The 2022 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest will take place May 24-29, 2022. It will be the second year in a row that 30 of the world’s elite strongmen will converge on Sacramento, CA, to compete for the sport’s most coveted prize. On April 27, 2022, the event list for the 2022 WSM was announced.
2022 World’s Strongest Man Events
Here is the full event lineup for all three days of the Qualifying stage as well as the two-day Final:
Qualifying Round – Day One
- Loading Race
- Deadlift Ladder
Qualifying Round – Day Two
Qualifying Round – Day Three
- Wrecking Ball Hold
- Stone Off
Final – Day One
- KNAACK Giant’s Medley
- Flintstone Barbell
Final – Day Two
At the time of this article’s publication, the Qualifying groups have not been decided. There will be six athletes across five groups. The winner of each group will advance to the Final and the fourth, fifth, and six-place finishers will be eliminated from the contest.
The second and third-place finishers will battle in a Stone Off with the initiative on the third-place athlete — meaning the third-place athlete will have to lift first and thus will be eliminated if they fail a lift first even if both athletes have successfully lifted an equal number of stones. The winners of the Stone Off advance to the 10-man Final.
In 2021, different groups were randomly drawn for different events. In 2022, all five groups in the Qualifying stage will compete in the same events.
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Loading Race & Giant’s Medley
Loading races are a classic strongman event and it should come as no surprise to see it return at the 2022 WSM. It was an event during the Qualifying stage in 2021 that all groups participated in.
The winners were Kevin Faires, Konstantine Janashia, Robert Oberst, reigning WSM champion Tom Stoltman, and Maxime Boudreault. All of those athletes except for Oberst are scheduled to compete at the 2022 WSM.
The KNAACK® Giant’s Medley is similar to the Loading Race, except it consists of a box carry and a super yoke. Expect to see extremely fast numbers from Stoltman, Janashia, Martins Licis, and Oleksii Novikov, should they reach the Finals.
While a variety of ladder events have been an event in WSM competitions before, 2022 will be the debut of the Deadlift Ladder event, where the barbells will increase in weight from 650 pounds to 750 pounds. This twist on the deadlift event will offer points of favor to those who are exceptional in the lift as well as those with better agility.
The Car Walk has not been seen at the WSM contest in quite some time. It is a return to the more cartoonish-looking events that help illustrate how incredibly heavy the implements these athletes are handling in the competition are.
Each athlete will walk a Volkswagon Bug on their shoulders down a 25-meter course in the fastest time possible. The style of the event is quite similar to a yoke walk though the car itself can prove clunky to maneuver down the course. The heavier athletes like four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw should aim to pick up a lot of points here, but 2019 WSM champion Licis is also a figure to look out for in this event — he scorched the Super Yoke event at the 2021 Rogue Invitational and has a lot of momentum on his side heading to Sacramento.
Many of the athletes on the 2022 WSM roster are sensational in the overhead events. It will likely be an unlucky draw for the athletes who are grouped with 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) Luke Stoltman and Bobby Thompson.
Stoltman and Thompson hold the British log lift and American log lift records, respectively, and have displayed their prowess in locking out titanically heavy logs time and time again. Stoltman won the Log Lift event at 2021 WSM as the only athlete able to score 215 kilograms (474 pounds). Thompson ranked fourth in the event in 2021, but literally pressed until he passed out on the lifting platform.
Boudreault and Mitchell have also proven to be impressive in overhead events and should have your attention when they make their attempts. Boudreault is coming off an overall bronze medal finish from his WSM Final debut in 2021, and will certainly look to improve upon that. Mitchell narrowly missed the podium, finishing fourth overall in 2021, so if the fire is burning in anyone to perform at their best in Sacramento, it’s Mitchell.
Wrecking Ball Hold
The Wrecking Ball Hold earned its name because of the implements that will be used, but this is functionally a Hercules Hold. While we can expect respectable showings from athletes like Śmaukstelis and Singleton, the star in this event time and time again is the oldest athlete on the roster — Mark Felix.
Felix holds the world record in the Hercules Hold and arguably has the strongest grip of anyone in the sport. He even won the Pickaxe Hold event in the Qualifying stage in 2021 to earn a spot in the Stone Off against eventual world champion Tom Stoltman.
Stoltman historically struggles in this type of event, so we’ll see if his training has levied the improvements necessary to remove it as a weakness. Of all the events where the leaderboard could see a decent shake-up, this is where that will likely happen.
Every athlete on the roster knows their way around lifting an Atlas Stone. Tom Stoltman is the undeniable force to be reckoned with in this event, meaning that anyone paired with him in the Qualifying stage will likely be strategically leveraged by winning the group outright or allowing Stoltman to win the group. Squaring off against Stoltman in the Stone Off is almost assured death for anyone’s time in the competition.
Likewise, 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov and Mitchell are linked together in the history books for their memorable Stone Off in 2019, where their Stone Off totaled 27 reps (14 for Mitchell, 13 for Novikov). Novikov has been on a tear of podium finishes over the past year, including a win at the 2022 ESM contest, and will seek to redeem himself from his elimination in the Qualifying stage at the 2021 WSM contest.
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It is not clear if this event will be a max deadlift or a deadlift for reps event. Regardless, this is the forte of guys like Adam Bishop and Mitchell. Those two shared first-place points in the KNAACK® deadlift event from the 2021 WSM, with Mitchell missing out on a winning 11th rep due to eclipsing the time cap mid rep. Of course, Thompson and Shaw aren’t slouches either when it comes to big pulls in high rep ranges.
Notably, JF Caron will not compete in the 2022 WSM due to injuries he sustained at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic. Caron is undoubtedly one of, if not the strongest deadlifter in every competition he enters. His absence could open the door for someone like Mika Törrö to score some big points in this event, should he make the Final.
What a return this event will be to the WSM stage. What is functionally a behind-the-neck press for max weight, a barbell is loaded with a pair of giant stones, one on each sleeve. Athletes take turns attempting to lift the same weight to advance to the next round where the weight is increased.
Check out the Flintstone Barbell event from the 1995 WSM contest in the video below, courtesy of The World’s Strongest Man YouTube channel. The event was won by Gary Taylor. The competition was won by Magnús ver Magnússon, who will return as the head judge for the 2022 WSM contest:
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Another classic strongman event — moving a gigantic vehicle a certain distance for time. In 2021, athletes moved a locomotive and Johnny Hansson proved dominant after some technical difficulties with the locomotive’s brakes.
In 2022, athletes will attempt to pull a bus weighing approximately 40,000 pounds down a course. Based on the expertise of Licis, who has pulled much odder vehicles like the legendary monster truck “Grave Digger,” the level of slope and texture of the ground athletes pull the bus on will be just as much of a factor as the bus’s weight.
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The 2022 WSM contest is shaping up to be a nostalgia trip. The Power Stairs challenge athletes to essentially sumo deadlift an anvil-like implement up a series of stairs in the fastest time possible. Five-time WSM champion Mariusz Pudzianowski was notoriously strong in this event, winning it in 2008 — the year he claimed his record fifth WSM title.
Shorter athletes with good agility and a strong deadlift are naturally advantaged in this type of event over the taller athletes (assuming the stairs aren’t oddly high). Novikov, Rob Kearney, Mitchell, Faires, and Peña seem well set up to put on a good showing here if they are in the Final.
As mentioned in the Stone Off section, it would be a fool’s errand to bet against Tom Stoltman running the floor in the Atlas Stones as he has done so many times before in high-pressure situations. It is was clinched the 2021 WSM title for him against Shaw, and as he is entering as the defending champion, he will have all the fuel he needs to repeat history should he be in a position on the leaderboard to do so.
Singleton, Shaw, Licis, Novikov, Mitchell, and a handful of other athletes are also quite strong on the Atlas Stones. Don’t be surprised if this event ultimately decides who ends up on the podium in Sacramento. In 2021, seven men were in contention for the podium heading into the Atlas Stones and ultimately Boudreault took the top time among them to earn the bronze medal.
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2022 World’s Strongest Man Roster
Here’s who’s competing in Sacramento:
- Mitchell Hooper (Canada)
- Pavlo Kordiyaka (Ukraine)
- Rob Kearney (USA)
- Gabriel Peña (Mexico)
- Kelvin de Ruiter (Netherlands)
- Kim Ujarak (Greenland)
- Maxime Boudreault (Canada)
- Mark Felix (UK)
- Pa O’Dwyer (Ireland)
- Shane Flowers (UK)
- Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf (Australia)
- Bobby Thompson (USA)
- Aivars Šmaukstelis (Latvia)
- Adam Bishop (UK)
- Evan Singleton (USA)
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (Iceland)
- Konstantine Janashia (Georgia)
- Trey Mitchell (USA)
- Mika Törrö (Finland)
- Peiman Maheripourehir (Iran)
- Luke Stoltman (UK)
- Brian Shaw (USA)
- Tom Stoltman (UK) — Reigning WSM Champion
- Gabriel Rheaume (Canada)
- Martins Licis (USA)
- Gavin Bilton (UK)
- Oleksii Novikov (Ukraine)
- Kevin Faires (USA)
- Nedžmin Ambešković (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- Grzegorz Szymański (Poland)
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland) — Withdrew due to injury on April 6, 2022
- Rauno Heinla (Estonia) — Withdrew for an undisclosed reason on April 23, 2022
We’ll see if Tom Stoltman can go back-to-back atop the podium, if Brian Shaw will finally claim a record-tying fifth WSM championship, or if another strongman will break through and become the seventh different WSM champion in seven years.
Featured image: @theworldsstrongestman on Instagram