Okanagan lifters swing into top spots at West Coast Classic Championships
Kathryn Golbeck, Charlie Fornelli and Slava Petlitsa of the Okanagan Valley Kettlebells earned top finishes in the International Union of Kettlebell Lifting West Coast Classic Kettlebell Championships in San Francisco recently.
Kettlebell lifts are similar to barbell in the Olympics but performed with one or two kettlebells and for a longer period of time. For a 10-minute continuous set, the lifter completes as many repetitions possible without putting the weights down.
The first lift is the kettlebell jerk. Women lift one kettlebell, switching hands once, while men lift two. The second lift is the one-arm kettlebell snatch. During this set, men and women switch hands once. The third lift is the clean and jerk. Again, women lift one kettlebell, switching hands once and men lift two. The first two lifts (jerk and snatch) comprise the biathlon event with the snatch only and clean and jerks as the other two main events. Fornelli won the biathlon (2x32-kilogram) event and second overall in the clean and jerk (2x32kg). He said it was a great competition and one of the more competitive ones he has been in. His goal was to climb the rank system, which Fornelli said is similar to athletes earning belts in martial arts. Fornelli made the rank of master of sport, which is the second highest and he is the only male to hold it twice. Fornelli became the first-ever Canadian male lifter to officially achieve the rank Master of Sport in the biathlon event.
“It is a skill,” said Fornelli.
While Fornelli isn’t a newcomer, he always gets nervous.
“Part of that is from knowing what you’re going to go through,” he said.
Golbeck’s debut in a large event resulted in her finishing first in her weight category (20-kg) in the biathlon, second in her kettlebell weight (20-kg) category in the clean and jerk, and second overall in the snatch only (24-kg) event.
“It was a higher calibre event and it makes you push harder,” said Golbeck, a mother of two.
Golbeck is satisfied with what she accomplished since she trained hard towards this for four years.
“It’s not an easy sport,” she said. “It was an awesome experience and I learned a lot.”
Golbeck was glad to improve her numbers and said being in that environment was exciting.
“It’s satisfying to have goals to achieve,” said Golbeck, who reached the rank candidate for master of sport in both the biathlon and clean and jerk event.
Petlitsa also finished first in the kettlebell weight (2 x 28kg) category in the clean and jerk event. On top of their competition placings, Fornelli, Golbeck and Petlitsa also achieved high-level rankings, which are done when a lifter meets a required number of repetitions for an event based on the standards of the governing association. Petlitsa also achieved the rank candidate for master of sport in the clean and jerk event.
Fornelli, an exercise specialist with a degree in kinesiology, said the sport gives people a goal and provides something to strive for. He introduced Golbeck and Petlitsa to the sport as he coaches and trains with them. He was inspired by watching Russian lifters do 10 times more than others. Anton Anasenko, 11-time world champion and record holder from Russia (the home of kettlebell sport) was a special guest.
“Having a Russian champ was cool,” said Fornelli.
IUKL West Coast Classic Kettlebell Championships had athletes from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil, Australia, Canada and the U.S.
They have travelled to competitions in Victoria, Seattle, Washington and now San Francisco. Fornelli has also competed in Chicago and New York.