The Swiss have entered the fray.
If onlookers thought 2014 might be the year a British team qualifies for the Games, two teams from Switzerland beg to differ. Both CrossFit Basel and CrossFit Turicum sat in the top five after Day 1, and only three points separated third from fifth.
At the head of the board was CrossFit Sport, who earned a first and two seconds on Day 1 to build 10-point lead over second-place Team Butcher’s Garage—the hometown favorites.
Day 2 is a day of destiny at the regional: perform well and you can put yourself in prime position to claim a Games spot. Underperform even slightly and Games hopes vanish completely.
On the agenda, one event for the women, one event for the men, and one event for all six members, with the latter serving up strict handstand push-ups and the possibility of a harsh penalty for missed reps.
Across four regionals in Week 1, only 14 trios were able to finish Event 4, a couplet of medium-heavy thrusters and rope climbs for the female team members. In Australia earlier in the day, six teams had logged all reps to bring the total to 20 worldwide, and Europe’s best teams were looking to add to that number and move up the Leaderboard.
In the first heat, no teams finished all reps under 10 minutes, though Team CFH Iceland left only nine reps on the floor. In Heat 2, CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben was the first club to put a footprint on the finish mats. The Swedish team clocked in at 9:55.
When top teams started the event, the speed increased dramatically as a dozen yellow plates bobbed up and down across the floor as if on pistons.
CrossFit Sport and Team DC were the first to finish the thrusters, but Sport returned to the bar first as “Enter Sandman” throbbed through the rapidly filling Super Arena. Sport had 10 thrusters down before CrossFit Basel and a flood of others picked up their bars.
Sport continued to pull away by dividing the work carefully between athletes. Thuridur Erla Helgadottir did doubles on the rope, while teammates Frída Ammendrup and Ingunn Ludviksdottir performed one climb each.
“Thuri was doing doubles,” said team member James Goulden, a Brit who has lived in Iceland for 10 years. “She’s the small girl that’s freakishly strong.”
Indeed, Helgadottir was up the rope with a very quick three pulls before descending quickly, steadying the rope for a moment and heading back up.
The strategy was a success, and Sport completed all reps in 9:45 to post the best time of the day. Third was shared by Team CrossFit Nordic and CrossFit Stödin, who were even with five incomplete reps for a time of 10:05.
Immediately after Event 4 ended, the male halves of the teams started Event 5, which was the same couplet with a heavier barbell.
In Event 5, Team CFS (CrossFit Asano in Norway) threw down 8:30 in the second heat and wore a target when the top teams picked up the bar in Heat 3.
In the final group, most of the top male teams chose to finish a thruster, lower the bar to the back and pass it to a teammate instead of making the exchange in the front.
True to a promise made yesterday, Team DC raced out to a small lead over Team Butcher’s Garage, and they held the lead and got two thrusters down in Round 2 before KultureFit—CrossFit Toulouse had their bar aloft.
Team DC’s Tom Burnell chose to go Rich Froning 2010 on the rope climbs by relying on strength and declining to use his legs.
“Faster for me,” he said. “The guys are a bit more technical with their legs.”
DC’s lead evaporated late in the event. In a dramatic finish, KultureFit—CrossFit Toulouse, CrossFit by the Mill, Team Tegen and CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben all passed Team DC on the final climbs.
CrossFit Sport took 11th (9:12), and its males borrowed the strategy that had worked for the females. Goulden let teammates Dadi Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson and David Bjornsson handle more climbing, while he tried to carry a greater load on the bar.
“My technique is kind of poor on rope climbs. Same with Frída,” he said. “I’m the strongest on the thruster and weakest in the rope climb. Same with Frída … so we gave more reps to (the ones) who were stronger in the thruster.”
After Events 4 and 5, CrossFit Sport had opened up a 15-point lead over Team Tegen. Goulden said the team isn’t sure about Event 6 but is “quite confident” it will do well in the overhead squats in Event 8.
Team Event 4 Results (Women)
1. CrossFit Sport (9:45)
2. CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben (9:55)
3. CrossFit Stödin (10:05)
4. Team CrossFit Nordic (10:05)
Team Event 5 Results (Men)
1. Team CFS (8:30)
2. KultureFit—CrossFit Toulouse (8:39)
3. CrossFit by the Mill (8:46)
If Event 4 had been tough on teams around the world, Event 6 had been meaner still. Only 10 teams in five regions had finished the event that featured strict handstand push-ups for all six athletes.
Most of the males were able to move through the work without too much difficulty, but the event hinged on the performance of the females, who were tested at the wall. Some teams were able to send one strong female through the reps before others failed and received a penalty, and only two teams were able to complete the reps under the time cap.
In Heat 2, CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben finished in 20:08 to cap off a stellar Day 2. The Swedes now hold a Games spot.
Heat 3 was close during the male half, with Team CrossFit Copenhagen and Team CrossFit Nordic setting the pace. Things changed the instant Jenny Jacobsen stepped to the wall. The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games athlete crushed the handstand push-ups in each round and blew past CrossFit Copenhagen’s first female with ease.
Sara Armanius was up next, and she opened with six handstand push-ups before topping the set off with three more. She didn’t hit any speed bumps and sent Andrea Miller to the floor with a shot at the top time of the day.
Miller used mostly quick singles on the handstand push-ups and was able to move through the event at a steady pace. She had to push hard in the final round but was able to get Nordic home in 20:41, just under the time cap. It wasn’t enough to take first, but simply completing all the reps was a huge accomplishment.
“I was the weakest on handstand push-ups on my team, so we decided the rest would go in front of me so I would have as much time as possible,” Miller said.
“My plan was to do two twos in the set of nine … . I knew I had to do the rest of them in singles … so I wouldn’t burn out,” she added.
Jacobsen was a late addition to the Nordic team after Jessica Clevenvik qualified for the CrossFit Games in the 45-49 Masters Division.
At the end of Day 2, Team CrossFit Nordic finds itself but 12 points back of third place and a trip to the Games with Clevenvik.
As in 2013, the Nordic countries are once again in possession of the Games spots with only two events remaining.
Team Event 6 Results
1. CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben (20:08)
2. Team CrosFit Nordic (20:41)
3. Team Tegen (21:02)
1. CrossFit Sport (22)
2. Team Tegen (35)
3. CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben (41)
4. Team Butcher’s Garage (46)
5. CrossFit Turicum (52)
6. Team CrossFit Nordic (53)
7. Team DC (53)
8. CrossFit Bath (57)
9. KultureFit—CrossFit Toulouse (60)
10. CrossFit Stödin (65)