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Athletes retest “The Standard” at Strength in Depth.
How Steph Chung is taking on the Sanctionals season.
“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.” — Arthur Ashe
Raising The Standard In London
There’s plenty to be excited about this weekend at CrossFit Strength in Depth. Mat Fraser will take the floor for the first time in 2020, CrossFit Mayhem Freedom will try to earn their invitation back to the Games, and individuals will take to the water but hopefully not get wet as real, on-water rowing makes its debut in CrossFit competition.
One of the programming nuances that stats nerds and fans gathering around the water cooler at the box will surely love is the choice to use the event “The Standard” that served as the finale at this past year’s games. Not only do we get to stack the top times from the Games up against a broader field of athletes, but for some of the athletes tackling it a second time, we get a unique comparison now that the workout is programmed early on the first day, rather than closing the weekend.
Remind me again: The Standard was a Games workout 11-12 years in the making. At a level 1 seminar in the late 2000’s Dave Castro postulated that being able to complete Grace, 30 Ring Muscle-ups, then Isabel for time in under 10 minutes would be a “great standard for a well rounded elite CrossFit athlete.” Over a decade later, it was finally brought to life in Madison.
On the men’s side: The time to beat at the Games was set by Mat Fraser in dramatic fashion to seal his 4th straight CrossFit Games title. For the men (Fraser included), looking to best that time, here were his splits:
Finished Grace: 2:05
Halfway through muscle-ups: 3:16
Finished muscle-ups: 5:24
Halfway through Isabel: 6:37
Men to watch: Mat Fraser (duh), Will Moorad, Lukas Hogberg, Lefteris Theofanidis.
Can a relatively fresh Mat Fraser beat his time? How much did the gravity of the moment and his battle with Noah Ohlsen elevate his performance?
Will Moorad finally gets a legit crack at the workout after a hamstring injury ultimately prevented him from doing so at the Games.
Lukas Hogberg still needs an invite, so there motivation for him to send it.
The curious case of Lefteris Theofanidis and his struggles in Dubai contrasted with his Open performance makes this a must watch.
For the women: Tia-Clair Toomey blitzed the field for her fifth event win and in the process made history as the first woman to win 3 CrossFit Games titles. She was the only woman to go sub-9 and this is how it broke down:
Finished Grace: 2:08
Halfway through muscle-ups: 3:36
Finished muscle-ups: 5:31
Halfway through Isabel: 6:54
Women to watch: Haley Adams, Laura Horvath, Gabriela Migala and Tayla Howe.
Haley Adams is the one athlete in the field who did this at the Games – she finished in the back of the pack in 8th at 10:40.00.
Laura Horvath got cut before this event last year and has yet to finish a CrossFit competition in its entirety since making the podium in 2018. She should manhandle the barbell, but how she does on the muscle-ups will have bigger picture implications.
Gabriela Migala is coming off an impressive performance in Dubai and a strong performance here relative to the top times at the Games would be a great validation of her path towards the top.
Tayla Howe has a great chance to be the hometown hero in this workout. The U.K. native had her two best finishes in the Open in 20.4. And 20.5 which featured barbell cycling and ring muscle-ups.
Reminder: Action kicks off today in London at 11:30 AM GMT/3:30 AM PT and the workout is the second one on tap for Day 1.
Two Down, More To Go: Steph Chung on Back-to-Back Sanctionals and Navigating the New Format
There is a Sanctional almost every weekend this season — beginning in November and lasting through the first week of July. Twenty-seven Sanctionals mean Games-hopeful athletes will need to balance their desire to qualify, with their mental and physical prowess — not to mention their financial capabilities — in order to get the job done. For some, the quick turnarounds from event-to-event add yet another layer of complexity to the competition season.
It’s been less than two weeks since the CrossFit Mayhem Classic wrapped in Cookeville, TN. For Games veteran Steph Chung, walking away with a 6th place finish may have felt good – but it means she’ll saddle up again for yet another competition this weekend — Strength in Depth in London–to try and punch her ticket.
Chung: “Mayhem was tough, but Rich did a good job of programming so that it wasn’t a total beatdown on the body,” Chung said. “The toughest thing was going into the Rogue Invitational qualifiers right after getting home from Tennessee – those were a little tough to mentally push through.”
She earned a sixth place finish, only two spots, but 110 points from a qualifying position.
Front-loading the Sanctionals season is becoming a common strategy for many athletes trying to make it to Madison. Since the backfill process protects early season winners, it makes sense to try to qualify as early as possible. But it means a host of other difficulties to tackle in addition to the normal stress of competition. According to Chung:
Mitigating physical breakdown/injuries is a must. “I knew that January was going to be a physical and mental challenge, sort of a marathon rather than a sprint, so I’ve paid close attention to my recovery efforts and tried to stay ahead of the fatigue,” she said.
Costs matter. “On the financial side, we (Rob and I) pay out of pocket to send me to most competitions so this month has been more travel-heavy than others. Luckily I have some great sponsors who are helping me out with the travel and competition-related expenses for this one! I really appreciate any assistance that enables me to compete around the world in this new Sanctionals format.”
You can make the most of it. “I like the idea of front-loading the season, then taking some time off to train and then ramp up again towards the end of spring,” Chung said. “I definitely need to plan better for competition vs. qualifier timings next year though! The competitions have done a better job of consolidating their qualifiers for this season, but I’d love for it to be even more condensed next year so as not to conflict with other Sanctionals.”
At the end of the day: when planned properly, Chung believes this new Sanctionals format may actually make it easier to balance life/being a professional athlete. “We’re not constrained to the Open-Regionals timeline anymore, so taking time off or having an “off-season” can happen anytime we choose. I think that makes it easier to go on vacation, prep and peak for specific competitions, and allows for some flexibility if any injuries/issues happen unexpectedly throughout the year,” she said.
Other elite athletes are joining Chung on the back-to-back trip from Cookeville to London, too. Kyle Bernier and Will Moorad will cross the pond on the men’s side (remember though that Moorad withdrew from Mayhem early due to injury), while sixteen-year-old Paige Powers will join them on the women’s side.
For Chung, four more may be on the books, but depending on how these next few events go for her, Chung may play the end of her Sanctionals season a bit more by ear. For now, you can plan on seeing her at SiD, Atlas Games, and the Reyjkavik CrossFit Championship. Her overall goal is to experience as many competitions as possible, continually improve her athletic capabilities, and qualify for Games… while still enjoying the ride. “I want to leave the competition floor after each weekend knowing that I performed at my best and had nothing left to give,” she said. “I try not to dwell on the larger goal or outcome too much during a competition, as I find this stresses me out and is more of a distraction than a motivator!”
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When was the last time you trained static holds? Think wall sits and hip extension holds. For the most part, you don’t even need to add weight to get all the benefits of these muscle firing and fatiguing exercises, while increasing your muscle endurance.
In this episode of the Loud and Live Sports podcast, Dylan Malitsky and Matt O’Keefe hang out with 2019 2nd Fittest Man, Noah Ohlsen, and Bijan Heravi in Ohlsen’s backyard. Take a look at how Noah was able to attack the 2019 Season with a mindset of gratitude, and how that allowed him to finish on the podium.
Ice Age Meals are the brainchild of the Culinary Ninja, Paleo Nick, who you might know from the old school CrossFit cooking videos. Ice Age Meal are always made with high-quality ingredients and have an average portion size of 16 ounces which makes them the best value in the industry. Shop now and save 30% by using code “IAMCHALKUP2020”.
Jacob Heppner jerks 335 pounds from the blocks for 2.
Want your PR or CrossFit highlight featured in an upcoming edition? Send us a tip and be sure to include the Instagram link.
Social Media and Community Roundup
Here are a few things on our radar right now:
Colleen Fotsch joined the ranks of CrossFit Games athletes hosting vlogs on YouTube this week. Fotsch said she’s wanted to vlog for a while but only now feels “confident in who I am and what I’m doing.”
The Buttery Bros. have been nominated for a Shorty Award in the Best in Health and Fitness category. The Shorty Awards and voted on by the public and recognize individuals and organizations producing great content on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and the rest of the social web. So, if you’re a Buttery Bros. fan, put down those cakes and go vote.
CrossFit Iron Horse in Fort Worth, TX has changed owners and is hosting an Evolution Reveal to highlight all the positive changes taking place at the affiliate. The Evolution Reveal starts on February 3 and athletes workout for free all week.
CrossFit PR Starin Chantilly, VAwill host its second annual Heroes for Heroes event on April 18. During the event, athletes complete three Hero WODs, one each to honor a fallen law enforcement officer, fallen firefighter and fallen soldier. All proceeds from the events will be donated to Operation Overwatch, a non-profit organization that rescues shelter dogs, trains them and gives them to vets and first responders suffering from PTSD.