To his friends, he’s been known as “Pickle” since his grade school days in Hope. From now on, they may be calling him “Sir.”
Twenty-five year old Scott McNicol was a late entrant in Hope’s Canada Day Strongman Competition. He was a first-timer, so he didn’t know what his chances were going in — but he emerged from the field of five heavy-weights in third place overall.
He also won the Crowd Favourite trophy, which came with $100 in prize money.
“I’m a little sore today,” said McNicol on Saturday. “I had never tried any of it before but I was last on the list, so I got to watch the other guys do it first. One guy, Adam, was giving me tips on technique.”
Looking at McNicol’s 6-foot-1, 281 pound frame, you might expect that he’s a daily fixture at the local gym — but no.
“I haven’t worked out for five or six months,” he vowed.
His gym is the great outdoors, working on pipeline maintenance with local contractor Rick Limb. Limb sponsored McNicol’s entry fee into the competition.
“The work is pretty physical,” said McNicol. “We do lots of jack hammering and the jack hammer weighs about 100 pounds.”
Event organizer, Robin Wright was not surprised to hear of McNicol’s training routine.
“Guys that work hard in their everyday lives have ‘working muscles’, compared to gym muscles,” said Wright, a resident of Kamloops. “A lot of guys these days don’t work like our fathers did.”
Thursday night, Wright hauled about two and a half tonnes of equipment into town for the event and he thanked the two locals that stuck around on Friday to help him reload the trailer.
“The people of Hope treated me really well,” he added. “I felt like a star!
“Karen and Joe Scalise of Muscleworks Gym had put so much work into the preparation, so I was able to just come and run the event.”
Hope Chamber of Commerce president, Victor Smith was still bubbling, a day after the event — which ran concurrently with the annual car show and other festivities.
“There about 4,000 people and the restaurants were full to the max,” said Smith. “With the help of the Black Press ads in papers down the Valley, we had people coming in from White Rock, Surrey and Abbotsford. They made Hope their destination for the day.
“The weather was so key,” said Smith of the day that started out gray but ended up warm and bright. “People were so ready for a nice day.”
“Robin was a good organizer and a hard worker,” he added. “It was a great first-time event.
“It was a neat thing to see Scott do so well too — against people who travel around to these events,” said Smith. “I’m sure he surprised everyone there.”
McNicol figured his toughest events were the first and last: the car lift and the Atlas stones.
The car was a Chevy Impala, which had been rigged with a frame on a fulcrum. Competitors had to lift the back end off the ground and hold it for as long as possible.
“That car was probably the heaviest thing I’ve ever had to lift,” thought McNicol. “I had the back tires about half a foot off the ground. I held it for 12 seconds but didn’t want to wear myself out. The best was 38 seconds, by the guy who finished second overall.”
With the Atlas stones, McNicol had to pick up round cement balls and place them on pedestals at head height. Starting weight was 190 pounds… on up to 335 pounds.
“On the first stone, I didn’t even think I could do it, until I got the technique. They had some tacky stuff to put on your arms, to give you grip. It really helped to grab the ball — but you had to use oil and WD-40 to get it off your skin afterwards,” said McNicol.
“The crowd was really great when I lifted the 300 pound stone,” he added. “The screams were pretty good and they helped me finish the lift. That was all I had left, though.”
Other events included the big-rig tow truck pull, 300-pound tire flip and an overhead lift circuit, which McNicol placed second in.
McNicol got quite a surprise when he was declared the overall winner — but this was soon corrected and he settled into the third place finish.
In the men’s heavy-weight class, Andrew McLean was first, followed by Brian Way and McNicol. The light-weight men’s was won by Adam Champion.
Three women took part, with Tina Augustynowicz taking top honours.
Will there be a Hope Strongman in 2012?
“I’d love to come back next year,” said Wright. “I’d bring my whole family and we’d make a weekend of it.”
To learn more about Wright’s organization, visit his site at BCEAA.org.