Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
North America West, Oceania, and South America
For the women, week 2 of Semifinals has 15 available qualifying spots for the NOBULL CrossFit Games, 10 spots are allocated to the North America West field, three spots are allocated to Oceania, and two spots are allocated to South America.
South America Women’s Field
Though none of the South American women have made much impact at the Games in recent years (three finishes in the bottom ten and one disqualified for a drug test), the competition amongst themselves is pretty tense.
Last year’s qualifiers, Victoria Campos and Julia Kato will be in the mix once again. The region’s 2021 representative, Sasha Nievas, competed on a team last year but is back in the individual field. And there are at least two other very intriguing women who were third and fourth last year in Amanda Fusuma and Luiza Marques.
There’s not a ton of data from the offseason to point to when trying to evaluate the progress each of them has made in the last twelve months. Campos placed midpack at Wodapalooza, Kato won a competition in the middle east, and Marques spent a majority of the year training in Cookeville, TN- a place Nievas spent a majority of her time the previous year.
My assessment is that Campos has a slight edge, and that each of the others is a pretty even bet for the second spot. I had a good feeling about Marques last year, I do think she’s improved and given her skill set tests 2, 3, 4 and 6 are quite good for her. This should be back and forth throughout the weekend, and it might come down to which woman wants it bad enough on the finale.
Brian’s South America Women’s Picks
|South America: 2 Spots|
|15||Lucia Viretti Anino|
Oceania Women’s Field
Two big voids in the women’s field leave a lot of opportunity for some talented women who will have a chance to redefine their careers this season, and in some cases get their name on the worldwide map. The last time someone not name Kara or Tia won the Regional or Semifinal in this part of the world was 2014 (Kara was second that year). This year, we will have our first new Semifinal winner in a long time.
Ellie Turner has qualified in the third and final position each of the past two seasons. She made a nice jump forward at the Games last year going from 26th to 16th and backed it up with a fourth place finish at Rogue. Much like Jay Crouch on the men’s side, it feels like she’s the only sure thing at Torian on the women’s side this year.
Just behind Turner last year were Maddie Sturt (4th, only four points behind Turner) and Jamie Simmonds (5th). Both women are competing this year, and in particular Simmonds should be much more formidable than she was last year (since she was still working her way back from an injury). There’s a unique link between these two as Simmonds qualified for five consecutive Games from 2016-2020 but has missed the last two, and Sturt had qualified for four straight from 2016-2019 before missing the last three.
Two seasons ago Laura Clifton was second place at this Semifinal ahead of Turner.
The last two years Katelin Van Zyl competed on a team that made the Games both seasons, she’s also the top qualifier coming out of Quarterfinals.
Grace Walton beat Sturt in a offseason competition in Perth, Australia; She’s also one of six women (along with Emily de Rooy, Georgia Pryor, Briony Challis, Elly Hutchens and Gemma Hauck) who are between 22 and 25 who (depending on where in Australia you are from) CrossFit fans Down Under believe can make a big move in this competition.
That’s a lot of names, and not a lot of spots, and until any of those up and coming women makes the next step, I’ll error on the side of those who have done it before.
Brian’s Oceania Women’s Picks
|Oceania: 3 spots|
|3||Katelin Van Zyl|
|6||Emily De Rooy|
North America West Women’s Field
Somewhat similarly to the men’s field, this is just incredibly difficult to assess. There are many talented women in this field who carry more questions than answers heading into Semis. Nevertheless, there are a few at the top of this field who should stand out; I break this field down into a group of five, and then a group of at least ten.
The Top Five
For a variety of different reasons, I feel confident in Arielle Loewen, Alex Gazan, Emily Rolfe, Dani Speegle, and Sydney Michalyshen having strong performances this weekend. From this group you will see some excellent performances. Rolfe is a candidate to do something special any time running or long aerobic work is featured (tests 1 and 5), Loewen will shine on the gymnastics and skill tests (2 and 6), Gazan may set the world record on Linda (test 3), Speegle is in the running to do the same on the Snatch (test 4), and Michalyshen is just sneaky, she had all top-ten finishes and an event win on the legless event at the MACC last year.
This is the most athletes I will group together in any division of any region, but with a brief explanation for each, you’ll see why all 11 women here should be considered to be in contention heading into the weekend.
- Baylee Rayl: Arguably could be in the group above, but I don’t see the big wins for her like I do the others; and at least according to the available data, half the field has a heavier snatch than her. If that ends up being the case, that is a big hit to take.
- Christine Kolenbrander: Similar to Rayl, I favor her over most of this group, just not comfortable saying she’s a sure thing yet. She qualified last year in a very competitive Syndicate field, and the tests looks great for her actually with some high skill gymnastics, running, and snatch. Much more to like than not like here.
- Freya Moosbrugger: A break through season last year, making the Games, top-ten in Dubai, top-15 at Wodapalooza. Can she back it up? If Rayl, Kolenbrander, and Moosbrugger all do what’s expected, that leaves one spot for these remaining eight women:
- Bethany Shadburne: Five-time Games athlete, a semifinal winner in 2021, many thought she was a top-ten lock that year. But she hasn’t been able to get back to the form since. It’s unclear how healthy she is, but if she’s anything like the athlete we saw two years ago, we can’t count her out.
- Katrin Davidsdottir: After six-consecutive top-five Games finishes, she was 10th in 2021, and missed the Games in 2022. It seems she’s rededicated herself with the HWPO team, but will it be enough to get back?
- Kelly Baker: A second coming of her career in some ways. She won the Fittest Experience in January, was 11th in the Open worldwide, and fourth in Quarterfinals in this region. She’s coming in on as much of a hot streak as anyone.
- Kelly Clark: She was 1 and 2 points behind Rebecaa Fuselier and Brooke Wells last year. Fractions of a second kept her out. She is still as focused, and has one more year of experience. Some say this is her last real chance to make it. If that’s the case then maybe a little bit of desperation plus a lot of fitness is the recipe for her finding a way.
- Kloie Wilson: She was fourth, sixth, or seventh on every event at Granite Games last year…and it wasn’t good enough. She missed the last qualifying spot by five points. Will she come back better, or was that as close as she’ll ever get?
- Lauren Fisher: 2018 Meridian Regional is the last time Fisher made the Games as an individual. She’s had quite a good team run in the meantime and is still exceptionally fit. Like Baker she’s been good online so far (40th in the Open worldwide, ninth in this region at Quarterfinals), does she have what it takes to punch a live ticket to the Games in California again (the last time she did was in 2017 when she got the fifth and final spot)?
- Olivia Kerstetter: Looking to do what Mallory O’Brien, Emma Cary and Emma Lawson have achieved over the last two years and qualify before aging out of the teenage divisions, Kerstetter is known for her strength and power, but she has some skill to go with it. The two running tests hurt her overall chances, but having seen her in action a few times, I would never count her out.
- Rebecca Fuselier: She’s the one who edged Clark out by one point last year, and it was extremely impressive to watch. I did not think she would be able to move through the last workout last year the way she did. But a third place overall finish on that is what she walked away with, and she needed everyone of those points. She’s got gymnastics skills as good as nearly anyone, and always seems to punch above her weight class with the barbell; like all the other women here, she’s in the mix too.
As I said, it’s going to be very difficult to get in and whoever does claim those bottom few spots will have more than earned it. Although it might have not the podium threats at the Games the East has, in some ways this is more exciting. So many unknowns, so many stories, and so much opportunity for these women to do something great.
Brian’s North America West Women’s Picks
|NA West: 10 spots|
|1||Arielle Loewen||16||Hattie Kanyo|
|2||Alex Gazan||17||Allison Weiss|
|3||Emily Rolfe||18||Meredith Swindle|
|4||Dani Speegle||19||Alison Scudds|
|5||Sydney Michalyshen||20||Bethany Shadburne|
|6||Christine Kolenbrander||21||Madison McElhaney|
|7||Baylee Rayl||22||Trista Smith|
|8||Kelly Baker||23||Gabrielle Spenst|
|9||Freya Moosbrugger||24||Ellia Miller|
|10||Katrin Davidsdottir||25||Hollye Henderson|
|11||Kloie Wilson||26||Karisa Stapp|
|12||Kelly Clark||27||Zoe Warren|
|13||Olivia Kerstetter||28||Abigail Domit|
|14||Rebecca Fuselier||29||Emily White|
|15||Lauren Fisher||30||Marisa Flowers|