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CIC Crane operators competition features New England's best

HHN-MR-13-Cranes Competition 065by Jon M. Casey

Equipment competitions like Skid Steer Rodeos and Backhoe Rodeos are commonplace throughout the construction and farming industries, however when it comes to crane operators and their ability to showcase their skills in a head-to-head competition, the opportunities are far more limited. Therefore, for the ten crane operators who participated in the Northeast #1 Regional Qualifier for the Crane Institute Crane Operator & Rigger Skills Competition on October 25, 2014 at Wood’s CRW Corp. in North Oxford, MA, their “moment in the sun” turned out to be the ideal setting for such a challenge.

According to information provided by CIC, new features of the 2014-2015 competition include:
•    Redesign of the course challenges and new scoring with strong emphasis on load control and skill level.
•    Nine opportunities for operators to qualify for the Championship, including one to be held at World of Concrete, Feb. 3-5, 2015, in Las Vegas.
•    The chance for operators to advance to the Championship round with $10,000 as the grand prize. Championship prizes are also awarded for 1st Runner Up and 2nd Runner Up.
•    Twenty top qualifiers from the CIC Regionals will advance to the Championship, to be held in Fall 2015, at a site yet to be determined.

The CIC Crane Operator & Rigger Skills Competition is designed to underscore the need for safe crane operation. This is the only crane operator recognition program of this scale in North America. The event provides a venue for the best crane operators to set the bar for all crane professionals. The first three regional competitions took place in October and November 2014. Regional hosts sponsored the travel and hotel expenses for the top two finalists competing at each of the Championships.

The Northeastern Regional event, hosted by Cranes 101 and held at Wood’s CRW was led by event host, Jay Sturm, president of Cranes 101, a national training school for crane operators. Sturm announced competition winners after a written test and a 3-event, hands-on, operational skills competition. When the competition was complete, Tyler Mayo, of BGM, Inc., Hardwick, VT, won the regional grand prize of $500 and a trip to the national finals in 2015. Second place finisher Craig Tanguay of Bristol, CT came away with a $200 prize and an expense paid trip to the national competition as well. Third place went to Paul Newcomb, Jr., who received $50.

Other competitors for the October 25 event included: Dave Sandel, Ronald Nielson, Shawn Barowy, William Harvey, Matthew Melchiori, Alan Marsh and Thomas Baxter.

Each operator had the choice of using either of two cranes, a National 1400A or a Link-Belt 8065, from which to perform their assigned challenges. With the booms set at 100-feet on either crane, the tasks were to move and position the unit with care and precision to fulfill each task. Operators competed in timed events that included the 2-barrel “Slam Dunk,” the Slalom and the Pipe lift and set.

The first challenge, the 2-barrel “Slam Dunk,” required operators to lower the crane’s headache ball into two, designated barrels, without touching the barrels. If the barrels were touched or moved in any way, judges added penalties to the scores.

The second event, “The Slalom,” consisted of the operator moving a weighted barrel, with a three-foot chain attached to the bottom of the barrel, in an “S” pattern, weaving the weighted barrel through the course barrels, without touching the barrels, and with the chain touching the ground while all this was going on.

The third challenge consisted of lifting a PVC pipe from within a confined area and raising it sufficiently to move it over a target barrel. Then, the operator was to “dip” the pipe into the target barrel until the mark painted on the pipe was within the lip of the barrel. From there, they were to remove the pipe and replace it to its original location within the confined cone markings.

Patience and skill were foremost considerations for all three events. In contrast to the rapid movements and abrupt actions that accompany a skid steer rodeo, the smooth, quite maneuverings of the cranes was quite the opposite. Organizers said, “The CIC Crane Operator & Rigger Skills Competition provides value to the industry by hosting competitions that focus on skills, safety and awareness of crane and rigging principles.” For more information visit or


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