June 27, 2012
Representing Half of Iceland: CrossFit Sport
By Jane Holgate

"For the Games we simply go with the same team that won us qualification."

There will be around 15 Icelandic athletes competing in Carson, Calif., this year. Considering the size of the country compared with its European counterparts, this is an achievement for the country.

Fifty percent of the Icelanders train at the same box – CrossFit Sport. The team from CrossFit Sport is training as much as they can before they take off for California in hopes of winning the Affiliate Cup.

Amongst them is Lilja Lind Helgadottir, who is just 15 years old, naming her the youngest competitor at the Games. She is a new member of the team and according to her coach and CrossFit Sport owner Leifur Geir Hafsteinsson, Helgadottir has developed into a strong, solid CrossFitter.

“It probably helps with her training that she is the younger sister of Thuridur Erla Helgadottir, so the two of them are traveling all the way to California together,” Hafsteinsson says.

This young woman could easily be a strong individual contender in the future at the CrossFit Games.

Alongside the youth of Helgadottir comes the experience and maturity of Ingunn Ludviksdottir, a coach and ER Nurse. Ingunn is currently ranked 11th in Europe and brings both physical and mental strength to the team.  A veteran of the 2011 team, she participated in five of the six Regional workouts and was vital to the team’s overall success.  “An all-round solid CrossFitter that can cope with anything you throw at her,” Hafsteinsson says of Ludviksdottir.

Another member of the team who is anxious to get to the Home Depot Center is Hildur Grétarsdóttir a 27-year-old financial consultant who started CrossFitting two years ago. She set herself the goal of making the team last fall and has earned her spot with a great showing in the Open, followed by a strong performance at Regionals.

Law student and coach Árni Björn Kristjánsson, 24, is proof that anyone who is motivated and driven can earn themselves a place at the Games. Kristjánsson started CrossFit in the fall of 2009. At the time, he weighed around 300 pounds and according to Hafsteinsson, was barely able to do one air squat. He worked hard, changed his diet and lost around 70 pounds in the first year.

Kristjansson was a member of CrossFit Sport’s team in 2011 – they won the Regional that year. This year, he was a top performer at the Regional helping his team earn first place in Event 3 and left with a PR of 225 pounds on the Snatch Ladder.

Thirty-year-old coach Unnar Helgason earned his spot on the team with his versatility and strong bodyweight movements, including muscle-ups, butterfly pull-ups, pistols and handstand push-ups.

The third male spot is held by Árni Freyr Bjarnason, who was also a team member in 2011 and considered by Hafsteinsson to be the most well rounded male member of the team. “You can pretty much throw him in anywhere and he’ll do the job for you,” Hafsteinsson says. “But he is particularly strong at running, muscle-ups and wall ball.”

Hafsteinsson says the team had a strategy going into Regionals. “Being in the last group of Regionals, we had five weeks to prepare after the WODs were released,” he explains. “The first couple of weeks were spent mapping out who would be the best for each WOD, and after that people were pretty much focusing on their task (and snatching). We had a clear goal going into the Regional of qualifying for the Games, and luckily we made it.”

In preparation for the Games, the team has a few goals – no injuries, hold regular team practices and work on transitions and communication.

CrossFit Sport is home to many incredible athletes. So how does Hafsteinsson choose the members to compete?

“In most gyms it's pretty easy to narrow the number of potential members down to four or five males and females. You should know who your best athletes are,” he says. “The Open also helps, obviously. So, it was a mix of former competitions, current stats and results in the Open. That gave us our best four males and four females. Then, when we knew the events, we analyzed the situation and it soon became pretty clear which three males and females would be best suited to bring home the qualifying spot. For the Games, we simply go with the same team that won us qualification.”