Regionals Weekend #1
South Regional competitor Jared Enderton getting in some Ring Muscle Up work.
Tomorrow kicks off the first of the three weekends CrossFit will run its Regional competitions this year. You like CrossFit. You enjoy watching some of it but you don't know that many athletes. I'll attempt to breakdown the events and let you know who the big names are in each Regional so you know when to tune in (I will say watching some of the earlier heats is awesome too because they are great athletes as well even if you don't recognize the names since they haven't been to the Games). Also in the past, most of the Team competition was tough to watch. While I think there will be improvements, I won't go into team stuff here (as even most die hard CrossFit fans don't really know much about the teams).
***Regions get different number of athletes/teams at Regionals based on demographics and competitiveness***
Weekend #1 (May 18-20)
East Regional - Comprised of the North East & Canada East Regions. The North East gets more athletes (25 vs Canada East's 15 & 20 Teams vs Canada East's 10). The top 5 men/women/teams advance to the Games.
The East Regional competitors are probably pretty happy that there is a name notably absent, Mr. Mat Fraser. Fraser moved to Cookeville, Tennessee this year and left the North East Region. That essentially opens up one more spot to the Games here (and takes one away from the poor souls in the Central). Pat Vellner is the favorite to win the Regional and I'd be shocked if he didn't lock up a spot to the Games. Vellner has back to back podium finishes at the Games and doesn't have any major holes in his game. Alex Vigneault is a stud and I expect to him be a "household name" in the CrossFit world soon. He takes a podium spot and makes the trip to Madison. Tim Paulson is coming off of a Regionals podium spot and a solid showing at the Games (top 20). I expect him to be in the top 5 and make his sophomore appearance in Madison. Another Canadian I expect to be in contention for one of the top 5 spots is Jean-Simon Roy-Lamaire. He finished 4th in the world-wide Open. Yeah, in the WORLD. His performances were balanced and it looks like he has the requisite strength needed to get through Regionals. My final pick for the top 5 is Michael Palomba. He finished 11th world-wide in the Open. Made a trip to the Games last year. And he is strong as an ox (he cleaned 377# for 18.2a). Cody Mooney is someone who could easily jump into one of these spots. I know he was a little banged up this year but if he is 100% ready to roll, I think he could knock one of these guys off the Madison guest list (and I personally hope he does, I am a Cody Mooney fan). Being a bigger athlete that has a great motor, I think he can do well in Event 1 where most bigger fellas might not, and could be in contention to win Event 2 and Event 6. I am talking myself into picking Mooney. Give me Mooney 5th and Palomba 6th.
Katrin. Davidsdottir. I know she isn't a fan of how the Games went (5th place, I mean...it can't be that bad). She will want to reclaim her usual spot on top of the podium. Expect her to crush Event 1. Pulling gymnastics have been her biggest issue in the past (Rope Climbs cost her a trip to the Games in 2014), but I'd be shocked if she isn't on the podium. The events seem good for Kari Pearce. And she is awesome, so she'll be in the top 5 for sure. She finished 10th at the Games last year and she'll knock Event 3 out of the park (she's my pick to win it). Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault (those Canada East folks love some hyphens!) had a great 2017. She won her Regional (beating Davidsdottir) and finished 15th at the Games. Another "gymnasty" athlete who seems well positioned with these events, I fully expect her to be heading to Madison. Carolyne Prevost destroyed the Open this year, finishing 3rd world-wide and winning her Region. She has a hockey and taekwondo background. That isn't the story with most of her competition (lots of gymnasts in this Regional), so the events would appear to put her at a slight disadvantage. Maybe she crushes Event 2 or finishes up the weekend with a big performance on Event 6 and that's enough to earn her a top 5 spot. I think she makes her rookie Games debut in 2018. Dani Horan rounds out my top 5. She's a veteran athlete. She's a strong athlete. I think she does enough in the events that don't favor her and turns in some top 5 finishes when she needs them. I like her closing Regionals with a top 5 finish in Event 6 to seal the deal and her trip back to the Games for the 4th time (and 5th time qualifying).
Europe Regional - This Regional is comprised of the North and Central Europe Regions. Each gets an even split of athletes/teams there and the Regional will send 5 males and females.
BKG (Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson) is my favorite to win the Regional. He is awesome. He is well-rounded. His Regional competition got worse (they split the Meridian Regional and he is in the side opposite most of the heavy hitters). Frederik Aegidius has been around, essentially, forever. He made it back to the Games last year. I'd love to see him go one more time. Plus he seems like a super likable fella. Oh, he is also Mr. Annie Thorisdottir. Lukas Högberg has been to the mountaintop before. With all of the new guys in the Regional, having been there before will help you stay calm and weather the storm. Högberg is in my 5. Marcin Szybaj has improved each year. With open spots available, I like him to grab a spot. And I can't write a blog about the Europe Regional without picking my man, Alec Harwood. I got to spend time with Harwood in London when we did some stuff with Nike. He is a stud. He is handsome. And hopefully he'll be visiting the States this summer when he qualifies for the CrossFit Games!
Ragnheidur Sara Sigmundsdottir. Þuríður (Thuridur) Erla Helgadóttir. Anníe Mist Þórisdóttir (Thorisdottir). Kristin Holte. I am going to group all of them together to make this easy. I will be SHOCKED if any of these 4 don't qualify. So everyone else is playing for one spot. And I think Björk Odinsdottir, Laura Horvath, and Emma McQuaid will be the three battling for it. McQuaid has been so close. Odinsdottir has been there before. After 3 years of being in the top 20 in the world-wide Open, I think McQuaid finally punches her ticket to the Games.
South Regional - This combines the South West and the South Central Regions sending equal numbers of competitors and qualifying 5 to the Games.
Sean Sweeney wore a cowboy hat at the Games 2 years ago. Good enough reason for me to pick him. Jared Enderton is probably the best Weightlifter in the Regional. He had a great Open. If he can hang on through Event 1, he has a good chance to make it to the Games. Rogelio (Roy) Gamboa is a barbell monster. There are a few of those in these 6 events, so that bodes well for him. He took last year off competing, so he might be the freshest of all these athletes. He's fun to watch and I hope he makes it back to the Games. Speaking of people with mutant powers when a barbell gets in their hands (seems to be a trend in this Regional), Tommy Vinas looks poised to make it back to the Games. While there is no max lift in these events, his barbell skills should allow him to place in the top 5. The last of the 5 spots will go to Logan Collins. He finished 8th world-wide in the Open. He won this Regional last year and will want to repeat his podium performance after just missing the top 10 at the Games last year (11th). I think he is the most balanced of these 5 athletes and should secure another trip to Madison.
While the biggest name here is Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, I don't actually think she is the favorite to win the Regional. I do think she will be in the top 5 (2nd or 3rd place) and will win an event or two. But I think Tennil Beuerlein (Reed) is the favorite to win it. She's athletic and these events seem to have a little more of that feel to them than usual. Also she is good at the long duration, distance stuff. I think she gets a lead on CLB right out of the gate and holds on to it all weekend. Alexis Johnson is a strong gymnast with Games experience. I don't think day 1 will be great for her but I think she makes a strong push on days 2 and 3 to secure a top 5 finish. She's also a PhD student in Algebraic Geometry (???), so that's impressive! Bethany Shadburne was a Regionals rookie last year. She parlayed that into being a Games rookie last year. She is still improving and is so new to the sport (relatively) that I think she is a little bit more of a wildcard than the others on this list. However I think she makes it 2-for-2 and punches her return trip ticket to Madison. Colleen Fotsch trains with Tennil Beuerlein. That has to help you prepare for something like Regionals. She is also crazy strong, so look for her to have a good time with some of these heavy barbells. She was a collegiate swimmer, so if that translates to Event 1's endurance testing, maybe everything lines up for her to make her first trip to the Games.