The top five men finished Jackie in 5:09. Tenth of a second differences determined the finish order.
Three weeks of fitness hellfire have obliterated all we thought we knew about competitive CrossFit. Familiar faces on the road to the fittest have crumbled fast.
The first to fall was Spencer Hendel. The bulwark of the North East missed his fifth trip to the big show by just two points. Northern California lost original Nasty Girl Annie Sakamoto and the “manimal” Pat Barber. South West hero Chris Spealler was the tide that always came in — until it didn’t.
The 138,000 registrants of the 2013 Open hinted that CrossFit was in the midst of change. But with ears pressed to the dirt, CrossFitters resound with one remaining question: will we see the icons of the Central East fall, as well?
Leave it to the men of the Central East to bring the crowd leaping to their feet. With three enormous Holmberg heads floating out from the stands by adoring fans, eardrum-splitting screams filled the arena.
The score to beat for the event record was Jason Khalipa’s 5:04.
The region has yet to see if anyone can dethrone Rich Froning, and veterans Dan Bailey, Graham Holmberg, Marcus Hendren and Scott Panchik all want their shot.
Panchik, who rose to recognition in last year’s Regional and found himself at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, says he feels more confident this year.
“I feel more prepared, more well-rounded and just excited to be here,” he says before finishing third with a time of 5:09.6.
He tied with 2010 Games champion, Graham Holmberg and also had the luck of being positioned behind the Central East’s defending champion in the first event.
A hand up from a judge is what to look for in these events, a sign that one athlete is closing in and about to move on to the next movement. In the final heat, that was no help for spectators. Nearly every hand was in the sky at once.
In unison, the male leaders were off the rowers and at the barbell, but it would be Dan Bailey who reached the pull-up bar first.
The bar was a blur as Central East’s top men handled the Rogue rig. It looked to be anyone’s game, and when they dropped to the floor and shot to the mat, the top three finishers were separated by only two-tenths of a second.
“I want it,” Weigel says after edging out Dan Bailey for second place. “I don't do this for fun, I want to win."
As for Froning, he’s in fifth place. That’s the same placing after 2012’s Event 1, and he has six more events to prove why he’s the champion two years running.
Julie Foucher, the second fittest woman in the world, is out, and competitors like Julianne Broadbent and Sam Heydlauff are taking advantage. Both women chose individual this year, breaking from Team SPC after a 2012 Regional victory.
Instead of competing as teammates, they faced one another as opponents in the same heat.
Broadbent, who was slightly behind on the row, was the first to finish the women’s second heat with 50 unbroken thrusters and 30 unbroken pull-ups. At 6:30, she collapsed.
“I did (Jackie) before,” Broadbent says moments after winning her heat. “This was a three-minute PR today."
Her victory celebration would be short lived. CrossFit Games athletes Lisa Shiu, Lindsey Smith and Michelle Kinney were still congregated like wolves waiting for their turn.
Nicole Holcomb of 812 CrossFit was the first female to the barbell in the final heat of Event 1. In a matter of seconds, the race was on as Heather Welsh moved in.
Though she powered through the thrusters, it was Jennifer Smith who hit the pull-up bar first followed closely by Lindsey Smith and Michelle Kinney.
In what was a battle of the Smiths, Jennifer would drop from the bar giving Lindsey an edge as she went unbroken and sprinted to the finish. Smith came into the heat with a goal of finishing Jackie in 6:26. She walked away with a time of 6:09.
“I had no idea what the time would be but it felt good,” Lindsey Smith said. “Since knee surgery, I’ve been working on upper body and felt more comfortable on the pull-ups than in past years.”
Just one event into this weekend’s competition, the pressure is not lost on the Games veteran.
“I definitely feel like I have cargo on my back and I just need to stay focused,” she said.
“Partner Jackie” doesn’t imply the workload is shared. One woman and one man from each team gets a crack at her, and the leading lady better work fast if she wants to give her man a chance at finishing before the sand runs out.
Defending Regional champions SPC CrossFit didn’t work fast enough.
Fielding a slightly modified team this year, SPC CrossFit’s female struggled on the rig. Dropping from the bar to take several breaks between reps, the duo’s performance came to an end on their male’s 47th thruster.
Equally surprising was CrossFit Maximus’ finish. Though winners of the Open, the Kentucky team was stopped just after the time cap with one rep remaining.
To Team Maven, however, the time cap didn’t matter.
After driving through her 1,000-meter row, Maven’s Mikki Nuccio was the first to the pull-up bar, giving herself a wide berth with a steady kip. When her coach and counterpart Brad Berlin took over, it was clear he practiced what he preached.
"We knew we could win this one,” Berlin says.
Berlin completed all 30 pull-ups unbroken after making short work of the thrusters. He was the only one in the team competition to do it.
The rookies from Maven made Jackie look like any other training day, as they were followed 19 seconds later by CrossFit New Albany. Both Team CrossFit New Albany and Team CrossFit Grandview arrived at the rig at the same time.
Butterfly pull-ups made the difference and CrossFit New Albany snagged second place, eight seconds before CrossFit Grandview.
“The strategy was to go all out,” Dane Yountz from New Albany says. “We didn’t row as fast as we would have liked, but it was good.”
Event 1 Top Finishers
1. Joe Weigel (5:09.2)
2. Dan Bailey (5:09.4)
3T. Scott Panchik and Graham Holmberg (5:09.6)
5. Rich Froning (5:09.8)
1. Lindsey Smith (6:09.2)
2. Michelle Kinney (6:14.2)
3. Lindy Wall (6:24.4)
4. Jennifer Smith (6:24.8)
5. Nicole Holcomb (6:27.1)
1. Maven (12:17.1)
2. CrossFit New Albany (12:36.7)
3. CrossFit Grandview (12:44.1)
4. Indy North Black (13:05.8)
5. Jacked and Tan (13:10.0)
In Events 2 and 3, athletes will put heavy weight overhead, and then see if they still have the strength to fly on the rings.