Kristine Best: Resiliency and Hard Work Leads to First Games
Kristine Best has known she belonged amongst the elite athletes in the world and for six straight years she came up short of proving that to everyone else. But in six days she will finally get that chance to showcase her fitness as she is one of 30 women that will compete in the online stage of the 2020 CrossFit Games on Sept. 18-19.
Remind me: At 30 years of age, Best is the oldest of the Games rookies and also one of the most experienced. She appeared in five-straight Regionals from 2014-2018 competing as an individual in four of them. At the 2017 East Regionals the former NCAA women’s basketball player from Marist College just missed out on a Game’s berth when she placed sixth in a tough field that included Katrin Davidsdottir, Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault and Kari Pearce, all athletes she will be competing against once again for an invite to Aromas, CA.
In 2019, Best appeared to have her first Games invitation in hand after she placed 13th unofficially in the Open. However she was later hit with a major penalty on her 19.1 workout. She dropped to 174th worldwide.
She has competed in two Sanctionals as an individual the last two seasons. During the 2019 season she placed ninth at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge. This season she placed ninth at Wodapalooza in a star-studded field, finishing ahead of Games veterans Emily Rolfe, Colleen Fotsch, Jessica Griffith, Katelin Van Zyl, Paige Semenza and Thuri Helgadottir.
Enter 2020: Not to be deterred by her 2019 season, Best earned her ticket to the Games by finishing 19th in the Open but not without some drama. Those penalties that cost her in the 2019 Open once again reared their ugly head as she received penalties in both 20.1 and 20.2. Fortunately for her they were just false starts and she was assessed just a five-second penalty for each workout. Her hard work and determination finally paid off.
- “This year was a chance for me to prove to myself that I belonged amongst the best in the world,” said Best. “It was time for me to make my dream a reality and only I had the power to make that happen. Over the years I feel like I’ve become more resilient and faced much adversity to get me to where I am today. I am extremely thankful for those experiences because they led me to where I’m supposed to be at this very moment.”
Path to the “Live Five”: Like all the athletes in the field, her training and preparation has been at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, unlike many of her fellow Games competitors, Best has a full-time job to balance on top of her training. As a third grade special education teacher she has also had to adapt to the many changes the pandemic has caused in her preparation of teaching.
- “Many changes with work and also with CrossFit but just adjusting to the new norm as best as possible,” she said.
Best is an athlete that thrives in workouts that require high work capacity. Couplets and triplets that include burpees, rowing, gymnastics or traditional movements tend to be her wheelhouse workouts; a perfect example of this was during the “Down-Up” workout at Wodapalooza. That workout consisted of deadlifts at 225 LBS and bar-facing burpees with a rep scheme of 12-9-6-9-12. She finished second just three seconds behind Tia-Clair Toomey in that event.
Her highest event finish in this year’s Open followed a similar pattern. She placed fourth in 20.3 which included deadlifts, handstand push-ups and walks. Her next best finish in the Open was in 20.1 where she placed 15th, finishing her ten rounds of eight ground-to-overhead and ten bar-facing burpees in 8:44.
She runs into trouble with workouts that require heavy snatches, strict gymnastics movements, legless rope climbs and single-arm overhead movements. During the 2017 Regionals, the event that cost her a Games invitation was the third workout which required performing dumbbell overhead walking lunges twice at 100-feet and with double unders, heavy wall balls and ten rope climbs between those sets.
Rope climbs gave her fits during the “Pump Sesh” triplet at Wodapalooza. She placed 20th, her worst finish of the weekend, in the workout that required the athletes to finish three rounds of one legless rope climb, 15 dumbbell bench presses and nine dumbbell thrusters.
One of the smaller athletes in the field, standing at 5’2”, she also struggles with odd object workouts and rowing longer distances.
Benchmark 1RM Lifts
- Back Squat = 320 LBs
- Front Squat = 290 LBs
- Clean = 260 LBs
- Clean and Jerk = 230 LBs
- Snatch = 176 LBs
- Overhead Squat = 215 LBs
- Deadlift = 385 LBs