completed the event, he turned to support Raffael Gordzielik. As Gordzielik struggled with his final atlas stone, Caron offered tacky from his own arm helping Rafael to complete the event.

The final event was the 350kg (770lbs) axle deadlift. Heinz Ollesch explained what makes this event so difficult is that the bar does not bend which means you are moving 350kg the moment you pull. After learning of Caron’s travel challenges, it was unbelievable to watch him take the stage and knock out 11 reps as if it were nothing. With this amazing performance, he won the event and  tied Zydrunas Savickas’ record. Four athletes took second with eight reps to split second place. Zagaris, Todorchev, Belšak and Radzikowski. Belšak and Radzikowski entered the event tied with 54 points. Since they completed the same number of reps, they ended competition with the exact same points. It was only because Radzikowski won both the front hold and the log lift that he was able to take first overall.

After speaking with Krzysztof, he was excited to win his second FIBO in a row. “I came and I won.” When I inquired if he was concerned at all since he barely beat Belšak he explained, “After the first three events, I didn’t think I could win. I was eight points behind, but after that were power events. I am much better at those than frame for distance or Conan’s wheel.”

Belšak had to settle for second place again. He could not have come closer to a win. When I asked if he was disappointed, his response was, “Ervin Katona told me he came in second place eight times before winning his first SCL. It will come.” He went on to explain he is hopeful he will take his first win this year.

The strongman season is just beginning to head into full swing. The third stage is up next on 21 May for the World Log Championship in Lithuania. The season promises to be exciting with new locations for MHP Strongman Champions League throughout the world. We’ve only completed stage two and already, JF Caron has lost the leader shirt and Radzikowski is back in the lead.

Competition Results
1.    Krzysztof Radzikowski (Poland) – 65.5pts
2.    Matjaž Belšak (Slovenia) – 65.5 pts
3.    Stoyan Todorchev (Bulgaria) – 64 pts
4.    JF Caron (Canada) – 57.5
5.    Dainis Zagaris (Latvia) – 57.5 pts
6.    Andreas Altmann (Germany) – 53.5 pts
7.    Cestmir Sima (Czech Republic) – 50 pts
8.    Alex Moonen (Netherlands) – 46pts
9.    Raffael Gordzielik (Germany) – 42.5 pts
10.   Aaron Page (UK) – 33.5pts
11.   Akos Nagy (Hungary) – 31.5 pts
12.   Sean O’Hagen (Ireland) – 30.5 pts
13.   Nemo Tasic (Austria) – 19.5 pts
14.   Julian Groth (Germany) – 10 pts

MHP Strongman Champions League Germany

MHP Strongman Champions League Germany

Krzysztof Radzikowski on the Bavarian Deadlift at the 2015 FIBO, where he won the overall SCL strongman competition. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of SCL

Don’t think SCL has been sleeping since their last contest—things have been busy behind the scenes and this weekend SCL will be part of the FIBO 2016, the world’s largest fitness expo, SCL director Marcel Mostert told IronMind.

“FIBO, in Cologne,  is 4 days long, 12 buildings full of action and the biggest stars in the house, with all sports, 250,000 visitors and the 2nd stage of the MHP Strongman Champions League.

“It will be exciting and madness again: Last year Krzysztof Radzikowski broke the world record of Zydrunas Savickas on the World’s biggest log and he is planning to break his own record again this year. Let me just say, the man is in shape,” said Mostert.

SCL Giant Log for max weight, the biggest log in the world.
Conan Wheel
Frame Carry for Distance 300 kg
Forward Hold 30 Kg
Stones 140-180 kg
Apollon’s Wheel deadlift for reps, 350 kg

Start list
1          Krzysztof Radzikowski   POL
2          JF Caron                      CAN
3          Andreas Altmann      GER
4          Martin Wildauer        AUT
5          Sean O`Hagan             IRE
6          Julian Groth               GER
7          Cestmin Sima             CZ
8          Matjaz Belzak             SLO
9          Alex Moonen             NED
10        Dainis Zageris             LAT
11        Raffael Gordzielik      GER
12        Stoyan Tidorchev       BUL
13        Akos Nagy                  HUN

Competition starts Saturday 9 April at 11:00 AM

MHP Strongman Champions League: 2016 Calendar Announced

MHP Strongman Champions League: 2016 Calendar

MHP SCL has announced its 16-stage 2016 schedule, spanning the globe and backed up with broadcasts in 95 countries. IronMind® | Courtesy of SCL

“We are proud to present again another 16 stages from the MHP Strongman Champions League this year,” SCL Director Marcel Mostert told IronMind today.Broadcasting on a worldwide platform of 95 countries and with a 100 strongmen competing we can be truly called the World’s Strongest League.

“A new scoring system will be introduced this year: the new world champion will be crowned solely based on stage 16, so everybody will have to fight to the bitter end.Besides of the fame and worldwide publicity the MHP Strongman Champions League has, we can be seen also as the absolute start-up and educational center for new champions, talents and professionalism,” continued Mostert.Athletes such as Krzysztof Radzikowski, Hafthor Bjornsson, Matjaz Belsak , J-F Caron and Martin Wildauer for example—they all got their first biggest international wins in the MHP Strongman Champions League.

“Besides of our league, we are also organizing and co-organizing a lot of small national competitions, team competitions and specials such as the World Log Lift Championships on 20 May in Lithuania, together with Mr.Strength himself, Zydrunas Savickas, who told me that he wants to set a new world record there, which should be enough for the coming 10 years!  That is pure excitement and we can’t wait until the 20th of May.

“But first we going to do the 2nd stage of the MHP Strongman Champions League.


1) 29/30 Jan                      SCL NORWAY(World Strongest Viking)
2) 08/09 April                   SCL GERMANY (FIBO)
3) 20 May                          SCL LITHUANIA – Log Lift World Championships
4) 04 June                          SCL HOLLAND
5) 18/19 June                    SCL LATVIA
6) 02  July                          SCL SERBIA
7) 30/31 July                      SCL BULGARIA
8) 13 August                      SCL ENGLAND
9) 20 /21 Aug                     SCL FINLAND
10) 27/28 Aug                    SCL  – TBC
11) 3/4 Sept                       SCL ZAMBIA /SOUTH AFRICA
12) 10 Sept                         SCL AUSTRIA
13) 17 Sep                          SCL ROMANIA
14) 24 Sep                          SCL LITHUANIA (Savickas Classic)
15) 08/09 Oct                     SCL PORTUGAL
16) Okt/Nov.                      SCL FINALS  TBC

“Also, have a look at our latest trailer, just released, with the highlights of the 2015 season, and and stay tuned for more news about each competition on our media platform, our website and IronMind in particular,” said Mostert.

Jean-Francois Caron Wins World’s Strongest Viking 2016

Jean-Francois Caron Wins World’s Strongest Viking 2016

Jean-Francois Caron conquered the stones and captured the title of World’s Strongest Viking 2016. IronMind® | ©Bernt Andreassen photo

Canadian strongman Jean-Francois Caron kicked off the new year with a huge win as he was crowned World’s Strongest Viking 2016 at SCL Norway.

SCL Norway – World’s Strongest Viking 2016
by Kikki Berli-Johnsen

Up in the mountains above the little village of Vinstra, placed in the beautiful valley of Gudbrandsdalen, MHP Strongman Champions League Norway – World’s Strongest Viking 2016 was held January 29th and 30th.

This was the first stage of the MHP Strongman Champions League 2016. In total, there will be 16 stages throughout the whole year, broadcasted in 95 countries, to crown the ultimate world champion at the end.

The venue is, as it was last year, Fefor High Mountain Hotel, a hotel whose walls are filled with history of poets and kings, and an atmosphere unlike anything else. The owner of the hotel, Anne Grethe Horten, has a dream of building the ultimate strongman arena for both national and international competitions, and so far, she is on the right track. All the equipment are made with Viking as a theme, and with a Viking village as a backdrop this competition is something different from what you find anywhere else in the world.

Both athletes and audience was promised a cold experience up in the mountains, but little did the crew, arranging this competition, knew that the Norse gods of weather had other plans. They planned that a hurricane named Thor would ravage Norway this weekend, making this winter wonderland a dangerous place to be. With heavy snow as well as wind, first event was changed from Hercules Hold to front hold. This was considered a less dangerous event than the original.

At 8.00 PM, a young Viking girl opened the competition by blowing her horn, Vikings with shields and weapons were surrounding the competition arena, and the first two athletes were ready for action. A tough event became even tougher with snow blowing in the faces of the athletes, but the men were tough, and toughest of them all were Bjorn Andre Solvang, who stood for 66, 26 seconds.

After this first event, both Vikings and athletes took refuge inside while the crew got the arena ready for next day’s big competition. Weather was a theme during almost every conversation that night, athletes hoping for better weather to compete in, Vikings hoping for less wind so their tents wouldn’t fly away.
When everybody was inside the hotel, the MC of the weekend, Magnús Ver Magnússon, invited to a seminar about his life and his view of training and competing. It was a very interesting hour for all fifty in his audience.

Saturday dawned, with sunshine and less wind that the night before. In the restaurant, the athletes were eating their breakfast number one and two, on the arena the crew was finishing the last few details for the competition. 

At 11.00 AM, the Vikings started to beat their drums, followed up by the same young Viking girl blowing her horn. Viking warriors ran roaring on to the arena, beating their shields with swords and axes and the competition was declared open.
First event was Viking longboat pull. A Viking longboat was to be pulled as fast as possible 20 meters. The boat itself wasn’t very heavy, but with a weighed down sleigh that froze to the ground in between each competitor the event was more than hard enough this cold winter day.

All athletes struggled with the start of the pull – except Matjaz Belsak. According to Krzysztof Radzikowski he had “spikes that he could climb Mount Everest with …“ Matjaz exploded from the start and sprinted the boat over the finish line, winning the event.

Next event was Hercules Hold. This piece of equipment was built for last year’s competition, and looks even more awesome this year after standing outside in wind and weather. Each log weighed 150 kg in the hand, and in wind that makes the temperature even lower than it actually was, this was going to be a very tough event. 

The first three or four athletes really struggled with finding the balance on the platform, so they lasted for very few seconds. The fastest time of them all had Aaron Page from England, with 1,7 second. He wasn’t too happy with that result, but still; a record is a record … The winner of the event was JF Caron from Canada, who lasted 55,92 seconds in the freezing cold.

In between events two and three, there was supposed to be a break, but because of the weather and the light, crew and TV-crew decided to go on. The athletes where happy for that decision, knowing that they would be able to get inside sooner than expected, so they gave it all for the last three events.
Powerstairs was the third event. This awesome event was built for this year’s competition, and the weights was cast at a casthouse further south in the county. Three weights, weighing 185, 195 and 205 kg was to be lifted as fast as possible up four stairs, the athletes going in pairs. The crew was afraid that the weights would be too light for the athletes, but it turned out that the weights were just fine in these weather conditions.
The big Swede, Johan Espenkrona, had injured his back three weeks before the competition, so he had to give in after two implements. The winner of the event was Krzysztof Radzikowski from Poland who did all three implements in 23,09 seconds.

Second to last event was Viking press. This big wooden equipment built to last year’s competition by the hotel’s own carpenter weighed 160 kg in the hands, and the athletes had to go out in pairs. The Norwegian Vikings and audience had big hopes for Bjorn Andre Solvang, who is an excellent presser. The part of the audience that cheered for mr. Page from England hoped that he would find his revenge in this event, since his major strength is pressing as well. Aaron ended up on 13 reps, and a joint 3rd place with Dainis Zargeris from Latvia. Both Matjaz and Krzysztof ended up on 15 reps, and the winner of the event was Norway’s own Bjorn Andre with 19 reps.

The last event was the event Krzysztof had dreaded the most. For weeks he had been complaining about lifting atlas stones in the cold weather, he was sure no tacky would hold the cold weather, that no stones would be lifted … so when Jorgen Skaug Aukland, the Norwegian 105-strongman,  did 4 stones, Krzysztof sighed and opened his box of tacky.

It turned out that Krzysztof was right; it was difficult to find the right kind of tacky. For all the athletes the two or three first stones went up easily, but after that the tacky froze and the stones became close to impossible to lift. The only one who managed to get up all five of them was JF Caron – who with that fifth stone could call himself World’s Strongest Viking 2016.