The 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) contest is scheduled for April 2, 2022, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England. The competition will see 13 of Europe’s most prominent strongmen attempt to dethrone the reigning champion, Luke Stoltman. Included in those 13 are 2020 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Oleksii Novikov and two-time WSM runner-up Mateusz Kieliszkowski.
Anyone who wishes to watch the action in Leeds can do so via Facebook PPV for $7.99. Here is the 2022 ESM roster:
2022 Europe’s Strongest Man Roster
- Luke Stoltman — Defending ESM Champion
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Konstantine Janashia
- Kelvin De Ruiter
- Aivars Smaukstelis
- Oleksii Novikov
- Luke Richardson
- Graham Hicks
- Eythór Ingolffson Melsted
- Pavlo Kordiyaka
- Evgeny Markov
- Marius Lalas
- Gavin Bilton
Included in the five events that comprise the competition is the 2022 World Log Lift Challenge, which will feature American log lift record holder Bobby Thompson and current log lift world record holder Chieck “Iron Biby” Sanou as special guests. They may attempt to set a new all-time world record. Their performances in the event will not affect the rest of the competition’s standings.
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2022 Europe’s Strongest Man Events
The one-day contest will challenge athletes to perform five events, including two new events in the Carry & Drag and the Power Stairs. Here are the athletes to keep an eye on for each event:
Max Log Lift
Given that Iron Biby and Thompson are guests for the World Log Lift Challenge and won’t affect the overall standings, Stoltman should feel good entering the event. He has dominated overhead events for the past two years, including his win in the Log Lift event at the 2021 WSM contest. If Hicks has fully recovered from the groin injury that kept him out of the 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man contest, then those two may be vying for top points.
Of course, some wildcards could put on head-turning performances, such as Kordiyaka and De Ruiter. We’ll see if they can channel the spotlight into locking out the heaviest logs of their lives.
While some of the athletes on the roster could be considered deadlift specialists — looking at Richardson — a deadlift ladder also incorporates speed and agility. For the latter, it’s hard to bet on anyone other than Novikov and perhaps Kieliszkowski. Janashia is always a threat in timed heats on the big stage, so if he brings his best, he could also end up on top in this event.
The weights on the barbells start at 300 kilograms and move up in 25-kilogram increments to 400 kilograms. Every athlete on the roster is well within their range to lift all of these amounts cleanly, so the difference between who wins and who falls to the bottom of the standings will be transitions between barbells.
Carry & Drag
A classic strongman event consisting of a 120-kilogram anchor carry and a 20-meter chain drag, this event will elevate the athletes with quicker feet and swifter agility. While the weights are undoubtedly heavy, they are unlikely to be the limiting factor for these strongmen. Those who have proper footwork and can maintain their center of gravity to go from start to finish cleanly are most likely to post top times.
This event is notorious for having athletes who rush out of the gate fall backward during the chain drag because they lose their balance while trying to move the massive implement so quickly. A single topple during a heat can cost an athlete a lot of time, so technique should prevail over going for broke in this event.
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[Related: 2022 Australia’s Strongest Man and Woman Results — Jordan Osborne & Alirene Clair Victorious]
This strongman event has not been seen since five-time WSM Mariusz Pudzianowski was atop the sport. Athletes will attempt to move five increasingly heavy implements up three stairs — 15 stairs total. Based on this and the previous two events, this contest favors the strongmen who know how to move while bearing heavy loads quickly. However, this event could pose some hurdles in the strength department as athletes get to the heavier implements.
Bilton, Lalas, Melsted, and Smaukstelis are well suited to do well here as their stockier structures line up well with the short distance the weight has to move between stairs. Bilton’s six-foot, six-inch frame should also leverage him some advantage. Again, it’s impossible not to look at Novikov and Kieliszkowski in this event and expect speedy times, so this is one of the more open events in the contest — exactly what a crowd would want from the event’s long-awaited return.
Since Tom Stoltman is foregoing the 2022 ESM contest to prepare for a defense of his WSM title on May 24-29, 2022, in Sacramento, CA, the Castle Stones get a lot more interesting. If Tom Stoltman were competing, expecting anything less than a lopsided victory for him in the Stones would be foolish. However, his absence leaves the door open for any of the athletes to make a big move to close out the competition.
Speculating who will excel in the Stones will likely be dependent on the standings going into the event — athletes not capable of reaching the podium have less incentive to go all out. Those athletes who find themselves in contention for the podium or the title will bring the best they have in this event.
Featured image: @giantslivestrongman on Instagram