Block / Keg Toss
Based to a large extent on the Highland Games ‘weight-for-height’ event, the block or keg toss is an event which relies on a combination of power, technique and explosiveness. In 1993 and 1996, in Orange and Mauritius respectively, rectangular concrete blocks were used, weighing 20kgs each. The basic principle here was a simple one; to try and clear a wall with each throw. The height of the wall then increased for each athlete when they had successfully cleared it. If they failed at the height three times, they are eliminated. For the block toss, it was the height of the wall which altered, but the block weight remained the same. As such, it was judged on height, and not the time taken to complete the throws. The Finn Riku Kiri was always a person to watch in this event, taking second place in 1993, and first in 1996. In fact, during WSM 1996 when Magnus ver Magnusson and Gerrit Badenhorst were interviewed prior to the block toss about the outcome of the event, both agreed that Kiri would take the victory, which he duly did.
Today, the block toss has been replaced by the keg toss. Unlike in the block throw, the keg toss features a number of kegs, each of which has to be thrown over a fixed height in the fastest time possible. In the heats of the 2006 WSM, there were 10 kegs in all, each weighing approximately 27kgs, with the height of the bar set at 14 feet 6 inches (almost 4.5 metres) and a time limit of 90 seconds. Although a number of competitors were able to launch all ten kegs over the bar, it was the Norwegian Arild Haugen who posted the fastest time of all of the heats, registering 42.8 seconds.
In the 2008 heats, the keg toss had altered again. The number of kegs was reduced from ten down to eight, and their design had altered so that they were shorter and denser. The time limit was set at 75 seconds. Effectively there were 4 different keg weights, with the first two at 15kgs, the next pair at 17kgs, and then 20kgs and 22 kgs respectively. However, though the kegs were lighter than previously, the height of the wall had been increased to 16 feet 6 inches, which more than offset any weight reduction. In the 2009 heats, the height of the wall remained as in 2008, but the initial pair of 15kg kegs had been replaced by two which weighed 17kgs. This meant that the four pairs of kegs now started at 17kgs, followed by 20kgs, 22 kgs and finally 24kgs. The fastest man in the heats was the Icelander Stefan Solvi Petursson, who successfully completed all eight kegs in a blistering time of 23.53 seconds.
Whether it is blocks or kegs which are being tossed the end result is always that it is the man with the technique, speed and explosiveness who will come out at the head of affairs.
July 4, 2011 | by WSM