“There's no one reason for my decision ... I just wanted to get the team experience this year. I think our team has a chance for top three at regionals this year and that is our goal.” ~Thuridur Erla Helgadottir
Eighteen top competitors in Europe declined their individual regional invitations and dropped off the Leaderboard. Among them are a few familiar names.
The highest-ranked man to decline an individual spot is Dragon CrossFit’s Andy Edwards. He placed 13th in Europe after the Open—one spot below last year’s regional champ Lacee Kovacs— but the affiliate owner will lead Team DC in Denmark and chase a top-three finish and a trip to the CrossFit Games.
Fellow team members Tom Burnell, Rachel Watling and Chloe Williams have all declined their individual invites, as well, choosing to compete for Team DC, which finished the Open atop Europe's Leaderboard.
“This year, I felt that with all the guys we have in Dragon CrossFit, and the places we all took—with five placed in the top 60—now is the best time to establish ourselves and maybe make the podium,” Edwards said. “We just want to be part of a team.”
Still, Edwards said the decision to reject the individual invitation was tough.
“I could go there and perform to my best, but if everyone else does, too, I may not have the opportunity to finish on the podium,” he said. “The team is a good opportunity to represent the gym and a great reward for everyone’s hard work. We will have the chance to put Dragon CrossFit and the U.K. on the map.”
Laurent Camps from CrossFit Tyneside and Alec Harwood from CrossFit Bath have also declined their invites after finishing the Open in 25th and 28th place, respectively.
Fourteen women declined individual spots at the regional, including Emma Rosengren, from Malmo, Sweden, who is the highest-ranked female (fifth) who won’t compete in the individual division.
"I declined my spot because of an old knee injury," Rosengren said. "It was one of the most difficult decisions in my life. I love CrossFit, I love working out and pushing my body to the limit."
Perhaps the most notable is Iceland’s Thuridur Erla Helgadottir, who has decided to compete with her CrossFit Sport team. Helgadottir would have been among the favorites to challenge the likes of Sam Briggs and Annie Thorisdottir for a podium place, having finished in 35th place at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games and fifth at the Europe Regional last year.
Helgadottir said the new rule this year that did away with extra qualifying spots for regions with past Games champions helped her decision. Helgadottir is joined by CrossFit Sport’s Ingunn Ludviksdottir who also turned down an individual invite.
“There‘s no one reason for my decision,” Helgadottir said. “My first time at regionals in 2011 was with a team from CrossFit Sport, then I went as an individual in 2012 and 2013. It‘s both really fun but really different, and I just wanted to get the team experience this year.”
“I think our team has a chance for top three at regionals this year and that is our goal,” she added.
England’s Team Bath finished second in the region behind Dragon CrossFit, and will also be well represented. Laura Faulkner, who finished the Open in 16th place, has opted to represent the box. Team Bath members feel they have unfinished business with the regional, having finished fifth last year, missing out on a podium finish during the final event.
“We feel that, as a team, we have a really good shot at the Games,” Faulkner said. “We were painfully close last year. It was a really hard decision. Our team (members) are all really good friends. If we went individual, some team members who haven’t been to regionals before might not be able to go.”
Last year’s regional champions Team CrossFit Nordic look set to challenge again after Jenny Jacobsen and Sara Armanius declined their individual invites to compete with the team. The Stockholm-based box is also sending some individuals to the regional: Bjork Odinsdottir and returning Games veteran Numi Katrinarson are both hoping to challenge for podium spots.
Jacobsen said she had planned to sit out of this year’s regional.
“My plan was not to compete this year as an individual or team,” she said. “My plan was to focus on masters next year. The team from CrossFit Nordic was one girl short and they asked me if I could join the team … At first, I did not want to because I wanted this year just focus on getting strong and fitter until next year. But after a few weeks of sad faces from the team, I decided to say yes.”
In light of these decisions, the team and individual competitions will be more exciting than ever.
Be sure to follow the Europe Regional on the weekend of May 16-18 on the Games site.
Editor's Note: Updated April 24, 2014 -- added a quote from Emma Rosengren.