After becoming the first woman in the history of her weight class to squat more than 600 pounds, Alaska powerlifter Natalie Hanson stuck out her tongue, looked to see if her lift was legal and then broke into a grin as she raised her arms in victory Friday.
Hanson was one of two Anchorage women who lifted themselves into the world record book this week at the International Powerlifting Federation's open world championships in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
Hanson, 27, and Priscilla Ribic, 44, both set a pair of world records and both captured gold medals at the competition.
Together, they lifted nearly 3,000 pounds — Hanson totaled 1,479 to win the 185-pound weight class, and Ribic totaled 1,442 to win the 159-pound weight class.
Both totals set IPF world records. Hanson also set a world record in the squat, and Ribic set one in the deadlift.
"Age is just a number people!" Ribic, who turns 45 next week, posted on Facebook.
Ryan Carrillo, USA Powerlifting's Alaka state chairman, said it's the first time two Alaskans have won open-class championships at the same IPF meet.
For Ribic, winning world titles is nothing new. This is her eighth open world title and her 17th overall, with the others coming in masters competition.
For Hanson, the gold medal is her first.
"For Natalie, it is the pinnacle for her," Carrillo said. "You don't often see a woman who's 27 winning a world championship. Usually you're looking at people 10 years older, so that's a big deal."
Hanson became the first 185-pound woman to squat more than 600 pounds at the world meet. The previous record was 591 pounds (268 kg), set by Ukraine's Olena Kozlova.
With parents Rick and Kathy Hanson of Bethel watching from the audience, Hanson ducked under the bar while surrounded by five spotters. She squatted more than three times her weight — 273.5 kilos, or 603 pounds.
"It's only been about 12 hours, so I'm still soaking it all in!" Hanson said in a Facebook message. "I actually met my expectations. I knew going into this meet that I was capable of winning and breaking the squat and total world records, but I had to perform exceptionally well in order to do it.
"I had squatted just shy of what I did today in training a couple of weeks ago when I did 270kg and I had benched and deadlifted more than what I did today."
Hanson added lifts of 408 pounds (185 kg) in the bench press and 468.5 pounds (212.5 kg) in the deadlift to win the gold medal. Her total weight eclipsed the previous world record, held by Kozlova, by half a kilogram.
She said she managed to stay calm despite the big-meet pressure.
"It takes a lot to feel great on meet day," Hanson said. "Recovering from traveling across the world is the first crucial piece, then successfully cutting/making weight.
"Finally, staying calm on the biggest stage in the sport is probably the hardest part. It is easy to get caught up in the high-level competitors all around you and the intensity of the meet, but it is important that you don't let that happen."
Hanson's gold-medal performance came a day after Ribic's.
In claiming her victory, Ribic set a world record of 549 pounds (249 kg) in the deadlift. She added a lifts of 529 pounds (240 kg) in the squat and 364 pounds (165 kg) in the bench press.
Ribic's deadlift record was half a kilogram better than the previous mark of 548 pounds, set by Norway's Marta Elverum. Her total weight of 1,442 pounds broke her own record of 1,417.
"Priscilla's performances always motivate me," Hanson said. "She continues to raise the bar for herself and her competition every meet, even after being at this for 20 years, and always competes with such poise.
"Her legacy is unlike any other person's in the sport of powerlifting."