Dubai Fitness Championship 2023: Women’s Picks

December 7, 20239 min read

Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography

If you missed our men’s picks from yesterday, make sure to check those out. We’ll follow a similar format for the women, beginning with the athletes who are contending to win, then podium, then fight for the top-ten, and finally the rest of the field. As with the men, there’s a big range of accomplishments from top to bottom in terms of career best achievements. This women’s field also features several athletes who we saw on really good teams this past season which always makes things interesting. This is our best projection, but the makeup of this field is one that will undoubtedly yield some surprises. 

Contending To Win

If you want to win the 2023 Dubai Fitness Championship on the women’s side, you’ll have to unseat the defending champion from not just Dubai 2022, but also the French Throwdown 2023, and the Madrid Championship 2023. Most fans who only watch the CrossFit Games will not realize that on European/Asian turf, Karin Frey has been extremely good throughout her career, and has had a 12-month stretch of competitions there that is as good as anyone. 

The most likely women to take that throne from her are the two women in the field who beat her at the Games this year. While Frey matched her career best Games performance by taking 14th place, Emma Tall had a career best finish of 11th, and Emily Rolfe had a career best finish of 12th. Rolfe was on the podium in third place at Dubai last year. Tall hasn’t competed in Dubai since taking 9th in 2019.

Podium Threats

By no means are those three women guaranteed to be battling amongst themselves for the podium. And specifically there are three other European women I believe have something to prove: 

  • Manon Angonese was fifth at Dubai last year, and went on to qualify for the CrossFit Games as a rookie this past season where she placed 35th. 
  • Jacqueline Dahlstrom was fifth at Dubai in 2021, but after making the Games in both 2021 and 2022 she missed out by one spot this year (taking 12th). 
  • Elena Carratala Sanahuja was a Games rookie in 2022, but missed in 2023 (she placed 27th at Semis). Additionally, she narrowly missed a podium position in Madrid, only because she couldn’t figure out the mono rope which prevented her from logging a lift on the clean and jerk event. 

Don’t Forget Us

There are five other women in the field who could play spoiler to the athletes in the first two groups:

  • Camilla Salomnsson Hellman is still on the way back from becoming a mother, but given what she’s already been able to do, every seems to be lining up for her to be approaching the level she was at prior to becoming a mother. 
  • Claudia Gluck is a young French woman with tremendous promise. She was 7th in Dubai last year and has a lot more competition and training experience this year. 
  • Elisa Fuliano has fully convinced me that she’s going to continue to be competitive in Europe 
  • Lauren Fisher is back in the individual game as of this year. She was 13th at the NA West semifinal and placed 2nd at the Nor Cal Classic earlier this offseason. 
  • Seher Kaya placed 23rd at the Games this past season, the highest ranking a woman from Asia has ever had at the Games. 

2023 Top 10 Team Athletes

There are five women in this field who competed as part of a team during the 2023 season, all five of whom were on teams who finished 7th or better:

  • Brittany Weiss – 1st place, Invictus
  • Devyn Kim – 1st place, Invictus
  • Ingrid Hodnemyr – 3rd place, Oslo Navy Blue
  • Mia Hesketh – 6th place, Walleye Athlete 
  • Kyra Milligan – 7th place, Mayhem Independence

Mia Hesketh competed with the surname Akerlund in Dubai in 2016, 2017, and 2018, 10th place in 2018 being her best finish of the three. 

Brittany Weiss won the Nor Cal Classic this offseason capitalizing on nearly a third of the scored events including water, a place where she thrives. 

Kyra Milligan qualified for Rogue via the “Q” and went on to finish 18th out of 20 in the most difficult field you’ll find in an offseason competition. 

Ingrid Hodnemyr was a late addition to this field; she just recently won the IF3 team world championships. 

Devyn Kim, the youngest of this group by five years is only 21 years old. She has done very little individual competition since competing three years in the teenage divisions at the Games. She was the champion of the 14-15 year old division in 2017, and placed 3rd in the 16-17 year old division in 2019. 

How well any of these women will do against this field remains to be seen, but they all know how to compete and are quite talented in their own regards. I expect at least one of them inside the top ten, but if it’s more than one, don’t be surprised either. 

The Other Half of the Field

Thus far we’ve mentioned 16 of the 30 women who are descending upon Dubai this weekend. The remaining 14 include a 8 europeans:

  • Hanna Karlsson – Had a breakout individual performance taking 8th place last year
  • Silvia Garcia Izquierdo – 5th place Madrid Championship (tied on points with Elena Carratala) 
  • Noortje Bleeker – 8th place Madrid Championship (one spot behind Dahlstrom)
  • Andrea Solberg – 9th place Madrid Championship
  • Tayla Howe – 21st Euro Semi 2023
  • Veslemoy Kollstad – 14th CFG teams with CrossFit Oslo Blackout this past summer
  • Maddy Harris – 14th with CrossFit Aylesbury at Euro Semis
  • Evie Hollis – 43rd Euro Semi; back in 2021 she was 6th place in the online version of the German Throwdown, missing the Games by one spot 

3 women from South America, 2 of whom have made the Games, and all three of whom are 24 years old or younger: 

  • Alexia Williams (24 yo) – 30th 2023 Games
  • Julia Kato (23 yo) – 37th 2022 Games, 8th South America Semi 2023
  • Luiza Marques( 21 yo) – she’s been 7th, 4th, and 8th the last three years in South America Semis

2 Americans: 

  • Dana Paran – 10th place Dubai 2022, 23rd NA East Semi
  • Allison Nguyen – 26th NA East Semi

And 2023 CrossFit Games athlete, who represented the UAE for the second time in her career (2019), Shahad Budebs

Brian’s Picks:

1Karin Freyová
2Emma Tall
3Emily Rolfe
4Manon Angonese
5Jacqueline Dahlstrøm
6Elena Carratala Sanahuja
7Lauren Fisher
8Elisa Fuliano
9Camilla Salomonsson Hellman
10Claudia Gluck
11Mia Hesketh
12Seher Kaya
13Devyn Kim
14Ingrid Hodnemyr
15Hanna Karlsson
16Kyra Milligan
17Noortje Bleeker
18Brittany Weiss
19Andrea Solberg
20Allison Nguyen
21Julia Kato
22Silvia Garcia Izquierdo
23Luiza Marques
24Tayla Howe
25Dana Paran
26Alexia Williams
27Veslemøy Kollstad
28Maddy Harris
29Shahad Budebs
30Evie Hollis

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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