"Fast, no holding back." ~Adrian Conway of Hack's Pack Ute on defending their title.
The South West has always been a source of heated competition, but the events look to get downright frosty at the 2013 Regional in Salt Lake City.
Unlike previous years, when athletes have competed in fair weather climates, the fittest men, women and teams in the South West have been put on ice, literally. Assembling within the cool confines of the Olympic Oval, the region's best will hit the mats atop an indoor speed-skating rink to decide who will get to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
The 2013 Regional brings with it a shifting of power in the region, but not in the traditional sense. In previous years, the Individual Men’s and Women's competitions reigned, but the Team competition represents an intrigue this time around.
Still, there is no shortage of anticipation across the board as the South West's best of the best aim to slug it out on the competition floor.
Technique can often make or break a workout — especially when the workout is Jackie. This proved to be the case in the opening round as a combination of mental and muscle fatigue threw off a promising start by CrossFit NRG's Sarah Butler.
Competing in her very first Regional event, Butler was the first off the rower and the first to finish her thrusters, but hit a wall on pull-ups. Seizing the opportunity, Meredith Smith whipped past Butler with a fast set of butterfly pull-ups to finish with a heat best time of 7:24.
For CrossFit Verve's Emmalee Moore, Jackie played right into her strengths. After making her way through the 1,000-meter row and 50 thrusters, Moore used her gymnastics background on the pull-ups to pull ahead with a set of 15 unbroken.
Peeling off another 10, Moore hopped on the bar to close out the final 5 reps as the crowd got louder. She had this one in the bag.
"My goal was 20 and 10 on the pull-ups, but I have a hard time with the thrusters," Moore said. "I grew up doing gymnastics, I love anything with pull-ups."
The final heat was headlined by 18-year-old Colleen Maher, who was nearly untouchable during the 2013 Open. But it wasn't Maher who caused commotion — it was the veteran.
Moving steadily and unwavering through the row and thrusters, Becky Conzelman threatened to close out Jackie with a new event record. However, a slip on the pull-ups sullied her rhythm and opened the door for CrossFit Venture's Natalie McClain.
McClain made 30 unbroken pull-ups look easy and edged out Conzelman and Tiffany Hendrickson to lock in the top time.
It was a two-man race between Matt Chan and Chris Spealler at the end of the 2012 South West Regional, and the pair picked up right where they left off in the opening event. Whereas Spealler got the best of Chan with an epic display of unbroken muscle-ups a year ago, it was Chan who broke through this time around.
Chan put himself in a position to win with a display of 50 unbroken thrusters, and it proved to be just enough to hold Speal, Matt Hathcock and Kyle Boyer to take the heat and the event.
Prior to that, it was another of the South West's chiseled veterans who got in on the action, showing that he still has something left in the tank, even at age 31.
"I started getting a little frustrated because I got some reps taken away,” said Pat Burke, who narrowly qualified for the Regional this year after making the Games in 2012. "You don't really account for that, but that was my plan — to go unbroken."
Burke finished Event 1 in a tie for 19th.
The opening heat was not without surprises, as CrossFit Utah Valley raced to an early lead thanks to the performance of 16-year-old Jessie Bradley.
"I chose to pace off the rower so that I was fresh for the thrusters and then just trust in our training," said Bradley, who previously competed in the 2011 Regional at age 14. "We've done a lot of this in practice, so just getting through it."
However, Bradley's steady approach to Jackie wasn't enough to keep the affiliate in the lead. A late push on the final set of pull-ups put Bullet Proof Tiger slightly ahead with a time of 13:44.
From there, the opening heat proved to be business as usual. Bomb Squad, who made it to the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games after placing third at last year's Regional, displayed a methodical approach to Jackie that saw them powering ahead of the competition in the second heat to finish with a time of 14:09.
Displaying the power, poise and technique that pushed them to the top of the 2012 Regional, Hack's Pack UTE flew through both sets of thrusters and pull-ups with a fervor unmatched, besting the rest with an Event 1 time of 12:13.
"Great way to start the weekend," said an enthusiastic Adrian Conway of his strong performance.
For Conway, one of the six returning members of the Hack's Pack UTE team that made the Games a year ago, and his fellow teammates, the quest to defend their South West title has officially begun.
"Fast, no holding back."