Annie Thorisdottir learns quickly.
On Day 3 of the 2009 CrossFit Games, Thorisdottir was learning muscle-ups from Jeff Tucker and Nicole Carroll.
She got her very first one about 20 minutes later during the giant chipper that ended the weekend competition, and the iconic image of her struggle became an instant CrossFit classic.
Earlier that day, she had learned how to do GHD sit-ups and taken 4th overall in a triplet with GHDs, kettlebell swings and handstand push-ups.
In 2010, Thorisdottir finished 2nd at the Games, and in 2011 she was crowned the Fittest Woman on Earth.
In 2012, Thorisdottir is the defending CrossFit Games champion, and the Europe Regional is all about Iceland Annie.
Watching top male competitors do Diane is a lot like watching the 100-meter finals at the Olympics: it’s over incredibly fast.
As fast as the European men were, their scores only served to reinforce how amazing Dan Bailey’s world record is. In the final men’s heat of Event 1, Auke Toussaint was still in the handstand push-ups of the round of 15 when Bailey had stopped the clock in 1:35 at the Central East Regional two weeks earlier.
Nonetheless, Toussaint looked to be in very good shape despite using strict handstand push-ups almost all the way through. With legs locked ramrod straight, Toussaint didn’t falter until the 9s, when he gave up valuable seconds in a broken set that saw him finally resort to a kip. Those seconds were costly, and his time of 2:36 was only good enough for 4th.
There were quite a few no reps handed out throughout the event, both on the deadlifts and the handstand push-ups.
In Heat 4, Alex Clarke said he rushed the deads and gave a few reps back to the judges, but he still logged a 4:22, which is close to his PR.
“I’m reasonably happy. (I had) quite a few no reps that slowed me down a little bit,” he said.
James Goulden, a Brit who lived in Iceland and got hooked on the Sport of Fitness, surprised himself with a PR of 2:27 in the last men’s heat.
“I was expecting to go a lot slower,” he said.
Goulden is nonetheless pleased with the finish, which puts him 3rd for the workout and overall. His goal for the competition is top 10 after he finished 11th last year.
Surprisingly, the event’s top time came out of Heat 1, in which Dadi Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson laid down a 2:08 that no one else could touch. Only Jindrich Tovarys could come close with 2:18, a time he set in Heat 3.
Stefano Migliorini, the top-ranked athlete after the Open, was 27th in 4:28. Mikko Aronpaa, who competed in last year’s Games, was 15th in 3:33.
Sveinbjarnarson, Tovarys and Goulden hold the tops spots going into the afternoon event. It’s too early to be certain, but after the morning session, it looks like the men’s spots in Europe are very much in reach for a number of athletes.
Iceland Annie is still smiling, as always. The defending Games champ makes every workout look like a joy, even when it’s a grueling test that has most competitors wincing.
In Diane, Thorisdottir didn’t have time to smile: the workout only took her 1:54, tying Kristan Clever’s world record.
Everyone knew the champion would have no problem with the deadlifts, and indeed she cycled them with vicious speed before running to the wall for handstand push-ups. She completed all sets of deadlifts and handstand push-ups unbroken and locked out the last rep before kicking out of the handstand and breaking into her signature smile.
Thorisdottir didn’t actually know she had tied the world record, and when she was told she shared Clever’s mark, the smile grew bigger.
The time was also a 30-second PR for Thorisdottir, who was hoping for a time of 2:20. Interestingly, Thorisdottir said she found the transitions between the movements to be the hardest part of the workout.
Competing on the last weekend of the Regional round, Thorisdottir said she keeps her focus on herself, but still checks the Leaderboard.
“I’m doing my own thing, but you want to go online and see what other people are getting.”
Looking ahead, she’s excited for Workout 4, but less thrilled about Workout 6. Either way, you know she’ll be smiling throughout both.
As for taking a shot at other world records, Thorisdottir wasn’t about to make any predictions.
“I have my goals, but I’m not going to say anything.”
In Thorisdottir’s wake, fellow Icelanders Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir and Thuridur Eria Helgadottir raced to a dead tie in 2:25. Hrund Scheving was 4th in 2:33.
The overall standings are identical to the Workout 1 standings, and Thorisdottir will certainly be looking to take another 1st in Workout 2, where she’ll get to use her size and strength on the rower and heavy hang cleans.
Twenty-seven teams rolled into the arena from all over Europe, with all set on taking a run at the Swedish and Icelandic teams that held the top spots based on their scores in the Open. Hometown favorites Team Butcher’s Garage and Team Butcher’s Lab were certainly hoping to draw on local support in earning one of the three team spots in the Games.
Team Event 1, a modified partner Diane, saw three teams break the 6-minute mark, but none could go below 5 minutes to join the elite boxes from other regions.
The top spots were divided up by CrossFit Reykjavik (5:40.1), CrossFit Nordic 1 (5:44.2) and CrossFit Bath (5:49).
Arni Gunnarsson of CrossFit Reykjavik said his team selected its Event 1 athletes based on size.
The keys were “talking to each other, trying to synchronize. My partner and I are the same size,” Gunnarsson said after the win. “We knew we could do it without having to stop.”
With four Regional weekends already complete, teams competing this weekend have had a chance to evaluate the techniques used by other boxes, but Gunnarsson said his squad mostly focused on themselves and didn’t do a whole lot of research ahead of time.
“But of course I’ve peeked to see how other teams are doing it,” he said.
After Event 1, CrossFit Reykjavik is 1st(1 point), CrossFit Nordic 1 is 2nd (2 points), and CrossFit Bath is 3rd (3 points).
The teams and individuals will next be faced with Event 2, where heavy hang cleans at 225/135 lb. have blown a host of athletes out of the water in other Regionals. Conversely, the strongest competitors have moved the loads with relative ease. Event 2 is clearly a separator, and Europe’s best will be looking to prove they are up to the test when the bars get heavy.