CrossFit Games

Breaking Down the Last Chance Qualifier Events

June 29, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography
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The CrossFit Games released the events for the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games Last Chance Qualifier on Monday afternoon. The four-event, online competition will take place July 2-4 and will be the final chance for a select few athletes to punch their Games tickets to Madison, WI. A total of 67 athletes (33 men/34 women) will be vying for the final two spots in each division to round out the field at the Games.

The workouts that Director of Sport Dave Castro has created for this final test for potential Games athletes is simple and uncomplicated. Three of them feature pulling with the 3-rep max deadlift the highlight. There’s nothing tricky about these workouts and whoever earns the final spots to the Games through the LCQ would be deserving after surviving the Open, Quarterfinals and Semifinals.

Event 1

A couplet that features three rounds of descending calories on a rower and alternating dumbbell hang snatches. The weight (50/35 pounds) on the dumbbell for both the men and women is light for this field, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a few athletes go unbroken on those snatches where transitions from hand-to-hand will be key. But I feel this workout will come down to power output on the rower.

  • Men: 

Roman Khrennikov and Khan Porter. These two athletes come to mind when I think of excellent rowers known for sending it in workouts around this time domain (15 minute cap). Both won in a somewhat similar workout in their respective country’s Quarterfinals, each putting in top-10 worldwide times in Test 3. These two athletes also finished 1-2 in the 1,000 meter row in last year’s online stage of the Games. Who can forget Porter selling out in the workout and then watching his soul leave his body after the adrenaline from that event subsided in 2019. Also keep an eye out on youngster Cole Greashaber whose tall frame will help him in the row.

  • Women: 

Karin Freyová and Matilda Garnes. Just like Khrennikov, Freyová won an event in her Games debut last year and just like her Russian counterpart it was the 1,000 meter row. She’s the type of high-output athlete that this workout will favor as she will make short work of the snatches as well. Garnes did very well in the Quarterfinals on the rower in Test 3 and though not as strong as Freyová the weight of the dumbbell shouldn’t play a factor.

Event 2

How about an old-fashioned test of strength? That’s what we get here as this event, a simple three-rep max deadlift. I’m excited for this one to see what kind of weight is going to be pulled. With athletes having 20 minutes to establish their three-rep max I would imagine huge numbers and about four attempts due to how taxing this will be on the body and nervous system.

  • Men:

Phil Toon. The 23-year old from Arizona has a recorded deadlift of 660 pounds and as recently as January pulled 625 pounds off the ground in the opening event of the Fittest Experience. He might win this event by a landslide if his three-rep is close to 600 pounds as most of the field one-rep lies in the lower 500s.

  • Women: 

Christine Kolenbrander. I will be shocked if Kolenbrander does not win this event. It’s almost as if she was gifted this due to her losing her spot to the Games at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge due to the travel exemption given to Tia-Clair Toomey. Not many athletes in general have attempted a max deadlift, especially recently, but Kolenbrander did in January during the Fittest Experience and pulled 422 pounds to set a new personal record. I wouldn’t be surprised if she pulls 385 to win this event.

Event 3

This event is a different take on the infamous Open 12.1 workout but instead of doing as many burpees in seven minutes, it’s seven minutes to do 100 burpees. The old standard was both hands touching a target six inches above their reach, that is now doubled to 12 inches making this test even more excruciating. Expect times around 5:30 as it’s full-send on burpees for this one as athletes try to hold on to a 20 burpees per minute pace.

  • Men: 

Tyler Christophel and Spencer Panchik. Both of these guys have great motors, especially in workouts that include burpees. An example of that for Christophel is 20.1 in last year’s worldwide Open. He placed 15th in a workout that included 100 bar-facing burpees, finishing in 8:40 in a workout that also included 80 ground-to-overheads. Panchik’s are notorious for excelling in burpee workouts, older brother Scott won 12.1 with an amazing 161 burpees. Spencer is no different and has proven that in online and in-person competitions the last two years.

  • Women: 

Kristi Eramo O’Connell and Paige Semenza. These two athletes are known for their motors and ability to grind through tough workouts. If there is a workout that includes a high volume of burpees these two are typically at the top of the leaderboard.

Event 4

We end the LCQs with a chipper that once again tests pulling, endurance and with some legless rope climbs for the only gymnastics piece of the LCQ. The double-unders are essentially a buy-in for the other two movements, intended to get that heart rate up. The squat cleans get heavier as the reps decrease but the weight is manageable for both men and women. Quick singles in the middle rounds could save some time but this event will be won on the rope. Though not a high number of rope climbs they can quickly add up and a failed attempt will prove costly.

  • Men: 

James Newbury. This event was made for Newbury and his engine. The hardest part of the workout, the rope climbs, will not be an issue for him at all as he has a history of performing well in workouts that feature legless rope climbs (his sixth place in First Cut at the 2019 Games comes to mind). No doubt Shane Orr and the PRVN training camp will have him prepared for this workout.

  • Women: 

Kristi Eramo O’Connell, Feeroozeh Saghafi and Alethea Boon. Another workout that Eramo O’Connell should thrive in due to her endurance capacity. The weight on the bar shouldn’t be an issue and she’s great at legless rope climbs. Saghafi is another athlete who should have no problem with the rope climbs and does well in chippers. The rope climbs will not be an issue for Boon who is a surgeon on the rope, legless or not. Kelly Stone is another athlete I would keep an eye out for. Stone did well in a similar workout at the West Coast Classic against a stacked field. 

Final Analysis

As an overall test the final four workouts appear to favor the veterans in the field who are more well-rounded as athletes. With just four events every point and place will matter. Don’t be surprised if you see names like Eramo O’Connell, Newbury, Porter, Saghafi, Semenza, Christophel, Alexandre Caron and Steph Chung fighting for those final spots for the Games. But there are some rookies in the field that will make their case for their first Games appearance.

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