How to Watch 20.3 + Expert Predictions

October 21, 2019 by
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Two down, three to go, and the second week of the Open was a week full of firsts. It was the first time thrusters have shown up before the final week, and for the first time ever we ditched the barbell and opted for some dumbbell thrusters instead. For the seventh time in Open history, 20 minutes was the prescribed duration, and it tested our mental focus as well as our fitness. 

For the second week in a row we’ve got an announcement in the land down under, as an Australian sanctional will once again play host alongside the very first Open announcement in Norway. Following a year where a Norwegian individual made the CrossFit Games podium for the first time, they’ll get to play host to an Open announcement, before hosting their first Sanctional event as well later this year. In week two LoFranco rebounded strong from a week one shutout to bring things back to almost level, and below are the updated results from our expert picks.

Brandon Domingue: 3-3 (1-1 in week 2)
Tommy Marquez: 2-4 (1-1 in week 2)
Justin LoFranco: 2-4 (2-0 in week 2)

Kristin Holte vs. Nico Billaudel, Matilde Garnes vs. Rebecka Vitesson Presented by the Norwegian CrossFit Championship

  • Location: CrossFit Gamlebyen – Oslo, Norway
  • Start time: Livestream will start at 4:15 PM PST, which is 1:15 AM local time on October 25. 
  • How to watch: The livestream will be hosted on the NCC YouTube and Facebook pages as well as the Games page. 
  • Background: An intriguing double feature in Norway. The first is a matchup of Norway’s finest from 2019, as the 2nd fittest woman on earth Kristen Holte takes on Nico Billaudel, Norway’s national champion on the men’s side. Holte is a 6-time CrossFit Games athletes, while Billaudel made his rookie debut in 2019 as the first Norwegian man to make the Games where he finished 40th. 

Justin LoFranco: Kristen Holte and Matilde Garnes

Kristin Holte’s record really speaks for itself. She’s coming off a career-high second at the CrossFit Games and doesn’t appear to have missed a beat with a 6th place finish worldwide on 20.1. Regardless of what twists Dave Castro has for week 3, I really don’t see this going any other way. 

Rebecka Vitesson and Matilde Garnes is a really close match-up. Each has been to the CrossFit Games on teams, both finished mid-teens at one Sanctional last year, and both made significant jumps up the worldwide leaderboard last season. I’m going with Garnes for two reason: 1). Home court advantage and 2). Her 191st place finish in 20.1 compared to Vitesson’s 586th. Statistically speaking, Garnes is still very much in the running to qualify worldwide depending on her 20.2 score and I think that’s a strong motivator to go to that dark place. 

Brandon Domingue: Kristin Holte and Rebecka Vitesson

Kristin Holte has long been one of the quietest contenders in the women’s field and finally had her podium breakthrough just a couple of months ago.  While Nico Billaudel was an impressive 40th place in Madison himself, Open workouts typically are perfectly suited for Holte and rarely will I pick against her in this format (though I think this week will be less of an engine check than the first two weeks).  Expect Holte’s momentum to continue in a well deserved moment in the spotlight of a head-to-head Open announcement.

The remaining contest is practically a coin flip.  Last year Vitesson and Garnes were about as even as you could get in a head-to-head, they have similar builds and similar resumes.  I do believe this event should see something heavier and with a high-skill component (maybe deadlift/HSPU or muscle ups) and with something like that I’ll go with the athlete who held the edge in that style a year ago, Rebecka Vitesson.

Tommy Marquez: Kristin Holte and Rebecka Vitesson

No disrespect to Billaudel, who had a respectable showing at the Games as the first male from Norway to qualify, but Kristin Holte is absolutely on fire. In 2019 she was Norway’s national champion in the Open, had a career-best 3rd place finish worldwide in the Open, won the Asia CrossFit Championship, and finished 2nd at the Games. It’s a string of success 6 years in the making as she’s methodically gone from an unknown rookie, who won an event and finished 16th at the 2014 Games, to a perennial top-10 athlete at the Games and podium contender. Her physical and mental preparation and attention to detail is second to none. She’s also familiar with this environment, having done the late-night 17.1 announcement alongside Sam Briggs in France.

Vitesson and Garnes are both athletes on the rise, and have improved their worldwide Open performance each of the last 3 seasons and looked poised to do so again. What this pick comes down to is what’s left on the table programming wise. We have yet to see a heavy barbell, muscle-up, or handstand push-ups, and my guess is we’ll see one of those this week as things in the Open dial up another notch. In the workouts that featured those movement last year Vitesson was 3-0 against Garnes head-to-head, with the biggest disparity coming in the strict handstand push-up centric 19.3. Garnes has kept the blade sharp in the off-season, winning the International Functional Fitness Federation team world championship with Norway, so it’s going to be close either way. 

Madeline Sturt vs. James Newbury presented by the Down Under CrossFit Championship

  • Location: CrossFit FX – Sydney, Australia
  • Start Time: Livestream coverage will start at 4:45 PM PST, which is 10:45 AM local time October 25. 
  • How to watch: The livestream will be hosted on the CrossFit Games website.
  • Background: An Australian battle of the sexes pits two established veterans in Sturt and Newbury. Sturt, a 4-time CrossFit Games athlete at just 22 years old, finished 23rd at the Games this year and has been competing in the Open since she was 15 years old. Newbury is a 4-time Games athlete as well and is coming off a career-best finish of 5th at the Games, ending a 10-year drought for Australian men in the top 5 since “Commando” Steve Willis was the last to do it in 2009

JL: Maddie Sturt

Over the past two Opens, Maddie Sturt has outperformed James Newbury on the worldwide Open leaderboard. It’s a little hard to get a sense of where both athletes are given that I can only see their 20.1 scores at the time of writing, but even then Sturt’s 164th place finish to Newbury’s 285th is showing the trend is continuing. Last year, at the live 19.2 announcement, Sturt edged out Newbury in the heavy squat clean ladder so I’m confident that even with a heavier barbell she’ll have the edge in this one. 

BD: Madeline Sturt

This is a really tricky one to pick between two athletes that just continue to develop a better and more complete set of skills every time we see them.  Hard to remember that Sturt is just 22 with how she’s been on the Games scene for the past four seasons. With that you can see her getting more comfortable in competition and developing into a rather well-rounded athlete and potential top-ten threat should the trend continue.  For Newbury, last season was the culmination of what many have expected for the past few seasons now as he cracked into the top-ten for the first time. While I think we’re looking at a heavy test in week 3, I’m going to re-use my Holte theory and stick by who Open events tend to favor, give me Sturt in this one.

TM: James Newbury

In recent years the Open isn’t typically Newbury’s cup of tea when compared to his relative performances at Regionals, Sanctionals, and the Games. Sturt has typically outperformed him in this regard, BUT there was one distinct place last Open where Newbury had the upper hand, higher skill gymnastics – specifically muscle-ups and handstand push-ups. Newbury beat Sturt in both 19.3 and 19.4 which featured a heavy dose of strict handstand push-ups, and 30 bar muscle-ups in the back half of the workout. I’m hanging my predictions on my belief we’ll either be kicking upside down or muscling up for the meat of the workout in 20.3, and Newbury brings the heat. 

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