Europe Regional Report: Dane Isn’t Finnished

Published on Sat, 2013-05-18 10:12
Mike Warkentin

2012 champ Frederik Aegidius sits bracketed by Finns in the final Games spot.

View more photos here.


After the long test of will and endurance that started the day, athletes were “treated” to a short and brutal couplet at maximum intensity.

As most CrossFit athletes know, the long ones hurt, but the short ones also hurt. The pain is just a bit different.
On the agenda to close out Day 2: 21, 15, and 9 reps of heavy deadlifts and box jumps—a nice little kick to the posterior chain.  
Weaknesses are being revealed and punished, and Event 5 offered a stiff uppercut to any men who couldn’t rep out 315-lb. deadlifts. It also rewarded a few people who already had weaknesses exposed.
While the focus was on the final heat, it was Lee Howe who posted the best time of the day. His 3:58 was the only sub-four number of the day, and he recorded it in the third heat. Interestingly, the top three times came from the opening heats. Arni Freyr Bjarnason notched 4:16, and Carlos Albaladejo stopped the clock at 4:19. Each of them finished either 34th, 35th, or 36th in at least one event earlier in the competition, and only Howe holds a spot in the top 20 (12th).
While the overall leaders didn’t win the event, they finished right behind those who might have gotten lucky with a workout that played to their strengths. Mikko Aronpaa was fourth (4:20), Frederik Aegidius was fifth (4:26), Mikko Salo was sixth (4:27) and Lacee Kovacs was seventh (4:32). Reverse the order of that list and you’ve got the overall leaders of the competition.
While Salo was ahead for most of the event, he was passed in the last round of box jumps by his countryman Aronpaa, and Aegidius hit the mat a second before Salo. Kovacs made up a great deal of time with very speedy box jumps, and he only gave back one point to Salo, who trailed him by eight in the overall standings going into the event.
If you didn’t hear their names earlier in the weekend, Aronpaa and Aegidius are here to tell you it’s a long competition and their overall skills are going to get them back to the Games. 
Aegidius now holds third with 43 points, while Aronpaa is fourth with 46. With Kovacs and Salo 23 and 16 points ahead of the Dane, it seems likely that Aegidius and Aronpaa will be fighting over the same spot tomorrow. The two finished first and second last year. 
Aegidius was happy with his results in Event 5.
“I beat the guys I wanted to beat,” he said, noting that the competition is fiercer this year and any slip-up is incredibly costly.
The Games athlete is still feeling the effects of a back injury, and his time on the event was 45 seconds slower that it was in 2011. Aegidius said today marked only the sixth time he’s deadlifted since October.
Aegidius finished ninth in the chipper at the 2012 CrossFit Games, he’s excited for Event 6, which he considers the first chipper of the weekend.
“I don’t consider the hundreds a chipper,” he said. “It’s so long and miserable. Chippers are supposed to be fun.” 
Real fun, of course, would be doing another chipper at the Games, and Aegidius will know if he’ll have that pleasure in about 24 hours. 
Sam Briggs failed to win her fourth event of the weekend, but she certainly put a stranglehold on the top spot with a third-place finish on Event 5. All told, she’s won three events and finished third in the other two.
Top spot in Event 5 went to Martina Barbaro, who posted a 3:17 that was just ahead of Patricia Strenius’ 3:24. Briggs came in at 3:44. The world record for the event is still Annie Thorisdottir’s 2:57, set in 2011. 
All but one competitor finished the event under the time cap, though many were slowed significantly by deadlifts at 205 lb. Others treated the load on the bar like a warm-up weight and repped it out at speed.
Coming at the mid-to-late stages of the Regional, the couplet had a significant effect on the overall standings. Briggs is well ahead (first with 9 points), and Caroline Fryklund looks poised to claim a return trip to the Games if all goes well tomorrow (2nd with 27 points). Games competitor Thuridur Erla Helgadottir, however, tied for 27th and dropped from third overall to a distant fifth (49 points).
Leapfrogging the Icelander was Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir, who placed 11th in Event 5 and is now in the running for a return engagement in Carson in July (third with 34 points).
But it was Nicola Simpson whose strengths showed up at exactly the right time. The Brit took fourth on the couplet (3:50) and jumped to fourth—tied with Davidsdottir but ranked one spot below her due to a tiebreaker. 
Simpson didn’t even practice the workout in training. She only hits the events on game day.
“I don’t like doing things twice. That’s why I like CrossFit,” she laughed after the event.
Simpson actually did the workout at the 2011 Regional as part of the CrossFit Leeds team, though the weight was 185 in that event. Interestingly, she said it felt easier this time around.
She thought the short, heavy event was a nice way to round out the day.
“This morning was a grind. It was a mental battle. … It’s easy when you know something is going to be quick,” she said.
With a great shot at a Games spot, Simpson is looking forward to the final day and workouts she thinks she’ll enjoy.
“When I first saw the events, I thought, ‘Day 3 is going to be a fun day.’ We’ll see what today takes out of me.”
It’s joy and pain for CrossFit Malmo the Other Guys.
The pair of David Carlsson and Elin Hansson finished second in Event 5 but will go no further in the competition despite sitting in third place overall after Day 1. The reason? A knee injury to Pernilla Jansson, who hurt the joint in warm-up and has had knee issues in the past.
Jansson was placed last in the team chipper in the first event of the day and couldn’t compete. Malmo took 19th place and plummeted out of a Games spot. 
Malmo came back strong in Event 5 and was 13 seconds behind Thor, who won the event in 7:13. CrossFit Bath was third in 8:09.
“We’re bummed,” Hansson said. “We’re miserable, of course, because we were hoping to go to the Games.”
The pair had never done the workout together, and Hansson had never done rebounding box jumps. The play in the rubber floor encouraged her to get her bounce on, and Carlsson set her up for success with a great opening leg.
“I have pretty long arms, too,” he said. “That helps in the deadlift.”
While Event 6 is a partner workout, Jansson is the only female athlete who has not completed a paired event, and so Malmo’s competition is done. 
With Malmo certain to drop out of sixth spot, the spread from 14 to 29 points leaves but five teams with a reasonable shot at three Games spots. But when handstand push-ups show up, you never know who’s going to shine and who’s going to stumble, especially in a team setting.
Overall Standings
After four events, Kovacs is still on top overall with only 20 points. He hasn’t finished below seventh and will be looking to redeem himself after losing a Games spot on Day 3 of the 2012 event. Salo is sitting in second with 27 points, while Aegidius is third (43 points) and Aronpaa is fourth (46 points). 
Briggs is in cruise control of the women’s competition. Her 9 points are well ahead of Fryklund’s 23 and Davidsdottir and Simpson’s 34.
In the team standings, Thor (14 points) has pulled in front of CrossFit Nordic (16 points). CrossFit Bath (20 points) holds the final Games spot going into the last day of competition in Denmark. 
Due to time zones, Europe will be the first region to announce its representatives at the CrossFit Games.