December 12, 2017
When Worlds Collide
By Tommy Marquez
CrossFitters take on the 2017 IWF Weightlifting World Championships.
CrossFitters take on the 2017 IWF Weightlifting World Championships.

The 2017 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships came to a close last week at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. For the second consecutive time, the United States and USA Weightlifting played host to the weightlifting elite for eight days of competition.

CrossFit’s own weightlifting competition, the CrossFit Liftoff, powered by Rogue, wrapped up last week as well. Weightlifters and CrossFitters alike took part in the online competition that consists of two max lifts and a test of GPP.

CrossFit and weightlifting have developed a symbiotic relationship in recent years, evidenced by the growing number of lifters whose introduction to competitive weightlifting happened within the walls of a CrossFit affiliate.

Additionally, many high-level weightlifters are using CrossFit to improve their general physical preparedness and create a baseline of fitness for themselves outside of competition.

It seems fitting, then, that this year’s Weightlifting World Championships included numerous CrossFit athletes, past and present, competing in multiple categories.

Below is a breakdown of the CrossFit athletes who competed and a recap of their performances.

Women 48 kg

Alyssa Ritchey

2017 was supposed to be an off year for perennial Regional competitor Alyssa Ritchey. “I was planning on taking this year off just to get strong,” Ritchey reflected. “I was supposed to just be at home, working out and taking a break from competition.”

Instead, she found herself stepping onto the lifting platform for her first international competition at Worlds, representing Team USA in the A session of the women’s 48-kg (106-lb.) category.

Ritchey completed four of her six attempts, two each in the snatch and clean and jerk. She finished with a 78-kg (172-lb.) snatch and 99-kg (218-lb.) clean and jerk. Her 177-kg total was good for seventh overall and was a PR, along with her more-than-double-body-weight clean and jerk.

Women 53 kg

Caitlin Hogan

Former Regional individual competitor Caitlin Hogan broke a nine-year-old American record with her performance in the women’s 53-kg category.

Hogan, the former hockey player turned CrossFitter turned weightlifter, snatched 83 kg (183 lb.) and clean and jerked 111 kg (244 lb.). Her total of 194 kg broke the previous American record of 193 kg in the total, which was set by Melanie Roach back at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Hogan previously competed in the CrossFit Games season, qualifying for the 2014 Southern California Regional as an individual. She finished 14th overall before shifting her focus to weightlifting full time.

Women 58 kg

Thuridur Helgadottir

Four-time CrossFit Games individual competitor Thuri Helgadottir stole the show in the B session of the women’s 58 kg category with her grit and determination en route to a six-for-six performance.

Helgadottir, representing Iceland, finished with an 86-kg (190-lb.) snatch and 108-kg (238-lb.) clean and jerk, good for a 194-kg (428-lb.) total. All three marks were personal bests, and would become new Icelandic national records in her weight category. The records didn’t come without a little fight.

During her final snatch, Helgadottir stalled out in the catch and sat for a tense moment in order to stabilize the weight overhead before completing the lift.

In her final clean-and-jerk attempt, she fought through a sticking point as she narrowly stood up the clean, then dove deep into her split in order to lock out the jerk. Her shoulders began to tremble as she slowly gathered her feet to complete the lift, but she managed to hold on and stand tall for the judges as the crowd applauded her performance.

Both lifts were PRs for Helgadottir, who finished 18th at this year’s CrossFit Games.

The platform

Rachel Leblanc-Bazinet

Representing Canada, former gymnast Rachel Leblanc-Bazinet is the owner and coach at CrossFit Brossard, and has competed at Regionals as an individual as well as on her affiliate team.

Leblanc-Bazinet is the sister of 2014 Games champ Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and one of Canada’s top weightlifters.

She failed her opening snatch attempt at 76 kg (168 lb.), but rebounded nicely to hit her next two attempts at 76 kg and 78 kg (172 lb.).

In the clean and jerk, Leblanc-Bazinet made her opening attempt at 98 kg (216 lb.), but failed the clean during her second and third attempts. She finished with a 176-kg (388-lb.) total.

Women 63 kg

Bjork Odinsdottir

2014 Games individual qualifier Bjork Odinsdottir kept the record-breaking performances coming for the Icelandic women in the B session of the women’s 63-kg (139-lb.) weight category.

Odinsdottir opened the snatch portion of the competition with makes on her first two attempts at 82 kg (181 lb.) and 85 kg (187 lb.) before failing her final attempt at 88 kg (194 lb.). Her second attempt was good for a new Icelandic national record.

Odinsdottir backed up her performance in the snatch with another Icelandic national record in the clean and jerk and total. She hit two of her three attempts and finished with a 109-kg (240-lb.) clean and jerk, good for a 194-kg (428-lb.) total.

Odinsdottir, who was also on CrossFit Nordic’s 2016 Affiliate Cup team at the Games, finished ninth as an individual at this year’s Meridian Regional.

Mona Pretorius

Former individual Games athlete Mona Pretorius took the platform for the Republic of South Africa in the 63-kg (139 lb.) B session.

Pretorius turned in a two-for-six performance, hitting her second attempts in both the snatch and clean and jerk for a 200-kg (441-lb.) total. She finished with the third-highest total in her group.

Pretorius qualified for the 2011 Games out of the Africa Region. She returned to CrossFit competition two years later and finished third at the 2013 Africa Regional.

Maude Charron

Maude Charron nearly pulled off an improbable scenario by almost medaling in the women’s 63-kg (139 lb.) category despite lifting in the B session.

Charron walked away with some new jewelry, though, as her 102-kg (225-lb.) snatch earned her the silver medal in the individual lift. Her clean and jerk of 122 kg (269 lb.) brought her total to 224 kg (494 lb.), just one kilo shy of third-place Mercedes Perez’s total.

Maude Charron
Maude Charron 

Charron is a three-time individual Regional competitor from Canada East, and was the worldwide leader in the Open after 15.1 and 15.1a.

What’s most impressive about Charron’s performance is that she lifted in the B session a full day before the remaining lifters in her category. The A-session lifters knew her results ahead of time, and Charron didn’t have the benefit of competing alongside the athletes she was battling with for the podium.

Women 69 kg

Sol Sigurdsdottir

Solveig “Sol” Sigurdsdottir was the third and final female Icelandic CrossFitter to take the platform for her country at Worlds.

Sigurdsdottir finished the 69-kg (152 lb.) B session with a 190-kg (419-lb.) total after posting an 82-kg (181-lb.) snatch and 108-kg (238-lb.) clean and jerk.

Sigurdsdottir competed at the CrossFit Games the last two years in the Affiliate Cup competition. In 2016, she was a member of CrossFit XY’s 34th-place team. This year, she moved to CrossFit Reykjavik’s team, which qualified for the Games but had to withdraw with four events remaining.

Harrison Maurus

The chances of the U.S men breaking a 20-year medal drought at the World Championships rested squarely on Harrison Maurus’ shoulders.

The 17-year-old weightlifting phenom in the 77-kg (170-lb.) A session got off to a great start, completing his first two snatch attempts at 150 kg (331 lb.) and 155 kg (342 lb.). Maurus’ third attempt at 159 kg (351 lb.) would have broken Oscar Chaplin’s 18-year-old American record—the longest-standing record for American men—but Maurus was unable to stabilize the lift overhead and missed the attempt.

Maurus bounced back in the clean and jerk, making his first attempt at 187 kg (412 lb.) before calling for 193 kg (425 lb.) in his second attempt. The lift would break his own Youth World and Senior American record, as well as Oscar Chaplin’s long-standing Senior American record in the total.

As if by design, the intro to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” started playing before the clock began counting down the time remaining for Maurus to make his attempt. Maurus stepped onto the platform. His approach to the bar was a treat to watch.

He carefully paces right to left, checking the plates on either side with a stern face, eyes fixated on the weight the entire time. From the crowd, Maurus looks like a predator methodically stalking his prey before he attacks.

As the clock nearly expired on his attempt window, Maurus managed to make quick work of his clean before pausing to set himself for the jerk. He stuck the jerk and the crowd erupted.

Harrison Maurus
Kevin Simons and Harrison Maurus

“He likes to give me a heart attack sometimes by waiting until the end of his time to lift,” said Maurus’ coach, two-time CrossFit Games individual Kevin Simons, “but he always knows how much time he’s got left.”

Unfortunately for Maurus, a muscle cramp in his quad during the second attempt prevented him from taking his third and final attempt at the clean and jerk. “He didn’t have a hard weight cut, and he was good on food, water and electrolytes, but sometimes it still happens,” reflected Simons. “He felt great and so we wanted to be aggressive in our jumps.”

“We do well with aggressive,” Maurus responded.

Maurus’ consolation was a pair of bronze medals in the clean and jerk and total, and a sinclair total that now ranks him No. 1 all-time in the history of USA men’s weightlifting.

Maurus, a former gymnast, was inspired by watching Simons, then his gymnastics coach, train for the CrossFit Games. Soon, Maurus found weightlifting and made the switch—and the rest was history.

Men 85 kg

Sean Brown

Sean Brown of CrossFit Ireland, CrossFit HD and HD Barbell Club threw down in the 85-kg (187-lb.) C session, going three for six and hitting all three of his snatch attempts.

Although Brown was unable to post a total after missing all three of his clean-and-jerk attempts, his 145-kg (320-lb.) snatch set a new Irish national record.

Brown currently holds the Irish records for snatch, clean and jerk, and total in the men’s 85-kg category.