CrossFit Games

Lazar Djukic Takes Opening Day of Europe Semifinal

June 2, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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The final week of Semifinals kicked off for the individual athletes on June 2 as the biggest names in Europe headed to Berlin. 

The athletes created expectations for fireworks due to the combined level of experience at the NOBULL CrossFit Games, and they did not disappoint as Lazar Djukic captured the opening day over Henrik Haapalainen.

Test 1: Test 1 was all about endurance. The athletes had 30 minutes to complete 3,000 meters on Echo Bike, a hand-over-hand pull (84 feet), 2000 meters on the Assault AirRunner, a hand-over-hand pull (84 feet), 1,000 meters on the SkiErg, and a hand-over-hand pull (92 feet). 

  • As expected, Lazar Djukic was one of the names to watch during the opening event. The two-time CrossFit Games competitor was able to deliver the second-fast time (22:34.66) in the grueling event and capture 97 points.
  • The fastest time actually went to Belgian Jelle Hoste. He was making his first appearance in a Semifinal, making him a bit of an unknown, but he kicked off his weekend by winning the event with a strong time of 22:05.34. 
  • While Djukic and Hoste battled in the endurance event, a perennial Games contender began his weekend slowly once again. Jonne Koski finished 15th in the opening test. He was two minutes behind Hoste’s time, which put him in an early hole. 
  • Having Koski start slowly is nothing new. He also did so at Strength in Depth in 2022 by only securing one top-five finish in the first five tests. 
  • However, he made a final-day push to overcome a significant points deficit and reach the Last Chance Qualifier. He ultimately reached the CrossFit Games for the eighth time in his career. 

Test 2: While Test 1 was long and grueling, Test 2 consisted of three, three-minute AMRAPs with one minute of rest between each. The athletes had to complete a “buy-in” of five ring complexes (one toe-to-ring, one muscle-up, one ring dip) before they took on 20 single-leg squats and max burpees over the box in the remaining time. They had to complete the entire sequence while wearing a 20-pound ruck.

  • Alex Kotoulas started the weekend with an 18th-place finish, which dropped him well behind the leaders. He rebounded in a major way during Test 2 by delivering a standout performance. 
  • The Greek athlete used a blistering pace during the burpee box jump-overs, and he built up a sizable lead over fellow Games veteran Haapalainen during Heat 5. Kotoulas easily passed the reps to beat (44) before ending his final AMRAP with 50 total burpee box jump-overs. 
  • Haapalainen delivered 47 reps during his time on the floor, which was ultimately good enough for eighth in the event. It helped him move up to second overall after the opening day of competition. 
  • Kotoulas set the bar early, but Koski quickly put himself in a position to surpass it during the final heat. He moved through his reps very quickly in the first two AMRAPs as he reached 40 total burpee box jump-overs. This meant that he only needed 11 to top Kotoulas. 
  • Not only did Koski capture the event win with his 57 burpee box jump-overs, but he also set a test record while securing his third-ever Semifinal event win. This launched him into a tie for fourth place with Hoste after the first day. 
  • Meanwhile, Italy’s Enrico Zenoni just methodically put in work while pursuing Koski. He had a slight misstep during his final set of the ring complex, but he was able to work his way through the burpees before hitting 52 total reps. 
  • Djukic entered Test 2 with a second-place finish to his name, and he just continued adding points. He reached 50 reps on his burpee box jump-overs, which put him in a tie for third place with Kotoulas. This consistency put him well on pace for another trip to the CrossFit Games. 
  • What about BKG? Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson is a perennial Games athlete, and he is one of the most consistent athletes in the field, so the expectation is that he will always deliver when facing pressure. 
  • BKG started the weekend with a sixth-place finish in Test 1, but he stumbled a bit with 25th in Test 2. This put him ninth overall after the first day. 

Worth noting:  While Koski delivered a test win with a standout performance, he also had a moment that created concern for fans and analysts. He rubbed his left pectoral muscle after the first AMRAP while rotating his left arm and grimacing. 

Koski didn’t appear to have any issues with this arm during the final two AMRAPs, but this will be something worth tracking throughout “moving day” considering that Koski will have to complete multiple snatches and dumbbell bench presses.  

The bottom line: With two individual tests complete, the top athletes competing in Berlin are ready for another difficult day of competition. They will take on two more tests, one of which is a two-part affair. 

Semifinals Linda will be the first test of the day. This will task the athletes with completing a descending number of reps (10-1) of deadlifts (295 pounds), dumbbell bench presses (90 pounds), and squat cleans (145 pounds). They have to complete all of the reps in 17 minutes. 

Test 4-5 is a quick, two-parter. The athletes must first complete an 800-meter run before setting a max snatch. They have six minutes to complete these movements. Once the first part is complete, they will rest for two minutes. 

The second part of the test consists of eight snatches (185 pounds) and an 800-meter run. Once again, they will have six minutes to complete all of the movements.

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