Battle of the Norse Giants Full Event Replay
The very nature of Giants Live is to bring the best in the world together, and the Battle of the Norse Giants was no exception on Saturday in Norrkoping, Sweden. Though almost half of the field was comprised of past World’s Strongest Man competitors, only three qualifying spots to World’s Strongest Man were made available at this year's event.
A sold-out crowd of more than 2,500 Swedish fans shook Norrkoping Arena as hometown favorite Johannes Arsjo topped the podium and captured one of the three qualifying berths to World's Strongest Man, along with fellow Swede Martin Forsmark in second place and Mark Felix of Grenada in third overall.
Notably missing from the competition was Lithuanian legend Zydrunas “Big Z” Savickas, who was forced to pull out after aggravating a prior injury in warmups. Savickas has been struggling over the past year with a nerve problem that affects his motor control in half of his body. Concerned by the chance of setting his recovery back, Big Z chose to pull out of the show.
Giants Live Sweden kicked off with the competitors deadlifting a Volkswagen pickup truck, which weighed 365kg/805lb at the bottom of the lift and 400kg/880lb at the top, as many times as possible in one minute. After opening lifter Johan Liljeblad was unable to get a single rep, the competition quickly heated up with Felix putting down 12 reps and showing that he is still world class in this event. The closing pairing of Arsjo and Benni Magnusson looked like it might be able to challenge the 50-year-old, but neither lifter was able to match Felix's pace and finished with six and eight reps, respectively.
Up next was another event that suited Felix -- the farmers walk. The athletes had to carry a 150kg/330lb per hand handle over a 40-meter course with a turnaround at the halfway point and ideally without dropping the weight. Last year, Arsjo set the world record on this event, and he could be seen on the sidelines carefully watching the first couple of athletes' attempts. However, many of the early lifters struggled with both grip strength and the turn, following the taxing car deadlift.
Earning fourth overall, Liljeblad redeemed himself by becoming the first to complete the course and finished in 32.47. Terry Hollands then stormed the course and moved past Liljeblad's time with a blistering 25.56. Last up was Mark Felix, who showing that he is more than a one-trick pony, flying down the course in a winning time of 25.47.
The keg toss featured seven increasingly heavy kegs, ranging from 18kg/40lb to 24kg/53lb, thrown over a 4.5m bar. The athletes could not move on to the next keg until all the prior ones had gone over. Englishman Will Baggot was first to try his hand at this deceptively hard event. He struggled early on but managed to get over the first three within the time limit.
An early standout in the event was the surprising Martin Forsmark, who was left head in hands last year after struggling to get more than a couple of kegs over. This year, however, the Swede looked like a new man as he flew through the first six kegs and ran out time on the final keg. Forsmark held onto his hard-earned lead until Arsjo became the first to complete the set and set a record time for the win. One athlete who stood out despite a disappointing ranking was Benni Magnusson, who had no difficulty sending the kegs skywards but struggled with his accuracy.
Featuring a whippy bar and odd weight placement, the safe press was an event that had almost all of the athletes worried. It was obvious that this was an event that couldn’t be accurately replicated on a yoke as soon as the first pair attempted a rep. After Antti Mourujärvi was unable to get a single rep, Baggot soon realised that raw strength was his best bet. In the end, the Brit strict pressed the implement, removing much of the swing, for three reps. Luke Herrick muscled the bar up for eight reps, but it was clear that the Swedish competitors had better prepared for this event. Arsjo made all 11 of his reps look easy, beating Forsmark to take first place.
After failing to even get one rep on the previous event, 23-year-old Jimmy Paquet was keen to make his mark on the contest. Weighing only 118kg/260lb and looking like he belonged at a bodybuilding show, Paquet showed he was a world-class competitor by finishing third in the loading medley. The competition's penultimate event featured three implements, two tires, and a sack loaded onto a 5-foot platform 10m away. After Paquet completed the course in 24.39, Forsmark and Arsjo were able to overtake the Canadian and set down times of 24.32 and 23.84, respectively.
The competition ended on a classic event -- the atlas stones, which featured five stones in total that ranged from 120kg/264lb to a huge 200kg/440lb stone. Each stone had to be loaded onto platforms of descending heights, beginning at 6-foot for the lightest stone.
As if that wasn’t a challenge enough, the stones were placed a few meters away from the base of the platform, forcing the competitors to carry them onto the platform. Joachim Gustavsson was the first competitor to get four of the stones up, with the previous athletes clearly feeling the effects of six events in only a couple of hours.
However, the Swede’s lead didn’t last long as Mark Felix obliterated his time, but even the great Felix came unglued on the last stone. Forsmark, determined to show that this was no impossible feat, attacked each stone with a venom, including the final one which he wrestled onto the platform to a standing ovation from the crowd. The final competitor was Arsjo, who needed only to get four stones up in under 37 seconds to seal the overall victory.
Arsjo put on a flawless loading display and completed all four in 31.61. The Swede considered the fifth stone for a second, but not wanting to risk a hamstring injury he’d been nursing all day, he thought better of it and turned his attention to celebrating his well-deserved win.
*Qualified for World’s Strongest Man through the top three placings.
By Chris Bland