CrossFit Games

European Athletes Crush Test 1 Sled Pulls Thanks to New Flooring

June 2, 2023 by and
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi
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With two weeks of Semifinals already in the books, world records for each event are starting to take shape, giving fans of the sport a preview into what the complete CrossFit Games field may look like this season. 

On the opening day of the individual competition in Berlin, Germany for the European Semifinal, athletes took on the hand-over-hand sled pull event, putting up top times across the entire field of the sport.

Remind me: The athletes of North America East and West had the most unforgiving flooring of any Semifinal, evidenced by the top times for both men and women.

  • Jayson Hopper 22:18 (NA East)
  • Brent Fikowski 23:02 (NA West)
  • Danielle Brandon 26:35 (NA East)
  • Stacy Lerum 26:51 (NA West)

Meanwhile, athletes at the Torian Pro last weekend had the best flooring, with both of the previous world records coming from Oceania.

  • Zac Thomas: 21:51
  • Katelin Van Zyl: 24:52

The details: So – just how much faster were the European athletes?

  • Heat 1 athlete Madeleine Persson set a new record straight out of the gate with a time of 24:30, 22 seconds faster than previous holder Van Zyl, and over 2 minutes faster than either of the fastest women at North America West and East. This however only lasted a few minutes, as Jennifer Muir in Heat 2 broke that time with a score of 23:48 and ultimately ended up becoming the fastest overall time in Test 1 of any Semifinal this year.
  • European male athletes were able to consistently finish each round of sled pulls with about 30-40 total pulls, whereas earlier Semifinals required 50-60 pulls in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
  • Although both North American regions are ranked as the most competitive, neither had the top time in Test 1. Brent Fikowski’s winning time of 23:02 in North America East would have placed him 7th in Europe, and Danielle Brandon’s winning time of 26:35 would have placed her 21st in Europe. 

One big thing: While the other two Semifinals run by CrossFit–North America East and West–have used Surface Co. (the official flooring partner of the CrossFit Games) mats, the brand was unable to make the trip to Berlin. This week, Pavigym provided the flooring, making for a very different test. 

  • Pavigym, which has been in the fitness industry for more than 60 years, signed a global partnership agreement with CrossFit just a few weeks ago. They debuted their product in Madrid at the 23.1 announcement in February and the European Semifinal is their first competition of this caliber.

Having watched the previous two weeks of athletes fight through the heavy sled pulls made heavier with grippy, high traction floor mats, the ease of the pull was a surprise to European competitors. 

Plus, with two weeks of training the tests under their belts, often with even heavier weights on the sled than what was programmed, the sticking point of Test 1 wasn’t all that sticky. 

  • “Of course, we couldn’t predict what kind of floor we were gonna have here, so in practice I was using as heavy of sleds as I could,” Gabriela Migala said. Migala, who came into the event seeded fourth, finished the event in third place. 

The bottom line: With every previous Test 1 record obliterated within the first heat of the women’s competition, the European Semifinal is off to a thrilling start. However, the difference in flooring made a significant difference in the stimulus of the test and worldwide comparisons will be treated with that caveat in mind.

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