May 15, 2014
Europe Teams Stacked With Top Individuals
By Tatum Vayavananda

“With only one region for all of Europe, many strong individual athletes opt for their team, feeling it is the only way to book a spot to Carson. This strengthens the pool of team athletes.” ~Daniel Chaffey

Photos below courtesy of Beni Bachmann

With the first week of regional competition behind us, Europe is next to take the stage and team competitors from all over the continent are getting ready to fight for their ticket across the Atlantic.

“With only one region for all of Europe, many strong individual athletes opt for their team, feeling it is the only way to book a spot to Carson. This strengthens the pool of team athletes,” Daniel Chaffey said.

The owner of Reebok CrossFit Louvre, in Paris, France, has two teams going to regionals: Reebok CrossFit Louvre and Reebok CrossFit Louvre French Invictus Team.

“We are extremely lucky. We have over 800 athletes at the box, which means we have a large pool of athletes who take part in the Open. It gives us an edge,” Chaffey said.

Europe has been in the spotlight in the individual competition with Mikko Salo, Annie Thorisdottir and Samantha Briggs winning the title Fittest on Earth. Now, the teams aim for the top spots to prove their fitness.

“There are elite athletes who have chosen to take one for the team and not participate in the individual category in order to strengthen their team,” Chaffey said. “There is a real belief in Europe that the teams who qualify for the CrossFit Games have a shot at the podium. Having already had three individual Games champions, it’s time to take the team crown, as well.”

Among individuals to follow this template, Team DC, of Dragon CrossFit in Denmark, has four competitors who declined their individual invitations to regionals to chase a podium spot as a team. Team DC finished at the top of the team Leaderboard for Europe in the Open.

CrossFit Sport, CrossFit Bath and CrossFit Nordic also topped the list with several athletes declining individual spots in pursuit of the Affiliate Cup.

“I think if a European team does well at the Games, then we will see an increased number of teams at (local competitions) throughout the offseason. This can only help in developing stronger teams,” Chaffey said.

With the field of CrossFit competitors getting fitter every year, the status quo has elevated and teams no longer have room for a weak link in the roster.

“This year, no one on the team can hide,” said Ramon Gysin, owner and coach of CrossFit Basel.

With events that test every team member’s physical and athletic capacity, proficiency and skill, each member has to be an elite-caliber athlete to complete the seven regional events, which include everything from a one-rep-max hang squat snatch to muscle-ups, max-distance handstand walks and team chippers.

“Everybody has to step up and be capable of doing all the skills. It’s going to be a good amount of work for everyone on the team, to test the earnings of our hard work,” Gysin said.

At the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games, only one team from outside America—CrossFit Nordic—made the top 10. Europe’s teams have some hurdles to jump when chasing athletes from the 10 U.S. regions.

“If you’re talking about the world competition, you’re actually talking about America,” Beni Bachmann said.

But Bachman hopes the slow-and-steady exposure of CrossFit in Europe will develop a stable foundation to build athletes for future years.

“Europe has a very professional way of approaching the CrossFit methodology; America has the big mass of boxes, so I think we have an advantage because we are progressing slower and stronger to hopefully add more advantage to the athletics,” Bachmann said.

The Nordic and Scandinavian countries seem to have had the most success in recent years, with Central Europe not far behind in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A European team stepping up to the podium in July might mean more exposure for CrossFit, which, in turn, could bring more participation and regions to one of the world’s most culturally diverse continents.