Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. We are heading into the seventh Sanctional weekend of the season, and Patrick Clark has a full preview of the Norwegian CrossFit Championship below. And, PD Savage returns from injury to become the fittest in Ireland in this week’s national champion profile. Today:
Preview: Norwegian CrossFit Championship
From elbow surgery to top 50 in the CrossFit Open: PD Savage
Tommy Marquez gets an update from Sara Sigmundsdóttir on her training, mindset and the rest of the Sanctionals season.
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” — Meister Eckhart
The Norwegian CrossFit Championship Next on Tap for Games Hopefuls
A winter wonderland awaits CrossFit athletes looking for their ticket to the 2020 CrossFit Games at the Norwegian CrossFit Championship. The seventh Sanctional of the season will be held February 14-16 in Gol, Norway, the northernmost city to host a Games qualifying event.
What’s on the line: Elite individuals and teams will be competing for the coveted invitation to the 2020 CrossFit Games. The top three finishers in the elite individual and team divisions also receive a cash prize.
Who to watch: The men’s and women’s divisions feature a combined 56 athletes competing for the Games invitation. Thirty teams will compete to become the sixth to punch their ticket to Madison, Wisconsin.
Twenty six countries will be represented in the individual divisions, among them are five CrossFit Games Open national champions who have already received their invitations to the Games. Those athletes include Nicolay Billaudel (Norway) and Linus Bresander (Sweden) for the men, and Gabriela Migala (Poland), Emiko Naets (Switzerland) and Lisa Eble (Germany) in the women’s division.
The women’s division:
Migala heads into the Sanctional as the favorite after her runner-up performance at the Strength in Depth Sanctional two weeks ago. The 21-year old also competed at the Dubai CrossFit Championship where she finished fourth in a stacked field. Migala finished 17th in the Open this season, repeating as the Polish national champion and earning her third invitation to the Games, her second as an individual. In 2016, she competed in the teen division, finishing third in the 16-17 year old age group.
Norway’s very own Andrea Solberg is among the favorites as well after earning her very first Games berth at the Filthy 150. Like Migala, this will be her third Sanctional of the season after her fourth place finish in Ireland and third at the SouthFit CrossFit Challenge.
Jacqueline Dahlstrøm is not only one of the most experienced athletes in the field, but arguably the most successful when it comes to Sanctionals. The Norwegian is just one of four athletes with multiple Sanctional event wins in her career, joining the likes of Tia-Clair Toomey, Sara Sigmundsdóttir and Samantha Briggs. Despite winning two Sanctional events last year, Dahlstrøm received her Games invitation through the Open when she finished 22nd overall.
Four female athletes have competed at the Games on a team and look to make their first appearance as an individual. American Bailey Meraviglia has seen the most success on teams at the Games. She has competed twice at the Games with CrossFit Milford, finishing as runner-up for the Affiliate Cup in 2015. Rebecka Vitesson has two Games appearances with CrossFit Butcher’s Lab and Johanna Julia Juliusdottir has appeared at the Games once with CrossFit XY. Filippa Ferm is just 19-years old but has competed at the Games on a team once and three times as a teen athlete.
Speaking of teen athletes, American Sophia Grimmer makes her Sanctional debut in Norway. The youngest competitor in the field at 18 years old, she has made two Games appearances in the teen divisions, finishing as the runner-up last year in the 16-17 year old division.
The men’s division:
Look for Nicolay Billaudel to be the early favorite as he competes in front of his home crowd. Repeating as the Norwegian national champion, he finished 40th in his first Games appearance last year.
A pair of former teammates with Games experience look to earn their first individual invites. Swedes Alexander Elebro and Viktor Langsved led CrossFit Alioth to an eighth place finish at last year’s Games. Elebro has three Games appearances on a team. Langsved was the runner-up to Bresander for the title of “Fittest in Sweden” this season.
Through stubborn grit, PD Savage overcame an injury and salvaged his opportunity to become Ireland’s national champion
Four months before the 2019 CrossFit Open, PD Savage was among Ireland’s top athletes, but he knew he wouldn’t be going to Madison. Instead, he would have surgery to fix a torn medial ligament in his elbow, an injury that stemmed from his 14 years playing Gaelic football.
Savage: “There was always a small niggling in it, but it actually got to the point where the nerves had attached themselves to the ligament, and that’s when the real pain started.”
Up until this point, Savage had always been able to grit through the discomfort of CrossFit. Six months after starting the sport, he entered his first competition, and by the second day, he was “absolutely smashed.” But then, the adrenaline hit. Though Savage’s one-rep max clean and jerk was 220 pounds at the time, he finished a workout with 15 reps at that weight and attracted the attention of the man who would become his training coach.
Savage: “You know when you have to go to that dark place? I just hang out there, and I think that’s what he saw. He saw I was willing to go where I needed to go. And people will still say, ‘Oh, I’m just stubborn for longer.’ I would like to be known for something else, but that seems to be what I have.”
However, after the surgery, Savage lost a major outlet for that competitive energy.
He dropped from ten weekly training sessions to three, almost all of them either sprint intervals or long rides on the stationary bike in his living room.
As he drenched his wrist brace in sweat, he’d watch “Gotham” or documentaries about American history to numb his mind.
Savage: “I really wasn’t in a very good mental place because it’s almost like your whole identity is taken away from you. So it was a readjustment, too. You probably let CrossFit become all-consuming, so it was a good lesson that I need to have other interests.”
Though the surgery was ostensibly successful, problems remain. Savage still has fairly severe golfer’s elbow, which has also affected his wrist. And at six-feet, 220 pounds (185 centimeters, 100 kilos), he’s taller and heavier than most of the other elite athletes, meaning more strain on his joints.
Regardless, going into this season’s Open, he was happy to discover that he’d retained his grit.
Going into 20.1 (10 rounds of 8 ground-to-overhead at 95 pounds and 10 bar-facing burpees for time), Savage hadn’t really done any burpees since the surgery and had started to snatch again just eight weeks beforehand.
Still, he scored 9:23, placing him 89th in the world and 1st in Ireland.
Savage: “I remember doing the repeat and really, really wanting to stop about four minutes in. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and die, but with burpees and that light of a barbell, you can always keep moving.”
Savage finished the Open in 41st place, 11th among the national champions, and he’s aiming for a top-ten finish at the Games. That’s a surprising goal, not because Savage isn’t physically capable, but because he was at a crossroads before this last Open. He’d just turned 30 and wondered whether his time might be better invested at work or competing on a team.
He told himself that if he couldn’t punch his ticket to the Games, that would be it. He’d move on.
Savage: “Thankfully, I didn’t have to make that decision. But to be honest, if I didn’t qualify, I think I still would’ve come back for more next year — just because I did believe that I could do it.”
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Sigmundsdóttir Having Fun and Focusing on Mindset in 2020 Season
When the Morning Chalk Up sat down with Sara Sigmundsdóttir for an unscripted interview last December, she shared thoughts on her dominant performance at the Dubai CrossFit Championship and her plans for the upcoming season. Two weeks ago, Tommy Marquez caught up with her again in Barcelona following the Freakest Challenge. Here are a few highlights from that interview:
On what she has been doing since Dubai: “I had a small competition in Italy and then I took some time off. I was going to start training again and I got sick. So I had an extra week off, so I’m getting back into it now.”
On what she likes about the pro athlete lifestyle outside of competing: “I still feel like this is too good to be true. I get to do what I love every day, I get to meet new people every day.”
On her mindset this season and how it translates into the 2020 Games: “I’m on a very good road now, just a very good path. It’s keeping myself on that right path. Having fun is the key for me. So as long as I am enjoying what I’m doing, I’m going to succeed.”
The full interview includes why Sigmundsdóttir keeps returning to Barcelona to coach at the Freakest Challenge, what she does to try to relax, her upcoming Sanctional event schedule and what she’s working on inside and outside the gym.
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The “Fetust on Earth: Elite Level Childbearing, Part 1”
Last week Annie Thorisdottir and Frederick Aegidius announced their pregnancy. As the CrossFit community rejoiced, three-time individual CrossFit Games athlete, Kenzie Riley decided to dig deep into the topic of pregnancy and elite fitness athletes on her blog. Here are some key takeaways:
She asked her Games athlete friends about two key topics — total pregnancy weight gain and specific movement tolerance and workout modifications over the course of pregnancy.
Riley: “Weight gain…it’s gonna happen –As a hormonal female who is completely out of control of what her body is going to do for the next nine months, being told there is an ‘appropriate range’ for weight gain is only kind of stressful. Just like being told you need to be 15% body fat to be competitive in CrossFit, I know these ‘standards’ are bullshit and proven wrong on the reg[ular].”
“You might not be surprised to know that almost ALL the women I polled gained an AVERAGE of 30 lbs. That’s right, the dreaded ‘higher’ end of the recommended range. Better yet, most were around 35 lbs! EVEN BETTER! Keep in mind, of course, that almost all of these women have rippling abs and quads for days as a baseline…so it’s no surprise their physique welcomed that extra momma bear fat storage. Which has/will quickly be lost postpartum. Seeing that statistic rocked outta the park by this group of women is weirdly satisfying.”
What about modifying common movements while pregnant?
Riley found that sit-ups, pulling gymnastics, and rowing all started to become too difficult early on for most pregnant athletes. A ski erg or KB swings were good modifications for sit-ups; ring rows, sled pulls, or banded lat pull-downs worked for pulling gymnastics; while the bike or ski erg could stand-in for the rower.
Movements that worked throughout pregnancy included squats (any and all kinds), biking, and using dumbbells and kettlebells.
Riley concluded: “So there you have it. Likely not shocking, but consistent nonetheless. While this is an extremely microscopic sample size, the consistency in responses hopefully brings to light some of the major curiosities on how even the most SUPERHUMAN females are hit with the inevitable adaptations of pregnancy. It’s different for everyone, no matter how similar our resumes may read, BUT the bottom line is that the molds are being broken as far as how your body “should” respond. From bodyweight to appropriate fitness, this is just some real-life input from a few badass ladies I know.”