Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Wodapalooza kicks off today in Miami, and we’ve got everything you need to know. And, in this week’s national champion profile, Spenser Mestel highlights Luke Fiso, from New Zealand. Today:
The fittest on earth head to Wodapalooza, the eighth Sanctional of the season
Sara Sigmundsdottir is off to a dominant start this season and looks to test herself this week.
“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” — Thomas Carlyle
Wodapalooza Gathers the Best CrossFitters for Annual Miami Festival
A who’s who of the top CrossFit athletes in the world will be converging on Miami, Florida for the Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival for fun, sun, fitness and a chance to earn an invitation to the CrossFit games. The four-day competition will be held February 20-23 on Miami’s Bayfront Park.
What’s on the line: The coveted 2020 Games invite awaits elite individuals and teams competing who have yet to earn that honor. Also on the line is one of the Sanctional season’s top prize purses for top finishers. A total prize purse of $400,000 awaits the top-ten finishers for elite individuals and team divisions.
Individuals | Teams
$50,000 | $20,000
$30,000 | $12,500
$20,000 | $10,000
$15,000 | $8,000
$10,000 | $6,000
$4,000 | $5,000
$3,000 | $3,000
$2,000 | $2,500
$1,500 | $2,000
$1,000 | $1,500
Individuals will also receive $2,020 for event wins.
Who to watch: A stacked field awaits in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Nineteen of the 35 women athletes have appeared at the Games either as an individual or on a team. On the men’s side 17 of the 37 athletes have competed at the Games.
Including the team division, three athletes in the elite field have been crowned the “Fittest on Earth” as individuals, combining for eight total championships. Tia-Clair Toomey (2017-2019), Ben Smith (2015) and Rich Froning (2011-2014).
Of the 72 athletes competing in the individual divisions, 24 have already received their invitations to the 2020 Games. Seven national champions makeup that field to give Wodapalooza an international feel. Toomey (Australia), Kari Pearce (United States), Sara Sigmundsdottir (Iceland) and Larissa Cunha (Brazil) represent the women national champions and Willy Georges (France), Zack George (United Kingdom), Fabian Beneito Selles (Spain) represent the top men from their respected countries.
The women’s division:
Arguably the biggest storyline is Toomey against Sigmundsdottir. Toomey holds a 2-0 advantage in Sanctionals against her Icelandic rival. Last year, Toomey won the first Sanctional of her career at Wodapalooza, Sigmundsdottir finished third. Toomey also got the better of her at the 2019 Rogue Invitational. In fact, Toomey has won all three Sanctionals she has entered.
Last year at Wodapalooza, Toomey placed no worse than second in any of the seven events on her way to winning by 110 points overall. She won the final three events to secure the dominating win.
Sigmundsdottir has dominated the early part of this season, winning two Sanctionals in less than a month against tough competition at the Filthy 150 and the Dubai CrossFit Championship. Her three career Sanctional titles tie her with Toomey for the most in the women’s division.
Six of the top-ten finishers at the 2019 Games will be competing as Toomey, Kari Pearce (fifth), Haley Adams (sixth), Amanda Barnhart (seventh), Thuri Helgadottir (ninth) and Danielle Brandon (tenth) all battle for the championship. Overall thirteen of the top-30 female athletes from the 2019 Games are competing.
Helgadottir leads a group of 2019 Games qualifiers that have yet to secure an invite to this year’s Games. Also looking for the Games invite includes Alice Mille, Cheryl Nasso, Colleen Fotsch, Emily Rolfe and Paige Semenza.
Fotsch and Semenza are in familiar territory as they competed at Wodapalooza last year. Fotsch placed sixth while Semenza finished 11th.
Games veteran Jessica Griffith is looking for her individual Games invite after declining her invitation last season to compete on a team with CrossFit Krypton. That team received their invite after winning Wodapalooza last year as Team ROMWOD/WIT.
The men’s division:
Patrick Vellner is returning todefend his 2019 Wodapalooza championship and comes into this year’s competition as the early favorite. The three-time Games podium finisher and 2018 runner-up won the 2020 Open to start the season and followed that up with a second place showing at the Dubai CrossFit Championship in December.
The 2019 Games runner-up, Noah Ohlsen looks to take back his Wodapalooza title after finishing third last year. The hometown favorite has competed at the festival every year since 2012 and has won three individual titles.
Led by Ohlsen, ten of the top-30 Games finishers from last year will be competing. Adrian Mundwiler (eighth), Saxon Panchik (ninth), Cole Sager (11th), Logan Collins (14th), Vellner (16th), Casper Gammelmark (20th), Willy Georges (21st), Smith (28th) and Ryan Sowder (30th) make up the stacked field.
Mundwiler, Panchik, Gammelmark and Sowder have yet to secure their 2020 Games invitations.
Look for two other siblings to compete for the invite, as Saxon’s twin brother Spencer Panchik looks for his first Games berth. Spencer just missed out getting his Games invite through the Open, finishing 36th. Alec Smith, the younger brother of Ben Smith, makes his return to individual competition after competing with CrossFit Krypton last season. The younger Smith is a two-time individual Games competitor and was a member of the Krypton team that finished as runner-ups at the 2019 Games.
Some other athletes to watch include Christian Lucero, Jean-Simon Roy-Lemaire, Sam Stewart, Travis Williams, and Zack George. Lucero’s last Games appearance was in 2016 and just missed out on an Open invite this season after finishing 40th worldwide. Roy-Lemaire already has his Games invite but looks to push fellow countrymen Vellner for first place. One of six Canadians in the field, the 2019 national champion placed eighth in this year’s Open. Stewart is just below the Open cutline at 39th and is competing in his third Sanctional of the season. George is also competing in his third Sanctional but has his invite already secured as the United Kingdom’s national champion. Williams also has a Game’s invite secured but in the team division. The three-time Games individual competitor, qualified at the Dubai CrossFit Championship with Misfit P10
Off to Best Season Start, Sigmundsdottir Faces Major Test in Miami
Sara Sigmundsdottir is having one of the best season starts of any female CrossFit Games athlete. She kicked off the 2019-2020 season with her second consecutive, and third career overall Open win. She followed that up with back-to-back Sanctionals wins — Filthy 150 and Dubai CrossFit Championship — showing strong focus amid serious challengers like Kristin Holte, Sam Briggs, Jamie Greene and Alessandra Pichelli in both events.
On Thursday, Sigmundsdottir, who is once-again coaching herself this season, will face a true test of her new strategy in this rematch with the reigning Fittest Woman on Earth Tia-Clair Toomey along with a dozen more former Games athletes competing at Wodapalooza.
“I’m on a very good road now, just a very good path,” Sigmundsdottir said in asit down interview.
“Not comparing myself while I train, I think that’s my biggest issue is that I’m training and thinking ‘this person can do this and this person can do that.’ No, what can Sara do? Am I reaching my full potential in this training? Can I do anything better? That’s my mindset now in training.”
One big thing: Sigmundsdottir is about as fine-tuned mentally as I’ve seen her and this112kg/247 pound clean and jerk PR tie is the reason why. It’s not what she did but rather what she didn’t do.
Sigmundsdottir originally planned to jump from 105kg-110kg-115kg but backed off when 110kg felt pretty heavy, opting for 112kg which ties her all-time PR.
The cautious approach was smart because 112kg was already good enough for a first-place tie, plus it added a confidence boost.
A similar situation arose at Filthy 150 in November. Sigmundsdottir tied hersnatch PR at 95kg on her second lift then opted for a 5kg jump to 100kg instead of going for 97.5kg. She’d already won the event at 95kg so she lost nothing by taking a big jump but given how well she lifted 95, 97.5 was certainly in the cards and a lot more likely.
Sara Sigmundsdottir: “I’m on a very good road now, just a very good path,” she said in asit down interview. “Not comparing myself while I train, I think that’s my biggest issue is that I’m training and thinking ‘this person can do this and this person can do that.’ No, what can Sara do? Am I reaching my full potential in this training? Can I do anything better? That’s my mindset now in training.”
By the numbers: A quick look at Toomey v. Sigmundsdottir.
Toomey is a perfect three for three at Sanctionals. Sigmundsdottir is three for six, but both have three Sanctionals wins apiece.
The two have competed head-to-head in two Sanctionals last season: Wodapalooza and Rogue Invitational. Toomey won both events by wide margins though Sigmundsdottir performed well with a third and second-place finish respectively.
Sigmundsdottir made significant improvements against Toomey at Rogue, beating her in three events compared to zero in Wodapalooza. She also tightened the margin of victory from 112 points to 76 points, which is the tightest margin Toomey has faced since the 2018 Games.
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If you couldn’t make it down to South Florida to watch the Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival in person, don’t worry, we got you covered. Four-days of competition await some of the top athletes in CrossFit, February 20-23, at beautiful Bayfront Park in Miami.
The Morning Chalk Up will have staff onsite to bring you daily updates, exclusive coverage, recaps, interviews and analysis on our Wodapalooza Sanctional Page.
The competition kicks-off on Thursday afternoon with two workouts for both individuals and teams. The first event kicks-off at 1:00 PM EST with the Hero WOD Luce.
Not all events and schedules have been released yet.
National Champion Profile: Luke Fiso, New Zealand
The patron saint of globo gym CrossFit, Luke Fiso is now the fittest man in New Zealand
For two years, Luke Fiso was determined to teach himself CrossFit at a Planet Fitness in Wellington. Though he had almost no experience with Olympic lifts, he studied technique on YouTube, and for programming, he copied whichever workouts Rich Froning had posted online.
Overall, this strategy worked out surprisingly well. Within three months, Fiso was snatching 155 pounds (70 kilos) and power cleaning 220 (100). But, the gym had its drawbacks. Fiso had to bring his own equipment, like chalk and rings, and the environment wasn’t welcoming for him or the few other CrossFit enthusiasts in the gym.
Fiso: “The staff hated us. They’d wait for us to drop a barbell and then kick us out, and when they discovered that the floor in the lifting area was broken, they tried to blame us for that.”
However, the gym had one perk. Even though Fiso knew he was being surveilled by the Planet Fitness employees, he didn’t feel sized up in the same way he had running high school track or playing rugby. He was successful in both — placing sixth in New Zealand in the hurdles and competing on the national team for rugby — but was still self-conscious.
Fiso: “I always felt like I needed to prove something in every training and every game, so I focused on what my coaches were thinking rather than my own performance or just enjoying the game.”
In 2013, after a particularly brutal rugby concussion, when he took a shoulder to the head and forgot why he was on the field, Fiso started CrossFit. Six months later, he competed in his first Open expecting to qualify for Regionals. He didn’t. Still, he stayed with his globo gym programming: no cycles, no periodization, no real skill work.
At the same time, whenever he did have contact with the CrossFit mainstream, he didn’t enjoy it, like when his girlfriend convinced him to try a class at a proper CrossFit gym.
The workout was 1,000-meter row and then 100 wall-balls.
Thanks to a quick row and a slight misunderstanding, he beat the other men but didn’t appreciate the coach’s feedback.
Fiso: “No one told me you can rest whenever you want, so I did the wall-balls unbroken. But then I got hassled about my technique, and I’m like, ‘I won. What’s the problem?’”
Fiso didn’t like being watched and didn’t want someone telling him what to do, so he went back to training at Planet Fitness. After two years on his own, though, he realized that he was only improving in what he was already good at, so he joined an affiliate. A few months later, he had an epiphany.
Fiso: “I’d been too afraid to admit that I liked CrossFit. I was always saying, ‘No, it’s a fad. It’s a cult.’”
Finally committed to the sport, Fiso opened his own box, Thorndon Crossfit, where he’s been ever since, and last year, he also qualified for the Games as New Zealand’s national champion. In Madison, on the biggest stage the sport has to offer, Fiso proved that he was no longer a globo gym outsider getting rattled by being watched.
Though he was the last guy to finish the first workout and make it to the second round, he didn’t overcompensate on the rower during the next event.
Fiso: “I remember looking at the other guys’ screens, and they were all at a 1:30 pace. I knew I should hold at 1:45, but a few years ago, I would’ve lost my shit and matched their pace.”
Even at the end of that workout, when Fiso was handstand walking, jumped his hands over the line and was no repped, he didn’t panic.
Fiso: “I thought, ‘Just do it again and finish the workout. Don’t worry that your Games may be over.’”
That mistake got Fiso cut, but this year he’s on track to redeem himself. With an Open placement of 63rd in the world, he’s optimistic he can finish in the top 30, maybe even as high as the top 20 or 10. If that’s the case, there’ll be no doubt that all eyes are on him.
Handstand Obstacles with Jacob Heppner
In this episode of his vlog, Jacob Heppner hits a workout from the Norwegian CrossFit Championship and offers some tips on navigating handstand obstacles.
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Girls Gone Rx, a global, women’s only event series is announcing The Oly Open, set to run from February 26 until March 29th. Here are the details:
The Oly Open is a women’s only online Olympic lifting competition, organized similarly to the CrossFit Open. Every week a new lift will be announced on Wednesday and scores must be submitted by Sunday night. Videos will be requested from top lifters each week.
There are three weight divisions — Division 1: Up to and including 130lbs.; Division 2: 131lbs up to and including 157lbs; and Division 3: 158lbs and up.
First-place winners in all divisions will receive cash prizes (total amount dependent on registrations).
Five dollars of every registration will be donated to Bright Pink. All Girls Gone Rx events raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.
Registration is open now, the cost to enter is $40.