Kelly Valdez Uses Firefighting and CrossFit Skills to Become West Region Titan
The fifth episode of The Titan Games featured the start of the West Regional competition as six men and six women face-off against Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s handpicked Titans for a chance to compete in the finals and the $100,000 grand prize. The women’s match-up featured the first head-to-head match-up of two CrossFit athletes as Kelly Valdez and Natalie Talbert competed for a chance at Mount Olympus.
The match-up: Valdez and Talbert have each competed at CrossFit Regionals on teams. For Valdez, she made her Regional appearance at the 2013 South East Regional with Broward CrossFit. A former member of the US Coast Guard and current California wildland firefighter, Valdez has competed in the Florida Grid League and at Wodapalooza. Talbert made her Regional appearance in the 2018 West Regional with Team Diablo Moxie, placing 11th overall. Talbert is a coach at Coast Range CrossFit.
Event 1, “Launch Pad:” The first event for the women tested leg strength and momentum. Each athlete is connected to a rope atop a platform and must push off the platform to knock off a 250-lb pad unto the ground. The first athlete to knock four slabs off wins.
- Talbert struck first quickly kicking her first slab but then Valdez gained momentum and went on a tear. Valdez used the momentum from pushing off the slabs after kicking them off to keep moving, resulting in her kicking off four-straight slabs before Natalie could knock off her second, winning 4-1. Valdez – 1, Talbert – 0.
Event 2, “Over the Edge:” The Titan Game’s version of tug-of-war, had both women on elevated platforms opposite of each other. Each would have to pull on a heavy 75-foot chain to get to their rope and pull a weighted stone to their side while the other athlete pulls against them. Whoever gets the stone to their side wins.
- Valdez got to her rope first and looked to have the win before Talbert put a stop on her momentum just a few inches short. Talbert then gained the upper hand pulling the stone to her side and within inches of winning. Valdez then used her firefighter background and slung her rope over her shoulders like a hose and used her leg strength and leverage to win the event and eliminate Talbert from the competition and send herself to Mount Olympus. Valdez – 2, Talbert – 0.
Mount Olympus: Valdez faced off against American Ninja Warrior and stuntwoman Jessie Graff on the ten obstacle structure. The winner would become the West Region Titan and be one-step closer to The Titan Games Finals.
- Graff showed off her advantage in speed and quickness as she beat Valdez to the “Log Lift” but struggled with the weight and awkwardness of the 100lb log. Valdez had no problem with it gained the upper hand using her strength. Graff was only a few steps behind Valdez but once again Valdez used her strength advantage to pull the 200lb ball during the “Ball and Chain” while Graff struggled with the obstacle. Valdez, like Matt Chan a week ago, used her firefighter and CrossFit experience in using a sledgehammer to break open the “Titan Tomb” to retrieve the artifact and win the event, making her the reigning West Region Titan.
What’s next: Valdez will wait for her next challenger on Mount Olympus while Graff moves into the loser bracket for a chance to redeem herself in the Regional finals.
- On the men’s side, brothers Eric and Noah Palicia went head-to-head with Noah defeating his brother 2-1 to face Super Bowl Champion Victor Cruz on Mount Olympus. Noah would defeat Cruz and take over as the men’s West Region Titan.
- Next week’s episode will feature CrossFit Games athletes Margaux Alvarez and Kelly Stone facing off for the opportunity to face Valdez on Mount Olympus.
- The Titan Games broadcasts every Monday at 8:00 EST on NBC.