Friday afternoon, we headed straight to the competition venue to weigh-in and to collect all our registration goodies (20% off Hylete apparel for life plus a special Iron-Bell promo for an additional 25% off the first order, a Popeye’s t-shirt, single-serving protein and energy supplements, protein shaker, Iron-Bell Gym bumper sticker, event poster, an event hand towel, and a big Popeye’s shoulder bag to hold it all) as well as our prepaid dinner tickets for the after party. Following weigh-in, we dropped off our gear at our hotel and went out for dinner at Skinnytato Polish Restaurant on Johnson St., downtown Victoria. I had the Hunter’s Stew, a hodge-podge of meats and sauerkraut, served with potato latkes and a “Polish salad” spiked with horseradish. Rachel ordered the Deluxe Platter which consisted of a fat link of smoked polish sausage, tender potato & onion perogies with sour cream, and a rice cabbage roll. Our orders came with the soup of the day, which was a terrific mint & green pea soup. We both agreed that our meals were delicious and filling.
We woke up early the next day to sit down for breakfast before heading off to the competition. Nothing fancy, just some Timmies jet fuel. Opening ceremonies started at about 9 am, and lifting followed at 10 am. I saw plenty of familiar faces, as well as some new blood. Slava and Charlie from the Okanagan Valley, Rod and Jenny from the West Coast Kettlebell Club in Victoria, Trifon Marchovski formerly of Bulgaria, Steve and the Ice Chamber girls from San Francisco, and plenty more athletes were present and eager to hit the platform.
Rachel competed in both the snatch and one-arm longcycle events. This competition would mark Rachel’s second time competing in the snatch, the first being the West Coast Kettlebell Classic (video) held in February of this year at the Ice Chamber in San Francisco. Across the border, Rachel managed an impressive 147 reps, placing her 1st in her weight category, achieving rank and setting a new personal best.
In Victoria, Rachel set her sights higher, crushing her previous competition record with 171 reps. This formidable attempt won her top honours: 1st Place, 1st Overall in her weight category, and rank. Longcycle is a new event for Rachel and she performed admirably, achieving 2nd place in her weight category with the 12kg bell at 101 reps.
The West Coast Kettlebell Classic in San Francisco marked my first competition with the 20kg bell. I had been training often with the 20kg bell, and felt comfortable leading up to the event. My chosen event was Biathlon (both jerk and snatch). Though the jerk is not my best event, I managed 52 reps with double 20kg bells. Combined with my snatch score of 167 reps, I fell just 9.5 points short of making rank. Despite not making rank I did place 1st in my division.
For Victoria, I decided to make the leap from the 20kg bell to the 24kg bell. Foregoing my usual choice of Biathlon, I decided to devote my energy towards just the snatch event. Never snatching the 24kg for more than 5 minutes in practice, I surprised even myself by achieving a gruelling 111 reps. I finished the event with a 1st Place finish, as well as 1st Place Overall in my category, and honours for Absolute Snatch Champion (Male) of the competition.
Of course, no serious competition would be complete without swanky bling and goodies. For Rachel’s achievements she received shiny new medals to show off on the BSN walls, as well as a Starbucks Gift Card for those early training sessions. I am always impressed with the quality of design that goes into the Victoria Classic medals. One cannot forget to mention the thing we all really compete for at the Victoria Classic, and that is for the esteemed honour of receiving one of Linda’s trademark kettlebell cupcakes, mmm. Mine was delicious!
In addition to being awarded a laser etched jade glass trophy for achieving Absolute Snatch Champion status, I also received an official invitation to compete again next year (no registration fee), a 2014 Victoria Kettlebell Sport Classic event T-shirt and nylon drawstring sportpack, a brand new pair of compact Kettleguards®, store credit at the Langford, BC Aloyd Fitness, and a Hylete gift certificate!
SILENT AUCTION & DOOR PRIZES
We also scored the Kettleguard® gift pack: 1 pair of standard guards, 1 pair of compact guards, 1 Kettleguard® headband, and 1 Kettleguard® sweatband. After cursing the gods for not winning any of the first eight door prizes, I renounced my contempt upon hearing my ticket numbers called for both the ninth and tenth. I managed to snag another event T-shirt as well as more Aloyd Fitness store credit.
DINNER AT LINDA’S
It was an amazing day of sports, followed by a perfect complement of great food and conversation. We rendezvoused back at Linda’s, home of Iron-Bell Fitness, where we sat down to a fantastic wild Sockeye salmon dinner (PROTEIN!). Slava and I made sure to grab secondsI topped my plate with a tasty mescaline mix, grape tomato, and bocconcini salad with dressing. Smoked fish hors d’oeuvres made the rounds, and crispy chip mixes were always within arm’s reach. Attendees each had two drink tickets, and I took advantage of the wine selection.
Perhaps the best way to top off our weekend was the pleasant and deeply interesting conversation Rachel and I shared with Slava Petlitsa and his wife, Joanne. Slava, originally from Ukraine, teaches Russian language courses at Trinity Western University, as well as introductory Spanish courses (full bio here). Joanne is an Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, also at Trinity Western University.
Slava shared his perspective on kettlebell lifting and how in many eastern European countries Girevoy is very much a right of passage that every young man and woman experiences. He explained that kettlebells are a cheap and effective method for developing a solid base for cardiovascular conditioning. He also revealed to us how viciously competitive the realm of kettlebell competition is in Europe and particularly in Russia. Even though there are international championships where many countries can square off against each other for the gold, it is actually the Russian Championship that is host to most accomplished lifters, and is therefore the most coveted.
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of the 2014 Victoria Kettlebell Classic, and to rub shoulders with other bright and motivated athletes. See you in 2015, Victoria!