Powerlifter Natalie Hanson has broken a world record. Friday morning, the former Bethel resident squatted 603 pounds in the women’s 185 pound weight class at the World Open Powerlifting Championship in the Czech Republic. The record is more than three times Hanson’s body weight.
In a video of the record breaking squat, Hanson checks her lifting vest and slaps her thighs. She marches to the bar, grips it with both hands, and swings her body beneath. She arranges her feet, steadies herself, looks up, and stands, lifting across her shoulder blades hundreds of pounds. Five big men form a semicircle and raise their arms to spot. Hanson steps back one, two, three steps. She bends her knees and in a sudden thrust, she straightens her legs, pushing up the 603 pounds.
A champion, Hanson sticks out her tongue, places the bar on the stand, and throws both fists up in victory.
Later, in another video, the American national anthem plays as Hanson takes her place on the championship podium, an American flag draped over her shoulders and a gold medal around her neck. On her right stands the second place lifter from Ukraine and on her left, the third place lifter from Norway. Hanson competed against women from 11 countries and four continents.
The competition to establish the world’s strongest women powerlifters began at 10 a.m. Friday in the Czech Republic; it was midnight in Alaska. Each athlete lifted three times in each event, upping their weight with each lift in the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Hanson's final lifts totaled 1,479 pounds: squatting 603 pounds, bench pressing 408 pounds, and deadlifting 468 pounds.
Though this is the first time Hanson has officially set the world record in the squat, she broke the unofficial world record in May of this year by squatting a massive 595 pounds. Hanson herself weighs 185 pounds and stands 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Hanson grew up in Bethel and lives and trains in Anchorage. She’s a coach and co-founder of the powerlifting company Beefpuff Barbell, and she is the Executive Director of Nuvista Light and Electric Cooperative, a co-op that searches for energy solutions for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.