Four Takeaways from the Butcher’s Classic
The first major offseason sanctioned CrossFit competition concluded inside Ballerup Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday afternoon with the star-studded Butcher’s Classic giving fans a look of what the future may hold for the sport post-CrossFit Games. The two-person team event was filled with excitement throughout it’s three days and here are four takeaways from the competition.
- Europe finally goes live: This is the first major live competition held in Europe since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. From a Games athlete standpoint, the only live competition for the European-based athletes has been for those who qualified and traveled to the United States to compete at the Games. The Europeans saw their Semifinals revert to an online competition due to the pandemic. Those same athletes took full advantage of the opportunity to compete against others on a competition floor as the line-up was a who’s-who of European CrossFit stars including Frederick Aegidius, Andre Houdet, Phil Hesketh, Giorgos Karavis, Emilia Leppanen, Julie Hougard, Jacqueline Dahlstrom, Mia Hesketh, Christina Agerbeck, Rebecca Vitesson and Ella Wunger.
The organizers made sure that even with the pandemic still looming that they took all the necessary precautions to make sure the athlete’s were safe. This event and the protocols they set in place can be a model for other competitions in Europe to use so they can return to live, in-person events that allows even more of the top European athletes the ability to compete during the offseason and hopefully for the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games Semifinals.
- The Russians dominate: In what was supposed to showcase European athletes it was the duo of Games veterans Roman Khrennikov and Alexandar Illin teaming up to represent their native Russia that finished on top of the podium. They finished in the top-3 in eight of the ten events including three wins. They ended the competition by winning the final two events and finishing ahead of the runner-up team of fellow Games veterans Giorgos Karavis and Simon Mantyla by 70 points.
The victory by the Russians only fuels the discussion of how Khrennikov would have performed at the Games if he’s ever allowed to compete live. He has certainly shown that he has the capacity to do well at the Games in other live competitions but we will never know until he can get his travel Visa issues figured out.
- Thunder From Down Under: If there are any two CrossFit athletes that need a reality show it’s in my opinion Khan Porter and James Newbury. If you have been keeping track of the two Australians social media since their reunion as members of the Games Demo Team you know those two are the living embodiment of the phrase “living their best lives”. With the difficulties of getting back into their home country well documented, these two Games veterans look to be in no hurry to return down under and are content with trying to get as much traveling and fitness in as possible.
Both athletes just missed out on qualifying for the Games this season but there’s no question that they are amongst the fittest athletes in the world and they are looking ahead to the 2022 season to prove that. The Butcher’s Classic was just the first stop. Inspired by their trip to Las Vegas after the Games, they competed under the team name of Thunder From Down Under and placed fourth. However there wasn’t a team who had more fun while competing than these two Aussies as they would also win two events during the weekend.
- A new European hotbed of fitness? Iceland has long been considered the standard-bearer of European CrossFit. But this past season has shown us that Norwegian athletes, specifically in the women’s division, are preparing to step up and take the mantle despite their most well-known athlete Kristin Holte retiring from Games competition. The winners of the women’s Elite division further added fuel to the fire as Martine Solheim and Ingrid Hodnemyr represented Norway on the podium. The two athletes teamed up to win four events and finished 30 points ahead of Team Vanilla Thunder.
Hodnemyr, fresh off a run with CrossFit Oslo who took second at the Games behind CrossFit Mayhem, is part of this Norwegian run of athletes that started with Holte and continues with mainstays Dahlstrom and Matilda Garnes. I expect the country and it’s athletes to make itself known during the 2022 season.