Near Fatal Car Crash to World Weightlifting Championship for American Juliana Riotto
A little less than a month before Juliana Riotto, 24, placed eighth at the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) World Weightlifting Championship, she was in a car accident that left her in and out of consciousness, and her car almost unrecognizable as it was found wrapped around a tree.
Riotto was in upstate New York at the time and was on her way to training when she tried to dodge something in the road and couldn’t regain control of the car.
“I’ve heard some of my friends say I rolled, but what makes the most sense is that I came across and then my passenger side slid into a tree so hard my car wrapped around the tree.”
“I remember waking up in my car. I don’t remember speaking, but I remember waking up for a couple seconds and seeing glass everywhere, and my rear view mirror in my lap and super confused.”
Riotto said she had been working tirelessly leading up to the 2022 IWF World Championship held in Bogota, Colombia in early December. But her accident left her ability to compete in question.
Some of Riotto’s most recent accolades include earning a bronze medal at the 2019 World Cup in China and a silver at the British International Open. She also ended up placing sixth out of 18 women in her weight class at the 2021 IWF World Championships after being chosen as one of two alternates to the U.S. team.
She was scouted at 16-years-old during 15.1 of the 2015 CrossFit Open where she lifted 210lbs (96kg) during 15.1a, which put her in first place in the teen division for that workout. USA Weightlifting’s CEO Phil Andrews heard about it and reached out to her gym at the time and has since found a love and passion for the sport.
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In case you missed it: Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil sat down with Make WODs Great Again creator and affiliate owner, John Wooley, and Senior Editor, Joe Genetin-Pilawa to discuss the changes in leadership, if this is normal for big companies, and what the future could hold under CEO Don Faul.
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From CrossFit to Acting: Ashley Jerue’s Journey to Movie Role in "Strong Enough"
When Ashley Jerue first saw the DM on Instagram, she thought it was a scam.
Two Kaleidoscope Pictures filmmakers were asking if she might be interested in playing the lead role in a film about a CrossFit athlete they were producing.
Jerue had zero acting experience and she “ignored the message for a couple days,” she said.
But curiosity got the best of her, and before she knew it, the 26-year-old CrossFit athlete who almost qualified to Semifinals last season, was putting together audition tapes and getting flown across the country for chemistry testing with the other actors, and then eventually sent to film the movie Strong Enough at Rock Canyon CrossFit in Provo, Utah.
Remind me:Strong Enough was produced by filmmakers John Foss and Russ Kendall and, as of the end of December, the movie has been available on VOD on all streaming platforms.
And when Foss and Kendall weren’t satisfied with any of the 1,700 submissions their original casting call generated, they began looking at the top 500 female athletes from the 2020 CrossFit Open leaderboard to find the right woman for the job.
“We looked at every one,” Foss said.
Until they found Jerue.
The experience: Once she figured out she wasn’t being scammed, Jerue’s attitude was, “let’s go for it,” she said. “I have always said I’ll try anything once.”
To help prepare her for her first acting experience, Jerue spent a good deal of time with Foss watching movies that “fit the mood and theme” of what they were going for, she explained. She was also given an online course created by actor Natalie Portman about acting, and that was it. She was thrown into the fire.
Jerue, who placed 151st in North America in Quarterfinals last season, said the experience playing Sam in Strong Enough was “surreal,” and that putting herself through the actual grueling tests of fitness during the filming was “the most natural part of the whole thing.”
What helped Jerue with the more foreign acting aspect of the job, she explained, was that the directors let her character Sam be a little like her.
“And they actually tossed a few lines in there, like the fact that she had been doing gymnastics and that she had only been doing CrossFit for a few years. Those are also things that are true to me, but weren’t written into the (script) originally,” she explained.
It also helped that the movie was filmed at an actual gym, where the extras were actual CrossFit athletes, Jerue said.
“It felt like that community (feel) when we were doing the workouts,” she said. “It felt like I was doing an online competition, like doing the Open, at my gym.”
Though not her “end all, be all,” Jerue would love to qualify to Semifinals this season, and has been receiving coaching and programming from four-time CrossFit Games athlete Emma McQuaid. That being said, she also said she is keeping her expectations low.
As for acting, Jerue isn’t sure whether or not it will play a role in her future, but she’s incredibly appreciative of the experience, an experience that never would have come her way had it not been for her involvement in CrossFit.
She added: “How many people can say that they have done something like that?”
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