This is Why Scandinavia is CrossFit’s Newest Power Region
While the United States and Canada still have a firm hold on the positions at the top of the leaderboard, there is one region that has made history multiple times over the past 12 months.
The athletes out of Scandinavia—made up of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark—had an extremely impressive 2023 season and followed it up with an equally phenomenal performance to start off 2024.
Let’s take a quick look at what they did this week at TYR Wodapalooza Miami and then follow that up with a reminder of their historic 2023 at the CrossFit Games, their best athletes, and why they are seeing such incredible growth now.
Scandinavian Athletes at 2024 Wodapalooza
Scandinavian teams in the women’s elite teams division completely dominated the competition.
Three of the top four overall teams represented Scandinavia, and one of the athletes on the winning American team, ‘Stronger Than a 90’s Trend,’ is Swedish (Emilie Lundberg).
This means all four teams from Wodapalooza had at least one athlete from Scandinavia.
Here’s the full list of Scandinavian athletes in the top four teams:
- Emilie Lundberg
- Antonia Falt-Kottulinsky
- Maria Langfors
- Camilla Salmonsson Hellman
- Matilde Garnes
- Rebecka Vitesson
- Frederikke Mollerup
- Astrid Tind
- Silja Zillo
But the region didn’t just have success in the team division. Sweden’s Rebecka Vitesson, who was a rookie at the 2023 CrossFit Games, took fifth place overall in the elite women’s division.
Vitesson earned her placing against some of the world’s best. The only four women to finish ahead of her placed in the top 10 at the 2023 CrossFit Games (Cary, Migala, Loewen, Brandon).
She also had the highest finish among other 2023 Games female rookies at Wodapalooza, including Olivia Kerstetter, Sydney Wells, Abigail Domit, and Emily de Rooy.
Scandinavian Athletes at the 2023 CrossFit Games
Scandinavian athletes had their best year ever at the CrossFit Games in 2023.
Let’s begin with the teams again.
Six of the top 14 overall teams came from Scandinavian countries, including four inside the top 10 and two inside the top five. CrossFit Oslo Navy Blue highlighted this by making it onto the podium in third place.
CrossFit Oslo also had yet another team, CrossFit Oslo Najs, which finished 27th overall.
- CrossFit Oslo Navy Blue – 3rd (Norway)
- No Shortcuts CrossFit – 5th (Denmark)
- CrossFit Walleye Athlete – 6th (Sweden)
- CrossFit Prestanda – 10th (Sweden)
- CrossFit Trondheim – 12th (Norway)
- CrossFit Oslo Blackout – 14th (Norway)
- CrossFit Oslo Najs – 27th (Norway)
That means seven total teams from Scandinavia competed at the 2023 CrossFit Games, which is the most ever in the history of the sport.
Now, let’s take a look at what the individual women did.
At the 2023 Games, women from Scandinavia represented 10% of the entire women’s field as they had four total athletes present:
- Emma Tall – 11th (Sweden)
- Rebecka Vitesson – 25th (Sweden)
- Matilde Garnes – 33rd (Norway)
- Ella Wunger – 34th (Sweden)
Besides the 2019 Games, which saw hundreds of athletes and national champions participate, 2023 had the most Swedish individual athletes ever represented at the CrossFit Games, once again making history.
Scandinavia’s Best Results at the Games
The greatest CrossFit athlete to ever come out of Scandinavia is, no doubt, eight-time CrossFit Games athlete Kristin Holte of Norway.
Throughout her career from 2014-2021 she:
- Qualified for the CrossFit Games eight years in a row.
- Had five straight top-10 finishes from 2017-2021.
- Finished second overall in 2019.
On the men’s side, five-time Games athlete Lukas Hogberg from Sweden made history when he became the first Scandinavian athlete ever to finish on the podium at the CrossFit Games.
Why The Sudden Growth?
A large part of this success can be attributed to the amazing work that organizations like the International Functional Fitness Federation (IF3) have done for the promotion of the sport at a national level in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
Thanks to the efforts of IF3 along with the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish Federations for Functional Fitness, CrossFit/Functional Fitness has been officially recognized as a sport in those countries.
In an email to the Morning Chalk Up, the President of the International Functional Fitness Federation, Gretchen Kittelberger, wrote:
- “As these countries continue to support the sport through governmental programs, I think we will see the performance gap widen between these countries and other countries which are not receiving this kind of support and aren’t able to put as many resources toward sport development.
With the type of support and resources they have, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark can focus not only on the success of their current elite athletes, but are also able to simultaneously start growing and developing the next generation of athletes which will help put them ahead in years to come.
Once we start to see other countries achieve the governmental support and recognition that is currently happening in the Nordics, then I think the gap will start to shrink, but until then the other countries will be playing catch up on a systemic level. The Scandinavian region is truly paving the way for the future of the sport.”
This recognition allows athletes and gyms in these countries to be eligible for funding from their Ministry of Sport or National Olympic Committee. Some athletes, such as Matilde Garnes from Norway, were even awarded a large scholarship from the Norwegian Olympic Committee in 2023.
But it’s not just a chance for more earning opportunities—the recognition as an official sport actively promotes the sport, including showing functional fitness competitions on national television.
We will go into much more detail about this amazing development of the sport in a future article, but for now, just know that the future of CrossFit in Scandinavia is bright.