Local strongman Luke Skaarup finished off his 2010 regiment in the best possible way—by winning the Bavarian Strongman Challenge in Kitchener on Saturday.
Skaarup finished with 50.5 points, a full four points higher than the runner-up and 14.5 points ahead of the third-place competitor.
Skaarup put together a fine weekend in all five events, winning three and taking third place in the two others.
He won the car dead lift with 21 reps, the 900-pound super yoke course (a distance of 100 feet) in about 23 seconds, and tied for first in the log press by pressing a 13-foot, 280-pound log six times.
As well, Skaarup finished third in the truck pull (pulling a 40,000-pound dump truck filled with dirt for 100 feet) with a time of 32 seconds and in the keg loading competition, lifting 10 185-pound kegs onto a five-foot high platform (with the kegs stationed anywhere from 10-20 feet away) in 52 seconds.
Skaarup, who moved to Fort Frances from southern Ontario earlier this summer, knew he could place well at the event, and acknowledged being a favourite heading in.
“I was feeling good and was looking forward to the end of the competitive season,” Skaarup wrote in a release.
“It’s been a long year for me,” he added. “I knew that if I did well, I could win and if I made mistakes, I would be second or third.”
Skaarup was pleased with how he performed in the truck pull as it had been an Achilles heel early in his career.
However, after a third-place showing this past weekend and a 42.6-foot pull at the Dubreuilville Strongman Challenge last month, Skaarup felt his handling of the challenge has improved vastly this season.
“With the weight, it was a slow start and a bit of a decline but you had to go hard all the way,” he noted.
“I decided to go with the double pump for the start and after that, just got low and tried to go as fast as possible.
“It went perfectly for me.”
In the log press, meanwhile, Skaarup said an extra burst of strength helped him earn a first-place tie.
“I picked it up to my lap, the one motion went well, and I did four more reps,” he recalled. “I took about 20 seconds and went again, tried the one motion press again—not enough left.
“I leg drove, got it to over my head, and gutted out a slow press,” he added.
“I don’t know how I did this, but it happens.”
Skaarup was feeling confident during the car dead lift. His plan was to do one more than the event leader (and his biggest overall competitor) and then add one more for the crowd.
However, he realized in the heat of the moment that the added showmanship was a bad idea and stopped at 21 reps—still good for the event win.
In the super yoke, Skaarup has just hoped to finish, as no competitor had done until he and his main competitor were up.
“I took my time and got into position, gave the nod, heard the whistle, and went for it,” he explained.
“The trick was easy, slow steps to start and then started to pick up the speed.
“It really felt light, and I was more concerned with finishing than hitting a fast time to avoid getting off balance and dropping it,” he added.
After winning the super yoke, Skaarup held a three-point overall lead heading into the keg-loading event.
Being in the lead meant Skaarup performed the task after all other competitors, meaning he knew exactly what he had to do to win the overall challenge by the time he participated.
The third-place finish was good enough to take a convincing overall win, which landed him about $600, some supplements, and “the coolest trophies ever made.”
Skaarup was thrilled with the weekend, lauding the volunteers, venue, and audience all coming together to make for a fun show, and a potential preview of things to come if Kitchener launches a successful bid for the Ontario’s Strongest Man competition.
The win was Skaarup’s third of the year, which featured several big events, including the World Amateur Strongman Competition in Columbus, Ohio, where he finished 22nd.
However, finishing third at the Ontario’s Strongest Man finals was a downer for Skaarup as he just missed out on a trip to the national competition.
“The OSM was a huge disappointment,” he acknowledged. “I spent a lot of time and money into training this year and it didn’t pay off when I wanted it the most.
“Third place there hurt my body, ego, and pocketbook,” he added.
“I moved 1,900 km away and got focused again.”
Skaarup stressed his goal is to qualify for the Canada’s Strongest Man competition next year. But do so, he feels he has some areas of improvement to tackle in the off-season.
“I see my weaknesses as grip on thick handles implements 1.5” and larger, speed on arm-over-arm truck pulls, overhead technique, and, shoulder flexibility for axle cleans,” he remarked.
“I am going to do more of a bodybuilding workout and will focus on these weak points while staying away from most other events.
“I will start to incorporate flat bench press back into my regular routine as I think it will pay dividends,” he added.
Lastly, Skaarup hopes to reincorporate speed into his gameplan, which was missing for a while this year.
“Another mistake that I made this year was getting too big,” he admitted. “Speed is one of my biggest assets and I threw that away for a while.
“Next year I will come in at 280-285 pounds, but much leaner than this year,” he pledged.