Lowlands Preview: From Sint Gone Bad to CrossFit Semifinal
More than 10 years ago at CrossFit Twente, 43 athletes from all over Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands performed 3 workouts on one day in front of 100 spectators.
This first edition of what was then called ‘Sint Gone Bad’, was a small but successful event where the love for CrossFit was shared and successes were celebrated.
Equipment was gathered from all over the country and judges and volunteers were mostly members of the organizing boxes.Today the Lowlands Throwdown is one of ten Semifinals happening around the world and will qualify five men, five women, and five teams to the 2021 NoBull CrossFit Games. Needless to say, the competition has come a long way.
When it comes to Games veterans in the field there are actually quite a few, however, only three of the nine men and three of the nine women who have competed at the Games, had any Games experience before the past two seasons (in which the qualification processes were very different from what we had before, and have again, in 2021).
For the men those three athletes are Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson, Frederik Aegidius, and Adrian Mundilwer, the three women are Annie Thorisdottir, Thuridur Helgadottir, and Laura Horvath. Not only do all six of these athletes have more Games experience, they have Regionals experience, a format which is very similar to this year’s Semifinal. Granted these are online competitions and Regionals were always in person events, but the pressure of knowing you have one weekend and one chance to get to the Games remains. All six of these Games vets are strong candidates to do well this weekend.
Online Specialists or Games Contenders?
There are two men in particular in this field who have shone brilliantly through the first two stages of competition (both of which were online). With a third online competition set to take place, is there any reason not to think that Reggie Fasa and Simon Mantyla, who were first and second amongst all European men after Quarterfinals, can’t do it again? Mantyla qualified via online competition to the Games in 2019 and placed 45th, Fasa will be attempting to make the Games for the first time.
For the women, look for Iceland’s Solveig Sigurdardottir to have some strong performances this weekend. Her best gymnastics movements are typically ring muscle ups and handstand walking, while her favorite barbell movement is the snatch. Most of her high level experience has come in the team competition in 2016 and 2017, and though she’s been around for a while she’s still only 26 years old. It will be a difficult women’s field to make the Games in, but the Last Chance Qualifier is definitely inside the realm of possibility for her.
On the men’s side, some might not consider them dark horses, but both Latvia’s Uldis Upenieks and Poland’s Bronislaw Olenkowicz will be seeking to punch their second trip to Madison. Both qualified in 2019 where Upenieks took 31st and Olenkowicz finished 42nd. Online competition has generally been more favorable for Upenieks, who has been inside the top 100 in the worldwide Open each of the last three years, including placing seventh worldwide in 2019 and 10th in the quarterfinals.
The Role of Programming in Qualifying Process:
The programming will almost definitely factor into the eventual rankings and qualifying spots. Of the six tests CrossFit has provided, three of them have time caps of 25 minutes or longer, two of them will take less than five minutes, and there is only one workout that falls into the “middle” time domain of five to twenty minutes. There is also a lot of high repetition being tested. Athletes will need to show proficiency with a 50/35 lb db, which will be used for two of the workouts and account for nearly 400 repetitions. There are also 60 ring muscle ups and 12 legelss rope climbs, which means all the upper body pulling that was absent in quarterfinals must be a strength for Semifinal athletes hoping to make the Games.
Evaluating online performance in a weekend long test is in some ways more difficult than doing so for live competition, but there is data from recent history to help in the process. Nevertheless, expect veterans to excel, especially on the women’s side, but look for a couple surprises as well in a very wide open men’s field.
*The women will receive four spots for the Last Chance Qualifier because South African Lee Keyrouz was unable to travel to South Africa and has been placed in the women’s field here.
Although teams will be forced to compete online, and the worms are therefore unavailable as a means to test teamwork, the virtual programming will demand teams to have most of the skills and cohesion Games teams should have. As the live teams competitions have featured, this programming tests teamwork in a variety of ways that should prove effective in selecting the best teams to advance to the CrossFit Games.
The return to the affiliate cup means it might take a little time for the world to get reacquainted with the true Games contenders on the teams side. But, in the field at the Lowlands Throwdown there should be some names (teams, as well as individuals) which fans who have been around for a while will know.
- CrossFit Zurriola Training Culture: Come in as the top seeded team from Quarterfinals, but both Pablo Cazalis and Oihana Moya are competing as individuals for Semifinals at the German Throwdown. They still have some experience, but it’s unlikely they’ll end up as the top team here.
- Butchers Lab T-Bone: Many in Europe see this team, which placed third in Quarterfinals, as the top team in this Semi. Frederikke Frandsen, Julian Kragh-Maschvitsz, and Klaus Uggerhoj all have significant competitive experience. Kragh -Maschvitsz was on the Butcher’s Lab Team which won Pandaland during the 2019-2020 Sanctional season.
- Bergen Limitless: Their female athletes, Hanna Venemyr and Hanne Short, competed together on a team in Norway in 2020. Venemyr also competed with The Athlete Program at both Filthy 150 and Pandaland. Typically it’s important to have strong capable women in team competition, so this should all bode fairly well for them.
There are also a few teams who have strong individual men that have seen success competing for them:
- Marcus Erixon, who placed 17th and 18th respectively at Norway and Strength in Depth in 2020, turned down an individual invitation to Semifinals and will compete with Team CrossFit Holistic.
- Miłosz Staworzyński, who has previously been the second fittes in Poland (2016), and competed twice in the 2020 Sanctional season (Filthy 150 -22nd, and Wodapalooza – 17th) will feature for Team Genius out of CrossFit Mokotow in Poland.
- Max Olivestrand, who placed 7th at Norway and 14th at Strength in Depth in 2020 is on the CrossFit Nordic Team who despite placing 30th in the quarterfinals could very likely be in contention for a Games spot during Semis.