The 2022 Rogue Strongman Invitational featured 10 of the world’s best strongmen competing in Round Rock, TX, for six figures in prize money. After six events spread across two days, Oleksii Novikov emerged victorious, with 2022 Shaw Classic champion Trey Mitchell in second and Mitchell Hooper in third.
Just off the podium in fourth place was 2021 Rogue strongman Invitational champion Martins Licis. Licis was in the mix for a podium position going into the final event — Stones Over Hitching Post — but opted out when attempting to lift the final stone due to suffering what appeared to be a biceps injury. On Nov. 3, 2022, Licis took to his YouTube channel to share his reaction to the contest. Take a look below:
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Wow, that’s wild. I don’t like it.
Licis admits that he needs to determine what went wrong at the Invitational considering how he “felt strong” entering the contest despite some lingering injuries. The athletes were given information regarding the events two months prior to the competition, which Licis feels is too narrow a window to prepare effectively and safely for them.
Tower of Power
For the Tower of Power event, they weren’t told the lift’s weight or height.
We were just told it was an elevated deadlift.
The lapse in communication caused Licis’ to prepare for the incorrect events. He added weight to his frame — weighing around 360 pounds — expecting the Husafell Sandbag carry event to be for speed but was later told that it would be for distance. An endurance event is more difficult at higher body weight, but only a month before the contest, it was too late to make significant changes to his physique.
My hips felt like they had glass inside them.
The Tower of Power wasn’t the only event with a communication snafu.
Cyr Dumbbell Ladder
One month from the show, the strongmen learned the overhead event would be a Cyr Dumbbell ladder. Given how challenging it is to perform from a technical standpoint, having little time to prepare leaves the potential for disaster.
I hate this so much.
At the 280-pound dumbbell, Licis was awarded a good rep despite not appearing to lock out his elbow fully. While it favored him in competition to have the grace of head judge Magnus ver Magnusson, in hindsight, Licis doesn’t believe he should have been credited for the rep.
Licis and his videographer, Romark, feel that a challenge system should be established for these situations where the judge makes a questionable call so that a rep can be reviewed. However, they didn’t say what they think the best course of action should be if a judge’s call were overturned.
Licis didn’t have the work capacity necessary for the Husafell carry event. It took place on a field, with strongmen in two heats of five moving up and down the turf. Licis didn’t have issues with the terrain but used an overhand technique rather than a bearhug due to the added mass he was carrying. It did not pan out well for him.
Despite the issues he faced in this event, Licis would be happy to see it return to the 2023 Rogue Invitational — he just wants to know what he’s training for ahead of time.
Licis did not feel effectively arm-over-arm pull event was heavy. To adjust for a faster time, he went with a strategy of shortening his regrip times as much as he could. That meant many short, sharp pulls rather than long, powerful pulls. The latter would be better at a heavier weight, but 600 pounds was not considered challenging by Licis’ standards. He took the event win with a time of 33.83 seconds.
Yoke to Log Medley
Licis and Romark mentioned they knew this event would be a Hooper victory from the start and that Licis should have taken his time to complete the event comfortably rather than rushing for the fastest time. Licis felt a “sharp pain” in his hip during the yoke — a holdover issue from day one — and was “seeing stars” during his log lifts.
It was the worst joint pain I’ve ever felt.
Licis scored two reps on the log before looking visibly shaken. He could not secure the third rap and needed help off the field.
Stones Over Hitching Post
After breezing through the first three of five stones, Licis lost his balance on the fourth stone and then let it go, indicating an issue with his left biceps. With tears in his eyes, while leaning against the post, his inner monologue was an acknowledgment that he ballooned his body weight too much for this show and had to come to terms with the fact that a title defense was not to be.
Fortunately, his biceps injury — a tear — was not nearly as bad as he expected; the tendon was still attached. Licis relived his Rogue win vicariously, watching Novikov perform the stones.
I know that feeling. I’ll come back for it.
Looking to the Rogue Invitational next year, Licis suggested a positive change would be to have more time to prepare for the events. The weights in strongman are so heavy that if athletes are ill-prepared for them, the risk of injury is significantly increased. Having only two months, with some of the events changing one month out, was just too little time to prepare from Licis’ point of view.
Hats off to Rogue for putting on one of the best shows in strongman.
Featured image: @martinslicis on Instagram