Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Canadian Emily Rolfe earned her second CrossFit Games invitation in Miami at the Wodapalooza Fitness Festival last weekend. She finished 18th in her rookie season and looks to improve this year. And, Kym Dekeyrel is the first completely blind athlete to compete at Wodapalooza; Alec Zirkenbach has her story. Today:
Get to know one of the newest 2020 Games invitees, Emily Rolfe.
Mat Fraser sat down with Tommy Marquez a few weeks ago in Barcelona to talk about his season thus far and some of the biggest lessons he’s learned in his competition career.
Wodapalooza leads the way for functional fitness competitions in the adaptive community and Kym Dekeyrel provides some insight.
We are always looking for meaningful quotes and story tips. Hit us up at [email protected].
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”– Theodore Roosevelt
Emily Rolfe: Photo Finishing Her Way to the CrossFit Games
Four-tenths of a second. That’s the margin of victory that’s sending Emily Rolfe back to the CrossFit Games this summer for the second straight year.
Heading into the final event at Wodapalooza in Miami, FL last weekend, Rolfe held just a two-point lead over Colleen Fotsch. The 31-year-old Canadian knew exactly what was on the line.
“Basically, it came down to whoever beat the other on that event,” said Rolfe, in a phone interview two days after Wodapalooza, as she was waiting in an hour-long line for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
It was so close that when Rolfe hit the timing button, she wasn’t sure who crossed the line first: her or Fotsch.
“I didn’t think I had done it because I looked over and she was done, too. Then I started looking for (my husband) Kyle (Rolfe) in the stands for feedback, but I couldn’t find him,” she said. “It was a stressful 15 minutes waiting on the floor to find out.”
Eventually, Rolfe did locate her husband, who was refreshing his phone over and over.
“He gave me the thumbs up and mouthed to me across the arena that I had done it. I felt more relief than anything,” said Rolfe, who celebrated that night by eating Chicago-style deep dish pizza for the first time.
“It was so good. It was meat and more meat. It had everything on it,” she said.
Considering the way the weekend started for Rolfe, it’s amazing she was even in contention heading into the final event.
“The first night I got a pretty costly no rep on the last walking lunge…so then I went back and redid it and was no repped again. That was really disappointing because without that I could have been second after Sara (Sigmundsdottir) on that event. Those lunges cost me 30 points, and I basically had to do damage control the rest of the weekend,” Rolfe said.
If anyone could handle this type of damage control, however, it is Rolfe. She has devoted a considerable amount of time to her mental game in the last two years, which explains why she was able to win an event in her rookie season — “Ruck” — at last summer’s CrossFit Games. It’s also how she was able to place 18th overall at the Games.
She gives much credit for her solid mental game to her coach Brett Piperni, who she said helped her “with everything” heading into the Games last summer.
By teaching her mental cues, self-talk practices, visualization and breathing exercises, “Brett has helped me with being outwardly calm, but on the (inside) still having that fight and that aggressiveness,” Rolfe said, adding that he also taught her how to take control of her mind.
This is exactly what Rolfe was able to do in Miami last weekend, and what she’s hoping to do again this summer at the Games, so she can achieve her ultimate goal of cracking the top 10.
After some well-earned rest at Disney, Rolfe won’t waste any time getting right back to competing. She is scheduled for two other Sanctionals in March, the CrossFit Atlas Games in Montreal, Canada, and the West Coast Classic in Del Mar, Calif.
“March will be super busy, but now that I have made it (to the Games), the pressure is off and I can just enjoy competing and testing out some new things and some new competition strategies,” she said.
Then it will be back to training twice a day five days a week, plus a swim on the sixth training day and one full day’s rest. One thing she will focus on is barbell cycling.
“I noticed at Wodapalooza I was slow at barbell cycling compared to the other girls, so I have some things to work on now,” she said.
But that’s for future Rolfe to worry about. For now, she’s relishing the high of qualifying for her second CrossFit Games, enjoying some rides at Disney, some good food and quality time with her husband.
“I am stoked,” she said.
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Fraser Credits CrossFit for Teaching him Confidence, Talks Legacy
The four-time, defending “Fittest Man on Earth” Mathew Fraser dominated in his first live competition of the season at CrossFit Strength in Depth in London, England a month ago. Tommy Marquez sat down with him at the Freakest Challenge in Barcelona soon after. Here are a few highlights from that interview:
On his performance at the Strength in Depth: “Execution went very well. I was very happy with a lot of my performances. In some of the wins, there’s things I can fix.”
On breaking records and his motivation: “If the Games go on forever, every year the probability that someone will beat my record is just like flipping a coin. It’s only a matter of time. There’s only two options. They are either going to beat my record or not beat my record. It’s only a matter of time that it aligns and someone does. I’m just making sure that I’m proud of the results I have and that I’m completing the reasons of why I’m here and why I got into the sport.”
On the shift his career path took: “I figured I would do a couple of years at the Games and by then have a good engineering job and go full steam ahead with that. Little did I know.”
On the top lesson he’s learned while competing: “I’d say the number one thing I’ve learned in my time in CrossFit is confidence. And not like cockiness, more just confident in who I am.”
The full interview includes his thoughts on the on-the-water rowing event at Strength in Depth, why he keeps coming back for the Freakest Challenge and his opinions on championship rings.
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Close your eyes and imagine you’re standing just off the competition floor at Wodapalooza waiting for your heat to start.
You can hear the raucous crowd cheering along with the announcer’s play-by-play. You can feel the DJ’s bass and bouncing barbells shake the ground. The heat ends and you’re being led out onto the main floor.
The Miami sun warms your face and your heart starts to race. In front of you is a minefield of equipment staged for your workout, but your biggest concern isn’t the workout, it’s whether or not you’re even facing the right direction. It’s an all-out sensory overload, except you can’t see any of it.
Meet Kym Dekeyrel
That’s what it was like for Wodapalooza’s first completely blind athlete, Kym Dekeyrel. Dekeyrel, 38, has a genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa (RP) that progressively causes loss of vision. She started losing her vision during childhood and eventually could only see “islands of color” in her periphery by the time she graduated from college.
Dekeyrel was a talented classical dancer and choreographer but had to switch professions due to her vision loss. She now runs a chiropractic and manual therapy practice with her husband in San Jose, California.
Bring yourself back into Kym’s shoes. Your first workout on day one has three movements:
DB Bench Press — check.
DB Thrusters — check.
Rope Climbs — uhhh?
It might seem shocking, but Dekeyrel actually loves climbing rope and she says it’s one of her favorites!
Dekeyrel: “Climbing a rope is liberating. I don’t need any assistance and I don’t have to see it to climb it. It’s simple, just climb the rope!”
Although she does admit there is the added challenge of not knowing when you’ve ascended high enough. She said she climbed about two feet higher each time during the competition than she needed to, but she’s used to the extra effort.
When asked what’s the most challenging part about competing: “I have to work really hard and also listen even more intently to the judge to know when I’ve completed a rep or when I’m done and can move on.”
At her home affiliate, CrossFit Myo, she has the Concept2 machines set up to verbally announce repetitions or calories, but at the competition, she has to rely on the judge or her guide/loving husband to assist her.
Dekeyrel at Wodapalooza
Anyone who attends Wodapalooza knows that while the outdoor workouts are a blast, it’s the party-like vibe and supportive community that makes the event amazing.
Dekeyrel said in jest that the new friendships she made at the festival were worth all of the “awfulness of the workouts.”
Her favorite connection was with fellow visually impaired athlete Sam Dancer, who has severely limited vision. Dekeyrel said some people were commenting on his famously short booty trunks, all of which she couldn’t see. So she decided to say hi and ask for a picture, not knowing about his vision impairment. It’s a connection she said will have a lasting effect on her life. The two joked about possibly competing side-by-side at next year’s Wodapalooza.
The Buttery Bros and Tommy Marquez Take On the Gauntlet at Wodapalooza
Last week at the Wodapalooza Fitness Festival, Heber Cannon, Marston Sawyers and Tommy Marquez took on the Gauntlet, a grueling series of four workouts within a 60-minute window. Some highlights include Tommy’s hefty 245 pound shoulder-to-overhead for five reps and Mars invented the “burpee box crawl-over.”
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The Clydesdale CrossFitter Talks with the Morning Chalk Up’s Own Patrick Clark
Check out this new podcast developing some great content. In this episode, the host, Scott Switzer talks with Patrick Clark, Morning Chalk Up staff writer and photographer, about finding CrossFit, becoming a judge at regionals and the Games, being the head judge at the Asia CrossFit Championship and starting his own sports photography company called Athlete’s Eye Photography.
Here are some cool things happening around the affiliate community right now:
Heirloom CrossFit in Cambridge, MD will celebrate its grand opening on February 29. When an existing affiliate abruptly closed its doors in December, Karah Bunde stepped in to fulfill a dream of hers and open a new gym. The members joined together over the past few months to run open gym sessions and help renovate their new space — most recently an antique store — to get the gym up and running.
CrossFit Rigel in Randolph, MA will celebrate its one-year anniversary on March 2. The Rigel community will celebrate with a party and free community WOD on March 14.
CrossFit Adelphos, owned by Tony Seamans in New Castle, PA has put together a fundraiser to help a family in their community. The Love for Lowin online competition and fundraiser will support the Willoughby family who’s 3-year-old daughter, Lowin Olivia Willoughby, was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent a 7+ hour surgery to remove more
than 60% of it. Registration and donations will help alleviate the financial stress related to her medical treatments.
Sand and Steel Fitness in Alexandria, VA is offering a free workshop to Army soldiers, to help pass the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The free, two-hour workshop on March 28 will help teach soldiers how to safely and effectively train to pass this test. The training plan is based on the CrossFit methodology with special adaptations to help soldiers improve their scores.