Friends of the Week: Jonne Koski & Gracie Walton Make History With Open Titles

March 23, 20245 min read

For this week’s “Friend of the Week” we decided to go with two athletes considering they both accomplished something very significant in the CrossFit space, winning the CrossFit Worldwide Open.

CrossFit Games veteran and European mainstay Jonne Koski and up-and-coming superstar Gracie Walton are this week’s recipients for the week of March 12-19, 2024.

The 2024 CrossFit Games Open

Koski, a veteran of nine Games appearances including the last five Games, had back-to-back weeks of impressive Open workout performances culminating in his fourth career Open workout victory in last week’s 24.3, having previously won 17.2, 19.4 and 21.1. The 29-year old from Finland set the time to beat in the workout, finishing the ten rounds (five rounds of 10 thrusters/10 chest-to-bar pull-ups and five rounds of seven thrusters/seven bar muscle-ups) in 8:03. That time was four seconds better than his closest competitor, Colten Mertens.

His record performance was on the heels of his 24.2 workout where he placed second worldwide with 995 reps, just two reps behind countryman Henrik Haapalainen, who he did the workout with.

Those two workout finishes, coupled with his 27th place in workout 24.1 (finishing with a time of 6:01), made him just the eighth Open men’s champion in history. He also become the first male athlete outside of North America to win the Open.

He beat Open runner-up Saxon Panchik, the 2022 Open champion, by nine points.

Prior to this season’s Open championship, Koski’s best finish in the Open was ninth in 2017.

For Walton, she joins a short list of women who have won the Open. Included in that list of Open champions are four Games champions. Overall she is just the ninth woman to win the Open and third from Oceania, joining Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr and Jamie Simmonds (Greene). Her win gives her region three Open champions, tied with North America and Europe for the most Open champions.

Unlike Koski, Walton’s path to the Open title was slightly different as she won without a workout victory but rather showing consistency and balance throughout all three workouts. For 24.3, the Aussie recorded her worst finish in the Open, placing 24th with a time of 9:30. That finish helped her beat a fellow newcomer in Switzerland’s Mirjam Von Rohr by five points, 35-40.

Walton was helped to the Open win via two top-10 finishes in the previous workouts. She opened with an eighth pace finish in 24.1 with a time of 6:01 and then placed third in 24.2 with 917 reps.

The 23-year old placed 69th worldwide (eighth in Oceania) last year and is hoping for the same success that her fellow Open winners received at the Games. She has yet to make a Games appearance in three seasons competing in the Games season.

Other Notable Performances

  • Kristi O’Connell (USA) – The retired CrossFitter and seven-time Games athlete made her debut on Saturday at the HYROX Houston event and took home the Pro Division title, finishing the course in 1:04:37, beating HYROX veteran and 2022 Mixed Doubles World Champion Lauren Rantala by over three minutes. Her performance was highlighted by her recording the fastest time in the 50-meter sled push, completing that workout in 2:27. She had top-five finishes in seven of the eight workouts and her total run time of 33:34 placed her second overall. O’Connell’s finishing time ranks 62nd all-time in HYROX women’s competition.
  • Mirjam Von Rohr (Switzerland) – After winning 24.1 during the first week of the Open, the Swiss HYROX athlete showed she might be an even better CrossFitter as she recorded a runner-up finish in 24.3 with a time of 8:35, becoming the only woman in the Open with multiple podium workout finishes. That 24.3 finish secured her runner-up finish to Gracie Walton in the Open.

Know a Great “Friend of the Week” Candidate?

If you’d like to submit an athlete to be considered for “Friend of the Week”, please email Patrick Clark at pc@bfriendlyfitness.com or submit through DM on the B.Friendly Fitness Instagram. For athletes to be considered, it must be for accomplishments for the preceding week (Monday-Sunday) and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST the Monday after. Please include any verifiable results, links, and a brief explanation of why that athlete should be considered.

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Patrick Clark

Patrick is a veteran CrossFit writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience in professional and collegiate sports media. Before joining BarBend as a CrossFit writer, he worked for the Morning Chalk Up. Clark is also an Army Veteran, the proud Dog Father of two pups, a taco lover, and an avid runner.


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  • AHA

    March 25, 2024 / at 9:20 am

    Nice writeup! Koski also won 21.1 so this was his fourth Open event win. Appreciate the extensive info in these types of articles. You’ve really became the quality outlet for CrossFit info.

    • Patrick Clark

      March 26, 2024 / at 5:00 am

      You’re right, I was looking at the wrong column on my spreadsheet. Thanks for the correction!

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