Ortmayer's 2008 WSM wirte-up (finals)

Joined: July 7th, 2005, 4:53 pm

October 2nd, 2008, 6:26 pm #1

Sorry it took so long guys. I went to the Mr. Olympia and didn't have a chance to finish writing this. Got to train with Nick Best and Kevin Nee a little while I was there too!

World's Strongest Man 2008
Charleston, WV. USA

There I was, set up to go against 9 of the best strongmen on Earth... and I ate some bad eggs. I started throwing up before the event even started. Of course, I threw up really bad after the event too which was probably for the best since it cleared my stomach of those eggs!

Day 1
Power Stairs- 500 for 15 giant steps
This was the single most intimidating event I have ever seen! The steps were about 16-17 inches tall and about 3.5 feet deep. To reach the top you had to lift the implement up onto the next step then walk it forward then lift it up again. In other words, you had to lift it 30 times to get it up 15 steps!
Two guys finished inthe first heat. Dave was out to a great lead with a fast pace then he stopped to catch his breath. Derek ended up passing him by with a slow and steady approach. The guys who didn't finish got credit for the step they were on. It didn't matter if you got there first or not you tied if you were on the same step as anyone else. Only Mariusz finished in my heat. It is no suprise that he smoked the course and won the event overall since he is a freak on power stairs. I don't think the calf was as much of an issue as he wanted people to believe. I got through 13 steps then crashed. My energy just fell away. Looking back, I think I just did this event completely wrong. I have relatively no experience on this event. The only time I have done a real set of power stairs was at amateur nationals in 2003!
Right before time was called, Sebastian Wenta got his implement on the 13th step and tied me for 6th I think.
6th tie (pathetic)

Car Walk- ~920 for 25 meters
This event looked like a lot of fun to try because it looked absolutely torturous! Two guys didn't even finish the course! Mariusz made a big mistake on his start. When he lifted the car it swung him back a step and probably cost him a couple seconds. Dave went out and blistered the course and only Phil Phister could edge him out. I think he completed the course in about 13 seconds!
I guess I set up a little too far forward in the straps because when I lifted the car it swung up and the windsheild hit me in the face. I remember saying to myself, "oh no you don't!", and I pushed it back down and held it in place with my chin for the rest of the course. After I put it down I looked at the spot where my chin was and saw that I had made a dent. Quite often, events leave their mark on the person who does them, but it's not every day that you can say you left a permanent mark on an event!
I finished the course in about 16 seconds which was good enough for 4th.
In the equipment familiarization the day before, Mariusz told me he didn't think I would be good on this event since my legs looked weak... Well, after I beat his time I went over and told him they weren't as weak as he thought!

Fingal Fingers- 5 pipes 440, 495, 550, 605, 705
They didn't seem to think this event was heavy enough last year so they made the last one harder by adding weight to the end of the pipe. Well, it didn't seem to really slow anyone down and 9 of the guys crushed this course! I went head to head with Sebastian Wenta and he got called for a false start so we had to reset the fingers. By the time we got going it had started raining on us. This is definitely one event you don't want to do in the rain! We were really close through the first three but my hand slipped on the fourth as I was picking it up (very wet by this time) and I didn't get it all the way overhead which cost me a second and some momentum. I also got ahead of myself and ended up standing too upright which makes flipping the finger over next to impossible. My hand slipped again on the 5th but this time I kept myself in the right position and I flipped it over pretty fast.
I felt really inexperienced on this event even though I have a finger to train with. The problem with mine is that the pin is really bent and you have to control the pipe the whole way up as well as aim it when it is falling so that you hit the tire on the other side. This training gave me a lot of power on the event which is why I could screw up the 4th finger and still get it over, but I never learned how to be fast on it and that cost me a lot of placings. I finished with a time of 44 seconds which was only good enough for 6th place.

I was just relieved that the first day was over. I knew this was going to be hard for me since they were all relatively new events and I didn't have any way to specifically train for two of them. I learned a lot though and I feel like I will be much more prepared on these events for next year! The next four events are all ones that I have done before, or at least something very similar.

Day 2
I woke up sore as hell this morning. I am certain it is from the power stairs since most of the stiffness is in my upper back and traps. No big deal, these events are good for me.

Car Deadlift- Jeep Wrangler, 748 lbs for reps.
As far as car deadlifts go, this was a low bar and a narrow set up b ut it's the same for everybody. My warm-ups were going well but I felt slow, and I could feel the length of the overall competition starting to get to me. I knew this was where I needed to make a move if I wanted any chance of getting on the podium. The reps to beat was set by Jason Bergmann at 6. I was confident that I could beat that; in fact, I wanted 10... I flew through the first few but it got heavy quick. Somewhere I lost count in my head and I stopped at what I thought was 8 reps. Turns out it was only 7. I tried to get another but I was spent. It was first for the moment anyway. Still having the best performance I have ever seen him produce, Dave went out and tied me! Damnit! Now that podium finish looked a little harder to reach. Mariusz and Derek, both using that slide/hitch technique managed to get through 10 reps and tied for the win. The battle between these two had really started to heat up.
3rd (tie)

Log Press- 308 lbs. clean and press each rep.
I was very excited to finally get a chance to use these logs. These are a WSM icon! A lot of the guys thought that they were a lot harder than a regular log due to their length and lack of balance. I guess if you have one side stronger than the other that would certainly be true but that isn't a problem for me. What was a problem for me was the diameter of the log itself. I wasn't sure if I should clean and press in one motion or clean to the shoulders then press... I don't remember any of the reps feeling the same.
I was again paired with Sebastian Wenta; this pairing was starting to get very familiar. The number to beat was 7 set by Jason Bergmann and Tarmo Mitt. The log felt light but my nervous system was so exhausted that I just couldn't get much out of it. It was weird really. I guess the total number of days competing was getting to me. I somehow managed to make it through 7 reps and each one felt uglier than the last. Sebastian beat me, again, with 8 reps... Derek and Mariusz both had really good results getting 11 and 10 reps respectively. I knew this would be a good event for Derek and he proved me right.
4th (tie)

Day 3
I woke up feeling much better, physically anyway, than the previous days. Looking back I think it was just that my body was totally shot to hell and went numb!

Plane Pull- C130 Hercules 90,000 lbs for 25 meters.
Holy crap this event looked awesome!! This plane was huge and downright frightening. The course was set so that the plane had an easy start down a slight decline then half way through it got really heavy but if you could gut it out to within 3 meters of the finish the pull let up a bit. I think one person didn't finish the course and the times were spread across the board. That spot in the middle was really separating the field! I felt good getting ready for this event but about half way through the pull I could tell that my body was not responding the way it should. I fought for every inch until I got to the finish line... Thank goodness for that slight let up at the end! I hit the ground and didn't move for a few seconds. Then when I tried to get up my legs were totally shot to Hell. Walking was so painful as the lactic acid started to build up. My legs felt like they were going to explode! After a few minutes of getting them worked on by the physiotherapists I could walk around again. I heard that Wenta had beaten me by less than a second which put him 1.5 points behind me. Then Dave went and somehow managed to get in between us. He was only .04 seconds behind Sebastian!! This meant that now I had to beat him flat out on the stones to maintain 5th place overall... I was confident.
Mariusz showed me exactly why he thinks legs are the most important muscle group for Strongman as he blistered the course in about 36 seconds!
One notable mention about this event: Brain Shaw tested the pull just before we all went and posted a great time of around 44 seconds. Just 8 seconds off the first place pace and 7 seconds faster than my time!
8th (pathetic)

Atlas Stones- 245, 265, 308, 353, 400 (6ft to ~4.5ft.)
It was the last event of the biggest show of the year and it was extremely important for each of the competitors. For every pair this event meant the difference between the better placing and the worse placing. For example, 1st (Derek) and 2nd (Mariusz) were only a point apart, 3rd (Dave) and 4th (Phil) were tied, 5th (me) and 6th (Sebastian) were only a half a point apart, Tarmo and Jason were only a couple points apart and Terry and Arild were close. This one event could mean a major swing across the board!
Arild continues to impress with his stones ability finishing with a time of 21 seconds. This guy is tough! I was again paired with Sebastian which meant I was going to have to really work since he is hard to beat on stones. Whoever won this heat took 5th and I was tired of him winning our heats. It started to rain a little but when we went out there it got worse. This was the second time our heat got rained on in the finals! The surface was painted wood which made for an extremely dangerous situation due to how slippery it was. As the whistle blew we could immediately tell how hard this was going to be. The first stones were up at the same time but I think he got ahead of me on the next two. I slipped a little getting to the second and had to put my hands on the ground to steady myself. Then I slipped really badly on third and almost lost the stone. I went back and watched the video; after seeing my run I am not sure how I stayed up. It was so bad that it almost looks like I was trying to dance... albeit probably more successfully than if I really tried. Sebastian beat me to the last stone but I just knew I was going to win. He beat me out of the lap but I just lifted it a little faster and beat him to the top! Finally, an event that went my way... kind of.
Dave ended up winning his heat and took 3rd overall and Derek, with a heartbreaking mistake, just lost to Mariusz on the last stone!
3rd (?)

1. Pudzianowski 58.5
2. Poundstone 53.5
3. Ostlund 49.5
4. Pfister 44.5
5. Ortmayer 39.5
6. Wenta 38
7. Mitt 30.5
8. Haugen 26
9. Bergmann 25
10. Hollands 20
All in all, I had a great time at WSM. I now have a MUCH better idea of how to prepare for next year and I am confident that I can win the whole thing! I am very proud of Dave and Derek. They both had great performances and held strong the whole time. You guys did awesome! As for Phil and Mariusz, it was an honor to compete with you both. I hope to have the opportunity to compete with these guys again.

Joined: June 3rd, 2005, 10:42 pm

October 3rd, 2008, 12:11 am #2

Great job again, Travis. Thanks for the detailed write-up.
- Grant

Joined: September 22nd, 2006, 11:14 am

October 3rd, 2008, 10:09 am #3

Cheers for the write-up Travis.

After reading yours & Dave's write-ups I think it shows that it was probably the toughest WSM ever.

Joined: May 28th, 2007, 10:46 am

October 3rd, 2008, 6:30 pm #4

Brilliant write-up,thanks.

Joined: September 16th, 2006, 3:14 pm

October 3rd, 2008, 11:11 pm #5

Thanks Travis! Some really great behind the scenes details here, really interesting about the slope changes on the huge plane pull, and how pudz made a costly error at the beginning of the car walk, I had wondered about his placement there, which really put him in a hole. Just goes to show how one bad event can really make it tough to win, and he had to fight like hell to get back near the top of the points after that event. Congrats to you on how well you placed, and on how much you learned, should really help you next time around. Oh, and thanks for the info on the power stairs, wow that was a killer way to start out this year! That had to be about the toughest power stairs ever at WSM.

Joined: August 5th, 2008, 12:18 pm

October 5th, 2008, 1:19 pm #6

Brilliant write up, makes the wait to see it on TV even harder to deal with!

?Proudly supported by FLEX/Muscle + Fitness magazine?

Joined: July 7th, 2005, 4:53 pm

October 5th, 2008, 3:23 pm #7

Thanks guys! It takes a long time to write everything I go through for these competitions so I am glad you like reading it.
All of the promoters, production staff, helpers, etc. agreed that this was the toughest field (both overall and in the finals) they have ever seen. I just felt honored to be a part of the whole thing.

Joined: October 13th, 2005, 1:20 pm

October 6th, 2008, 11:00 am #8

Excellent write up Travis and superb performance. Documented write ups like this are going to be great for the history books in years to come. Imagine if Kaz or JPS had written about their WSM experiences like this!


Not The Mama
Not The Mama
Not The Mama
Not The Mama
Joined: June 3rd, 2005, 10:11 pm

October 9th, 2008, 6:59 pm #9

Awesome, Travis! Looking forward to more WSM appearances from you.
"Strongman = injury at some point. That's the way it goes.

What marks your career is not whether you got hurt, but how you responded to it."

- Jeff