By Paul Mouser
Who: Steve Schmidt
Where: America’s Strongest Viking
What: All-time Block Press record
In July of 2017, for the first time a Platinum Plus level competition was held on West Virginia soil. This meant Arnold invites, Nationals invites, and National deadlift records were all up for grabs. One of the most unique draws of this show however was the Max Block Press event, for which records of all levels were available, including state, national, and yes even all-time world records.
What does an “all-time” record mean? To me, it means that regardless of federation, regardless of weight class, and regardless of implement used, a particular feat was the biggest of its kind ever performed. One reason I created the Mouser Block (cough cough cheap plug) was to allow this rarely contest challenge to be available to a larger demographic and thus allow more people to take a shot at the all-time overhead press record with a block.
A lumbering giant from Ohio named Steve Schmidt had been one of the final entries for the show before registration closed altogether, but he had been quietly training for months with this record in mind. In a shed-gym probably 25ft by 25ft, some of the strongest men in the world gathered regularly (and still do) for epic pressing session where it’s not uncommon to see about half a dozen of these guys break over 400 pounds on logs, axles, and barbells. Steve’s incredible strength was forged in this environment, and he came trampling into ASV on mission to prove it.
With 3 judges on hand to verify the attempt, Steve approached the block, now loaded to 340 pounds. Now old enough to compete as a masters lifter for a few years at this point, perhaps the questions could have been asked “is the best behind him? Can he still hang in the Open class? Has he missed his window?” Only Steve knew the real answer to these questions.
Who held the record prior you ask? None other than the greatest presser of all time, Zydrunas Savickas… he had pressed a 330 pound block at World’s Strongest Man in 2011. Poundstone matched this mark, but did not exceed it. A few years prior in 2006 “Big Z” had also set the world record at 309 pounds at the IFSA world championships.
The signal was given and big Steve, the Arnold Classic veteran who had missed his pro card by only one point in years past, ripped the massive weight to his chest and positioned his hands underneath. With a heave and shove the enormous load began to travel skyward. The block paused just short of locked, bobbled a tad, and for a split second everyone thought it may come crashing down… everyone but Steve that is. Just as quickly as it had stalled and bobbled Steve regained control in the blink of an eye, and drove the world record weight to lockout. After patiently verifying control the down signal was given and the building erupted with cheer and applause. The record had been claimed, and years of tireless work to become one of the best pressers in the world had culminated in that moment.
Who: Lasha Talakhadze
Where: World Weighlifting Championships
What: 2 all-time records
At 6’6″ and 367 pounds, the massive Georgian weightlifter (that means “Olympic” lifter yall), is a huge man who made a huge mark on the World Weighlifting Championships this year. The official weightclasses in this sport have changed twice in my lifetime, and this reset the world record boards both times. This made for quite a bit of controversey, and suddenly people were holding world records with lifts that were significantly lower than what had been previously performed.
Super HW records were even reset, but those that followed the history of the sport knew the names Tarenenko and Krastev quite well. These men held the all-time records regardless of weightclass – Taranenko with the clean and jerk and total, and Krastev with the snatch. All 3 of these records had stood since the late 80’s, so when Talakhadze shattered 2 of them in one day, the accomplishment sent shockwaves through the strength world.
Talakhadze established a new record in the snatch with 220kg (484 pounds) en route to also grabbing the total record with 477kg (1050 pounds). At the age of 24, there is plenty of time left for the superman from the country of Georgia to claim the clean and jerk record as well!
Who: Dimitar Savatinov
What: 143kg DB record
Dimitar Savatinov has become a staple on the pro strongman scene around the world. His relatively short stature in comparison to giants like Shaw and Thor makes him prone to being overlooked… pun intended. There is one event in particular in which the former circus strongman can never be overlooked however, and that is the Circus Dumbbell Press.
With a new record established in controversey a few months prior at the Arnold Classic, Dimitar now had the opportunity to clear the air with a new world record of 143kg, roughly 315 pounds! Fast forward to the lift itself and Dimitar had done just that, with no controversey whatsoever, as it looked like he could have held the lockout for a few hours if needed.
To magnify the moment even further, Ultimate Strongman promoter Glenn Ross had confetti, streamers, and pyrotechnics ready for deployment should the lift succeed. With a terrific crowd cheering, flames shooting skyward, and streamers filling the air, Savatinov had one of the most memorable and impressive moments of 2017, establishing himself as the best dumbbell presser in the world.
Who: Daniel McKim
Where: Heavy Events World Championships
What: One Final World Title
It’s not often that an athlete in any sport gets to choose when they walk away. We are often either forced out due to health, time, lack of availability for adults (regarding school sports), or injuries. This is especially true for world class athletes, because the mentality required to become a world champion does not lend itself to being able to walk away easily.
Enter decorated Highland Games champion Dan McKim. This man-mountain from the Midwest has been a staple on the pro Games circuit for a number of years, and has a trophy collection that probably rivals Michael Phelps. Dan went into the 2017 season with the idea that this would be his last hurrah, and the World Championships would be the summit of his career.
With a performance that reads like a Hollywood movie script, McKim executed world class throw after world class throw en route to winning the title. His final throw was a massive 5.5 meter lob in the weight over bar, which won him the event and secured the title.
Congratulations on a big win and an amazing career Dan!
Who: Christina Bangma
Where: Strongman Corp Nationals
What: Husafell Carry, Max Distance
Max Distance carry events have always been amongst my favorites because they not only test the raw strength of an athlete, but also the will power and pain tolerance. Against an enormous and talent stacked class of lightweight women, Christina needed a big performance here on this 3rd event to pull away from the pack and take sole possession of the lead.
The whistle blew and Bangma took off at a quick but steady pace. Other girls in her class inched ahead, but one by one they began to drop. Some dropped at 150 ft, some at 200, some at 250. With only a few ladies left walking, Christina still looked incredibly comfortable, and her pace hadn’t slowed one iota. Moments later, she was the last one standing, but she wasn’t done just yet.
The mighty maiden from the Midwest wanted to, as we say in WV, leave no doubt. Onward and onward she marched, and everyone in attendance started to realize that we were witnessing something truly special. After what seemed like a solid quarter mile carry, Christina sat the Husafell Stone down, and walked away like she had just been carrying a box of feathers. When the scores were tallied the numbers reflected the magnitude of the performance: Bangma had won the event by something like 135 feet. To win an event by that shocking of a margin, over a field of the best amateur LW women in country, was absolutely unbelievable.
As most of you know, Christina went on to win the overall title, which yielded her a Pro Card. While she may remember 2017 Nationals as the time that she won a national title and a Pro Card, I will personally always remember it as the time that Christina carried the Husafell Stone into the history books.
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