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Mid-Season Catch-Up with Steph Chung

Morning Chalk Up

February 29


Good  morning and welcome to  the Leap Day/Weekend edition of the Morning Chalk Up. We are a week out from Wodapalooza,and our editor-in-chief, Justin LoFranco has some key takeaways. And, Nive Clark took last place in the CrossFit Games in 2019, Spenser Mestel has her story. Today:

  • Nive Clark seeks redemption.
  • Steph Chung on her mid-season plans.
  • And, the Lowlands Online qualifier has been announced.

Hit us up with PRs and story tips this weekend: at [email protected]  



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National Champion Profile: Nive Clark, Samoa

 National Champion Profile: Nive Clark, Samoa 

At the 2019 Games, she tied for last. This year, she’s back for more.

Before the start of event one in Madison last year, Clark knew she could do a legless rope climb. She’d done them before at her gym in northern Arkansas, and after the 400-meter run, she made the ascent, hand over hand. However, just as she was about to touch the rafter, her legs squeezed the rope, and she was no repped.

For the next 18 or so minutes, she made a few more attempts, but her momentum was gone. With only one rep, the national champion from Samoa tied for last with 14 other women and was cut.

  • Clark: “In the moment, I was getting embarrassed, but after the heat, all the other girls that failed as well came together and made a circle and encouraged each other, like, ‘Hey, this isn’t it. We can do this better next year.’”

Like Roza Gilles, the Uzbeki national champion, Clark lives in the United States but was born and raised abroad. For Clark, it was a village in Samoa, an independent nation of about 200,000 that sits just to the west of American Samoa, a territory of the United States.

In 2003, Clark met an American Peace Corps volunteer, and two years later, they started to date. From there, the relationship moved quickly.  

  • A few months later, on a Friday, Paul proposed to Nive.
  • That Monday, the couple got married in a courthouse on the island.
  • The following day, they flew roughly 2,000 miles to New Zealand, the closest place for Nive to apply for a visa to the United States.

Nive and Paul moved to Arkansas, where Paul’s from, and for the next two years, they had to meet with an immigration officer to prove that they weren’t in a so-called “green card marriage.” Though they were genuinely in love (within that time frame, they’d already had their first child), the experience still rattled Clark, so much so that at one appointment she forgot the year they got married.  

  • Clark: “I’m always nervous of new things. I’m even nervous of our phone call right now.”  

Despite her nerves, and despite having no formal athletic background, Clark loved CrossFit, which she started in September of 2014. Every year in the Open, she’s improved, from 26,693 the first year to 598th this past November.

Training for the Games, Clark has found a supportive community at her gym, CrossFit Bentonville, though the reaction from fellow Samoans was mixed.

  • When she went back to the islands in 2015, she met Lupe Kapisi and her family, the owners of CrossFit Fatutoa, who have cheered for her ever since.
  • After she explained what, exactly, CrossFit is, Clark’s family and friends were also thrilled for her.
  • However, Clark also tried to share her story with The Rock and a Samoan newspaper, but they never responded.

Regardless, Clark is full steam ahead on her training. She’s started swimming seriously for the first time, and because of a foot injury, she’s had ample time to strengthen her upper body. The challenge is exciting, if not a bit overwhelming at times.

  • Clark: “Some days, I’m fatigued, like ‘Oh my god, I just want to die.’ But then I say to myself, ‘If I want to get better, I really need to do this.”

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Mid-Season Catch-Up with Steph Chung

 Mid-Season Catch-Up with Steph Chung 

2018 CrossFit Games athlete Steph Chung improved her overall worldwide Open performance to 46th, her best over her seven-year career. The Games athlete from Boston has competed in three Sanctionals so far this season, notching two top 10 finishes and a third-place podium finish at Filthy 150.


2 Key Takeaways from Wodapalooza

 2 Key Takeaways from Wodapalooza 

The 8th Sanctional of the season wrapped up last Sunday in Miami, drawing the largest crowds of the season and one of the largest prize purses available outside of the CrossFit Games. 

The big picture: There are just a few competitions on the calendar with the talent roster deep enough to put pressure on the thoroughbreds in this sport. Wodapalooza is definitely one of those, boasting more than 25 former individual Games athletes. Wodapalooza’s mid-season check-up gives us a clearer indication of how already qualified athletes are shaping up through the long season as they head into the CrossFit Games.

Two observations.

1. Tia-Clair Toomey faced her toughest Sanctional opposition yet but proved why she’s still the one to beat. 

  • Going into Wodapalooza, Toomey’s win differential was 88.6 points on average across three Sanctionals. Translation: Toomey was 88.6 points ahead of second place at the end of the event. You can see all our advanced efficiency metrics on our Wodapalooza leaderboard.
  • After last weekend, her win differential dropped to 76 points as Sara Sigmundsdottir closed the gap to only 38 points. In fact, Sigmundsdottir beat Toomey in four of nine workouts which raised Toomey’s average finish to 3.1., that’s up from her average finish of 1.7 across previous events. 
  • Toomey is still the three-time reigning champion and remains undefeated in Sanctionals play, but this is by far the closest the competition has been. The upcoming Rogue Invitational in May will determine if this is a fluke or other athletes are catching up. 

2. This is by far Patrick Vellner’s most impressive win. 

  • Vellner only briefly led during the competition, finishing each day sitting in either second or third and entered the final three events with a 64 point gap to close against Cole Sager.
  • His 19th place finish to round out Saturday was a huge deathblow both on the leaderboard and mentally. With a 64 point gap to make up on the leaderboard and just two events remaining, most athletes would have folded. Vellner showed up Sunday and won back-to-back events while Sager stumbled with his own 19th place finish.
  • With a razor-thin margin, Vellner could take it all by winning the final event where he’d tie Sager in points and win the tiebreaker. That’s exactly what he did by only 7 seconds. 
  • While Vellner adds a second Sanctionals title to his resume, his ability to win when he needed to demonstrated a champions-pedigree he’ll need going up against Mat Fraser at the Rogue Invitational in May. 

Lowlands Qualifier Kicks Off Next Week

 Lowlands Qualifier Kicks Off Next Week 

The CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown has announced the release date for its online qualifier. The three workouts will be released on Wednesday, March 4 on their website as well as on their social media platforms.

In its 11th yearr, the Lowlands Throwdown will welcome 480 athletes spread across nine divisions at the Omnisport Apeldoorn in the Netherlands on May 29-31.

What you need to know: All athletes must be registered online in order to participate in the online qualifier to earn an invite to the final event.

  • The qualifier consists of three workouts that must be completed in their designated order in one day. Dividing the workouts over multiple days or changing the order of the workout is not allowed and will result in a disqualification.
  • Athletes will have six days, March 5-10, to complete three workouts and submit their best scores. All athletes and teams that qualify for the final event will need to provide video’s of all the workouts.
  • The deadline to submit your score is Tuesday, March 10 at 9:00 PM CEST.
  • The official rulebook is available online.

The divisions: The Lowlands Throwdown has divisions lined up for most skill levels.

  • In the elite divisions, there are 60 total spots available for the elite individuals and 20 spots for the elite teams.
  • The top-10 male and female finishers from this season’s CrossFit Open leaderboard will receive an invite to the Lowlands Throwdown and do not have to participate in the online qualifier.
  • Additionally, male and female athletes that finished the Open in the top-five in the Netherlands, top-three in Belgium and top-two in Luxembourg will be invited to the Sanctional.
  • The winner of the elite individual and team divisions will receive an invitation to the 2020 CrossFit Games.
  • Other divisions include individual RX, Scaled, Masters (35-39), Masters (40-44), Masters (45+), Teens RX and Team RX.

The Lowlands Throwdown is one of the newest Sanctionals that the Morning Chalk Up has announced a media partnership with for the 2019-2020 season. Keep checking back for the latest news and coverage of the Lowlands Throwdown.




Margaux Alvarez on Starting a Wine Company with No Investors

In this video, Margaux Alvarez talks about her wine company, her goals, vision and why she chose Las Vegas as their HQ. One big takeaway: In the end it’s all about appreciating the journey, embracing the struggles and celebrating the daily successes.

 Morning Chalk Up 



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 Morning Chalk Up 


Shane Orr on the Loud And Live Sports Podcast

Shane Orr sits down for his first podcast ever in London, UK. He is coach and husband to the three-time Fittest Woman on Earth, Tia-Clair Toomey and now has taken on the role of coach to the four-time Fittest Man on Earth, Mathew Fraser. Listen to how he balances his life as a coach and a husband.

 Morning Chalk Up 


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2/28 – 3/1: True Strength Camp (Vancouver, WA)
2/28 – 2/29: CrossFit West Richland’s One Ton Challenge (West Richland, WA)
2/29 – 3/1: Gi’s and Janes (Jackson, MS)
2/29: 151 Marion Mad Hatter (Marion, IA)
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