Bethany Shadburne Proves She’s Back; Leads the Way at North America West Semifinal
Day One’s tests at the North America West Semifinal in Pasadena, CA proved to be varied enough that only one athlete in the field managed to finish inside the top 10 in both: Five-time CrossFit Games veteran Bethany Shadburne, who is trying to get back to the Games after withdrawing last season because of a back injury.
As a result of her consistent performances, Shadburne leads the field heading into Day Two, with 2022 Games rookie Alex Gazan close behind in second and two-time Games veteran Arielle Loewen in third.
Test 1: Seven of the top 10 times in the first test—a 3,000-meter Echo bike, a 2,000-meter Assault Air Runner and a 1,000-meter SkiErg, separated by heavy hand-over-hand rope pulls—came from athletes in early heats, led by Stacy Lerum, a 2021 and 2022 Semifinals competitor and a Training Think Tank athlete. Her time of 26:51 eventually held up for an event win.
- The final heat then was largely a race between veteran Katrin Davidsdottir, who is looking to get back to Madison, WI after failing to qualify last season, 17-year-old phenom Olivia Kerstetter and three-time Games veteran Emily Rolfe, who took the lead during the 2,000-meter run portion of the test.
- Kerstetter and Davidsdottir appeared to make up some time on Rolfe during the heavy rope pulls, but not nearly enough. Rolfe’s lead was too big, and she held on for the heat win (27:24), good enough for second overall.
- Third place went to Hannah Black—who barely qualified to Semis after she placed 62nd in Quarterfinals—from the first heat, while Davidsdottir’s and Kerstetter’s times were good enough for eighth and 10th overall. Finally, Shadburne, who was also in an earlier heat, finished a solid sixth overall.
Test 2: The second test of Day One—an interval-style gymnastics workout featuring a ring complex, single-leg squats and burpees over a box all in a weighted ruck—caused many of the top athletes from the first test some serious problems. In fact, none of the top five from Test 1 finished inside the top 30 on Test 2. Rolfe was the highest (30th).
- Kerstetter, the reigning teen champion looking to qualify to her first Games as an individual, also had a hard time on the ring complex portion of the event. She placed 26th overall and heads into Day Two on the outside looking in (12th).
- But as many struggled, others flourished, led by 110-pound Marisa Flowers, who put up a score of 50 reps in the second heat, while Shadburne logged 46 reps (good enough for fifth).
- The final heat came down to a race between Loewen and Gazan, who were neck-and-neck the whole way. It stayed that way until the end, when they finished with the exact same number of reps (54), but Loewen took the event win in the tie-break.
The big picture: Day One in Pasadena is the ultimate proof that the most important thing is consistency. It’s simple: If you’re consistently in the top 10, you’re good to go.
In this case, however, because of the many inconsistent performances from the top contenders on Day One—Kerstetter, Baylee Rayl, Davidsdottir and Rolfe to name a few—they essentially canceled each other out for now, so the leaderboard is as close as close can be. Whoever can string together a consistent day Saturday will likely head into Sunday in a great position to snag one of the 10 spots to Madison.