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Mother and daughter use strength to win international competitions

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:02:28 AM MST   Updated On: Aug 22 2013 11:26:14 PM MDT

Terri Sipes and Kathleen Winters may be two of the strongest women you'll ever meet, but you may not be able to tell just by looking at them.

It was like any other day at Bridger Crossfit. Kathleen, Terri's daughter came first, smiling as she began lacing up her shoes. Her mother not far behind with that same smile as they began to joke with each other. Neither looking like a dominant powerlifter or bodybuilder as many would perceive Olympic lifters.

Then it was as if they flipped a switch, loading up plates on to the bar, beginning to warm up their bodies for heavy lifting.

Terri just returned from a trip to Turin, Italy where she competed in the the World Masters Competition. She came home not only with the gold medal, but a new World Record for her age group in her Snatch lift as well.

Kathleen just performed at the Junior PanAms in Chile five days prior and won a bronze medal in her weight class- not bad for two lifters who just began doing Crossfit and Olympic lifting a few years ago in Bozeman.

"It was great ," Terri said. "I was lucky and the time worked just right and Katie had just come off from a great, big, wonderful meet herself. So it happened for both of us at the same time."

Between their warm-up sets at the gym, Terri laughed saying they both began in gymnastics, and performed quite well. Then they decided to try something else. That something else was Crossfit. Once they realized how dominant they were in the Olympic style lifts incorporated into the Crossfit workouts, the two immediately set their sight on competitive events, which began on quite a rocky road.

"To qualify for Worlds we need to go to a sanctioned meet," said Terri. "We asked Katie to come along as a coach. Week out from the meet, I break my ankle, requiring surgery. I said, 'Katie you should lift in my place, we already paid for the spot.' She ended up qualifying for the American Open and the Junior PanAms and qualifed for Junior Nationals and at that point she went 'wow, I didn't know I was that good.' She went on to the American open and took bronze and that got the Olympic Coach attention," Terri said with a smile as any proud mother would.

"The World's coach actually told me, 'I think you're good enough to compete and you know have a shot at the team," said Kathleen. "I was like really? I don't think so. I thought  I was just good in Montana but he's like, 'nope you're great."

The duo wanted to share their passion for Olympic lifting with others in Montana, creating the Montana Weight Lifting Club out of the Bridger Crossfit West facility. You not only learn under the guidance of the mother and daughter team, but former USA Weightlifting Coach Steve Gough and two-time USA Olympian Mike Karchut.

"We are really trying to build Olympic weight lifting in Montana," Terri said "We do see a ton of potential. We have a great facility. That's all we do at Team Montana is Olympic weight lifting."

"We decided to create a Team Montana weight lifting club to just try and get more people involved," said Kathleen. "There's a lot of opportunity out there for people."

If you think you have what it takes, you can try and train with some of the strongest women in Montana. They encourage you to head to Team Montana Weight Lifting Club on Facebook or head to Bridger Crossfit West and check it out. As for their naysayers, well, they certainly have a sense of humor.

"My boyfriend always makes fun of me," Kathleen said as she laughed. "Saying 'can't carry the vacuum up the stairs' and he's like, 'aren't you a weight lifter?"