After six events over three days, Europe has selected its representatives for the CrossFit Games.
As expected, Iceland Annie Thorisdottir, the defending Games champion, will be heading back to California after winning the Europe Regional. With her win as a past Games champion, three additional spots were awarded, and four European women will compete at the Home Depot Center. Thorisdottir will be joined by fellow Icelanders Kartrin Tanja Davidsdottir and Thuridur Erla Helgadottir, as well as Caroline Fryklund.
On the men’s side, Denmark’s Frederik Aegidius was crowned champion, while Finland’s Mikko Aronpaa finished second and will return to the CrossFit Games for the second year in a row. Numi Snaer Katrinarson – also Icelandic – won the third spot in the most thrilling finish of the entire weekend.
For the teams, CrossFit Reykjavik dominated the Regional and will be Europe’s top seed at the Games. CrossFit Sport, also from Iceland, and Denmark’s Team Butcher’s Lab will provide the back up.
With all the Icelanders coming to compete, the Games support crew might think about stocking a few bottles of Brennivin for the after-party in California.
Event 5 resulted in a huge change on the Leaderboard as overall leader Lacee Kovacs took 26th in the workout and dropped out of the top spot, falling to third. Mikko Aronpaa finished second and jumped to second overall with 27 points, and Frederik Aegidius took third in the snatch ladder and moved into first overall with 26 points.
When Event 6 started, a single point separated Aegidius and Aronpaa, while a single point separated Kovacs and Numi Snaer Katrinarson. With such small margins and so much on the line, the four top men were under a great deal of pressure in the Regional’s final event.
No male athlete had finished the event by the time the top athletes started the final heat, and Kovacs looked to be on a mission to be the first to do so and claim a spot at the Games. Kovacs was out to a lead in the first couplet, but Katrinarson was 4 reps behind the Hungarian in getting to the wall-balls. The pair was well out front of overall leaders Aegidius and Aronpaa.
Kovacs started to lose his rhythm on the second set of toes-to-bars, and the shorter athlete was actually jumping to get the med-ball to the target. That gave Katrinarson all the space he needed, and he passed Kovacs on the final set of toes-to-bars, pulling into the farmers walk while Kovacs still had 4 awkward reps on the bar.
Kovacs was slightly faster on the burpee box jumps and regained the lead by perhaps a second, and he stretched that by running with the dumbbells. He was at the rings first, and Katrinarson was no-repped for lockout on his first attempt. With his Games hope fading, the Icelander collected himself to pass Kovacs on the rings for the win in 13:07. It turned out Kovacs was burned right out and finished second in 14:45. Aegidius was third in 16:36.
Aegidius secured the overall win with 29 points, while Aronpaa remained second with 32 points. But the story of Event 6 was Katrinarson. His come-from-behind win gave him 44 points and put him in a tie with Kovacs, but Numi will be heading to California based on his two first-place finishes to Kovacs’ single win in Event 2.
Aegidius stuck to his plan when Kovacs blazed out of the gate, as he knew what he had to do to win.
“I knew exactly what was going on,” he said. “I just kept my pace, keeping Mikko behind me.”
The Dane was at the 2011 Games supporting Thorisdottir, and he’s looking forward to competing himself this year.
“I couldn’t be more excited!” he said.
Katrinarson – who is full of personality - was absolutely elated following the win.
“I feel numb. I feel awesome! So good! I had to win that one to get to the Games!” he said.
“He’s bigger,” Katrinarson said of his Hungarian rival. “I hoped to go in the burpee box jumps before him but – shit! – I was so dead.”
When Kovacs started to sprint with his dumbbells, Katrinarson decided to man up.
“I had to run to run with the dumbbells over. No grip. Nothing. I did the first muscle-up – ‘No rep!’”
But when Kovacs faltered, Katrinarson finished and claimed the final spot in California. Interestingly, he wore a ring on the drawstring of his shorts for the entire workout. It turns out he’s marrying girlfriend Elin Jonsdottir this Christmas. When asked what would have happened had he lost the ring during the burpees, he laughed.
“She would not marry me.”
Event 5 marked the first time Annie Thorisdottir didn’t win. She was second with a snatch of 155, while Thuridur Erla Helgadottir was third with 145. The winner was Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir, who had finished second to Iceland Annie in the four previous events.
Even with wins in four of five events, Thorisdottir’s position atop the Leaderboard was precarious because Davidsdottir had never taken more than 2 points in any event. With only three points between the two, Event 6 promised to be extremely exciting.
In the opening women’s heats, many athletes struggled with the muscle-ups, and there were a host of DNFs, though three women got to the farmer carry in Heat 2. The last of them, Alahna Gibbs, took the longest no rep when she fell about 15 feet short of getting her dumbbells the full 100 feet to the mat when the 17-minute cap arrived.
In the final women’s heat, Thorisdottir might have been deadlifting 135 rather than 225, and the muscle-ups that famously challenged her in 2009 came in doubles and triples even in Round 3. Reps 3, 5 and 7 of the final set made Thorisdottir work very hard to get out of the dip and lock out, but she was still the first athlete to the wall ball shots by a huge margin. She was a round ahead of Caroline Fryklund, Helgadottir and Davidsdottir, who got to the wall balls in that order.
Ultimately, no one could catch Thorisdottir, who worked through the burpees and pulled two tough muscle-ups to finish in 16:35.
“I definitely had a strategy in mind. I wanted to do threes and twos,” Thorisdottir said. “Every time I have muscle-ups in a workout, I get nervous. It’s a mind trick for me because of the Games in 2009.”
Thorisdottir was disappointed she didn’t push harder through the burpee box jumps, but she had the final muscle-ups in her head. She actually says she thinks about the 2009 Games experience regularly when muscle-ups show up. Back in the day, Jeff Tucker and Nicole Carroll taught her the muscle-up 20 minutes before she got her first one ever during the final chipper event – but she could only get one.
The defending Games champ was the only woman to finish the last event of the Regional, and in a rare occurrence, Helgadottir replaced Davidsdottir as Annie’s second. Helgadottir’s time was 17 minutes plus 9 unfinished reps, and Davidsdottir had 19 unfinished reps.
Overall, it was an Icelandic sweep for the women: Thorisdottir (7 points), Davidsdottir (12 points) and Helgadottir (36 points). Sweden’s Caroline Fryklund, a former gymnast, also qualified for the Games in the extra spot awarded when a Games champion takes one of the top three spots.
Thorisdottir is happy with the win, but slightly disappointed that she missed a few personal goals and records.
“It went as planned pretty much. I had some goals of time and that didn’t go as planned,” Thorisdottir said.
As for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Thorisdottir is looking forward to working out next to Julie Foucher, who similarly lit up the Regional round of competition.
“I would like to win (the Games) … but everyone’s getting so good,” Thorisdottir said.
You can bet Thorisdottir, a fierce but friendly competitor, will be ready for all challengers at the Home Depot Center.
In Event 5, CrossFit Reykjavik notched its fourth win in five workouts with a combined 960 pounds snatched. CrossFit Sport was only 5 pounds back in second (955), and Team Butcher’s Garage was in third (915).
Overall, CrossFit Reykjavik had a commanding lead going into the final event, but about 6 to 8 teams had a chance to secure the other two Games spots.
As was the case all weekend, CrossFit Reykjavik was in the lead from the very beginning, and the Icelandic team was the first to the box jumps, followed closely by CrossFit Nordic 1 and Team Butcher’s Lab. CrossFit Sport, second overall going into the event, was well off the pace and in danger of losing a sot at the Games.
CrossFit Reykjavik was the first to complete the men’s half of the event, with CrossFit Nordic 1 and Team Butcher’s Lab close behind.
Event 6 has a host of different movements, but it often comes down to the women’s muscle-ups. Jakobina Jonsdottir and Gigja Arnadotti could do them in singles, but so could the women from Team Butcher’s Lab – and they could do them faster. The Copenhagen gym was first off the rings and onto the wall balls, but they couldn’t maintain the lead, and Reykjavik was across the floor and 7 box jumps into their set when the Butcher’s Lab women started the first partner carry.
Reyjavik didn’t let up and was back to the rings first for the final set of muscle-ups. With the Butchers in hot pursuit, Jonsdottir caught the rings very low and almost failed the rep before struggling on top of the rings.
When Reykjavik stopped the clock, the time read 16:46, good enough for first and cause for a celebratory group hug. Team Butcher’s lab was second in 17:43, and CrossFit Nordic 1 was third in 24:31.
“We actually improved by a minute since training,” Evert Viglundsson said after the event.
Overall, CrossFit Reykjavik – home to women’s champ Thorisdottir – was first with only 7 points. CrossFit Sport, also from Iceland, tied for fourth in the final event but managed to hang onto second place with 24 points after winning a tiebreaker over Team Butcher’s Lab. The Danish team also had 24 points and took the final Games spot.
Viglundsson was quick to credit the females for his squad’s success.
“I’d say the women have been the strongest part of our team this weekend,” he explained.
With five wins in six events, CrossFit Reykjavik is going the CrossFit Games full of confidence.
“Watch out, L.A. Iceland is coming for you!” Viglundsson said.
That’s certainly true, and you might as well get Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song on the playlist for the Games. Iceland proved its dominance in the Sport of Fitness in Europe by qualifying two teams, three individual women and one individual man for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, and now the Icelandic athletes will be looking for similar success on the global stage.
Thorisdottir will definitely be looking for the first repeat in Games history, while men’s champion Aegidius will be hoping to channel Mikko Salo and put a European athlete on the Games podium for the first time since 2009.
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