Just got back yesterday from Flint, Michigan - site of the IKFF/NAKF National Kettlebell Competition. It was a great experience. I managed to hit numbers adequate enough not to embarrass myself, while learning a few things and meeting some very nice people.
The meet weigh-ins started promptly at 8:00 am and competition got started at about 10:30. Events held were:
*short cycle clean & jerk
*long cycle clean & jerk
*ultimate clean & jerk (10:00 w. 53lb kettlebell for women, 88lb kettlebell for men)
It was a huge event and many of the stars of American kettlebell sport turned out to watch or compete - Valery Federenko, Catherine Imes, Ken Blackburn, Marty Farrell, Scott Helsley, and Andrew Durniat among many others. There were a lot of young people competing and that bodes well for the future of the sport. I was tremendously impressed with how tough the competitors were. One team, the Ice Chamber, led by gym-owner/coaches Steve and Maya, had a team of young beauties that lasted 10 minutes in their events. I, on the other hand, used about 1:00 to finish my jerks, and 4:00 for the snatches - lots of room to grow, I guess.
My training for the competition was reasonable. I spent a lot of time working on technique and (although it didn't show) conditioning. For future competitions, I'll continue to work on these and holding the bells in the rack positions (at the chest and overhead). Right now though, I'm looking forward to returning to the power rack and doing some plain old lower rep barbell work. As I build my strength back up, I'll continue to use the beep test from time to time to maintain conditioning.
One of the things at a kettlebell competition that might strike people who come from a powerlifting background was the absence of blaring heavy metal, screaming, ammonia, supportive equipment, and pre-lift slapping. Sure, there was grunting and a combination of kiai+pained yelps as people strained to eek out a few more reps, but for the most part it was QUIET and I liked it.
Prizes were simple medals and plaques. No swords, axes, or 3 foot tall trophies that eventually end up being sold for a couple bucks at a garage sale. I was very impressed that prizes, including a photoshopped picture of Scott Helsley and hundreds of dollars in DVDs were raffled off for the contestants.
Looking at the amount of time and money invested in meet preparation, I think it would be tough to make any kind of a profit - with that, it's clear that directing a meet like this is a labor of love. Many kudos to Ken Blackburn for putting it all together and all the people that volunteered their time and resources to make it possible.