The United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) held its Winter Classic on Saturday at the Niagara Community Church on Cayuga Drive in Niagara Falls.
The events consisted of several different weight and age groups. Three lifts, a squat, bench, and deadlift are presented to a panel of judges who research a range of attributes in each lift.
Alex Kovacs was one of 50 powerlifters in the competition and was competing in his first sanctioned competition at the Winter Classic. He competed at a weight of 242 pounds in the junior category, which is for 20-23 year olds. He is currently studying biochemistry at Niagara University and hopes to move on to medical school once his final year is completed. Kovacs grew up on Grand Island.
âI think I’m a competitor and I think that’s something that really drives me to compete in powerlifting,â Kovacs said. âI just like to compete. Work hard every day and see tangible results.
A former baseball catcher, Kovacs dislocated his shoulder with a pre-existing tear as he hit a home run in his senior year of high school and needed surgery. After the operation, during the rehabilitation process, Kovacs said he lost his joy in playing and “hung up his crampons”. But he never lost the taste for competition.
âIt’s a little different because you’re basically competing against yourself,â Kovacs said. “Everyone supports you, even people you don’t know, it’s a pretty unique sport, I think the community is quite small and because of that it’s very tight-knit and supportive.”
Adam Ferchen trains Kovacs in his gym, Elite Fitness & Personal Training, but he is also the director of some of the competitions, including the Winter Classic.
âI had been competing for about seven years and had a passion for the sport, but had no idea how to organize an event, so I ended up buying all this equipment and organized my first competition in July 2013 at Mickey Mouse. Rats, âFerchen said. âWe’re doing five in the Buffalo / Niagara area, one in Clifton Park, towards Albany. These are the six that I run, and then there are two more dating directors in the state.
Ferchen is also a certified powerlifting judge and explained what he looks for in a competition.
âWe have three judges throughout the competition on the platform,â Ferchen said. âThe way the lifting is done has to be up to standard. The equipment you wear, you must wear tank top, tank top t-shirt, correct underwear. If someone comes in and is wearing ironing shorts, we need to be aware of this. There is illegal material. There are many causes of disqualification for each lift.
Ferchen also noted that the PACU has just started drug testing and is hosting the first drug testing competition in Clifton Park for the state championships.
âThey did it the way they offer drug tested and drug-free competitions,â Ferchen said. âSo it’s relatively new. There’s no failing drug tests or anything.
For more information, visit uspa.net/national_events.html.