CrossFit Games

Gabi Migala Breaks Through for the Win; Annie Thorisdottir Proves Timeless at Europe Semifinal

June 4, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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Poland’s Gabi Migala has been knocking on the door for a while now. The 24-year-old has had two top-10 CrossFit Games finishes in four appearances and two third place finishes at Semifinals, but she has never quite solidified herself in the top spot.

Until now.

Migala put forth an incredibly consistent performance at the Europe Semifinal in Berlin, Germany this weekend, including an event win and only one finish outside of the top 10, helping her top a field featuring the 11-time Games veteran who can never be counted out, Annie Thorisdottir (second), and the highest ranked athlete in the world, Hungary’s Laura Horvath (third).

For Migala, winning the competition was just a cherry on top.

  • “I would say finishing on top of the podium is something extra. That wasn’t the main focus of the weekend. The main focus of the weekend was to execute the workouts how I planned it, and I’m going to say it (was) almost 100 percent correct,” she said after her win.

One big thing: It must be said. Thorisdottir is timeless. Eleven years ago, Thorisdottir won her second CrossFit Games. More than a decade later, now 33 and a mother to a young daughter, Thorisdottir is the only woman from the 2012 Games roster still competing at the highest level of the sport. And not only is she still competing, but she’s still at the top of her game, which she proved all weekend in Berlin with seven top 10 finishes in arguably the toughest Semifinal field in the world. Even Thorisdottir said she’s not quite sure how she’s still where she is today. 

  • “I honestly don’t understand how I’m still here. I thought I could do the sport for like three or four years, and I always go one year at a time, and somehow I’m still here. And sometimes I’m like, ‘How?’” Thorisdottir said in a post-competition interview.
  • She added: “Obviously there’s just a passion. I love training. Competing, I don’t always love it. I get really nervous, but as soon as I walk out…I’m like, “This is sick. I get to do this.’”

The big picture: There were sort of three races going on on Day 3 in Germany: the race between Migala and Thorisdottir for the top spot, the battle for bronze between Horvath—who climbed her way back all weekend after a low finish on Test 1—Slovakia’s Karin Freyova and Sweden’s Emma Tall, and the battle on the bubble, where with two events to go, eight women arguably still had a realistic chance at snagging one of the last two spots. 

In the end, 10 of the 11 ladies after Day 2 stayed in the top 11 at the end of the weekend. The one change: Scotland’s Jennifer Muir entered the day in ninth, while Sweden’s Rebecka Vitesson started the day in 16th. But after the last two tests shook out, Vitesson finished 11th, punching her ticket, while Muir dropped to 16th.

  • “It’s unbelievable. I don’t have any words,” Vitesson said after qualifying for her first CrossFit Games. “The first day I was so nervous. But then the second day I told myself to look up, watch the crowd, and listen to everyone cheering (for me). That made it such a good experience.”

Migala, Horvath, Thorisdottir, Tall, Freyova and Vitesson will be joined by three more Games veterans and two more rookies: veterans Norway’s Matilde Garnes, Italy’s Elisa Fuliano and Ireland’s Emma McQuaid and rookies Belgium’s Manon Angonese and Sweden’s Ella Wunger.

Sunday Details

Test 6: It all began on Sunday on a highly technical gymnastics test involving handstand walking and pirouettes, legless rope climbs and chest-to-wall handstand push-ups, with all eyes on the bubble athletes.

  • Four notable shifts included Muir, 55th on the event, who fell from ninth to 12th after the event, and Sara Sigmundsdottir, who dropped from 12th to 18th. The Games veteran was looking to return to Madison, WI for the first time since 2020 and needed two big performances for this to happen. Instead, Sigmundsottir was left in tears as she failed to complete a good legless rope climb rep over and over. Her 56th place finish made it close to impossible for Sigmundsdottir to punch her ticket.
  • On the other side of things, Spain’s Oihana Moya did enough to help her jump from 15th into 11th overall, and finally, because athletes like Muir and Sigmundsdottir struggled so much, Vitesson’s 14th place finish on Test 6 helped her make a small jump from 16th to 13th, and just five points away from Moya in 11th.
  • As for the top athletes, it was Horvath’s time to shine, reiterating that while deficit handstand push-ups might be a weakness, chest-to-wall handstand push-ups are not. Not only did she blow through the workout for an easy event win—45 seconds faster than Thorisdottir’s second place time—she only missed Danielle Brandon’s World Record set in North America East by a little more than a second. 
  • Finally, Migala, who generally calls pulling strength a weakness, had no trouble with the legless rope climbs, helping her finish fourth and keep a 16-point lead over Thorisdottir with one event to go.

Test 7: The final test of the weekend—a sprint event of three rounds of 10 calories on the Echo Bike, 20 toes-to-bar and a sandbag bear-hug carry—was about two main things: Grip and guts. In other words, if your grip held up, how much pain were you willing to put yourself in after a long grueling weekend? And while nobody could touch Horvath, who logged her second straight event win in a time of 4:09.16, it was rookies Wunger and Vitesson who were up for the challenge. 

  • Vitesson was on a mission in Heat 5. She came from behind and took advantage of other athletes breaking up their final set of toes-to-bar, scooping up a heat win in a time of 4:13.63, good enough for second overall.
  • Meanwhile, in the final heat, Wunger, ninth going in, came from nowhere, passing both Migala and Thorisdottir on the third set of toes-to-bar, finishing just behind Horvath in the heat, third overall on the event, and solidifying her spot in the top 11.

The bottom line: It’s eight European veterans and three rookies who will represent arguably the strongest region in the world this summer at the Games. And if you’re a European women’s fan, there’s even better news. Judging by how they looked this weekend, it’s possible that the top three in Europe—Migala, Thorisdottir and Horvath—might also find themselves battling for the podium in Madison.

  • Horvath, though, is remaining tight-lipped (ish) about her goal: “I have my goal. I know what I want. I know how I want the season to end, and I’m going to do everything in my power to finish where I’d like to finish,” she said.

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