The 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest got here to an in depth on April 23 in Myrtle Seaside, SC. The occasion noticed the retirements of two generational abilities, dramatic accidents, an much more dramatic leaderboard-altering penalty, unpredictable weather, and the first Canadian ever to ascend to the highest of the WSM podium.
Under are six of the most important moments from the 2023 WSM contest and the influence they’d on the general competitors. For reference, listed below are the WSM Remaining standings:
2023 World’s Strongest Man Outcomes
- Mitchell Hooper — 53.5 factors
- Tom Stoltman — 49 factors
- Oleksii Novikov — 41 factors
- Trey Mitchell — 39.5 factors — tiebreak winner (Atlas Stones)
- Evan Singleton — 39.5 factors
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 31.5 factors
- Brian Shaw — 27.5 factors
- Luke Stoltman — 21.5 factors
- Mathew Ragg — 18.5 factors
- Jaco Schoonwinkel — 5.5 factors — withdrew
1. Iron Biby Withdraws, Kristján Jón Haraldsson Steps In
Earlier than the competitors even kicked off, a significant change occurred. Throughout gear testing for the loading race, Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou suffered a biceps damage that compelled him to withdraw from the competitors. That meant a slot in Group Two of the Qualifying stage was left vacant.
To fill that emptiness, 2022 Iceland’s Strongest Man champion Kristján Jón Haraldsson was given the nod. Apparently, that nod got here solely a half hour earlier than the beginning of the competitors at 8:00 a.m. on April 19. The Loading Race marked Haraldsson’s WSM debut, and he spiked it with a second-place end, simply over two seconds behind 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov, who finally gained the group.
Though Haraldsson completed fifth out of six in his group, competing in addition to he did on successfully no discover in his WSM debut and his first contest outdoors of Iceland is indicative of a brilliant future ought to he discover his method again to the most important stage in strongman.
2. Rookies Roll Out
Talking of WSM debuts, a lot of the Qualifying stage could possibly be outlined by the standard of the WSM rookies. Along with Haraldsson, Jaco Schoonwinkel of South Africa and Mathew Ragg of New Zealand made statements within the first two days of competitors.
Competing in Group 4 in opposition to the likes of four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw and 2023 Britain’s Strongest Man champion Adam Bishop, Schoonwinkel was dominant in Qualifying. The South African was comparatively unknown in comparison with his competitors. He had solely competed in three skilled contests, in keeping with Strongman Archives, and not using a professional victory — his high finishes had been silver medals on the 2021 Africa’s Strongest Man and 2022 Official Strongman Games.
Schoonwinkel gained two of the 5 Qualifying stage occasions (Loading Race and Conan’s Wheel), completed second within the Log Ladder, and transformed six of seven implements within the Kettlebell Toss to safe the group win and ship Shaw and Rauno Heinla into the Stone-Off. Schoonwinkel executed on each days of Qualifying to enter his first WSM Remaining in his WSM debut.
Sadly for Schoonwinkel, he had a careless begin within the Remaining after falling throughout the Reign Shield Carry. And that was adopted by a contest-ending knee damage within the Max Dumbbell occasion on the second day of the Remaining. Though he didn’t make it by the entire contest, Schoonwinkel’s efficiency in Qualifying ought to allow his return to a future WSM.
Competing in Group Three throughout the Qualifying stage, Ragg’s path to his first WSM Remaining was no simple feat. He needed to battle in opposition to the 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic champion Mitchell Hooper, the two-time WSM runner-up Mateusz Kieliszkowski, Strongman Champions League heavy hitter Aivars Šmaukstelis, former British log raise file holder Graham Hicks, and 2022 Official Strongman Video games champion Spenser Remick.
Whereas Hooper took the primary 4 occasions to exhausting lock his group win earlier than the Kettlebell Toss befell, Ragg’s consistency throughout the primary two days — by no means ending worse than third in a Qualifying occasion — led to him having the benefit within the Stone-Off in opposition to Šmaukstelis.
Within the Remaining, Ragg had the troublesome place of ending second to final within the Reign Protect Carry, which means that he was early within the flip order for the deadlift. As is commonly the case in strongman contests, the athletes charged to raise or compete earlier within the flip order usually carry out worse total. This isn’t essentially as a result of they aren’t able to the duty or as a result of they don’t have a mark to beat, however slightly are setting the mark for the remainder of the sector. Hardly ever, if ever, does a strongman dig themselves out of this gap.
Though Ragg couldn’t upend the inherent drawback thrust upon him from the get-go, his WSM debut was clearly a profitable run for him. He will likely be a contender for future WSM contests ought to he qualify to return.
3. Retirements of Brian Shaw and Mark Felix
It’s not possible to quantify the influence Brian Shaw and Mark Felix have had on the game of strongman. Felix holds the file for essentially the most WSM appearances (18), extending again to 2004. The 2023 contest marked his final WSM appearance, however with it, he secured the file for the oldest athlete ever to compete at WSM at age 57 — the earlier file was a yr youthful by Odd Haugen. Felix made three WSM Finals, together with his high profession end simply narrowly lacking the rostrum in 2006 when he ranked fourth total.
Shaw not solely has 4 WSM titles — tied for the second most ever with Žydrūnas Savickas, Magnus ver Magnusson, and Jon Pall Sigmarsson — however he additionally has the file for many consecutive WSM Remaining appearances, scoring his fifteenth in 2023. The one time Shaw missed the WSM Remaining was his debut in 2008. Throughout his WSM profession, he completed on the rostrum 10 instances, which means he completed within the high three 62.5 p.c of the time. His worst end in a WSM Remaining was 2023 when he ranked seventh total.
Felix will nonetheless compete in Masters strongman competitors, and Shaw introduced his retirement occasion from aggressive strongman would be the 2023 Shaw Classic.
4. Deadlifting within the Rain
The climate was the primary hurdle of the 2023 WSM Remaining. On April 22, the rain was sufficient that performing the opening occasion of the Remaining — Fingal’s Fingers — was too harmful. This led to an hours-long delay within the contest and the choice to swap the order of occasions. The Reign Protect Carry would open the Remaining as an alternative of concluding Day Three of competitors.
That schedule change could have switched up the technique for the strongmen and easy methods to strategy every occasion, however the climate didn’t take their wants into consideration. Rain fell from the sky on and off all through the day, together with for a piece of the KNAACK Deadlift occasion. Specifically, Schoonwinkel, Ragg, Shaw, and Luke Stoltman had been within the first two two-man heats and needed to pull 355 kilograms (782.6 kilos) on a slick floor in heavy rain.
Though Savickas disclosed on the sidelines that deadlifting within the rain shouldn’t meaningfully influence the consequence, the weather weren’t equal throughout the sector because the latter three heats lifted because the solar peaked by the clouds.
5. Pavlo Kordiyaka’s Incomprehensible Penalty
Through the Reign Protect Carry, which opened the 2023 WSM Remaining, Pavlo Kordiyaka was issued a penalty for not sufficiently touching the road on the finish of the 20-meter course signifying that he may flip round to proceed his run. This occurred on the second of his greater than three lengths of the course he traversed.
Kordiyaka carried the protect the farthest distance, incomes first-place factors. Nevertheless, the penalty issued by WSM Event Director Colin Bryce and the choose employees was 19.8 meters. That was practically a 3rd of your entire distance Kordiyaka carried the 432-pound protect, and at face worth, a six-point penalty on the leaderboard and the benefit of going within the ultimate warmth within the KNAACK Deadlift.
Kordiyaka finally completed in sixth total. Nevertheless, that consequence will perpetually have an asterisk subsequent to it because the deduction of six factors and lack of the implied benefits that include an occasion win (higher positioning within the following occasion, extra relaxation time, realizing how all the opposite athletes did) may have been the distinction of Kordiyaka contending for the rostrum versus his middle-of-the-pack end.
6. Mitchell Hooper, First-Ever Canadian to Win World’s Strongest Man
Hooper not solely left Myrtle Seaside because the 2023 WSM Champion — the first Canadian to ever accomplish that feat — however he did so in an totally dominant vogue. From clean-sweeping his Group with 4 consecutive occasion wins to profitable 4 of six occasions within the Remaining, Hooper was untouchable all through your entire contest. He completed second within the Atlas Stones, and his solely occasion outdoors of the highest two was the Fingal’s Fingers, the place he ranked sixth by four-hundredths of a second.
Since ending eighth total at his WSM debut in 2022, Hooper has not missed a podium within the 9 strongman contests he has competed in — he’s gained 5, silvered two, and bronzed two. Hooper is undoubtedly the person to beat going ahead, and the query now’s, can the opposite athletes sustain?
Featured picture courtesy of World’s Strongest Man