2017 was an incredible year for Powerlifting. As we leave it behind us, we sat down here at 9for9 Media and decided what we think were the top 10 Powerlifting moments of the year. With so many incredible lifts and performances, this was no easy feat, but these are our top picks.
#10. Kimberly Walford’s performance at the USAPL Raw Nationals
Kicking off our list is Kimberly Walford’s epic 9 for 9 performance at the 2017 USAPL Raw Nationals. Coming into the Raw Nationals, Kimberly held the 72kg world record deadlift and total with 243kg and 540kg respectively. But despite her unmatched deadlift strength and sixth consecutive win at the IPF World’s this year, Kimberly hasn’t pulled together a perfect competition in a long while – so you can bet when she finally did, it blew us away. After chipping her American record and personal best squat on her second attempt with 186.5kg, she extended it further on her third with a huge 188kg. This is only 8kg below Ana Castellain’s 196kg world record, which not long ago was an unimaginable squat for a 72kg lifter. She then benched 115kg to match her competition best and put her in good stead for the deadlift. After pulling 240kg on her second attempt, Kimberly closed off a flawless performance with 246kg on her third – 3kg over her world record. This gave her a 549kg unofficial world record total, and a massive 541.37 Wilks – .08 points higher than reigning USAPL (and world) best female lifter, Jennifer Millican. This meant Kimberly won the best female lifter award at the USAPL Raw Nationals once again.
#9. Ana Castellain vs. Isabella von Weissenberg squat battle
Kimberly of course won the 72kg division at IPF World’s a few months prior to the USAPL Raw Nationals, but in her division there was an epic battle for the squat world record between Brazilian lifter Ana Castellain, and Swedish lifter Isabella von Weissenberg. Isabella held the record coming into the event with 192.5kg from the 2017 European Championships earlier in the year. At World’s, both lifters opened up with 185kg, moving at similar speeds. On the second attempts, Ana moved up to 192.5kg and hit it to match Isabella’s world record, but not beat it. Meanwhile, Isabella chipped her record, squatting 193kg with room to spare. On the third attempts, Ana jumped 3.5kg up to 196kg and hit it to take the record herself. To close off the round of squatting, Isabella went for a massive 197.5kg in an attempt to take it back. Despite her best efforts however, she missed it at her typical ‘sticking’ point (even though we hadn’t ever seen Isabella fail a squat in international competition). Since then, Isabella competed at the European Women’s Classic Cup in December and took the record back with a 196.5kg squat on her third attempt, heating things up for 2018 already.
#8. Priscilla Ribic wins the 72kg class at IPF Open World’s
The 2017 World Open (Equipped) Championships had some very exciting moments, not least of which was Priscilla Ribic’s epic performance to win the 72kg division. Despite a sub-par (by her standard) performance at the USAPL Raw Nationals before the World’s, Priscilla’s equipped lifting seems unstoppable, recently setting a new 72kg open world record total of 643kg despite being a Masters 1 lifter. Although she only managed her opening squat of 240kg at the World’s, Priscilla then benched a new Masters 1 world record of 165kg on her third attempt. She finished off the day with a new open world record deadlift of 249kg, boosting her total world record up to 654kg to establish herself as the best 72kg equipped lifter in the world. What’s so exciting is that we still haven’t seen Prsicilla’s peak performance, as she only managed her first squat, and we also saw her deadlifting 250kg for three reps in the lead up to the equipped World’s – 1kg over the world record she set.
#7. Jennifer Millican wins best female lifter at IPF World’s
After winning the best overall women’s title in her first USAPL Raw Nationals competition in 2016, Jennifer Millican made that performance look like a warm up at the 2017 IPF World’s. Here, she went head to head with Canadian lifter Maria Htee in the 57kg division. After opening with 157.5kg and hitting 167.5kg on her second attempt squat, Jennifer ended up setting a new 57kg world record of 174.5kg on her third, beating Inna Filimonova’s record which held since 2014. Jennifer benched 100kg on her third attempt, matching Maria’s, who was 2kg behind at this point.
On deadlifts, Jennifer sealed the win on her second attempt with her 187.5kg pull, while Maria missed 190kg on her second (and subsequently third). This allowed the American lifter to go all out and attempt 195kg on her third, which would have beaten the world record by 4.5kg at the time. Unfortunately she didn’t hit it, but that didn’t stop her from totaling a new world record of 462kg, and winning the best overall female award with a huge 542.53 Wilks, a title which Kimberly Walford and Jennifer Thompson had been exchanging for years prior. Later in the year at the 2017 USAPL Raw Nationals, Jennifer didn’t have the best of days, missing her third squat of 175kg, but miraculously still somehow unofficially beat her total world record unofficially with a 100kg bench and 193kg American record deadlift, boosting her best total up to 463kg. We can only imagine what Jennifer will be putting together for 2018.
#6. Battle of the 105’s at IPF World’s
With 2016 being the year of the 83kg class, having an immense showdown between John Haack and Brett Gibbs at the 2016 IPF World’s, 2017 was the year of the 105’s. Four titans in the medal-mix: Bryce Lewis, Garrett Blevins, Stephen Manuel, and Krzysztof Wierzbicki, who was up in the 105’s after a successful career in the 93’s. Despite coming down with a bad flu prior to the event, Garrett took the lead on the squat with a 322.5kg second attempt (before missing a stab at extending his own world record with 333kg on his third). Stephen “Screamer” Manuel was just behind with 317.5kg on his second attempt before he missed 325kg on his third, while Bryce and Krzysztof were in third and fourth with 312.5kg and 307.5kg respectively. Garrett extended his lead on bench with a 217.5kg press on his second, once again missing his third, with Bryce and Stephen closely following.
However, when it came to the deadlifts, everyone knew that “Mr. Deadlift” would surge into the lead. Opening with 360kg, Krzysztof flew into the gold medal position, 10kg ahead of Bryce who opened with 327.5kg, behind them, Bryce and Screamer. While everyone successfully pulled their second’s, Krzysztof shocked everyone with the speed of his 380kg pull. On the third attempts, Bryce tried his luck at 360kg which would have moved him into the lead by 2.5kg, but he missed when it got to the knees; leaving him in second, Bryce in third, and Stephen in fourth. With the gold medal secure, Krzysztof finished off the battle of the 105’s with an attempt at the elusive 400kg milestone, but missed at his knees. However, it made the ending of this extremely competitive weight class very, very exciting.
#5. Blaine Sumner’s performance at the Arnold
In 2016 we saw Blaine Sumner squat the absurd 500kg milestone at the Arnold. At the Arnold Grand Prix this year, Blaine had been talking about his low expectations for this competition. However, after his 475kg squat opener, he smashed an insane 505kg (1113lbs) squat to extend his world record. Although he planned to go even heavier after that, he skipped his third attempt to avoid injury risk. On bench, he opened up very light at 205kg to secure his world record squat. Afterwards, he comfortably hit 365kg on his second attempt, and then broke his previous world record bench on his third attempt by 8.5kg with 410kg – breaking the insane 900lbs milestone with 903lbs. On the deadlifts, once again he opened light to secure his world record squat. On the second attempt, he moved up to 357.5kg and hit it to break his previous world record total by 1kg. He then had a crack at 375kg on his final attempt, which would have broken him in to the 700 Wilks milestone, something never done by an IPF lifter. Although he missed, we hope to see Blaine back on the platform soon to have another crack at it.
#4. LS McClain wins the world 93kg title after a fourth place nomination
Coming into the 93kg class this year, last year’s junior world champion Anatolii Novopismennyi, junior lifter Yerlan Smagulov, and legendary 58-year-old David Ricks, were nominated in first, second and third respectively. LS McClain, who placed second next to David Ricks at the 2016 USAPL Raw Nationals, was selected as a second 93kg lifter for team USA, and was nominated fourth. After the squats, LS was way down in seventh place with 285kg, ahead of him six lifters squatting 290kg+. As a bench specialist however, LS jumped right back into the mix of things when it came to pressing, finishing up with a huge 227.5kg (501lbs) bench to move into the silver medal position.
However, with the deadlift not his strong suit, he needed to choose his attempts wisely to keep the other lifters at bay. After 290kg and 305kg, LS finished off with a 315kg deadlift for an 827.5kg total and the gold medal position. Just prior to this, fifth place nomination Jakub Sedlacek had the opportunity to move into the gold with a 300kg pull, but missed. Meanwhile, David Ricks didn’t perform near his best and was down in sixth, giving both Yerlan and Anatolii the opportunity to pull heavy enough deadlifts to move into the lead. Despite both of their best efforts and LS himself cheering them on in the background, neither of them made their final pulls, giving LS his first world championship title. What really made his performance so epic as well, was LS inviting his fellow US competitor David Ricks up onto the podium while the national anthem played.
#3. Russel Orhii squats 300.5kg at the USAPL Raw Nationals
With John Haack still absent from the IPF scene due to his temporary ban from lifting in an untested federation, Russel Orhii was given the opportunity to deem himself the best 83kg USAPL lifter of 2017. After dropping out of 2016’s USAPL Raw Nationals due to injury, “Russwole” really made a name for himself with his epic performance this year. After opening with 282.5kg and hitting 292.5kg on his second attempt squat, Russel went for 300.5kg on his final attempt to beat John Haack’s American and world record of 298kg. This weight completely flew up, giving Russel the American record and the unofficial world record. Given the speed it moved, it also bodes very well for Russel’s first international competition in March at the Arnold Classic, where we’ll likely see the squat record broken officially. Russel went on to bench 180kg and deadlift 312.5kg to seal in a 793kg total and the 83kg title, with a host of other very competitive lifters behind him. We also very much look forward to seeing Russel represent team USA at 2018 IPF World’s and go head to head with Brett Gibbs for another epic 83kg showdown.
#2. Ray Williams squats 477.5kg at the Arnold Classic
This moment was truly spectacular. Since 2014 we’ve seen Ray Williams add many, many kilos to his world record squat after each of his competitions. Coming into 2017, it was no exception. After his massive 438kg world record squat at the 2016 IPF World’s, Ray finally cracked the elusive 1,000lbs milestone at the 2016 USAPL Raw Nationals with a 456kg (1,005lbs) squat to unofficially break his world record. Then, his main super-heavyweight rival, Jezza Uepa from Nauru, squatted an immense 455kg in international competition at the end of the year, making a 1,000lbs+ squat the official world record. Things seemingly couldn’t get any better – until the Arnold Classic in March this year.
At the Arnold, after Ray opened up with 440kg, he moved straight up to 465.5kg to beat his own American record, and more importantly take back the world record from Jezza. This moved well, and he wasn’t even done there; on his third attempt he jumped another 12kg up to 477.5kg (1052lbs) and smashed it with immense support and wonderment from the crowd. Following this, Ray went on to mesmerize us with a 235kg bench and 392.5kg world record deadlift for a 1105kg world record total. Everything about this performance was simply mind-blowing, which is why we’ve deemed it our #2 moment of 2017. Since then, Ray hasn’t had the best meets, foregoing a world record attempt at the 2017 IPF World’s (where he still managed to take the overall best male lifter award), and missing 490kg at the USAPL Raw Nationals. However, we look forward to seeing Ray get under the bar again in 2018 to smash some records.
#1. Krzysztof Wierzbicki deadlifts 420kg equipped at the 2017 World Games
To finish off our list is Krzysztof Wierzbicki’s epic pulls at the 2017 World Games. 2017 really has been the year of Wierzbicki. After losing his world championship title at the 2016 IPF World’s due to injury in the 93kg division, he made the move up to the 105kg class, and shocked everyone with his performance at the 2017 European Classic Championships in March. Here he deadlifted 390kg and totaled 885kg for two 105kg world records. Then, the battle of the 105’s happened at IPF World’s where he became victorious, but he wasn’t done there.
At the 2017 World Games, Krzysztof competed light in the super-heavyweight division at only 105.07kg body weight with the goal of beating the all-time equipped deadlift record, despite having pulled in a deadlift suit only once in the lead up to it. Yup, once. More information on this is in our interview with Krzysztof from earlier this year, which you can find on our blog. After squatting and benching raw, finishing with 300kg and 200kg respectively, the Polish lifter put on a show with the deadlifts. Opening up with a massive 388kg, Krysztof chipped the 120kg deadlift record, previously held by Maxim Barkhatov since 2011. After that, Krzysztof jumped 20.5kg up to 408.5kg to comfortably crack into the remarkable 900lbs barrier. Finally, Krzysztof finished up the World Games with a successful 420kg pull – the heaviest deadlift in IPF history, regardless of age, weight class, or equipment. A truly remarkable moment. Since then, Krzysztof won the Polish equipped national championships and competed raw, where he unofficially extended his world record total up to 905kg, consisting of a 310kg squat, a 200kg bench, and a 395kg deadlift. Krzysztof is only getting started. Keep an eye on him for 2018 and beyond.
About the author: Ramsay Kirkhy
Ramsay holds a BSc in Psychology and is currently studying for his MSc. He is also a certified Personal Trainer with three years’ experience. Along with his studies, he has a huge passion for Powerlifting, competing in the 74kg division in Great Britain, also writing for the 9for9 Media blog.