The 2019 IHGF Scottish Stones of Strength finals resulted in five Scottish athletes securing a position at the 2020 IHGF Stones of Strength World Challenge, which will be part of Power Week in Fefor, Norway.
2019 IHGF Scottish Stones of Strength National Finals
by Francis Brebner
President, International Highland Games Federation (IHGF)
The 2019 Blairgowrie & Rattray Highland Games set the stage for the national finals of the IHGF Scottish Stones of Strength, the culmination of six qualifying events spread throughout Scotland, from Glasgow in the south to Aberdeenshire in the north. Competitors at each qualifying event had to load as many of the world famous Ardblair stones as possible onto whisky barrels, and the top two men and top two women from each of the six events were now competing in the IHGF Stones of Strength Scottish National Finals.
The nationals were comprised of 8 men and 12 women, and the events included were stone-to-shoulder for reps, log press, Nicol stones walk (two granite stones with iron rings, one carried in each hand for maximum distance), Husafell stone carry, and Ardblair stones loaded onto barrels. No tacky was allowed in any of the events.
In the stone-to-shoulder for reps, athletes could choose a 220-lb., 264-lb. or 332.2-lb. stone, with 75 sec. to complete as many reps as possible. First place was a tie between Tom Stoltman and Janis Skujins, who each did 2 reps with the 332.2-lb. stone and 1 rep with the 264-lb. stone. Third place was Luke Stoltman, who did 2 reps with the 332.2-lb. stone.
Athletes could choose between a 198-lb. or a 286-lb. log in the log press, with 75 sec. to do as many reps as possible. L. Stoltman won the event with a total of 9 reps with the 286-lb. log, followed by T. Stoltman, who knocked out 7 reps with the 286-lb. log and 3 reps with the 198-lb. log. Third-place Skujins pressed the 286-lb. log for 3 reps.
In the Husafell stone carry athletes picked up and carried a stone weighing 308 lb. for maximum distance with no time limit. T. Stoltman put up an incredible performance, walking a distance of 372’ 4” for the win. Second place was close, with L. Stoltman just edging out Skujins with a distance of 295’ 3” to 264 ’1”.
In the Nicol “walking” stones carry, athletes picked up and carried two stones with iron rings weighing 251 lb. and 304 lb. in each hand. L. Stoltman walked an impressive distance of 63’ 3” to second-place T. Stoltman’s 45’ 6”. Third was Jamie Duncan at 24’.
The final event was loading the renown Ardblair stones, 9 stones of increasing weight, onto to whisky barrels at a height of 132 cm (52 in.) T. Stoltman dominated, managing all 9 stones in 21.81 sec. to set a new world record. Second place was tight with L. Stoltman placing all 9 stones in 27.39 sec. over Skujins, who did 9 stones in 29.19 sec.
Overall places – men:
1. Tom Stoltman
2. Luke Stoltman
3. Janis Skujins
In the woman’s national finals of the IHGF Scottish Stones of Strength, the stone-to-shoulder for reps was based on the cumulative weight of the stones shouldered. Athletes could choose between two stones at 48 kg (106 lb.) and 65 kg (143 lb.), with 75 sec. to compete as many reps as possible. Emmajane Smith took the first victory with a total of 390 kg (860 lb.), followed closely by Nicola Ann Bennett at 353 kg (778 lb.); Caitlin Duguid was third with 325 kg (717 lb.).
In the log press/flip for reps, athletes could choose between a 66-kg (146-lb.), 75-kg (165-lb.), or 130-kg (286-lb.) log for reps in 75 sec., with the added new concept of flipping: once an athlete had maxed out on the overhead reps, she could continue to score by flipping logs end over end, which would reduce any possible ties. Smith took her second win with 2 reps with the 66-kg log. Second was Pavlina Thomson doing 1 rep with the 66-kg log and flipping the 75-kg log 4 times. Third-place Ruth Massey did 2 flips of the 130-kg log.
The Husafell stone weighed 102 kg (225 lb.) and was carried for maximum distance in 75 sec., and once again Smith prevailed, storming the course with an incredible run of 73.4 m (241 ft.). Nikita Wilkie was second with 67.9 m (223 ft.), and Massey third at 62.8 m (206 ft.).
The duck walk consisted of a 115-kg (254-lb.) granite stone with iron ring which had to be carried for maximum distance, and Duguid pulled off her first victory with a distance of 40 m (131 ft.). Smith did 32.8 m (107 ft.) for second place, and Bennett was third at 16.6 m (54 ft.).
The Ardblair stones event was won by a whisker, with barely 1 sec. separating the top three athletes. Loading 9 stones of increasing weight onto 132-cm (52-in.) barrels, Duguid notched her second win with 5 stones in 13.79 sec. Bennett did 5 stones in 13.84 sec., and Smith did 5 stones in 14.48 sec.
Overall places – women:
1. Emmajane Smith
2. Nicola Ann Bennett
3. Pavlina Thomson
The IHGF would like to thank Charlie Blair Oliphant (IHGF Scotland) and his wife, Gill, for organizing the IHGF Stones of Strength Scottish National Finals, and congratulations to Tom Stoltman, Luke Stoltman, Janis Skujins, Emmajane Smith and Nicola Ann Bennett, who have all secured a place at the 2020 IHGF Stones of Strength World Challenge, which will be contested at Fefor Power Week, 18–26 July, in Fefor, Norway.
Many thanks to Liam Tweedie, Paul and Catherine Adams, Brett Nicol, Lynn Stewart, Tim Lockwood, Mark Haydock, Gordon Ingram, Jim and Rosemary Splaine, and Anth Wagstaff for their help on this day. Thanks also to Donna Moore, of England, the winner of the 2019 IHGF Stones of Strength World Challenge in Fefor, Norway this year, who kept the large crowd entertained by doing some extraordinary exhibition lifts, including breaking her own world record on the Ardblair stones! The Ardblair Stones are sponsored by Castle Water, the UK’s leading independent water retailer.
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