The Fittest on Earth have been crowned: Rich Froning Jr. and Annie Thorisdottir are the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games champions.
Both finished second last year and went into the final three-part event of the competition with a lead. The crowns were theirs to lose, but neither faltered on the way to the top of the podium.
In the last workout, called "The End," the women tore through a mix of challenges. In the first 3-minute portion, Event 8, Cheryl Brost and Angie Pye were the only ones to get to toes-to-bar before the time ran out, with Pye winning the heat.
Camille LeBlanc Bazinet appeared to have trouble with her rower in Event 9, causing her to start behind the rest of the women. She dissolved into tears with her face in her hands, but got back on the rower to continue the workout. Cheryl Brost finished 1st, with the best time overall for both heats.
After finishing the final workout in her 1st trip to the Games, crowd favorite Annie Sakamoto had a mile-wide grin on her face as she gave volunteers and judges standing in the tunnel hugs and high-fives. “It was awesome,” Sakamoto said. “I’m mad at myself for not having done it before.”
Asked why she didn’t, the original Nasty Girl admitted, “I was scared.”
She said the crowd’s support was “humbling and amazing.” Sakamoto said she only did 7 weeks of training to prepare, though she’s been CrossFitting since the days when CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman ran a small box in Santa Cruz, Calif., about 7 years ago.
In the final heat, Rebecca Voigt got first to the toes-to-bars, winning Event 8 and beating her training partner Kristan Clever, who struggled with the height of the wall ball shots.
The final event saw Thorisdottir and Foucher pull ahead on the box jumps. Then Samantha Briggs took the lead, finishing the sled pull that concluded the event to take 1st in the event with a time of 13:06.
“It was harder than I thought it was going to be,” she said of the sled pull. “Your grip strength to move it is just gone, especially after everything else that you've just done.”
Voigt — who was faster than most of the women on the toes-to-bar movement — and Thorisdottir battled it out for 2nd in this event, with Voigt pulling ahead. Voigt normally gets beat by Clever in training, so Voigt’s victory here was a surprise. She nabbed 3rd place overall, even after entering the final events in 5th. After she finished, Briggs coached Clever on how to improve her pull, helping the defending champ take 4th in this event.
Though she didn’t win any of the final events, Thorisdottir’s strong and consistent performance throughout the 3 days won her the title Fittest Woman on earth, and Clever took 2nd. Voigt was 3rd.
Defending champ Graham Holmberg took the overall win in the 1st heat of Event 8 and stayed ahead in Event 9, getting to the burpees well before the other competitors. Pat Barber fell well behind, doing his wall ball shots in singles. Wall balls are one of Khalipa’s favorite exercises, so he quickly moved to the lead in Event 10. Barber picked up his game to take the lead, getting first to the box jumps, sumo deadlift high pulls, and burpees. In a surprising upset, Barber’s sled pulled ahead of Khalipa near the finish to win the heat in 11:11. The crowd went crazy with excitement for the NorCal boy who now lives in New Zealand.
“It feels so good for it to be over, to finish on something like that,” Barber said after the event. He said his strategy was to rest on Round 2 and go all out on Round 3. “I’m stoked everything’s over,” he said, then jokingly added that he’s going to Disneyland.
In the final men’s showdown, Froning took a slight lead, but Blair Morrison pulled ahead to finish the 2 reps ahead in the heat. Froning won Event 9 and all but secured his title.
Spencer Hendel got first to the wall balls in Event 10, the last event of the Games. Bridges, the smallest of the 6 men, beat Morrison and Froning off the wall-ball, a movement that favors taller athletes. Perhaps knowing he had the win secured, Froning slowed down, leaving Smith and Bridges to battle it out.
Going into Events 8, 9, and 10, Bridges and Smith were fighting for 2nd and 3rd, a $25,000 difference between the two spots. Smith’s 11th- and 9th-place finishes in Events 9 and 10 put him in too deep a hole to catch up to Bridges, even though he won his heat in 11:24. (The top time for this event went to Barber.)
Smith started to pull his sled ahead when it hit the rig, and emcee Travis Bagent looked at the judges before he moved the sled away from the obstacle. Smith won Event 10 with a time of 11:24, Bridges in 2nd with 12:09.
Even though Froning finished the final event in 8th place, he won 1st overall by 93 points.
After winning the title, Fittest on Earth, Froning said the workout was tremendously challenging. “It sucked. It was pretty horrible,” he said.
Froning said the sled pull was particularly miserable. “I had no core left, no arms left. And we did a little bit of pulling this weekend,” he said with a laugh.
Froning said he was “trying to grind through it” and heard his friends and family in the stands. “It was pretty awesome. It was surreal.”
CrossFit New England won every event at the North East Regional, but only won 1 event at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games. Luckily, it was the one that mattered.
CFNE clearly made all the right choices and grabbed the lead early in the winner-take-all final. They didn’t give it up and were well ahead of the other teams after Mel Ockerby, who narrowly missed qualifying as an individual, ripped out a hot Fran that essentially sealed the deal for the East Coast box.
The team of Derek Mohamed ("Grace"), Mat Frankel ("Karen"), James Hobart ("Diane"), Mel Ockerby ("Fran"), Lisa Mikkelsen ("Elizabeth"), Sonia Cormier ("Isabel"), and alternates Ali Le Blanc and Jasan Caldas was unstoppable but didn’t let up until the judge counted the final wall-ball shot.
The Masters had their final event in the stadium in the middle of the day, and the champions are as follows:
45-50: Scott DeTore and Susan Habbe
50-55: Gord Mackinnon and Mary Beth Litsheim
55-60: Steve Anderson and Shelley Noyce
60-plus: Greg Walker and Betsy Finley
For complete results, visit the CrossFit Games scoreboard:http://games.crossfit.com/finals/scoreboard.