Anyone have 100-lb. dumbbells?
When the Regional workouts were announced, many CrossFitters were familiar with all the movements except one: heavy dumbbell snatches. As expected, equipment retailers came to the rescue.
“I might sell about six pairs a year,” Dai Manuel of Fitness Town Burnaby said of the 100s. “We must have fielded … about 15 calls within the first two days. It was something stupid like that.”
As one of the few affiliates with a huge selection of dumbbells ranging from light to very heavy, Manuel actually had CrossFitters from other affiliates coming into Fitness Town CrossFit to play with his equipment. It’s all about being part of the community, and he was happy to help out as athletes tried to learn how to snatch a heavy dumbbell.
Many athletes just couldn’t lift the load, and there were DNFs in both the team and women’s competitions. When the top athletes hit the competition floor, it was clear they knew how to snatch heavy dumbbells — and quickly.
The men’s competition in Workout 3 was a two-horse race between Jeremy Meredith and Lucas Parker. Last year’s Games athletes were head-to-head throughout the snatches, with the faster Parker pulling ahead slightly on the run and the powerful Meredith making up reps on the dumbbell. Parker used an efficient power-snatch technique, while Meredith yanked the dumbbell and easily pressed it out.
The win came down to a final all-out sprint between the two, and Parker left the dumbbell slightly behind. After a red-lined race, Parker edged out his friend by only two seconds by somersaulting over the dumbbell and touching it to stop the clock.
“He’s more of a lumbering giant than a supple panther,” Parker said of having to chase Meredith on the runs. “So I thought I could catch him. He’s got me on raw strength.”
The somersault, it turns out, was strategic rather than celebratory.
“I planned that if I needed it, I would do it, and I felt he was pretty close behind me,” the bearded one said with a laugh.
The final heat also saw former Games competitors and Calgary buddies D.J. Wickham and Michael FitzGerald sprinting against each other. Wickham, who’s not known as a runner, dove about 10 feet to touch the dumbbell and was rewarded with a tie with FitzGerald at 4:17.
Parker’s 3:40 was tops, Meredith was 2nd with 3:42, and Jeremy Edwards was 3rd in 4:03, a mark he set in Heat 2.
Overall, Meredith and Parker have opened up a lead and will look to put clamps on the two spots in the CrossFit Games. Meredith is 1st with six points, Parker has seven in 2nd, and Steve Howell has 14 for 3rd. The next closest athlete is eight points back.
With half the workouts complete, Parker and Meredith might be able to book return trips to California with strong performances in the last three workouts.
The field was narrowed in Workout 3 as five women were eliminated after failing to complete a full round. Only 11 women completed the entire workout, and one of those, Jolaine Bloom, was only one second under the time cap after forgetting to touch her dumbbell to stop the time. She dove for it and made it just under the wire. Nancy McKeage was but one second on the other side of the time cap after diving a moment too late for her dumbbell. McKeage was all smiles afterward and will be back to fight in Workout 4.
Lindsey Ingram was the only athlete to finish the workout in Heat 1, and she posted a 7:13 time that stood up until the top women attacked the workout two heats later.
As expected, most of the top women had little trouble with the snatch, though a few of them were slowed significantly. Bloom had to grind through the dumbbell work, and Alicia Connors, who owns most heavy barbell events, was slow with a split snatch and did not complete the workout.
The race from gate to gate was between Angie Pye and Emily Beers, with Beers pulling ahead slightly toward the end. The CrossFit Vancouver crew was chanting Beers’ nickname — Eunice — as the powerful college rower and basketball player put a small gap between her and Pye on the last set of snatches.
Pye might be fast, but Beers was about 20 meters ahead on the run and pulled into the finish in 6:05, four seconds faster than Pye (6:09). Janine Walinksi was 3rd in 6:43.
After famously slipping her grip on the barbell last night and admitting she never uses the hook grip, Beers was asked if she used it on the dumbbells.
“No. I set up for one in warm-up and thought, ‘I’ve got to figure out this hook thing once and for all.’ … I chose to have nails to salvage any femininity with my hands … I’ve chosen beauty over the hook grip,” she explained.
Beers knew she wouldn’t be as technically sound as some of the women, but she relied on raw strength and power. She said she’s not always one to use the right tool for the job — think Allen key, slotted screw and a lot of elbow grease — but she’s more than happy to muscle it out.
“I’m not a finesse athlete. I was relying on power. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
As of Workout 3, Beers’ plan was working very well indeed. She’s scored only seven points to pull into 1st place, with Angie Pye a single point behind with eight. Janine Walinski is 3rd with 13 points, and Heather Gillespie is but one point behind her.
The women’s field is now down to 22 athetes who will attack the long triplet that will close out Day 2.
As is often the case in team competitions, success or failure rests heavily on the female members, and it was no different in Workout 3. Heavy dumbbells tested all athletes, but while the men had little trouble with the 100s for the most part, the women struggled in two of the three heats. Most men could muscle the lift if their technique wasn’t perfect, but few women could press out or stabilize a snatch if the pull wasn’t perfect.
In the first heat no teams finished the workout, and in Heat 2 only CrossFit Lions finished in an exciting sprint that left only 11 seconds to spare.
Heat 3 was a different story, and most boxes finished. CrossFit AI’s team of Dan Rogers, an individual Games competitor in 2010, and Jenn Swagar, who finished 23rd in the Open, won the event in 5:51, but they had to sprint to beat Matt Hilton and Rachel Siemens of CrossFit Taranis. The defending champs were six seconds behind in 5:57. CrossFit Reebok 306 was 3rd in 6:34.
In perhaps the best moment of the morning, finished Heat 3 competitors surrounded Lindsay Bell of Reebok CrossFit Ramsay and cheered her into the second round. Coach Ken Andrukow reported that Bell had never locked out a 70-lb. dumbbell snatch before the event.
Quin Siah of CrossFit Vancouver had similar problems in training but shone with a sharp split-snatch technique in Heat 2.
“Four days ago, I couldn’t get underneath it with power or squat with the dumbbells,” she said. “It was too difficult.”
After three events, CrossFit AI is in 1st (11 points), CrossFit Fraser Valley Centaurs is in 2nd (11 points, via tiebreaker), and Synergy Strength is in 3rd (12 points).
If Workout 2 was relatively brief for the top teams, Workout 3 promises to be a dirty grind that will test endurance on both barbell and gymnastic movements. Unless a team can pull away this afternoon, the team competition looks to go right down to the wire.
With half the competition complete, only a handful of athletes have a good shot at the Games, but anything can happen. Think Jason Khalipa in 2009 and hold on for a wild finish in Canada West.