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Mal O’Brien out for the 2023 Games season

Morning Chalk Up

May 17   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • BREAKING: Mal O’Brien is out for 2023 Games season
  • Week One 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Previews:
    • North America East Individuals
    • Africa Individuals
    • Week One Teams
  •  Ice Barrel announced as the Cold Therapy Sponsor of 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games
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“Competing at the highest level is not about winning. It's about preparation, courage, understanding and nurturing your people, and heart. Winning is the result.” - Joe Torre

  BREAKING: Mal O'Brien Out for the 2023 Season  

BREAKING: Mal O'Brien Out for the 2023 Season

Mallory O’Brien announced in an Instagram post on Tuesday that she will not compete at the North America East Semifinals this weekend.

This news comes just two days before the event kicks off, leaving a massive gap in the competition field both in Orlando and presumably at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games this year.

The details: While O’Brien was vague in her reasoning, she wrote in her Instagram caption that she needs time to “prioritize (her) wellbeing” in the face of personal challenges. She also wrote that she is grateful for the support she’s felt from the community, her family, and coaches and training partners at HWPO, including coach Mat Fraser.

  • “Remember, life isn’t just about winning trophies or achieving goals—it’s about finding balance, taking care of ourselves, and cherishing the moments that truly matter,” O’Brien said. “I’ll be taking this time to focus on what’s important to me.”
  • O’Brien dropping out of her Semifinals competition bars her from competing any further in the season–she will not be eligible for the CrossFit Games.
  • At just 16-years-old, O’Brien took a season off in 2020 to focus on her health after being diagnosed with Lyme disease. Whether or not this break is related or not, O’Brien is no stranger to comebacks.

One big thing: With Tia Clair-Toomey out this season after the birth of her daughter just last week, the question of who will stand on top of the podium at the CrossFit Games has been at large. O’Brien was the heir apparent after her second-place finish last year in Madison and rapid rise to stardom at 19-years-old. But now that she is also out of the running, who will end up on top at the Games this summer is up in the air.

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💪 ⭐️ 💪 Athlete signing: Active lifestyle brand Swolverine announced a long-term deal with rising star and Underdogs athlete Alex Gazan.

🚨🚨🚨 Flash Sale!: We are doing a bit of spring cleaning at the Morning Chalk Up, and right now all apparel and patches are on sale. While supplies last.

ICYMI: Breaking down the Semifinals programming.

🏋️‍♀️ ☕️ Heading to Orlando for the North American East Semifinal? Check out our list of local businesses for fitness, food, and frappes!

Now entering the shoe game: Born Primitive just announced the launch of their debut shoe: the Savage 1. Get a sneak peek!

  2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games North America East Semifinals Preview  

2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games North America East Semifinals Preview

CrossFit Semifinals are mere days away from kicking off, and will be held over the course of three weekends, worldwide. Two are slated for the first weekend, May 18-21, with one of them being the North America East, qualifying the largest number of spots for any Semifinal competition: 12 for men and 11 for women.

The lineup is full of heavy-hitters with Games veterans like Noah Ohlsen, Jayson Hopper, Amanda Barnhart and Danielle Brandon all vying for one of the qualifying spots. Brothers Spencer and Saxon Panchik will be competing alongside one another, as well as sisters Brooke and Sydney Wells. With Mal O’Brien announcing her withdrawal from competition, the weekend is shaping up to be wide open on the women’s side.

Men’s Field

Some familiar faces are expected to finish on top of the leaderboard based on strong rankings in Quarterfinals. But with 12 qualifying spots, there may be some new names on the Games roster.

  • Jeffery Adler will be attempting to return to the Games for his 5th consecutive year. Adler continues to improve and has claimed that his 2023 Open win was a surprise, that he was not yet at his peak for the season. Taking 2nd place in Quarterfinals in North America East, Adler is poised to secure a spot among the 12.
  • Dallin Pepper has been training with the Brute Strength crew and making waves, finishing 8th in the Open and 1st in North America East Quarterfinals. As a three-time teens champion, this season would be his second time as an individual at the Games.
  • Spencer Panchik, who finished 5th in Quarterfinals, will be hoping to return to Madison this year. Last year’s MACC delivered a nail-biting finish for him, as he secured a 5th place spot, and went on to finish 20th at the Games. He will be competing alongside (and against) his brother, Saxon Panchik, winner of the MACC in 2022 and the Granite Games in 2021.
  • Bubble athlete Marquan Jones will be fighting for a chance to return to the Games, since his last appearance in 2018. Finishing in 13th place in Quarterfinals puts him in contention to challenge fellow North America East athletes for one of the 12 spots. Jones placed 13th both in 2021 and 2022 at the Granite Games and the MACC, respectively. Training out of CrossFit Roseland in New Jersey, Jones could quite possibly secure his ticket to the Games.
  • Odds-on favorite Roman Khrennikov, 2nd place in both the 2022 CrossFit Games and Wodapalooza will be competing, and always puts on a show.
  • Other notable athletes to watch will be Games veterans Will Moorad, Alexandre Caron, Alex Vigneault and Sam Cournoyer. Tyler Christophel will be battling, after barely missing out on a spot last year at the MACC, (see Spencer Panchik’s aforementioned nail-biting finish). Also, a close eye will be kept on Jack Farlow and James Sprague, who would be potential new Games competitors in the individual field this year, finishing 6th and 9th, respectively, in the North America East Quarterfinals.
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  2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Africa Semifinals Preview  

2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Africa Semifinals Preview

The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Africa Semifinal will be running May 19-21 at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Africa received the least amount of the qualifying spots for the Games, with just one man and woman having the opportunity to earn a ticket to Madison.

Games Experience for Africa 

  • Jason Smith: The three time individual CrossFit Games competitor (2017, 2019, 2021) mentioned in a recent post that his goal was to compete in the 35-39 Age Group division, but was knocked out of qualifying after a major penalty. He has decided to pursue his fourth individual CrossFit Games in 2023.
  • Kealan Henry: Henry won the 2022 Fittest in Cape Town, punching his ticket to his first CrossFit Games. Unfortunately, Henry withdrew after four events in his rookie season due to injuries. He would later reveal on his social media that had been battling a serious hamstring tear, hand injury and was still recovering from illness.
  • Michelle Basnett: Basnett took 32nd in her rookie season at the CrossFit Games in 2021. She finished third at the 2022 Fittest in Cape Town behind Michelle Merand and Christina Livaditakis, but with Michelle Merand going team in 2023, Basnett has a good chance of returning for her second CrossFit Games appearance.

Athletes to Watch

  • Darren Zurnamer: Zurnamer finished third in the 2022 Fittest in Cape Town and comes into this year’s Semifinal ranked second in the men’s division for Africa.
  • Christina Livaditakis: Livaditakis was the runner up at the 2022 Fittest in Cape Town, missing the CrossFit Games behind Michelle Merand by 40 points in the women’s division.

The bottom line: With only one male and one female earning an invite to the 2023 CrossFit Games from the Africa region, the pressure will be on for the 30 men and 30 women taking the floor in Johannesburg this weekend.

The big showdown on the men’s side looks to be between Kealan Henry and Games veteran Jason Smith. The battle on the women’s side looks to be between Christina Livaditakis and Michelle Basnett after only 24 points separated the two in last year’s Fittest in Cape Town (and with Michelle Merand deciding to go team).

  Semifinals Week One Team Preview: North America East and Africa  

Semifinals Week One Team Preview: North America East and Africa

The first week of Semifinals kicks off this week bringing us to the second to last stage of the CrossFit Games season. This week, we will see teams in the North America East and Africa regions take the floor and battle for one of the coveted tickets to Madison later this summer.

North America East:

After this weekend, ten teams will punch their tickets to Madison, but the battle to get there will be challenging. With the number one worldwide team, as well as four teams in the top ten and eight teams in the top twenty worldwide, NA East has the largest number of teams ranked in the top 20 worldwide after Quarterfinals.

The Power Four: With worldwide Quarterfinals rankings in the top ten, these teams have a surefire chance of punching their ticket to the 2023 CrossFit Games and potentially standing on the podium this weekend.

  • CrossFit East Nashville PRVN (#1 Worldwide): Perhaps one of the most powerful teams in the world right now, Crossfit East Nashville PRVN is the clear favorite for at least a podium finish and potentially to win the whole weekend.
  • They are currently ranked number one in the world and won every single workout, except workout four in the North America Quarterfinals (and for good measure, placed first in three of five workouts worldwide).
  • Captained by former Mayhem team athlete, Taylor Williamson, CrossFit East Nashville PRVN also consists of three other powerhouse team and individual athletes in the sport.
  • Tola Morakinyo took second worldwide for individual men in the open following four team Games appearances, including a podium finish last year with CrossFit Reykjavik. He will be joined by five-time individual Games athlete Tim Paulson.
  • On the women’s side, former Mayhem athletes and 2022 Affiliate Cup Champions, Andrea Nisler and Taylor Williamson, round out the makings of an extremely dominant team.
  • This year, Nisler and Williamson are hoping to continue to show dominance in their post-Mayhem era and if the Open and Quarterfinals are any indication of future performance, they are a surefire bet for the top of the podium.
  • CrossFit Mayhem Independence (#6 Worldwide): With Rich Froning’s retirement from the Team Competition, the door opens for Mayhem’s second team to step into the spotlight. While Mayhem Independence trailed close behind Mayhem Freedom in the 2022 CrossFit Games, placing fifth overall, a new year and a new roster are set to shake that up.
  • While Angelo Diccico will once again captain Mayhem Independence, the other three team members are brand new to the Independence roster.
  • Sam DeMeester, Zoe Jones, and Kyra Milligan will take the place of Alexis Johnson, Luke Parker, and Sasha Nievas.
  • The team placed second in the North America East Region in Quarterfinals, placing top ten in every workout but one.
  • While Angelo Diccico has been well-known in the CrossFit space since his days as a teen Games athlete, his fellow teammates also have a strong competition background.
  • In 2022, Zoe Jones competed for 8th Day CrossFit at the CrossFit Games, where her team took 10th overall.
  • DeMeester and Milligan also have impressive backgrounds, with DeMeester finishing 15th at Granite Games in 2022 and Milligan finishing 15th and 14th in 2021 and 2022 respectively at the Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge.
  • CrossFit OBA (#7 Worldwide): With no one on the team under the age of 32, CrossFit OBA might be the oldest team on the competition floor this weekend, but with their age comes wisdom and a combined 37 Opens, 13 Regionals, 8 Games, and 5 Semifinals under their belts.
  • With the new addition of Emelie Lundberg, the 10th-place finisher at 2022’s Strength in Depth, they are back and hungrier than ever.
  • Last year, OBA finished 10th overall at the Games. A finish that both surprised and motivated the team to push even harder for a potential podium position this year.
  • “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,” team member Niklas Hecht said.
  • CrossFit Krypton (#10 Worldwide): The Smith brothers are back and ready to tackle the team division.
  • Three-time CrossFit Games athlete Alec Smith will join his brother and 2015 Fittest Man on Earth Ben Smith.
  • Not only has Ben Smith stood on the podium three times since 2009, but he is also an eleven-time CrossFit Games athlete.
  • While the two brothers have not made a Games appearance since  2019, they have burst back onto the Team scene four years later with a fourth-place finish in the North America East region Quarterfinals.
  • They will be joined by two-time CrossFit Games athlete Caroline Spencer and 2019 Games athlete Erin O’Donnell.
Continue Reading...
  Ice Barrel Announced as the Official Cold Therapy Partner of the NOBULL CrossFit Games  

Ice Barrel Announced as the Official Cold Therapy Partner of the NOBULL CrossFit Games

Today, CrossFit named Ice Barrel as the Official Cold Therapy Partner of the NOBULL CrossFit Games.

The details: This announced partnership is for three years. As part of the contract, Ice Barrel will have its signature cold therapy solutions available at all Open, Semifinal, and Final events in the U.S. for athlete and spectator use.

  • Ice Barrel will offer deals to athletes, event attendees, and livestream viewers during the CrossFit Games. Details will be listed on their website and announced at Semifinal and Final events.
  • CrossFit employees and trainers will also receive exclusive offerings from the company, with specifics to be shared in the coming months.

Wyatt Ewing, Founder and CEO of Ice Barrel: “Our team could not be more excited to be partnering with CrossFit to bring cold therapy to the CrossFit Games. As a CrossFit athlete myself, I know how much these workouts, along with taking ice baths, have meant to me and I am thrilled we can bring these awesome communities together in a more official capacity.”

Why it matters: This is the first major partnership between Ice Barrel and CrossFit. The cold therapy company started dipping its toes into the CrossFit space earlier this year, partnering on an ice barrel challenge in February. Through this three-year contract, their presence in the sport will only continue to grow.



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

  • Good luck to all of the Semifinals athletes competing in Orlando and Johannesburg this week.
  • 😮 Congratulations to 10-year-old weightlifter Rory van Ulft on the 154 pound/70kg clean and jerk.
  • Congratulations Cielo De La Canal from Argentina on the 143 pound/65kg snatch double.
  • Congratulations to Willy Griffin from CrossFit Minnetonka on hitting his goal of a 350 pound/158.7kg power clean PR while deployed.
  • Congratulations to Mchallah from Silver Giant Fitness in New Cairo, Egypt on getting her first bar muscle-up.
  • Nine months separate the two clips in this video posted by Tia-Clair Toomey.
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