Battle in the Blizzard
Without risk comes no reward. To those that wish to attain legendary status in West Virginia strength history, the greatest opportunity to do so comes but once a year at an event known as the Battle in the Blizzard. This is our WV state championships, and is unlike any other meet in the country, possibly the world. Many of you know the story by now, but here is a refresher: blind events that are not announced until 1 hour prior to the start of the contest; contested outside regardless of weather in the middle of winter; and since it is indeed the state championships, everything is set to high level of difficulty.
Clearly this poses some risks, but likely not what you think. Some competitors risk losing any advantage they may have by virtue of owning tons of equipment because they cannot train specifically. Others risk disappointment because of the level of competition that tends to show up to this meet means it’s incredibly hard to win. I risk embarrassment if no one likes the events I have chosen. “But Paul, what about the injuries?” Interesting you should ask, because once again, for the 4th year in a row, this meet had zero injuries. I will spare you any further rants on the subject, but the numbers don’t lie. Now onto the rewards!
The Blizzard rules meeting is always my favorite of the year, and probably the only one that most competitors care to sit through. After some heartfelt thank you’s, and some announcements regarding next year (skip to bottom to find out, teaser: it relates to the Arnold in a way), it was time to announce event number 1. First event would be a Farmer’s Walk, but not just any farmer’s walk. I promised for months to deliver events that were rare or unheard of altogether, and a run of the mill farmer’s walk simply would not do. So, we would do the farmers walk up a hill. Still, however, this did not seem quite extreme enough when I was planning all this madness. Thus the final product was as follows: a farmers walk with giant I-beam handles, up a hill… while dragging a Viking Ship behind you!
Middleweight Pro Sarah Cogswell did us the honor of kicking off the madness, as she is still eligible to compete as an amateur as long as she competes as a heavyweight. With 172 pounds per hand on massive I-beam handles Sarah took off up the hill and blistered the 45ft course with the fastest time that we would see all day from anyone in any division! She clocked in at 12.38 seconds and left many a jaw hanging open in the process. We were spoiled early on this event because as the event would unfold, less than half the field would manage to finish this course.
The beams were loaded up to 222 for our 200 class men, and some extra weight was tossed into the Viking Ship as well. If you are having trouble visualizing this event, imagine pulling a boat with a big wood base on pavement (FRICTION) by a truck pull harness, while carrying a big, awkward set of farmers implements up a hill while trying to figure out why in the world you do this to yourself when you could be home having a bagel. Jordan Kyser was one of our two true rookies in the contest, and since this is the state championships, it is the only meet I host that offers no novice division. This meant Jordan was jumping directly into the Open class with the Open class weights and the Open class competitors, so hats off to Mr. Kyser (yes “mister”, much respect my friend). Jordan felt the full extent of the torture that was this event, as he fought valiantly for a full 60sec to achieve about 13ft, and he earned it without question. New Jersey’s Tyler Prata took the win here however, being the only 200 class athlete to complete the course, and setting the tone for what would be a tremendous day for him.
At 231, Matt Holbert (believe it or not at his first Blizzard!) and Sean Dougherty made impressive efforts on this most devilish trial, but neither was able to reach the top of the hill. Virginia’s Lucas McEliece was the only 231 to get the job done, but the effort certainly took its toll on him as he fought for nearly 41seconds to make that happen. For all the HW classes, the handles were bumped up to 272 apiece, and even more weight still was added to our Viking Ship. To illustrate the quality of our 265 class, 3 men here finished the course: Nate Pastrana, Tyler Cosner, and defending WV State Champion Adam Knotts. Knotts took the win with a phenomenal 17.26sec, and looked to be in great form. If anyone wanted to take his title, they were going to have their hands full.
In the 300 class Keith Froggatt took top honors, being the only one to finish, and making short work of the event. Interesting story about Keith, he doesn’t train specific events for contests anyway, so the Blizzard is the perfect contest for him. Keith simply trains to be as strong as possible, and if you’re not familiar with how effective that can be, keep reading, because Keith’s win here was the just the beginning of things to come. At SHW, true rookie Sam Bowman of WV fought his way to within 3 feet of the finish line, but time ran out before he could finish. Ryan Putzulu negotiated the course in under 25sec, but it was Andrew Presnell who secured the win with 16.63sec.
Event 2 was an homage to turn