Back-to-back events proved to be no problem for local “Strongman” Luke Skaarup over the weekend as he captured first place in competitions in Winkler, Man. and Saskatoon.
“Going into these competitions, I was wanting to win both shows,” Skaarup said. “But I wasn’t sure how the 10-hour drive would affect me in Saskatoon.
“Overall, things went very well for me this weekend as I won both shows, eight out of the 10 events, and picked up 118 out of a possible 120 points,” he added.
“The distance made for a long weekend of driving, but it was well worth it,” Skaarup smiled.
The first stop on Skaarup’s weekend adventure was in Winkler for the Harvest Fest, where the Fort Frances resident was looking to defend his title from a year ago.
It turned out Skaarup was able to retain his crown with relative ease, winning all five events to capture the title over James Deffinbaugh of Grand Forks by a 14.5-point margin.
Skaarup also set personal best times in two of the events on Saturday—completing the power stairs in 23.78 seconds, then deadlifting and holding a 700-pound car for 54.74 seconds.
“My goal going into the power stairs [where competitors have to lift and carry 400-, 500-, and 550-pound weights up three 16-inch stairs] was just to beat my time of 32 seconds from the last time I did the event, and I was able to do just that,” he noted.
“I had a 12-point lead going into the car deadlift hold, and I didn’t need to do compete in it in order to win, but that’s just not my style,” Skaarup stressed.
“I wanted to give the crowd a good effort and also try to get a clean sweep in all five events, which is something that I had never done before.
“[So] I picked up the car easily and just held onto it for as long as I needed to, which was 54.74 seconds, and another win in what was a perfect day,” he added.
After a quick bite to eat, Skaarup was on the road again for a long drive from Winkler to Saskatoon, where he competed at the Saskatoon Exhibition on Sunday afternoon.
“We arrived in Saskatoon at 1 a.m. local time, and the drive had me feeling very stiff,” Skaarup recalled.
“After I checked into the hotel, I had a long shower and stretched really well before bed,” he noted. “And once I got up in the morning, I did some more stretching and a hot tub session before heading over to the exhibition grounds.
“I felt good about my chances even though three of the events were very similar to what I did the day before.
“And I was ready to do battle with 16 athletes from across the western provinces,” he enthused.
Being the lone Ontario representative in the competition, Skaarup was able to do his home province proud by taking the tournament title over Steve Halliday of Regina by 18 points, thanks to first-place finishes in the tire flip, timber frame carry medley, and the SUV deadlift events.
He also notched a pair of runner-up showings in the press medley and the atlas stones.
Skaarup’s showing of 58.76 seconds in the tire flip was extremely impressive given he was the only competitor to compete two flips of a 1,050-pound tire after running through the eight flips that were required for the 800-pound tire that was used in the event.
“I was in the second pairing, and I started fast and just killed the eight flips of the 800-pound tire,” Skaarup recalled.
“Once I completed the two flips of the 1,050-pound tire, I stood on the tire and raised my hands in victory as I knew I had put up a very tough time to beat.
“In the end, none of the other athletes could flip the big tire and I had a clear win, which gave me a really good start to the competition.”
With two event wins in as many days, Skaarup feels his weekend performances will bode well as he prepares for his next event in a month’s time.
“This was an excellent tune-up for me before the Dubreuilville Pro event on Sept. 10-12, where I’ll be looking to improve on my fourth-place finish from last year,” Skaarup said.