Day Three of the 2022 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest began with layers upon layers of drama. All five groups had athletes already clinch first place to secure a spot in the Final: Tom Stoltman, Luke Stoltman, Mitchell Hooper, Oleksii Novikov, and Martins Licis.
However, the second and third-place spots in all five groups were still very much in flux, and athletes were hungry to reach the Stone-Off. They would have to score well in the Wrecking Ball Hold to keep their dream alive.
Below are the Wrecking Ball Hold results and the athletes who earned their chance in the Stone-Off later in Day Three:
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Wrecking Ball Hold Results
Each strongman attempted to hold 228 kilograms (500 pounds) for as long as possible. The question of whether or not the strongman who clinched groups would make legitimate attempts or ceremonial ones to secure the requisite points lingered in the crowd. It was a crisp morning with temperatures in the mid-60s.
- Kevin Faires — 1:35.18
- Andy Black — 1:26.92
- Gabriel Rhéaume — 1:24.10
- Manuel Angulo — 1:11.66
- Aivars Šmaukstelis — 57.44 seconds
- Tom Stoltman — 4.63 seconds
Angulo was the opening act for Day Three. He was drawing dead in the competition but nonetheless made an attempt for the crowd. His time was 1:11.66 after looking like a statue until the moment he let go.
Black also had no path forward to the Stone-Off but made a solid attempt for a time of 1:26.92. He was very comfortable during his attempt, yelling to the crowd throughout his attempt.
Yeah, buddy! Did you get me Starbucks?
Šmaukstelis entered third as the first athlete with significant stakes for his attempt. He was three points behind Rhéaume and five points behind Faires. So if, for example, Faires theoretically came in last and Šmaukstelis came in first, Šmaukstelis could leapfrog up into second place off having the best tiebreaker (Wrecking Ball Hold time).
Suffice to say, it was do or die for Šmaukstelis and his heavily chalked hands. He appeared focused on his breathing throughout and locked in a time of 57.44 seconds as he shook his head in disappointment. This locked Faires as the first entry to the Stone-Off.
Rhéaume stepped into the arena next and knew he only needed to beat Šmaukstelis’ time to join Faires in the Stone-Off. Rhéaume employed a more forward-leaning technique that got the job done. His official time was 1:24.10.
Faires appeared very comfortable during his attempt and held it long enough to secure his hold on second place overall in the group. His winning time of 1:35.18 confirmed Rhéaume would have to overcome the initiative (e.g., lifting first) in the Stone-Off against Faires.
Stoltman decided not to exert himself. He made an official attempt and dropped the wrecking ball almost immediately.
Group 1 Stone-Off: Faires versus Rhéaume (w/initiative)
- Mark Felix — 2:20.49
- Bobby Thompson — 1:21.33
- Brian Shaw — 1:06.13
- Konstantine Janashia — 1:01.38
- Gabriel Peña — 48.27 seconds
- Mitchell Hooper — 6.40 seconds
In his signature style event, Felix was up first for Group 2. There was no path for him to the Stone-Off, but he could potentially shake up the standings with a strong attempt. He finished with a Herculean time of 2:20.49 to set a new world record.
Janashia’s only path to the Stone-Off was winning the Wrecking Ball Hold and having Shaw finish dead last. After Felix’s attempt, Janashia would have to break the world record set moments before. It was not to be, as he logged a time of 1:01.38 and his contest came to an end.
Peña was third to the platform and needed a combination of things to happen to get to the Stone-Off. He was 2.5 points behind Shaw, meaning he would need to beat Shaw by four ranks. It was asking a lot but not out of the realm of possibility, though again, Felix’s world record could dream-crush the “Texas Titan.”
Péna locked in a time of 48.27 seconds, and his contest was over. Shaw locked his spot in the Stone-Off and could use his attempt to try and overtake Thompson.
Shaw started to vigorously shake towards the end of his attempt. He locked in a time of 1:06.13 and put the onus on Thompson to defend his second-place position.
Thompson took the stage knowing the time he needed to maintain his second-place position to have the advantage in the Stone-Off. He was shaky lifting the wrecking ball but found his spot and zoned in.
Thompson had a conversation with the scorekeeper if his time was enough to drop the weight. His official time of 1:21.33 indeed was, and it looked as though he had a lot left in the tank.
Hooper was locked to win the group and made the ceremonial attempt to make it official. He then shared how he had previously run three marathons before becoming a strongman in his post-event interview with 2017 WSM Eddie Hall.
Group 2 Stone-Off: Thompson versus Shaw (w/initiative)
- Trey Mitchell — 2:06.46
- Mika Törrö — 1:53.17
- Grzegorz Szymanski — 1:46.49
- Oleksii Novikov — 1:38.63
- Adam Bishop — 1:31.35
- Rob Kearney — 1:01.95
Törrö and Szymanski had no path to the Stone-Off, but their influence could still be felt in the Wrecking Ball Hold. Bishop, Mitchell, and Kearney were vying for the Stone-Off and within two points of each other. Any space Törrö and Szymanski could put between the other three strongmen could be the difference-maker.
Törrö was up first. He never looked comfortable, but his effort was quite effective nonetheless. He scored the second-best time of the day to that point with 1:53.17.
Szymanski hopped on stage next to begin his stoic attempt. A slight head tilt to the sky with gritted teeth was the only movement before releasing the wrecking ball at a time of 1:46.49.
Kearney was third up. He was two points behind Bishop and 1.5 points behind Mitchell. Kearney knew his attempt would set the line for Bishop and Mitchell to beat. Kearney was steady early with visible breathing.
Pain crept in despite Kearney’s best efforts to stave it off, and he logged a time of 1:01.95.
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Mitchell’s attempt had slightly less pressure since Kearney failed to leave space between him and Törrö or Szymanski. Mitchell began shaking fairly early in his attempt with a scowl on his face that conveyed the stakes of his situation. He endured to a winning time of 2:06.46 and eliminated Kearney from the competition.
Bishop knew he was secured for the Stone-Off, assuming Novikov didn’t make a legitimate attempt. However, the fight for second place overall was still hanging in the balance.
Bishop held his composure, visibly exhaling through his mouth. He began wincing at the minute mark but held on until 1:31.35.
Novikov made his group win official by making a genuine attempt — the only runaway winner of a group to do so thus far. He appeared highly relaxed while consuming the cheers from the crowd and logged a time of 1:38.63.
Group 3 Stone-Off: Mitchell versus Bishop (w/initiative)
- Maxime Boudreault — 1:33.93
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 1:31.33
- Martins Licis — 1:25.63
- Nedžmin Ambešković — 1:12.47
- Gavin Bilton —1:07.15
- Shane Flowers — withdrew
Ambeškovič was functionally eliminated from competition already but could potentially offer some space for Bilton, Kordiyaka, and Boudreault to maneuver between. The latter three strongmen were within two points of each other. Ambeškovič tallied a time of 1:12.47.
The point structure for the middle of Group 4 was identical to Group 3 at the start of the event, with Bishop in a similar position to Kearney. Bilton needed to big performance in the Wrecking Ball Hold, and the left strap of his suit fell off right as he took position. He shook his head in agony, roaring through his effort that scored a time of 1:07.15.
Kordiyaka stepped up for his attempt knowing the time to beat to secure a spot in the Stone-Off. It was a matter of if he could post a time long enough to place the initiative on Boudreault.
The left strap of Kordiyaka’s suit also didn’t want to cooperate, but it didn’t phase him too much. He held a tight position with a slight backward lean to a time of 1:31.33.
Boudreault was not technically out of the weeds, though an unthinkable combination of events would have to occur to keep him from the Stone-Off. His attempt was primarily a fight for position in the eventual Stone-Off against Kordiyaka.
Boudreault scored an event-winning time of 1:33.93 to place the initiative on Kordiyaka in the Stone-Off. This makes Boudreault a heavy favorite as he is notoriously strong in the stones, particularly for reps.
Licis knew he was guaranteed two points in this event due to Flowers’ withdrawal, and that was precisely the number he needed to clinch the group. He made a genuine attempt to make his group win official and put on a show for the crowd — a time of 1:25.63.
Group 4 Stone-Off: Boudreault versus Kordiyaka (w/initiative)
- Kelvin De Ruiter — 1:45.65
- Evan Singleton — 1:40.34
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 1:03.42
- Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf — 1:00.70
- Kim Ujarak — 36.24 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — did not make an attempt
Group 5 was the most clear-cut: Luke Stoltman had already clinched the group win, and Singleton, De Ruiter, and Ujarak were drawing dead. Therefore, their attempts were entirely for exhibition, absent of potential to further impact the competition.
That left Melsted and Coraboeuf separated by one point to fight it out for second place overall. This event was functionally a head-to-head between them as they were guaranteed to meet in the Stone-Off.
Ujarak took the stage first. He seemed uncomfortable from the start, and that was reflected in his time of 36.24 seconds.
Singleton was second to attempt. His face was calm, but his body shook from the start. He gritted his way to a time of 1:40.34.
De Ruiter headed up for his attempt and locked in a solid position with his long arms pinned to his sides. He let go at an event-winning time of 1:45.65.
Coraboeuf entered the field of play to set the time to beat for Melsted. Coraboeuf closed his eyes and let the clock tick away as he felt the sunny 73-degree breeze. He had to let go at a time of 1:00.70.
Melsted stepped on stage, knowing he only needed to eclipse barely over a minute to take the advantage in the Stone-Off. He rolled his shoulders into position and locked himself down. He executed his game-plan to log a time of 1:03.42.
Luke Stoltman was last to the Wrecking Ball Hold and did not even make an attempt as he had already clinched the group.
Group 5 Stone-Off: Melsted versus Coraboeuf (w/initiative)
Sudden Death Commence
Each group’s second and third-ranked strongmen will battle head-to-head for a spot in the 2022 WSM Final in the Stone-Off, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PST. The winners of the Stone-Off will join Hooper, Tom Stoltman, Luke Stoltman, Licis, and Novikov for a chance to claim the title of 2022 WSM champion. The 2022 WSM Final is scheduled for May 28-29, 2022.
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