On Friday, May 9, CrossFit athletes will flock from nearly 20 nations and territories to Santiago, Chile for the Latin America Regional.
As CrossFit flourishes and the talent increases in the region, the Leaderboard reads more like a world map than a roster.
Among the women competing, 13 fly the Mexican flag. Brazil will send four women, while the remaining competitors represent Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Peru and Grand Cayman.
Notably, 2014 is the first year Peru will send a woman to regionals—Jane Evans, of CrossFit Imperio.
Last year’s winner Courtney Modecki returned to the South West in 2014, while three-year regional competitor and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games athlete Tarasa Barnett sits out altogether.
Since 2011, when Latin America sent only five women to the regional floor in Panama City, Panama, the region has upped the ante in the female competition.
After a fourth-place finish at the regional last year, Chilean athlete Marylin Rojas finished the 2014 Open in eighth overall. Wanda Brenton, former member of Team CrossFit 7 Mile, tackles the individual competition for the first time this year after winning the Open in Latin America.
In preparation to compete among the best CrossFit athletes in the world, many of these women have focused their programming on strength training and Olympic weightlifting for the past year.
The training has paid off for Mexican athlete Itzel Cadena of CrossFit 510SP, who recently hit a 225-lb. clean and jerk and a 175-lb. snatch. Ibarra has also improved her clean and jerk to 198 lb.
Their efforts will be put to the test in the first regional event, in which athletes will have three attempts and six minutes to establish a one-rep-max hang snatch.
With a reported 154-lb. snatch, Ibarra is a likely contender for a top spot in Event 1. But with her competitors not far behind—at least six other women report snatches of 140 lb. or more—nothing is guaranteed.
What some competitors may lack in skill under the bar, they will make up with dexterity on their hands in Event 2’s handstand walk for distance. More than half of the women competing in Latin America cite a background in gymnastics, promising a close race in the second event.
Still, even those who are comfortable upside down will have to prove their strength with the strict handstand push-ups of Event 4.
Pravatti knows all too well the feeling of failure on the wall. In 2012, she failed to complete the first event, Diane, and was sent packing just minutes after the regional began.
Haunted by the memory, she’s spent the last two years practicing.
“I love Diane now,” Pravatti said.
However, she admitted her love for Diane is more a love for the kip.
“I’m too tall, and strict handstand push-ups do not favor me,” she said.
She said she appreciates a failure to complete all of the reps will mean a time-capped score, rather than an early regional demise.
“I love not (being) disqualified,” she said. “My only strategy will be to try to fight … and (try) to get better in the other events that favor me.”
The legless rope climbs in Event 5 will present a new challenge for most Latin America women.
Though team CrossFit 7 Mile faced the rope sans feet at the Games last year, the time ran out before Brenton had her turn. This weekend, fans will see whether she put to practice what she witnessed in Carson, California last year.
As the level of high-performing competitors continues to rise each year, expectations for the Latin America Regional also rise, and the event in Santiago, Chile, promises to be a display of athletic virtuosity never before seen in Latin America.