Last year, athletes from across Europe pushed their bodies to the limit in an effort to secure a berth to the Games. They had been tested in the Open, landed in the top 60 in the region, but found the 2011 Europe Regional was an intense challenge.
Annie Thorisdottir, the soon to be crowned Fittest Woman on Earth, and Sam Briggs appeared to be in a competition of their own. Just weeks before, Thorisdottir tied 2010 CrossFit Games champion Kristan Clever for 1st worldwide in the Open whilst Sam Briggs had taken 3rd. Indisputably, they were not just the fittest in the region but among the fittest on Earth. With Thorisdottir pre-qualified for the Games and Briggs a shoe in, only two spots remained for a trip to Carson, Calif., tightening the competition for the remaining 58 female competitors.
The men’s competition was less certain form the start. Rumors of dark horse competitors Tuomas Vainio ofCrossFit Pori, Mikko Salo’s box, and garage CrossFitter Mikko Aronpaa proved trustworthy as the two rookie competitors pushed to the top of the competition and earned a chance at the Games.
Who will emerge in 2012? In this report, we reveal athletes who narrowly missed the Games in 2011, but may have what it takes this season. Read up. You will likely see these names at the top of the leaderboard during the Open.
CAROLINE FRYKLUND: SKILLS AND ELEGANCE FROM SWEDEN
Caroline Fryklund’s background comes from artistic gymnastics. She started as a small kid and then continued to become a competitive athlete. In her career she managed to make the Sweden national team, both as a junior and a senior. She quit competing in 2004 and is at present a coach for younger girls whilst still training gymnastics on her own. She is also a physiotherapist and loves spending time outdoors and travelling.
She tried out CrossFit for the first time in Spring 2010. It was one of the coaches at CrossFit Kalmar who wanted her to teach them gymnastics and in return got to try out CrossFit in their box. She was hooked right away and started to train regularly in June 2010.
Fryklund finished 5th at last year’s Regionals, missing a spot to the Games by one place. “Regionals last year gave me lots of inspiration and I really enjoyed competing against the other top athletes,” she says. “I was nervous before it all started but after the first workout I settled down. I am very satisfied with my result.”
Similarly to other athletes with a gymnastics background, her weaknesses are managing heavy loads. This year, with the help of a specific coach, her deadlift has improved from 95 to 120 kg, her front squat from 65 to 80 kg, back squat from 80 to 90 kg and her clean and jerk from 60 to 67.5 kg.
Height: 173 cm
Nate: 13 rounds+2 MU
Deadlift: 120 kg
Squat: 90 kg
Press: 45 kg
Overhead squat: 50 kg
Clean and Jerk: 67.5 kg
Snatch: 45 kg x 5 reps
DAFYDD DENNIS: DENNIS THE MENACE
Dafydd Dennis earned 10th place at the 2011 Europe Regional, and proves to be tough competition in the 2012 season.
The 29-year-old says most of his athletic experience comes from his time serving in the military. At 16, he joined the Royal Marine Commandos, who take pride in developing elite soldiers. Dennis says his training in the military was basically an eight-month AMRAP. “The PT portion of the course is relentless, but it forces a strong mind.”
During his military career, he practiced many different sports, including rugby, boxing, swimming, and running. After seven years of military service, he left to obtain work in the Middle East. It was there he got into personal training and strength training. Once he completed his work abroad, he returned home to make a career out of being a trainer.
A colleague in the fitness industry introduced him to CrossFit. He says he was immediately hooked. “CrossFit gave me the same feeling military training did. A feeling of fear prior to each session,” he says. “I have focused solely on CrossFit since.
When he’s not CrossFitting, he works as an EMT on a front line ambulance. He works both day and night shifts. “I [also] run a CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit Cardiff and continue some one-on-one training,” he says. “I have a busy life and training amongst it is often rushed.”
He recently became a part of the Again Faster Competition Team. “Those guys have been so generous with sending me equipment and clothing,” he says. “They are the biggest collection of super nice people.”
While his programming hasn’t changed, he has devoted more time to strength training and plans to continue that path. He’s also started to have others program for him, so he’s always hitting weaknesses and keeping up with his strengths, which right now are body weight movements.
His priority for the 2012 season is, “simple.” To qualify for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games. This year is different for him simply due to time and natural progression as an athlete. “My times have gotten faster and my loads have gotten bigger. I have a year’s more CrossFit experience than last year.”
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 80 kg
Cindy: 32 rounds
5K run: 18:46
Deadlift: 200 kg
Squat: 150 kg
Press: 80 kg
Clean & Jerk: 115 kg
Snatch: 95 kg
LACEE KOVACS: THE MAN FROM THE EAST
Many impressive athletes are coming out of Europe in 2012. Athletes with great dedication and determination to earn a berth to the 2012 CrossFit Games. Lacee Kovacs is one of these athletes. The 25-year-old is a Hungarian Judo athlete, who has won the national championship twice in his home country.
Since starting CrossFit in 2007, he has been following main site programming to train. He competed in the 2011 Europe Regional, placing 7th, just four spots away from going to the Games. His goal is to be in the top three at the 2012 Regional to represent Europe at the Home Depot Center.
With many years of competition under his belt, Kovacs has the potential to be the first Hungarian to go to the Games.
While CrossFit has not grown in popularity in Hungary, Kovacs has hopes that he can succeed at an international level to spread CrossFit throughout his country.
Kovacs has been recently posting some impressive videos of his workouts both on social blogs and in online competitions – most recently he finished in 9Th overall on the WOD Club Open online competition. He is ready for the Open and will give it all at Regionals this year!
Filthy 50: 15:32
5K run: 19:06
Deadlift: 230 kg
Back Squat: 182.5 kg
Shoulder Press: 90 kg
Overhead squat: 130 kg
Clean & Jerk: 135 kg
Snatch: 100 kg
LEE HOWE: A BRITISH ROYAL MARINE
If you look at the Regional Leaderboard for Europe in 2011, you’ll find an impressive athlete sitting at 19th place: Lee Howe. Howe is the owner of CrossFit Teesside in the United Kingdom, a former British Royal Marine Commando, as well as a former private security operator in Iraq. He was first introduced to CrossFit while in Iraq working alongside Special Forces.
After the 2011 Regional, the 29-year-old took part in some local competition with top finishes. His next stop isSicFit’s London Throwdown in February at Brunel University.
Howe says his goal for 2012 is to go back to the Regional and improve his ranking from last season. His focus to prepare has been to get stronger and work on longer chipper workouts. Another focus for Howe will be form and technique. He clearly remembers the 100s Workout at last year’s Regional, while he was in the middle of his overhead squats, the heard crowd yelling at him, “heels down” as he was on his toes.
He eats as cleanly as possible, but doesn’t hesitate to cheat with cake and ice cream.
Weight: 75 kg
Cindy: 31 rounds
5K Run: 17:52
Deadlift: 210 kg
Squat: 150 kg
Press: 65 kg
Clean & Jerk: 107.5 kg
Snatch: 80 kg
NICOLA SIMPSON – TRAINING WITH A FIREBREATHER
Nicola Simpson is Samantha Brigg’s training partner. “Sam is a massive inspiration to me; the speed she works at can only make you go faster. Besides, Sam usually finishes in front of me then gives me encouragement to finish strong,” Simpson says.
They met at the Firefighter World Games 2010. Briggs had just finished 19th in the CrossFit Games. She told her about CrossFit and Simpson did some workouts with her. Her introduction to CrossFit was “Fran,” and from that point, she loved it and knew she wanted to get involved. Briggs took her to CrossFit Leeds and introduced her to the owner Mike Rawlinson.
In her 20s, Simpson played rugby league at the club and international level, representing Great Britian in Australia and New Zealand. Then she took up Thai boxing and soon started competing. In 2007, she fought in the Amateur World Championships held in Bangkok and won the gold medal.
Last year, everything was new to Simpson. “I’ve never been scared of putting myself out there and trying new things, but CrossFit has shown me there are no limits” she says. “Samantha Briggs got me to enter my firstCrossFit competition in Copenhagen; I was gutted to narrowly miss a place in the final event. I identified my weaknesses and started working on them. I knew I didn’t want to miss a final the next time. I had my passion back and it’s been growing ever since.”
For the 2011 season, the 34-year-old didn’t feel strong enough to compete as an individual. She qualified to compete at Regionals with 17th place in the Open, but felt she had too many weaknesses and decided to compete for the CrossFit Leeds team, which finished in 4th place.
Over the last year she has worked hard on strength, with all her lifts increasing dramatically, and improved many of the more skillful and technical aspects of CrossFit, such as gymnastics.
Weight: 62 kg
5K run: 22:28
Deadlift: 147.5 kg
Squat: 107.5 kg
Overhead squat: 67.5 kg
Clean and Jerk: 75 kg
Snatch: 55 kg
ESSI KOSKINEN : ANOTHER ATHLETE FROM FINLAND
Essi Koskinen, a 22-year-old athlete from Espoo in Southern Finland, will compete for the second time in the Open. With her background in cross-country skiing and track and field, she has been in the sport of fitness for more than two years.
After hearing and reading some crazy things about CrossFit, she was eager to give it a try. “I had to call the coach first and ask if women were also welcome to the gym because my first thought was that CrossFit was only for elite athletes and monsters.” She immediately took the on-ramp course and never looked back.
When Koskinen heard for the first time about the Open, her thoughts were to take it day-by-day doing every workout and sending in results without expecting much at all. “I was very surprised to see that I did okay at the Open but even more delighted about my success at the Regionals.” Her feelings were that Regionals would have been way out of her reach and she was even more surprised to find herself at 8th place.
Since last year’s Regional, Koskinen focused on her weaknesses, with particular attention to gain strength and improve her Olympic lifts. She is working with a coach on a regular basis. Her numbers have gone up: squat clean from 67.5 to 72.5 kg, snatch from 42.5 to 50 kg and front squat from 75 to 90 kg.
One of the biggest tasks she has undertaken this year is to manage a tight schedule, as she is still a student and has a job-training contract. Working out steals time from her relationship and free time. “My family and boyfriend make life a lot easier and they're helping and supporting me in every way they can,” she says. “They all know what this means to me. From my family there has been huge support both from a financial and affection point of view. My boyfriend feels the same way about exercising and I think that's very important. He understands me and he's a great workout companion.”
Essi Koskinen is a very confident and focused athlete and we are waiting for some outstanding performances from her during the Open.
Weight: 59 kg
Cindy: 26 rounds
5k run: 22-23 minutes
400m run: 1:05
Deadlift: 130 kg
Squat: 105 kg
Press: 47.5 kg
Overhead squat: 65 kg
Clean and Jerk: 67.5 kg
Snatch: 50 kg