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Roman Khrennikov Talks Fatherhood and Life in America

Morning Chalk Up

March 13   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Mal O’Brien: winning the Open is “a great sign that my training is working”
  • Roman Khrennikov talks to Morning Chalk Up about life in the US
  • What does history tell us about the 2023 CrossFit Games Quarterfinals?
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“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” - Boris Pasternak

  Mal O’Brien and Jeffrey Adler Officially Win The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open  

Mal O’Brien and Jeffrey Adler Officially Win The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open

It’s official: Mal O’Brien and Jeffrey Adler have won the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open, as confirmed by CrossFit LLC on Friday via Instagram.

This is both O’Brien’s and Adler’s second Open win. O’Brien also won the Open last year as an 18-year-old, while Adler, 12th last season, was the 2021 Open winner.

What they’re saying: With six-time champion Tia-Clair Toomey sitting out the season due to pregnancy, O’Brien has widely been considered the heir apparent to win the title this summer, and said that winning the Open is “a great sign that my training is working.”

  • “We trained through the Open this year because the focus is on the Games and I’me excited for the rest of the season,” she added.

Meanwhile, Adler has been knocking on the door to finish on the podium in recent years, and his coach and romantic partner Caroline Lambray said he finally believes he can.

  • In the past, Adler—fifth in the world in both 2020 and 2022—struggled to believe he could reach the podium at the Games, and it has “taken him longer” to build that belief, as he needed “the factual data” in order to believe, Lambray explained. But heading into this season, he’s finally there.
  • “He’s coming into the 2023 season with the confidence that he can perform at the level that he wants to be able to perform,” Lambray said. And the Open win “plays a big role in setting him up for success.”

Lambray also said winning the Open wasn’t necessarily their goal, but that “it’s a nice narrative” to start the season. That being said, they’re not getting ahead of themselves, as most athletes aren’t peaking right now and “everyone approaches the Open differently,” she said.

  • “But it does show things are moving in the right direction for him, and it’s a good start to the season…and a confidence booster…and it’s nice to start off the year with a little bit of cash going into the season,” she added.

The big picture: We often hear people say “the Open doesn’t mean much,” or “it’s just the Open.”

They’re right. It is just the Open. It doesn’t have to mean much. But then again, it kind of can and does mean something. It’s the first step in the season, it sets the tone for what’s to come, and it can go a long way in letting athletes know if they’re on the right track.

And in the case of O’Brien and Adler, it has to let them know the CrossFit Games podium, and maybe even the top spot, is within their grasp this year.

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ICYMI: Our writers here at Morning Chalk Up have brought us some very cool pieces on CrossFitters, young and old: 93-year-old Annie Holmes, four-year-olds Ivy Meti and Winter Duboc, and 82-Year-Old amputee Cate Gutmann.

Fond memories: The 2023 CrossFit Open is in the books, but another year of great memories were created including Sandra, a member of the Lummi tribe, and her husband Jim, a member of the Nooksack tribe, finishing off 23.3 in style. 🥲

Interesting readThe New York Times (paywall) has an insightful piece on “Gymtimidation“.

Diet debate: A new study has found a potential link between the high fat, low carb “keto diet” and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

  Roman Khrennikov Talks Fatherhood, Moving to the US and Becoming a Mayhem Athlete  


Roman Khrennikov Talks Fatherhood, Moving to the US and Becoming a Mayhem Athlete

A tough exterior shouldn’t deter you from befriending one of CrossFit’s best athletes, Roman Khrennikov. The Russian powerhouse has relocated to Cookeville, Tennessee, along with his wife Anastasiya Khrennikova and infant son Lev, which means “Leo” in Russian. This is a change that Khrennikov says has only empowered him to be the fittest he can be, as we head into the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games season.

Morning Chalk Up’s Teaganne Finn sat down with Khrennikov, with the help of his translator Roza Gilles, after going head-to-head with fellow elite athlete Pat Vellner during the 23.2 NOBULL CrossFit Open announcement in Midland Park, New Jersey.

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  Will History Repeat Itself for the 2023 CrossFit Games Quarterfinals?  

Will History Repeat Itself for the 2023 CrossFit Games Quarterfinals?

The NOBULL CrossFit Games Quarterfinals tests will be released on March 16 at noon PT and today we’re looking at certain trends from the past two years of programming.

The intel: Looking at the workouts from the last two seasons, there have been consistent trends in the way Quarterfinals workouts have been assembled.

  • Workout 1: Handstand push-ups were programmed in the first workout for both 2021 and 2022. Since we just saw strict handstand push-ups in 23.3, we’ll most likely see this trend broken.
  • Workouts 2 and 3: There’s no specific trends for these, as it seems to have played the role of filling the gaps of what needs to be programmed to create a well-rounded test.
  • Workout 3: The third workout has been a longer chipper, with a straight format in 2021 and pyramid style chipper in 2022.
  • Workout 4: The fourth workout has been the strength test, with a front squat in 2021 and lifting total in 2022.
  • Workout 5: The final workout in both 2021 and 2022 were sprint chippers, both featuring a seven minute time cap.

It’s also worth noting that GHD sit-ups and single leg squats were programmed together in an all-gymnastics triplet in both 2021 and 2022.

Equipment we haven’t seen: Based on the equipment list CrossFit HQ released for the Open and Quarterfinals, here are the movements that didn’t make it into the Open programming.

  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Climbing ropes
  • GHD
  • Plyo boxes

Kettlebells haven’t been featured in either year of Quarterfinals programming, so they could bring a new twist in 2023. The greatest obstacle with kettlebells has always been judging and standards, but movements like the kettlebell snatch offer enough clarity that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the mix.

Looking forward: The floor plans for the 2023 Quarterfinals will be released on Monday, March 13. This will give us a better idea of what movements and pairings may be released on the 16th. Be on the lookout for a post featuring our predictions!

The bottom line: Consistency of certain elements may be necessary to ensure that athletes who qualify for the semifinals meet different standards of strength, skills and capacity. Adrian Bozman taking over the programming for the full season could mean we’ll see new twists on these trends, while still maintaining the fabric that Dave Castro established for this stage of qualification.

  Will History Repeat Itself for the 2023 CrossFit Games Quarterfinals?  

Shoutout to the current leading gym (as of Friday’s tally) CrossFit Stealth with 31,356 and current leading individual Austyn with 2,300 reps. There’s still a lot of time left in March to accumulate more sit-ups for awareness of euthanasia in shelters. Anyone can do their part by doing their sit-ups, and/or donating to Barbells for Bullies!

Sit-Ups for Pups: Pupdate.


Your Shoulders With This Stretch

If your lats and shoulders are tight and you are looking for your new favorite stretch to hit before going heavy overhead, then you need to try this one by MCU’s very own Joey Adduci (who also happens to be a CF level 3).





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You might have heard of intuitive eating, but is it something that is right for you? Watch this video and listen to the experts at M2 Performance Nutrition explain a little further.



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Which Protein Powder is Right For You?

We see a lot of ads on instagram for different kinds of protein powders. But what kind of protein is right for you? Learn a little more about what the purpose is for each type of protein powder.


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

  • 🥳 Happy one year anniversary to Core City CrossFit Kids in Detroit, MI.
  • Congratulations to Charlotte from CrossFit 201 in Oakland, NJ on getting her first wall walk.
  • Members at Old Line CrossFit in Millersville, MD hopped on the “dumb ways to die” trend with this video of their coach’s biggest peeves. #relatable
  • Congratulations to Ryan Kelly and the Columbia CrossFit team from Connecticut on finishing 82nd in the Open and qualifying for North America East Quarterfinals.
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