The best shot putter in history breaks the world record with a new technique at the Los Angeles Grand Prix

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 27: Ryan Crouser competes in the shot put during the 2023 USATF LA Grand Prix.

Ryan Crouser competes in the shot put during the Los Angeles Grand Prix at UCLA’s Drake Stadium on Saturday. Crouser broke his own world record in the discipline, using a new throwing technique that some call the “Crouser Slide”. (Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

Ryan Crouser has an engineering background, a master’s degree in finance, a nightlife schedule and a curiosity to innovate that doesn’t keep him idle for long. It’s not unusual, he said, for his sparring partner to return for another week of training, only to have Crouser giddily ask him to try a new exercise he spent the weekend. -end to test.

“Every time he’s like, ‘Not yet,'” Crouser said.

Self-taught and with little historical precedent to draw upon to guide himself as a dominant and tall pitcher – he is 6ft 7in – using a spinning technique, he was left to build his own style of throwing. He had tried several before, without success. Then, one night last December, around 10 p.m., his tinkering led to what he called a “lightbulb moment.” Inside the barn’s 7-foot-diameter shot put ring, Crouser moved to where he started his spin a little farther to the right. This broadened his first step and added a new stage in his approach.

“Longer pitch, longer radius, longer acceleration path on the ball,” Crouser said.

He calls it the “step by step”. Others have dubbed it the “Crouser Slide”. Perhaps, based on his performance in front of 7,249 fans at UCLA’s Drake Stadium during Saturday’s Los Angeles Grand Prix, that might be the best description: the greatest shot putter in history. just found a way to improve.

Crouser’s new technique “clicked” for the first time in a competition, and it resulted in a throw of 77 feet, 3¾ inches, about seven inches longer than Crouser’s previous world record set in 2021.

“I’m really excited because he didn’t seem polite,” Crouser said. “I felt like I had a ton of power and grabbed a big one, but there’s still a lot more.”

Of Crouser’s 10 longest pitches before Saturday, only two had been in May or before. Crouser spends an entire year training to peak for about 10 days, timed around major meets, so such a big throw, so early in the schedule, could bode well for big things leading up to the U.S. Championships in July and at the August World Championship, where Crouser will look to defend his title from last year.

A self-proclaimed mathematician and physicist, Crouser doesn’t believe there’s a limit to how far the 16-pound metal ball can be thrown. But he knows that the variables will decide: release point, velocity, training, technique and confidence.

“I think 11:70 p.m. [meters] is very possible and a conservative estimate,” said Crouser, whose record throw was 23.56 yards. “I think 24 is humanly possible, that’s just when you play with magic and hope to catch lightning in a bottle.”

USA Track & Field put a big budget into Saturday’s encounter in its own hopes of capturing its own defining moment.

The sport is often beset by concerns over its popularity, or lack thereof, and pitching a deep-field encounter in Los Angeles has been a top priority for the governing body as it plotted a strategic plan to use the Games 2028 Olympics as a springboard for its relevance. The meeting, which occupied about three quarters of the stands, was also followed by a concert.

For different reasons, but largely because of health precautions, several top athletes once billed to compete on Saturday have pulled out in the days and weeks prior, including Rai Benjamin, Michael Norman, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Athing Mu , all of whom train in Los Angeles and were reportedly draws. Those who showed up included Mondo Duplantis, the world record pole vaulter who won at 19 feet, 4 ¾ inches.

Sha’Carri Richardson has delivered another highly anticipated reason to watch. The sprinter ran a heavily wind-assisted 10.57 in the 100 meters in April and a legal, world-leading 10.76 on May 5. Just two hundredths of a second behind Richardson on this year’s list of world best times was Marie-Josée Ta Lou. The two won their qualifying heats on Saturday but did not make it to the final, with Aleia Hobbs leaving a literal void with their empty lanes in a signature event at the peak of NBC’s national broadcast window.

A USATF spokesperson said the cramps led Richardson to withdraw. Hobbs did not run as a precaution after experiencing knee pain during warm-up for the final, his agency said.

Sha'Carri Richardson, center, competes in the 100 meters at the Los Angeles Grand Prix at UCLA's Drake Stadium.

Sha’Carri Richardson, center, competes in a 100-meter qualifying round at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday. (Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

Richardson’s absence from a key US meet with high exposure followed two tumultuous years in which she became one of the few track and field athletes to make the cross-cultural leap to relevance in 2021 by winning for the first time. the US Olympic trials with dyed auburn hair. , ornate fingernails and personality of what you see is what you get, then being banned from competing in Tokyo after testing positive for marijuana. She vowed to win at the world championships the following summer, but did not even qualify for the competition.

“I keep saying it. I’m not back – I’m better,” Richardson said on Friday. “Because for the past three years I’ve shown you all what I can do. It was just me getting in my way.

The spotlight is back on Richardson, now for his fast times. She said she learned to avoid media coverage of her.

“Last year I was angry,” she told reporters on Friday. “I used to see red everywhere I went, and I was going to make sure everyone felt it too. Now I’m at a point where I see myself. And I want everyone to see me everywhere I go. go.”

They saw her come back on Saturday, for 10.90 seconds.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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