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Regional Report: Another Perfect Day in Europe

Published on Sat, 2012-05-26 09:55
By: 
Mike Warkentin

Four straight wins -- it's still all Annie in Denmark.

On Day 2, Thorisdottir continued her unbroken string of wins and is clearly in prime shape to defend her CrossFit Games title this July. While the Icelander was looking forward to Event 4 and had hopes of setting a world record, she had to settle for crushing the entire field by more than five-and-a-half minutes.

Lacee Kovacs still holds the men’s top spot, but his lead is no longer so large, and four athletes are very much in the hunt for only three tickets to the Home Depot Center in July.

Men

The dumbbells went up fast and easy when the final heat of Event 3 started with the techno pumping throughout the Ballerup Super Arena. Mikko Aronpaa’s 3:55 was good enough for first overall, and he was the only man to go under 4 minutes. Mareck Bigler was second in 4:21, while Robert Manlove contributed a 4:22 from Heat 2 and took third. Overall leader Kovacs was third in Heat 1 and fourth overall with 4:24.

In the brutally challenging Event 4, less than 10 men were able to log all the reps in the first four heats. When the big boys showed up in the final group, everyone was expecting a race between the top three: Kovacs, Aronpaa and Frederik Aegidius. The battle was indeed fought by the men holding the Games spots for most of the event.

Aegidius proved that efficient butterfly pull-ups are far faster than even a very tight kip, as he was able to use smooth cycles to distance himself from Kovacs. The Hungarian uses a compact kip, but he simply couldn’t match the speed of Aegidius, who was fluid on the bar. Still, Aegidius only managed to amass a lead of about 7 or 8 reps, which he maintained even into the overhead squats.

The powerful Dane had looked slow in walking the bar over to the overhead squats, and indeed Kovacs was able to overtake him and was the first to the final set of 40 pull-ups. From Lane 5, Numi Snaer Katrinarson came out of the background and started cycling smooth butterflies of his own.

Katrinarson came off the bar first in an unbelievable time and ran to his barbell for the final set of shoulder-to-overheads – but suddenly the judges were calling him back from across the floor. The Icelander, who represents CrossFit Nordic in Sweden, ran back, briefly spoke to his judge and hammered out 10 more pull-ups before running back to complete the shoulder-to-overheads.

Katrinarson was still the first to the barbells, but his lead was now almost nothing, and he had to dig in and push hard to finish the reps in front of hard-charging Aegidius and Kovacs. The latter’s face was a mask of pain as he repeatedly drove the bar overhead knowing he was in a sprint to the finish.

Time was called for Katrinarson at 16:34, and he celebrated the win with a handstand walk towards the crowd. Aegidius narrowly beat Kovacs with a 16:46 that was about one rep faster than the Hungarian’s 16:48.

“It was harder than in practice,” Aegidius said. “The air in here is heavy. People are breathing down your neck and you can’t take the rest you want to take.”

He described the workout as “very, very painful.”

Katrinarson was very happy with the victory, which will definitely help him move close to one of the three Games spots.

“My goal was to win this (event),” he said.

Katrinarson’s win was yet another by an Icelander.

“People always ask, ‘What the hell is in the Iceland water?’ Nothing is in the water. It’s up here,” he said, pointing to his head.

In CrossFit, attitude is indeed everything.

After two days and four events, Kovacs is still atop the overall standings with 16 points. Aegidius is now second with 23 points, and Aronpaa holds third with 25 points. Katrinarson is fourth with 31 points. The next closest athlete is fully 20 points back, and it looks like the top four will be fighting it out for but three spots.

Tomorrow calls for skill and power in Event 5, while Event 6 is about strength and stamina. Whoever wants the Games spots is going to need loads of all four qualities. And, of course, nothing is certain when muscle-ups show up.

Women

Event 3 was also the first in which Thorisdottir didn’t attach her name to a world record, but she did win it in 4:35. Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir was second in 4:57, and Anna Hulda Olafsdottir was third in 6:43 for an Icelandic sweep of the top spots.

Thorsidottir had said several times that Event 4 was a favorite of hers, and the crowd fully expected a dominant performance. When Thorisdottir was no-repped on her very first squat, it was a sign of things to come, and she collected about 7 no reps throughout the workout.

Even with the no reps scattered throughout, Iceland Annie’s sets were very large. She regularly banged out sets of about 20 to start each round of pull-ups, and her overhead work was fast, efficient and nearly perfect. Very early on it was clear it would be a one-horse race, with Thorisdottir well in front and on her way to a finish in 16:04.

The battle for second was contested between Davidsdottir and Alahna Gibbs. Few could tell who was in the lead as they traded the top spot several times throughout, but it was Davidsdottir who was able to pull away at the end. In fact, she was the only woman other than Thorisdottir to finish the workout. Her time was 21:47. Third went to Hrund Scheving, who left only 6 reps on the table in Heat 2.

After the workout, Thorisdottir was disappointed, but still as friendly and cheerful as always.

“I’m not happy with it actually,” Thorisdottir said of her performance. “I wanted 14:30 to be honest.”

Thorisdottir said she had done a 14:50 Event 4 in training and expected to be faster in competition. She believes she lost the time on squat depth. When she heard a no rep, she decided to reset and go right to the bottom to make sure to avoid any more missed reps.

“With the deep squats, you can’t go as fast,” she said.

Thorisdottir said she had people evaluating her 14:50 in training, “but maybe they just didn’t want to say, ‘No rep!” she laughed.

Overall, Thorisdottir has been perfect through four events for a score of 4 points. Davidsdottir has been similarly untouchable in collecting four straight seconds for 8 points. Ellinor Rehnstrom collected 10 points in the days’ final workout for a total of 22, but she’s still in third. Caroline Fryklund, 31 points, currently has the fourth spot, which will be awarded if Thorsidottir, a past Games champion, holds onto a top-three spot. Two other athletes are within 4 points of the final spot.

Thorisdottir is disappointed with her finish to Day 2 but can’t be upset about her spot atop the Leaderboard. Nevertheless, you can bet a slightly frustrated Thorisdottir will be putting an extra charge in the bars tomorrow when it’s time to snatch in Event 5.

Team

While a host of a teams struggled in Event 3, CrossFit Sport was able to rattle off the final reps very quickly, and Inga Hardardottir sprinted to touch her dumbbell at 6:10 to take first place in the workout. CrossFit Reykjavik finished in 6:28 for second place – the first time the gym failed to finish on top. Third place went to CrossFit Malmo The Other Guys with 6:55.

In Event 4, CrossFit Reykjavik was back to its winning ways, but they needed a dramatic finish to take the event.

The Icelandic crew was in front for the entire workout, with about 30 reps between them and second-place CrossFit Nordic 1 for much of the workout. CrossFit Reykjavik maintained that gap through the entire women’s half of the event and some of the men’s portion. But CrossFit Butcher’s Lab passed Nordic and was clearly gaining on the leaders. By the men’s transition from shoulders-to-overheads to overhead squats, the Butchers were only about 4 reps behind. The hometown crew put in a valiant effort, but when the judges compared scorecards, Iceland had ticked off 3 reps more reps.

“Three fucking reps! And yesterday it was 1 fucking second!” Kasper Hansen exclaimed, recalling how Reykjavik was but one second in front of Butcher’s Lab in Event 2.

“We were noticing they were in front in the beginning, and I think we were gaining on them in the pull-ups,” said Peter Jepsen of Butcher’s Lab. “I didn’t know we were that close, though.”

As in Event 2, Jepsen and company had videotaped a practice workout, reviewed the other Regionals and developed a strategy.

“We figured in the other regions teams tended to do a lot of reps. We figured if our swap was fast, we would be better with sixes,” Jepsen explained.

The strategy definitely paid off – but perhaps another 15 seconds was needed for it to bring first rather than second.

CrossFit Reykjavik’s score – 25-minute time cap plus one second for every remaining rep – was 26:58, while Butcher’s Lab scored 27:01. CrossFit Nordic 1 was third with 27:07, only 6 reps out of second.

Overall, CrossFit Reykjavik has won three of four events for a score of 5 points. CrossFit Sport is second with 18 points (via tiebreaker), and Team Butcher’s Lab is in third with 18 points. The next closest teams are 6 points back.

Tomorrow morning, individuals and teams will enter the Snatch Ladder, where they’ll try to climb as far as possible. Eleiko’s headquarters are just a short sail north from Copenhagen, and perhaps that will inspire the European athletes to get some monster weight overhead with the Olympic lift.

Shortly after the workouts concluded and the chalk settled, CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman addressed the athletes, spectators and CrossFit Tour attendees. He responded to any and all questions in Q&A format, and his ultimate message was a very simple one: "This community is very, very special."

 

 

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