"I wanted to learn as much as I could from C.J. Martin and then go back and kick some ass in Europe. (But) once I found out that I had the chance to try out for Team Invictus, everything changed."
Southern California recently imported a European competitor. More specifically, CrossFit Invictus did.
Rasmus Wisbech Andersen placed 13th at the 2013 Europe Regional before he moved from Odense, Denmark, to San Diego, Calif., in September.
“If you ask my parents why I moved to San Diego, they will say it was for the language schools,” the 21-year-old said. “But really, I wanted to move here because of CrossFit Invictus. I wanted to train at a gym with such an awesome reputation so that I could train with and against the best in the sport.”
What started as a few months of offseason training and language school in sunny California turned into something more.
Initially, Andersen’s plan was to study and train in San Diego for a few months before heading back home to compete in Europe. But after a few months he changed course.
“I wanted to learn as much as I could from C.J. Martin and then go back and kick some ass in Europe,” he said. “(But) once I found out that I had the chance to try out for Team Invictus, everything changed.”
With Team Invictus, Andersen may compete at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif., and hone his skills for an individual run in 2015.
“I knew it would be difficult to qualify for the Games as an individual out of Europe,” he said, “so making it to the 2014 Games as a team player would give me a lot of great experience to continue on with my ultimate goal of making it to the Games as an individual in the future.”
After watching Andersen for months, Martin and Invictus competitors’ coach Santino Marini were confident in his potential to help Team Invictus as they attempt their sixth consecutive Games appearance this year.
"The sky is the limit with this young, talented athlete,” Marini said. “His work ethic and determination will help him in becoming a successful CrossFit athlete for many years to come. He has already shown what he is capable of in local competitions against some top competitors, and at such a young age has time on his side to become even better. We are looking forward to seeing what he could potentially bring to our teams this season.”
As with all regions, there are no guarantees for either athletes or teams. Yet Andersen is confident Invictus will qualify for its sixth CrossFit Games. Some might say it’s a safe bet considering Invictus has won the SoCal Regional the last three years.
“I believe that Team Invictus will have a good chance to qualify for this year's Games,” Andersen said. “Even though it's a tough region, I think the odds are good. And I know that no matter which region I choose to compete in, the competition will be tough.”
But tough competition is important to Andersen’s 2015 goal.
“Even though my goal is to make it to the Games as an individual in the future, I still think that it would be an amazing experience to compete at the Games on Team Invictus. Then hopefully the experience will make me more ready to go individual for the 2015 season.”
He has altered his programing since September to help him prepare. Andersen began a heavy squat cycle, working with an Olympic lifting coach and decided to forgo the strict paleo diet that he was on leading up to regionals last year. As a result, he gained both weight and strength, putting up numbers such as a 320-lb. clean and jerk and 365-lb. front squat. He can row 2,000 m in 6:29, holds a 2:07 Fran time and can complete 17 unbroken muscle-ups.
He’s also put his new training regimen to the test by competing as an individual in California, Arizona and Texas. After tying for first place at the SICest of the Southwest in Arizona, Andersen competed in Texas in the CrossFit EaDo Elite Open and took second place. Back in Arizona, he took another second place at Rush Club. Then he faced some of the region’s biggest names back in California, including CrossFit Games veterans Kenneth Leverich, Jon Pera, Garret Fisher and Wes Piatt at the 2014 OC Throwdown (OCT), where Andersen took 11th place.
“It was awesome! I did much better than I thought I would do against such a stacked roster of veteran Games athletes and CrossFit heavy hitters,” Andersen said. “It was incredible to compete against people you always watched on YouTube and ESPN.”
Going into the 2014 Open, Andersen knows the workouts are going to punish him.
“I feel pretty much ready for anything. I know the Open workouts are going to hurt because they typically consist of fast, lightweight movements and I prefer things to be a bit heavier,” he said.
Ultimately, Andersen will be interested to see how his two regions stack up.
“It will be fun to compare all the regionals numbers when it's over and see how we end up comparing to other regions,” he said. “I think that gives a good idea of how good the teams really are.”