2023 CrossFit Semifinal Preview: Europe
The Europe and Asia individual Semifinals will kick off on Friday for the third and final week of competition. Thus far, five regions have qualified 27 men and 27 women for the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games.
In the Europe region, 11 men and 11 women are seven tests away from punching their ticket to Madison. In this preview we’ll be highlighting some of the Games veterans and rookie hopefuls to watch in this stacked region.
Top of the Pack:
- Laura Horvath: Looking at the seven tests that are programmed this weekend, there’s an abundance of strength and grunt work programmed, which line up nicely for Horvath’s skillset. While her handstand push-up weakness has been overly publicized, her dominant pulling strength should be highlighted as an equalizer in Test 6. If Horvath is 100 percent, expect to see her in a league of her own.
- Annie Thorisdottir: Coming off a season in the team division, Thorisdottir returns to individual competition for the first time since her third place podium finish in 2021. This would be Iceland Annie’s 12th individual appearance at the CrossFit Games. Thorisdottir has insane power, so expect to see her perform well in the short time domains of Tests 4, 5 and 7.
- Gabriela Migala: Migala has finished in the top 10 at the CrossFit Games in back-to-back seasons (2021 and 2022). She had a busy offseason, taking fifth at the Rogue Invitational and winning TYR Wodapalooza with Team BPN (Laura Horvath and Jamie Simmonds). Migala’s fitness is extremely balanced and it should be expected to see her taking consistent top five finishes across the weekend.
- Karin Frey: Frey won the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship in dominating fashion (120 point victory) and looks to return to the CrossFit Games for the fourth time in her career. Semifinals style of programming caters to Frey’s strengths, as the “in the gym” type of workouts have been where Frey performs best historically.
- Jacqueline Dahlstrom: Dahlstrom finished 15th at the 2022 CrossFit Games and is looking to return for her fourth Games appearance. Dahlstrom won the Strength in Depth Semifinal last season, in a field that included most of the names competing this weekend.
- Emma McQuaid: McQuaid is looking to qualify for the fifth CrossFit Games in her career. Her best finishes at the 2023 CrossFit Games included high volume squat cleans (Elizabeth Elevated) and wall facing handstand push-ups (Echo Press). With both of these movements being included in the Semifinals tests this weekend, expect to see McQuaid perform well in Tests 3 and 6.
Middle of the Pack
- Thuridur Erla Helgadottir: Helgadottir has competed in seven CrossFit Games as an individual, dating back to 2012. She performed well in Shuttle-to-Overhead A (eighth), Skill Speed Medley (eighth) and Echo Press (13th) at the Games in 2022. All three of these events share similar movements and stimulus to tests we’ll see this weekend.
- Matilde Garnes: Garnes competed at the CrossFit Games for the first time in 2022, finishing 19th overall in her rookie debut. Her best finish at the Games was fifth in Shuttle-to-Overhead B, which featured hard running and heavy weightlifting, something we’ll be seeing in Tests 4 and 5 this weekend.
- Sola Sigurdardottir: Sigurdardottir finished 34th in her rookie debut at the 2022 CrossFit Games. Sigurdardottir has the ability to hit home runs, as she took three top three finishes at the 2022 Strength in Depth Semifinal. If she’s been able to round out some of her deficiencies to compliment her knockout strengths, Sigurdardottir will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.
On the Bubble
- Sara Sigmundsdottir: It’s been over three years since Sigmundsdottir has competed on the floor at the CrossFit Games. She missed qualifying for the 2022 Games by just 56 points and one placement. Sigmundsdottir has battled through injury and adversity over the last few years and this weekend is a chance for her to return to Madison in the next chapter of her already legendary career.
- Elisa Fuliano: Fuliano made her first CrossFit Games in 2022, finishing 35th overall in her rookie season. She finished seventh overall at the 2023 TYR Wodapalooza, with top finishes in workouts that featured ring muscle ups and toes-to-bar, so be sure to look for her during Tests 2 and 7.
- Emma Tall: Tall is a two time CrossFit Games athlete (2019 and 2021), who missed the 2022 Semifinals due to illness. Historically, Tall has performed well in longer endurance workouts and gymnastics events that require muscle endurance and grunt work. Lucky for her, Tests 1, 2 and 6 all include these components for Tall to make moves.
- Oihana Moya: Moya finished eighth at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal, where she won an event that had a similar interval structure to Test 2 and also included burpee box jump overs.
- Claudia Gluck: Gluck finished 10th at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal and seventh at the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship. She won an event at Dubai that had a similar interval structure to Test 2 and also included burpees over an object.
- Aimee Cringle: Cringle finished 12th at the 2022 Strength in Depth Semifinal, where she won the endurance event of the weekend, featuring 2,000 meters of running, 2,000 meters of rowing and 300 double unders. If she can manage the sled pull, Cringle has the engine to thrive in Test 1.
- Andrea Solberg: Solberg finished 14th at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal, with her best event including an air runner and Concept 2 machine (something we’ll see in Test 1).
- Aoife Burke: Burke finished 14th at the 2022 Strength in Depth Semifinal, where her best finish was in the weightlifting complex. Look out for Burke in Test 4 with a max snatch on the docket.
- Manon Angonese: Angonese hasn’t competed at a Semifinal since the 2021 Lowlands Throwdown, where she finished eighth overall. She more recently competed at the Dubai Fitness Championship, where she took sixth overall and had her best finish in a hang clean ladder.
Top of the Pack
- Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson: BKG is poised to join Noah Ohlsen and Cole Sager in qualifying for his 10th consecutive CrossFit Games. Gudmundsson’s balanced fitness is what makes him so dangerous, so expect to see most of his finishes inside the top 10 all weekend.
- Lazar Djukic: Djukic has never finished outside the top 10 at the CrossFit Games, taking ninth in 2021 and eighth in 2022. Last year, he beat Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson at the Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal by 32 points and looks to take his second straight Semifinal win this weekend. Djukic is an exceptional puller, making a weekend of sled pulls, muscle ups and legless rope climbs favorable to put him in a position to contend for the top of the podium.
- Jonne Koski: Koski is looking to qualify for the ninth CrossFit Games in his career. He has incredible endurance and gymnastics, so expect to see him perform well in Tests 1, 2 and 6. For Koski, the goal isn’t Semifinals, it’s getting back to Madison to battle for what could possibly be the fifth top 10 finish of his amazing career.
Middle of the Pack
- Uldis Upenieks: Upenieks will attempt to qualify for the fourth CrossFit Games in his career this weekend. He won Part A of Shuttle-to-Overhead at the 2022 CrossFit Games, which could be an indicator of a big performance in Test 5. He also took fifth in Elizabeth Elevated, which featured similar squat clean volume and loading to this weekend’s Semifinal Linda (Test 3).
- Fabian Beneito: Beneito was a bubble athlete in 2022, finishing eighth at the Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal. He had his breakout performance by winning the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship, with a field that includes a large number of athletes we’ll see this weekend. Beneito won the weightlifting event at Dubai and then had back-to-back victories in an interval format very similar to Test 2 and an event with heavy sandbag carries like Test 7.
- Moritz Fiebig: Fiebig qualified for the 2022 CrossFit Games with a fourth place finish at the Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal. He is a big, strong competitor that could be a dark horse this weekend to finish in the top five if he can manage the higher skill gymnastics in Tests 2 and 6.
- Henrik Haapalainen: Haapalainen is a two time CrossFit Games competitor (2021 and 2022), who is both strong and fast, which will lend well to performing in Tests 4 and 5. Haapalainen has a good blend of endurance and functional strength, having performed well in grunt work style events in the past. Look for him to be a threat in Tests 1 and 7.
- Giorgos Karavis: Last year, Karavis won a workout featuring both ring muscle ups and single leg squats at the Strength in Depth Semifinal, so expect to see him put up a top time in Test 2. Karavis has competed in back-to-back CrossFit Games (2021 and 2022) and looks to return for his third straight appearance in Madison.
- Guillaume Briant: Briant qualified for his first CrossFit Games in 2022, finishing fifth at the Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal and 26th at his rookie appearance at the Games. Expect to see Briant perform his best in Tests 2 and 6.
On the Bubble
- Luka Djukic: Djukic is looking to return to the second CrossFit Games in his career, after missing the 2022 Games by just 13 points and one spot at the Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal. Look out for Djukic to be a threat in Test 5, as he’s placed well in events combining weightlifting and higher power cardio in the past.
- Alex Kotoulas: Kotoulas will be looking to qualify for his first CrossFit Games this weekend, following a seventh place finish in last year’s Strength in Depth Semifinal. He notably won the Burj Khalifa Challenge at the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship, which was a grueling test of endurance. If he’s able to manage the sled pull, look for his name towards the top of the leaderboard in Test 1.
- Victor Hoffer: Hoffer is a young and talented athlete that has been improving at a rapid pace. His background in gymnastics makes him dangerous in Tests 2 and 6, but the question is if his strength levels will hold him back from qualifying for his first CrossFit Games.
- Reggie Fasa: Fasa is a strong and powerful athlete, having tied Fabian Beneito in the hang clean event and winning a heavy barbell cycling event at the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship. The question mark with Fasa is if he’s developed his engine and gymnastics this off-season to a point that he can be competitive with such a deep field.
- Luka Vunjak: Vunjak finished ninth at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal and looks to qualify for his first CrossFit Games. Look for Vunjak to perform well in Tests 1 and 2, as his two best performances at last year’s Semifinals were in events featuring a runner mixed with grunt work and a high speed interval workout that has a similar skeleton to Test 2.
- Bronislaw Olenkowicz: Olenkowicz has been working with Justin Cotler and Underdogs Athletics this off-season. He finished 10th at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal, but is coming back leaner and with a bigger engine this year thanks to his new guidance from Cotler.
- Aniol Ekai: Ekai hasn’t competed at a Semifinal since the 2021 German Throwdown, where he took 13th overall. He more recently placed sixth at the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship, with his best events being more geared towards endurance and gymnastics.
The bottom line: Five of the seven tests definitely favor bigger and stronger athletes who have the engine to back their strength. In the last two weeks, some big name athletes have failed to qualify and it wouldn’t be surprising to see more first-time qualifiers come out of the Europe region. While the stats and data help us predict who should be at the top, nothing is guaranteed in a live competition.
Expect to see a ton of leaderboard shuffling early in the weekend, with the podium starting to take shape around the end of Saturday. The bottom three to four qualifying spots won’t be safe until the conclusion of the weekend.