Annie Thorisdottir is proving her fitness in no uncertain terms. She tied a world record that traditionally favors the small athlete, and then she broke another that might be considered a bigger athlete’s event.
But as we all know, the very best CrossFit athletes don’t evaluate workouts like that. They just win them, heavy or light, long or short.
In Denmark, Thorisdottir looks completely dominant, even if fellow Icelander Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir is making a strong case for the Home Depot Center with two 2nd-place finishes.
On the men’s side, the picture is far less clear, with unknown Hungarian Lacee Kovacs in top spot.
No European men could come close to Dan Bailey’s 1:35 world record, but they were still fast on Diane.
Icelander Dadi Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson laid down a 2:08 in Heat 1, and no one could touch it as the heats rolled by. Jindrich Tovarys’s 2:18 in Heat 3 was good enough for second, and James Goulden was the only Heat 1 athlete in the top three. His PR of 2:27 put him in 3rd for the event and overall.
As expected, the heavy barbells in Event 2 drew a line in the proverbial sand: you either have 30 heavy hang cleans in you or you don’t – and you need them badly to get to the CrossFit Games.
Both Sveinbjarnarson and Tovarys failed to finish the workout and gave up their spots atop the leaderboard. Hungary’s Lacee Kovacs, who took eighth in Event 1 with 2:52, made his move with a very methodical approach that set him apart from the top men in Heat 1.
Kovacs rowed a 7:20 2K, and he was just behind Open winner Stefano Migliorini, who was first off the rower. Migliorini significantly altered his stroke in the last 100 meters or so: he stopped bending his knees and hinged only at the hips to save his quads for the pistols.
Migliorini was steady but not fast on the pistols, while Frederik Aegidius and Kovacs were very quick. When Migliorini faltered on the heavy bar, the other two did not, with Aegidius pulling a deliberate set of about 5 reps to open things up.
Kovacs was far more paced, and where others tried to string together big sets early in the run of 30, Kovacs actually used a Gymboss timer to keep him on pace for triples every 25 seconds. He held his pace start to finish and was at one point at 18 reps – 6 sets of 3 – to Aegidius’ 17.
Kovacs, who aggressively hauled the triples to his shoulders, completed the workout in 13:08, while Aegidius couldn’t keep pace and fell back to 13:26 for 2nd. Third place went to Timmy Thernstrom, who set the time in Heat 2.
After the workout, Kovacs was extremely pleased. He speaks little English, but you don’t need a translator to explain how it feels to win a Regional event. Kovacs said he wanted to hold a very steady row, then just “go for 50 reps” on the pistols. The cleans were left up to the Gymboss, and it obviously took a fair bit of self-control to stick to the plan when others pounded out large opening sets. But stick to the plan, he did – and he was rewarded.
Incredibly, no athlete in the top seven after Event 1 finished above 26th in Event 2. Kovacs put together a top 10 with a win for a total of 9 points and now sits atop the Leaderboard.
Overall men’s standings:
1. Lacee Kovacs (9 points)
2. Frederik Aegidius (13 points)
3. Numi Snaer Katrinarson (17 points)
With a major shake-up on the Leaderboard during Day 1, tomorrow morning the crowd in Denmark will see how see the athletes fare when the weight gets heavy and you can only use one arm to lift it. The dumbbell-snatch event has been a crowd favorite across the Regionals, and hopefully the European beasts will put on a show.
Little is know of Kovacs, but he’s doesn’t look like the type to struggle much with a heavy dumbbell.
Annie Thorisdottir opened the Regional with a huge PR to tie Kristan Clever’s world record of 1:54 on Diane. The defending Games champion is tall, but she proved that gymnastics are not a weakness in any way with 21, 15 and 9 unbroken handstand push-up reps on the couplet.
Fellow Icelanders Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir and Thuridur Erla Helgadottir raced to a dead tie in 2:25, while Hrund Scheving was 4th in 2:33.
Before Event 2, Davidsdottir said she had attempted the workout in training.
“It’s brutal but it’s fun,” she said.
Her plan? Row just under a 2-minute pace, get through the pistols quickly and then rip off a large set of cleans.
“I’d like to get a big chunk of it out of the way,” she explained. Her plan was to try for 10 to 15, then bang out 5s to the finish.
When the top flight of 15 women hit the rowers, Thorisdottir revealed a new trick and actually started yanking her handle before strapping in completely. She got the flywheel spinning, then maintained it with one-arm pulls while strapping her feet in. Once she was adjusted, she settled into an easy 2:00 pace.
Event 2 is usually won or lost on the cleans, and it was no different in Europe. Thorisdottir and Davidsdottir started the reps with sets of 11 and 12, respectively, then continued with larges sets. Thorisdottir easily moved the weight in sixes and sevens, while Davidsdottir added a set of eight and two fives.
Thorisdottir, however, was much faster and shaved 9 seconds off the world record with a time of 11:47. Davidsdottir, was 30 seconds behind in 12:17, and Ellinor Rehnstrom was 3rd in 13:14.
After the workout, Davidsdottir was asked if the workout went as expected.
“It went better,” she said.
Thorisdottir, who now has her name on two world records (one shared), was fired up after her performance.
“I love that event!” she exclaimed before saying it was easier than she thought it would be. Her plan was to make sure she didn’t rush the row but rather paced herself to remain fresh for the cleans, where her strength and power would give her a huge advantage.
Earlier in the day she said she didn’t want to speculate on potential world records, but after Event 2 she admitted she had thought she might be able to take down Kara Gordon’s mark of 11:56, set at the Australia Regional.
“I had this one in mind that I wanted to get a record in, yes – but I didn’t want to jinx it!” Thorisdottir said.
Overall women’s standings:
1. Annie Thorisdottir (2 points)
2. Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir (4 points)
3. Ellinor Rehnstrom (8 points)
If Thorisdottir succeeds in nailing down a Games spot as a past champion — and she has most certainly set herself up to do so with two event wins on Day 1 — a fourth spot from Europe will be available. At the end of Day 1, Helgadottir holds 4th place with 10 points, and the rest of the field is 7 points back.
Day 1 was all Annie: tie a record, break a record, win both events. What else would you expect from the Fittest Woman on Earth?
Twenty-seven teams are vying for three spots at the Games, and about a dozen look to be in good shape after strong Day 1 performances.
In the partner Diane, CrossFit Reykjavik (5:40.1), CrossFit Nordic 1 (5:44.2) and CrossFit Bath (5:49) claimed the top spots,
At some Regionals, Event 2 caused a calamity when athletes got stuck on the hang cleans. Repeated failures drew increased encouragement from teammates but eventual despair as strong athletes impatiently waited for their time on the bar. Several athletes struggled in Denmark, while others employed smooth, efficient technique to make the heavy bars move with relative ease.
In the final team heat, Team Butcher’s Lab didn’t put the first athlete through, but as the event wore on, three Butchers were standing on the mat and screaming for their 4th to finish the workout. And she did – all according to a very detailed plan.
“Basically, we ran through the workout with each individual that was doing the workout. We filmed it,” said team captain Peter Jepsen. “What it all comes down to is the first three athetes’ row time and the last athlete’s total time – but only if there’s no bottleneck.”
By analyzing the exact breakdowns of each athlete’s performance on the three parts of the workout, the team placed their strongest athletes first so they could get out of the way and leave the slower teammates lots of time to work.
“This one was crucial to have a good strategy,” Jepsen said, and he was right.
CrossFit Butcher’s Lab finished first in 18:02, just one second behind of CrossFit Reykjavik. Apparently the strategy paid off very well indeed. CrossFit Sport was 3rd in 18:18.
Overall team standings:
1. CrossFit Reykjavik (3 points)
2. Team Butcher’s Lab (6 points)
3. CrossFit Bath (10 points)
With one first and one second, CrossFit Reykjavik has clearly identified itself as one of the teams to beat, and Team Butcher’s Lab is making a similar case. Behind them, seven teams are within 10 points of 3rd place, setting up a battle on Day 2, when teams assert themselves or fall out of contention.