The second sanctioned year kicks off today for the Dubai CrossFit Championship (DCC), and the five day competition will play host to a collection of some of the best CrossFit athletes in the world. Touting one of the biggest prize purses in the sport, the DCC led off the season last year and quickly became one of the premiere events in the new system. This season Dubai will close out competition for 2019, before the season reloads in 2020, but there are a ton of good storylines to chew on this week in the desert.
Top Athlete Tune-up: Even though most of the biggest names in the field already have a spot to the Games secured through the Open, there’s a great opportunity for them to use this weekend as a measuring stick against a very talented field.
- For the men, Patrick Vellner, Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson, Travis Mayer, and Willy Georges all have unofficially qualified, but are Games contenders who could gain some valuable insight, and a decent payday this weekend.
- On the women’s side Sara Sigmundsdottir, Katrin Davidsdottir, and Jamie Greene have all stood on the CrossFit Games podium and will have a nice battle on their hands knowing they have a Games spot and this weekend can build some momentum going into 2020.
Still in need of a spot: Brent Fikowski and Sam Briggs are the biggest names that still need one. For Fikowski a backfill invite from the Open is likely, but he could earn some insurance with a podium finish that should secure an invite regardless. Briggs won’t be getting one through the Open after an injury dashed her chances, but she’s more than capable of a podium finish which should be enough to get an invite in this field.
- Also without a spot: David Shorunke, Giorgios Karavis, and Spencer Panchik who are competing this weekend. All three finished right next to each other on the worldwide leaderboard (34-36), just a couple spots behind Fikowski. If Fikowski gets a backfill invite from the Open, then finishing somewhere in the 6-10 range overall could get the invite a la Connor Duddy last year.
- Eik Gylfadottir, Emily Rolfe, and Carole Castellani are Games athletes on the women’s side from last year that don’t have a spot to the Games yet this year. Whether or not Briggs is fully healthy will have a huge impact on their chances. Similar to Andrea Solberg at the Filthy 150, they may need a top 5 finish ahead of Briggs to nab the invite.
Sophomore athletes to watch: The new system opened the door for a host of new athletes to step onto the CrossFit Games floor. Sometimes it can galvanize an athlete to reach new heights, and there’s no shortage of athletes here in Dubai that are looking to do just that against top competition.
- Jeffrey Adler: Finished 33rd at the Games and just had a career best finish of 5th worldwide in the Open this season to earn his way back to Madison. Won Open workout 20.4 in impressive fashion, and took 13th in Dubai last year.
- Karin Frey: Finished 4th in Dubai last season, and nearly won it. Took 22nd as a rookie at the 2019 Games and will return again this season as the national champion of Slovakia. Could be one of the next big European athletes.
- Lefteris Theofanidis: One of the most talked about athletes in the Open the past two years makes his Sanctionals debut after not competing in a single event last year. Back-to-back finishes of 4th or better worldwide in the Open turned some people’s heads, but a 60th place finish at the Games left them scratching them. Let’s see if his live performance can live up to his Open scores.
- National Champions Julie Hougard, Shahad Budebs, Lari Cunha, Gabriela Migala, Fabian Beneito, Zack George, Uldis Upeneiks, and Lazar Dukic will also gain some valuable experience this week.
The team competition is a little bit different than last year, with Rich Froning being tapped to do the programming for the event. The field only consists of nine teams, but with the injury to Kristof Horvath of team The Progrm, the field could narrow to only eight teams. MisFit P10 Performance, Team Prepared, and We Got Cake all have members from Games teams last year with slightly adjusted rosters, so this weekend could be an interesting test run for these teams with a Games invite waiting at the end.
Must See Moment: Individual event 4, the one rep max clean and jerk. Athletes with big listed PR’s like Tola Morakinyo (385lbs), Theofanidis (400lbs), and Callerina Natori (255lbs), meant that there’s a possibility that we could see the record set for the heaviest lift down in CrossFit competition.
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