POCATELLO, IDAHO, February 18 — In ’11, at that year’s Simplot Games high school meet, shot putter Ryan Crouser lofted his 12-pound (5.44kg) implement out to 77-2¾ (23.54), the still-standing indoor national record.
Precocious though he was, the Gresham, Oregon, senior could have had no inkling that just a day short of 12 years later he would come to the same meet and blast a 16-pounder a centimeter past his own awe-inspiring absolute WR. But that’s what Crouser did, reaching 76-8½ (23.38) on his first throw. From a foul-averse static start! (Read more about his competition tactic of opening with less dynamic technique here.)
Although Crouser entered the meet with the World Indoor Record, 74-10½ (22.82), as “kinda the top-end goal” and announced as much at a breakfast the day before, the massive heave astounded even the man himself.
He explained, “I’ve said in the past there’s two types of World Records: the ‘finally’ World Record where you do it and you just think, ‘Finally!’ That was for me, the 23.37 [WR of 76-8¼ at the Olympic Trials of ’21] in Eugene. I had five meets, six meets in three years that I would’ve bet money I was gonna break the World Record and I ended up not breaking it. So as soon as that shot left my hand in Eugene the first thing that crossed my mind was, ‘Finally!’
“And then today. The other kind [of WR] is a surprise where the athlete that does it is the most surprised person in the whole stadium cuz they weren’t expecting it. That’s how today was.
“I was going in thinking I‘d consistently be over 22m [72-2¼] with the goal of throwing a season best over 22.58 [74-1] and if everything’s really good get the indoor World Record. I wasn’t expecting to throw a lifetime personal best.
“But I guess for me sometimes when I have high expectations, I tend to get a little bit tight. I was loose and relaxed and I connected on that ball with a feeling that I really haven’t had in the past.
“So it has me really excited for outdoors if I can continue to add onto what I did today.”
After his monster to open his series, Crouser switched to the new technique he debuted at the Millrose Games, the innovation that’s already earned a name, the Crouser Slide. But when reached by phone as he awaited drug testers summoned for record certification, he admitted the clamor of his achievement left him temporarily unsure of the distances he reached on the day.
”That was my opener. It was an absolutely fantastic opener,” he said. “The last two in [rounds] 5 and 6 were in the upper 22s, 22.60s, 22.70s, right in there, I believe. It was so loud I could hardly hear them reading off the tape. From where I was on the field, the reader board was set up for the crowd. So I don’t even know exactly how far the last two were. The place was loud.”
His full series, including a 74-1¾ (22.60) throw in frame 5, appears below.
A Week That Defied Expectations
“It’s been a surprising week for me, to be honest,” Crouser said. “I was really happy with the opener at Millrose and then coming off of that I had kind of a down couple days of training, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It wasn’t terrible. Technically it felt very solid, but I just didn’t have a whole lot of power in the legs.
“So I took Thursday and Friday off. I’ve never in my entire career taken two days off before a competition so didn’t really know what to expect, but figured it would be better to rest instead of pushing the legs.
“So I guess maybe I learned I’ve been overtraining my whole career [laughs].”
Speaking at a pre-meet breakfast before Simplot, a meet in which some 2000 preps compete annually, Crouser had floated his thought that the WR might fall the next day. But which WR?
Afterwards he clarified, “I was kinda within striking distance as far as the indoor World Record being at 22.82 [74-10½]. So after opening at 22.58 [74-1] at Millrose, 30-ish centimeters away, I was like, ‘OK, that’s possible for sure.’ That was kinda the top end goal for today. And then warmups felt surprisingly good. The thing was, from the ring it was really hard to see the lines.
“My dad was here and I threw my second full [throw of the warmup] and I was like, ‘Man, was that only 20.20 meters?’
“He said, ‘No, that was 22.20.’ [Laughs] And oh, ‘That’s a lot better than I thought it was!’ Cuz I thought that was 20-meters-20. The legs and the body felt surprisingly good once I got going. I’ve just been kind of flat the last few days since leaving New York — just not sleeping, especially well, and so it was a surprise today.”
Switching Up Shots
Following the record, Crouser opted to throw with an unfamiliar shot — to protect the integrity of the mark.
“I only threw my shot in round 1,” he said. “They impounded it pending certification after round 1 simply because indoor shots have a tendency to blow up, unfortunately. You have the option to keep throwing it throughout the competition and then they certify it afterwards. But I busted five or six indoor balls this season already in training. So I didn’t want to risk having the shot break and then having it be uncertifiable, so they impounded it.
“I ended up throwing a hard shell, which I don’t train with. I don’t throw hard shells so I was missing them off my hand a little bit. But yeah, some of those later round throws were really good. Technically, I just missed the connection on the finish. So it has me excited to move to outdoors.”
The buzz around Crouser since the Millrose Games had centered on the new technique he is working on.
”In training I just called it ‘step across,’ he said, “but the Crouser Slide, that’s what the guys that I train with at Arkansas jokingly call it and that name seems to have kind of stuck. And I did that in the later rounds. The most surprising thing is the 23.38 came off of a static.
“But I’m excited cuz the slide in training is about 77cm [c30 inches or 2½ feet!] over my static. But then of course in a meet there’s a little bit more to go wrong. The slide was much better this week than it was at Millrose.
“I mean, it’s trying to make up a lot of ground. Look at how many times I’ve thrown with a standard technique. So it’s a matter of closing the gap and hopefully we can get that spread in the future [in meets] off of what I’ve seen in training.”
— Results —
Pocatello, Idaho, February 18—
SP: 1. Ryan Crouser (Nike) 76-8½ (23.38) WR, AR (old records 74-10½/22.82 Crouser ’21) absolute WR (old record 76-8¼/23.37 Crouser ‘21) (WL)
(76-8½, 73-9, f, 72-3¾, 74-1¾ [x, =7 W; x, =7 A], 73-½) (23.38, 22.48, f, 22.04, 22.60, 22.26);
2. *Zack Ramos (IdSt) 61-0 (18.59) PR; 3. **Axel Sanchez (IdSt) 55-1½ (16.80).