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Brent Fikowski makes changes for the 2023 Games season

Morning Chalk Up

April 20   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • CrossFit OBA is ready to take on the 2023 season
  • “The Professor,” Brent Fikowski is taking a new approach to the 2023 Games
  • CrossFit Liminal is devoted to helping refugees

Hey! The Morning Chalk Up is hiring a new contract writer to cover the CrossFit Games season and elite athletes. Apply now!

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“If you think lifting is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.” - Bret Contreras

  Hungrier Than Ever: CrossFit OBA Looks To Make A Name For Themselves In 2023  

Hungrier Than Ever: CrossFit OBA Looks To Make A Name For Themselves In 2023

While CrossFit OBA might be relatively new to the CrossFit leaderboard, its members are no strangers to the sport of fitness. With a combined 37 Opens, 13 Regionals, 8 Games, and 5 Semifinal appearances between the four of them and no one on the team under the age of 32, the members of CrossFit OBA have come together to form one of the most experienced teams in the 2023 field.

Lacing back up their shoes: In 2020, Kelsey Kiel left the sport of fitness to go join the USA Bobsled team. After two back-to-back Games appearances with Team Invictus Boston, she was ready for a new challenge and her incredible strength and explosive power made her the perfect candidate to push the nearly 370-pound bobsled down the track.

But she couldn’t stay away from CrossFit for too long. Two years later, she walked through the doors of CrossFit OBA, where she met Joey Tortora, who had similarly taken the past few years off after finishing 5th with Central Beasts in 2019. The two of them decided it was time to step back onto the competition floor and set about assembling their team for the 2022 season. Together, alongside Ashleigh Wosney and Nicklas Hecht, the team had a breakout year placing second in the Granite Games and eleventh at the Games.

Refining their roster: This year, the team isn’t playing around anymore. After barely missing the top ten by two points, CrossFit OBA has had a taste of the top and they’re ready for more. After Wosney left to pursue individual competition for the 2023 season, Kelsey Kiel knew they needed someone just as fit and fierce to take her place.

  • This year, we thought let’s see if we can find someone else who is incredibly fit,” said Tortora.
  • “So Kelsey reached out to Emelie [Lundberg], who was in the same position as us,” he continued.

While not as seasoned as the others in team competition, Lundberg is still well versed in the sport of fitness. With a 16th place individual finish at the German Throwdown in 2021 and a 10th place individual finish at CrossFit Strength in Depth in 2022, the 33-year-old finished 51st worldwide in the Open and 15th overall in Europe.

Learning from last year: With one of the fittest women in Europe now on their roster and a year under their belt, CrossFit Oba is ready to push forward into the 2023 season and take forward everything they learned from last year.

  • [Last year], it was just figuring out the team chemistry and figuring out that communication is key for us to work together,” said Kelsey Kiel.
  • “I think the biggest thing we learned last year is that we’re exceptionally fit and we just need to trust ourselves when it comes to certain things,” Kiel continued.
  • “Each of us is in a different spot,” chimed in Nick Hecht. “For example, Joey and I each have families we’re raising.”
  • Because of our experience and our age, we were able to be more vulnerable and open to each other a lot more and communicate better. Not just on the competition floor, but as individuals, and that helped mold that season. I think that it made my first experience at the CrossFit Games so much easier,” Hecht added.
  • “Last year, I learned that we deserved to be there and we deserved to be in the top ten. This year we deserve to be in the top 5, if not stand on the podium,” he concluded.
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Men’s Journal posted a “Best CrossFit Gear of 2023” list. Check it out.

Mayhem “Everyday Hero Games”: If you missed the CrossFit Occupational Games this year, no need to fret. Rich Froning and the Mayhem crew have you covered. the Mayhem “Everyday Hero Games” are coming May 4-7. Check back here for more soon.

ICYMI: Moritz Feibig is taking on his sophomore Games season.

📕 👩‍🏫 More Evidence: Once again, a new study confirms that high intensity exercise improves mental health in adults. Check out the results.

  Brent Fikowski Talks Training Think Tank, Traveling, and the 2023 Season  


Brent Fikowski Talks Training Think Tank, Traveling, and the 2023 Season

Canadian Brent Fikowski has been a mainstay at CrossFit Games for nearly a decade–since his first appearance in 2016, he’s racked up seven event wins and gained a name for himself as a quiet, strategic athlete (“the Professor,” as he’s so lovingly called). But as the sport has evolved, Fikowski has had to evolve too.

This season, he’s made a pointed shift in the focus of his training. In previous years, the first months of the season have been solely centered around making it to the Games–with the differences in programming between stages of qualification, Fikowski has tailored his training specifically to what’s coming up next. This year, he’s only got one thing on his mind: the Games.

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  Georgia Gym Owner Devotes his Affiliate to Servicing Refugees  

Georgia Gym Owner Devotes his Affiliate to Servicing Refugees

Living in Clarkston, GA, a city that takes in hundreds of refugees from all over the world each year, Nick Johnson noticed a trend: “For many refugees, health and fitness are just inaccessible, financially and culturally,” he said.

  • So three years ago, Johnson, who has always been passionate about equal access and equity, began training a small group of Syrian refugees from his garage gym.

He quickly realized he was onto something, and today Johnson is the owner of the non-profit affiliate CrossFit Liminal, and dedicates himself to helping refugees from all over the world have access to fitness.

The details: From Syria to Tanzania, and from high school kids to adults, Johnson’s gym offers partially and fully subsidized programs—funded by donations and fundraisers—for various refugee groups who have resettled in Clarkston.

Today, 25 percent of his membership base are refugees, who benefit from the non-profit arm of his affiliate, while the other 75 percent of his clientele pay regular market rates to train at his gym.

While many of his refugee members attend regular group classes, Johnson recently launched a three-days-a-week CrossFit program for Afghani women, which has been a quick success. Twenty-plus Afghani women are currently taking advantage of the class he runs just for them, an opportunity they couldn’t get anywhere else in the city, he explained.

  • “They needed an all women’s environment, and there wasn’t anything like that in the city,” he said. It has been a “really cool opportunity to create something that is, not just financially, but also culturally accessible to them.”

Further, Johnson runs an off-site program for refugee youth, and an after-school program for High School male refugees largely from Myanmar, Tanzania and Afghanistan.

The big picture: As a gym owner, being able to provide access to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to do CrossFit, is incredibly rewarding, Johnson said.

Not only does he get to witness what all gym owners do—for example, stories about “shocking the doctors” by improved cholesterol numbers, or “seeing people take risks and do what they didn’t think was possible,” he explained—he also helps make people’s transition journey to the United States a little easier.

  • “Can you imagine going to a completely new country with just the clothes on your back?” he asked rhetorically, adding that many of his members came to Clarkston without any resources and unable to speak English.

But the moment they become a part of his gym, they have the opportunity, not just to get fit, but to build resources in the form of relationships to help make their lives easier.

  • “We can’t underestimate the importance of having a social network. It allows real relationships to form and leads to the thriving of refugees,” he said.

Though Johnson has been the backbone of the gym, he credits his community, and the greater community in Clarkston, for their efforts in making his dream a reality.

  • “We (rely on) volunteers and folks in the community to give financially to make this happen.  In that way, I’m not on my own,” he said.

“This is a community effort and allows me to bring in partners and friends who care about this mission of making fitness accessible to refugees.”



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Share Your Crossfit Story


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a tip.

  • Congratulations to 17-year-old Melker Lundin from CrossFit Nordic in Stockholm, Sweden on the snatch PR of 265 pounds/120kg.
  • 🔥 Team athlete Jorge Fernandez from CrossFit Invictus hit a new 555 pound/251.7kg deadlift PR.
  • Congratulations to Sophia Davenport from the Florida Grid League’s Tampa Bay Brigade on this 140 pound/63.5kg snatch complex.
  • Congratulations to Annamaria Paralitici from CrossFit Fair Oaks Ranch in Boerne, TX on getting her first bar muscle-up.
  • 🏅 Congratulations to 77-year-old Patty Hung from California on breaking the women’s record for most consecutive Boston Marathons with 37.
3/1 - 3/31: Sit Ups For Pups (Everywhere, Anywhere Online)
3/2: The LKW Games (Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina)
3/9: The Valkyrie Fitness Competition (Tampa, FL)
3/16: Upper Hunter Strongest Novice (Muswellbrook, Australia)
3/16: Oceanside CrossFit 1st Annual Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (oceanside, ca)
3/23 - 3/24: Beach Brawl (Spring) (Pensacola Beach, FL)
3/23: Masters Distinguished Games (Fort Wright, KY)
3/23: CFL Teen Take Over (Lorton, VA)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Kentucky (Richmond, Kentucky)
4/6 - 4/7: SeaDog Summer Showdown (Jupiter, Florida)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Minnesota (Austin, Minnesota)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Ohio (Lancaster, Ohio)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, Alabama)
4/6: Best Babes 608 (Janesville, Wisconsin)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beufort, South Carolina)
4/6: Best Babes Houston (Houston, Texas)
4/6: Best Babes Wyoming (Cheyene, Wyoming)
4/6: War Off I-4 (Deland, FL)
4/6 - 4/7: No Pain No Game (Legnano, Italy)
4/6 - 4/7: Shack Team Edition (Rome, Italy)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beaufort, SC)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, AL)
4/6 - 4/7: Landifornian Battle (Seignosse, France)
4/6: Two Peas in a Pod: Mixed Gender Partner Comp (Burlington, MA)
4/6: Best Babes Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
4/13: Queens of Oly Rockledge (Rockledge, FL)
4/13: Queens of Oly East Tennessee (Bulls Gap, TN)
4/13: Fittest on Main (Boaz, AL)
4/19 - 4/21: Crash Crescendo (Spartanburg, SC)
4/20: Festivus Games (WAUKESHA, WI)
4/20: Barbells For Bullies: Community Workout Savannah (Savnnah, Georgia, US)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CrossFit Plattsburgh (Plattsburgh, NY)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CrossFit Masiphumelele (Kommetjie, Cape Town, South Africa)
4/20: Festivus Games (Goderich, Canada)
4/20: Festivus Games (Clermont, FL)
4/20: Festivus Games @ The Gym – CrossFit Kilo (Cedar Falls, IA)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CBM Sirens (Caledonia, MS)
4/20: Festivus Games @ Coyote Valley (San Jose, CA)
4/20 - 4/21: Okanagan Valley Throwdown (Penticton, British Columbia)
4/20: The Fittest 4 (Sunshine Coast, Australia)
4/20: Embrace the Challenge (Mentor, Ohio)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CrossFit Pagosa (Pagosa Springs, CO)
4/20: First EVER Adaptive Festivus Games Competition (Waterford, United States)
4/20 - 4/21: BGR Contest Spring Edition (Bergerac, France)
4/20 - 4/21: Okanagan Valley Throwdown (Penticton, British Columbia, Canada)
4/26 - 4/28: Crash Crescendo (Spartanburg, SC)
4/27: Cap Crown Throwdown (Gladstone, Australia)

See all upcoming events

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