CrossFit Games

Lowlands Throwdown: Veterans Dominate on Day Three, Storm CrossFit Games Fields

June 13, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Bjorgvin Karl Gudmunsson (instagram.com/bk_gudmundsson)
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Make room on the leaderboards at the CrossFit Games; because a slew of veterans were impressive as expected this weekend, many of whom should be poised for top ten runs at worst, and podium runs at best. 

Women: All five qualifying women were in qualifying spots after day two. All five are Games veterans. And all five will likely be projected as being in the top half of the Games field once it’s fully established. And a few of them will be looking to make return trips to the podium. 

  • Finishing first is Ireland’s Emma McQuaid. This will be her third consecutive trip to the Games. Her previous best finish was 19th last season. This is the best performance of her career so far. She finished in the top five in every event, and won workout three. Beating the four women that are about to be listed is no small feat either.
  • Just like she was at the Games in 2018, Laura Horvath is second here. She rode three event wins to a second overall finish. With only a costly ninth on workout three preventing her from beating McQuaid for the top spot. 
  • Qualifying for the Games for the eleventh time in her career, only doing so as a mother this time, is the original sweetheart of CrossFit, Annie Thorisdottir. Whether she can podium again remains to be seen, but every fan of the sport will be happy to have both sides of Annie (the ferocious athlete and the smile at the finish line) there for the 2021 NoBull CrossFit Games.
  • Like McQuaid, Poland’s Gabriela Migala will be making her third consecutive Games appearance. Consistency was excellent throughout the weekend, she managed the high volume upper body gymnastics well, and capped off the weekend with an event win. Finishing 19th last year, she’ll look to improve on that this season. 
  • Lastly is a Games stalwart who is often overlooked in the shadows of the other women from her country. But Thuri Helgadottir deserves respect from all of us. It is difficult to penetrate the upper echelon of women in Europe, and she’s part of the reason why. This is her sixth trip to the Games, and the last time she was there (2019), she finished ninth. 

Last Chance Qualifiers: 

  • All four last chance qualifiers for the women will be seeking to become Games rookies this season:
    • Spain’s Elena Caratala Sanahuja (6th)
    • Belgium’s Manon Angonese (7th)
    • The UK’s Lucy Campbell (8th)
    • Poland’s Martyna Karsiak (9th)
  • Given the women who finished in the top five, and the names who were immediately behind these four as well, all four of these performances are impressive. Don’t be surprised if one or two of these ladies are lurking around the top of the leaderboard once the LCQ gets under way in early July. 

Men: Three Games veterans lead the way here, but two rookies round out the five qualifiers who will be receiving invites to Madison.

  • Bjorgvin Karl Gudmunsson took a few licks this weekend with eleventh place finishes in workouts one and four. But, an event win and two second place finishes proved to be enough to win this Semi, which was the goal for him coming in. He’s already stated the final goal for this year is to win all the marbles at the Games this summer, and this is certainly a step in the right direction for the most consistent European performer over the last seven seasons. 
  • A second place finish sends Switzerland’s Adrian Mundwiler to his fourth CrossFit Games in the last six years. Like Helgadottir, he did not qualify last year, but finished inside the top ten (eighth) in 2019. He will definitely be eyeing another top ten finish to prove his merit amongst the best men in the sport.
  • Latvia’s finest, Uldis Upenieks, qualifies third making his second Games trip (31st in 2019). With the aggressive cuts that year we didn’t get to see him take on the full Games test, but his only often season competition is typically Dubai, and the field there is usually only second to the Games. He was seventeenth in 2018, and eleventh in 2019, so the potential is there for a top twenty finish in Madison.
  • The first of two rookies, is the second qualifier from Ireland coming out of the Lowlands Throwdown. Like McQuaid, this is the best performance of two-time second fittest in Ireland, Sam Stewart’s, career thus far. He frequented the Sanctional circuit in 2020 before it was cut short, but his only standout finish out of four competitions was tenth at Strength in Depth. Making the Games is a great feat for him, time will tell as to how he fares against the full breadth of Games athletes though. 
  • Lastly, we have the biggest surprise of the group, Finland’s Henrik Haapalainen. It does not seem like he was on anyone’s radar for a Games spot, and yet here he is, placing fifth, with over fifty points separating him from the sixth place finisher. He’s 26 years old, so not necessarily that young, but has done relatively few competitions. He was 18th at the Reykjavik CrossFit Championships in 2019 and otherwise has only participated in the Open. This is a massive moment for him and his team: there’s a shallow, but rich, history of competitive male CrossFitters from Finland. Of course 2009 champion Mikko Salo, and German Throwdown Champion this year making the Games for the seventh time Jonee Koski, but perhaps Haapalainen is the next great Finnish man in CrossFit. 

Last Chance Qualifiers: 

  • Like the women, all three men will enter the LCQ hoping to qualify for the Games for the first time:
    • Denmark’s Lucas Grouleff (7th)
    • Greece’s Iannis Papadopoulos (8th)
    • Poland’s Jakub Cieslik (9th)
  • This wasn’t the deepest men’s field necessarily, but they certainly finished ahead of plenty of known names to earn this accomplishment. Well done to all of them, and good luck in early July.

Outside looking in: It is noteworthy that a couple of  women, and a handful of men, who were popular picks to make the top five struggled throughout the weekend, and actually even failed to make the last chance qualifier. This is by no means an indication that those are bad athletes or unfit individuals. If anything it’s a testament to the depth of the field. As we’ve seen the inverse plenty of times already in the last couple of weeks; quarterfinal results (good or bad) cannot be the sole criteria for projecting Semifinal success.

Teams: For the most part the team competition played out as expected. Five of the seven teams we projected for the top seven ended up in the top five (and one of those seven teams did not didn’t participate). 

  • CrossFit Nordic was known to be missing one of their top athletes during Quarterfinals. As expected, that 30th place finish was not indicative of their talent or fitness when at full capacity. They weren’t in the lead until the end, but two top three finishes on the last day see them through to the victory
  • Team CrossFit Holistic, led by Marcus Erixon were steady from start to finish and find themselves second overall. No real bobbles here, and consistency across the board suggests Erixon is surrounded by several other talented athletes on this roster.
  • Team Motion, who had that perfect performance on day two, added a third straight event win in workout five, before taking tenth on the final workout and remaining in third overall.
  • Pre-competition favorites, and one of the overall favorites in Europe, Team Butcher’s Lab T-Bone, had a slow start to the weeknd, but finished with a second and two thirds to jump into the fourth position when all was said and done.
  • The final spot goes to Bergen Limitless, whose talented female duo of Hanne Short and Hanna Venemyr kept them in contention throughout the weekend. They wound up forty five points ahead of sixth place CrossFit 8020, which means these were clearly the top five teams at the Lowlands Throwdown this year and are the right teams to be representing Europe at the Games this summer.

The big picture: With so much experience in all three divisions amongst the Games qualifiers, expect several of these athletes and teams to be flirting with the top ten at the Games. Most likely only Gudmundsson and Mundwiler of the men can threaten the top ten, but at least two of the women, Horvath and Thorisdottir, will be expected to as well. While McQuaid and Migala also certainly have that potential. As for the teams, these performances were pretty good across the board, and the rosters seem well balanced; don’t be surprised if a couple of these teams finish in or around the top ten come week’s end at the Games.

Final Leaderboard:

  1. Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson (484) | Emma McQuaid  (552) | CrossFit Nordic (525)
  2. Adrian Mudwiler (476) | Laura Horvath (544) | Team CrossFit Holistic (515)
  3. Uldis Upenieks (456) | Annie Thorisdottir (528) | Motion Team Aarhus (495)
  4. Sam Stewart (456) | Gabriella Migala (528) | Team Butcher’s Lab T-Bone (480)
  5. Henrik Haapalainen (449) | Thuridur Erla Helgadottir  (464) | Bergen Limitless (460)
  6. Lukas Grouleff (394) | Elena Carratala Sanahuja (416) | CrossFit 8020 (415)
  7. Ioannis Papadopoulos (386) | Manon Angonese (413) | CrossFit Caen (405)
  8. Jakob Cieslik (363) | Lucy Campbell (389) | Team Aarhus CrossFit (375)
  9. Moritz Feibig (361) | Martyna Krysiak (365) | Team Genius  (370)
  10. Bronislaw Olenkowicz (355) | Karin Freyova (329) | Team CrossFit Walleye (335)

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