Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
Europe and Asia
Final week of Semifinals! For the women, week 3 will see the final 13 qualifying spots for the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games distributed; 11 spots are allocated to the European women’s field, and 2 spots are allocated to the women in Asia.
Asia Women’s Field
The class of the women’s field the past two years in Asia has been Seungyeon Choi. She is out for this season, and so as we’ve seen in quite a few competitive regions, with a void at the top, there is abundant opportunity for athlete’s waiting for their chance.
Turkey’s Seher Kaya was the second Games qualifier in Asia last season. She lives and trains in Norway in a very competitive environment with the individual and team athletes at CrossFit Oslo and gets to experience not just a high level of training, but a high level of coaching by being there. Although she didn’t do great at the Games last season (29th), and didn’t do as well as many thought she would in Dubai (15th out of 20), she was the second seed in Asia after both the Open and Quarterfinals, and should be a strong contender to return to Madison.
The woman who beat her in both the Open and Quarterfinals this year, is the woman Kaya beat out for the second and final Games spot at Semifinals last year. Dawon Jung finished 42 points behind Kaya, so it didn’t necessarily appear to be that close, until you realize that Kaya beat her on every single workout. It will be fun to see if Jung has closed the gap in live competition this year.
Pretty much everything is pointing towards those two taking the qualifying positions, but as we know, nothing is guaranteed. The other three women I’m eyeing as candidate to disrupt the party are:
- Alina Aleksandrova: Moving over from the team competition, where she has competed with the two-time Games qualifying Kolesnikov Team for the past two seasons, Aleksandrova is looking to throw a wrench into the plans of Kaya and Jung. She was the sixth seed in Quarters, and didn’t really have a stand out performance, but when the Russian women have shown up in the past for Semis, they typically do well. Whether Aleksandrova can do the same remains to be seen.
- Kamila Takeyeva: The three-time fittest woman in Kazakhstan comes in as the third place qualifier following Quarterfinals. She was 9th at the Asia Semis in 2021 and did not compete at all in 2022. It’s always interesting when a contending athlete takes an entire CrossFit Games season off. She had 22 points in Quarters (to Kaya’s 20), so we certainly cannot dismiss her as having a serious chance.
- Shahad Budebs: She’s been the fittest in the UAE for the last five years, and she was fourth at the Asia Semifinal last year. At 27 years old she’s in the prime of her athletic career, with a decent amount of competition experience, and like all these women will be motivated by the opportunity before her. I wouldn’t say it’s likely she qualifies, but give her an outside chance.
Brian’s Asia Women’s Picks
|Asia: 2 spots|
Europe Women’s Field
As always there is a lot of talent amongst the women in Europe, but it still feels like we more or less know who is who. That can be a dangerous thing to say heading into a CrossFit competition; there’s almost always a big surprise or two.
Although they each might hit a sticking point somewhere along the way throughout the competition, there are at least six women who shouldn’t have too much trouble when it comes to qualifying for the Games.
- Laura Horvath: she should be the favorite, and also the favorite to the win the Games at this point. Look for her to have several top three finishes this weekend.
- Annie Thorisdottir: she’s still elite at this point in her career, and likely to show a consistency that keeps her in a podium position most of the time.
- Gabriela Migala: two chances for us to check in and see how her upper body pulling is coming along. The muscle ups in test two and the legless rope climbs in test six.
- Karin Freyova: she was dominant in Dubai, I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of her in the CrossFit Games season- she could sneak on to the podium though.
- Matilde Garnes: pretty good slate of tests for her, upper body pulling is a strength, she’s a strong presser, and can manage the machines well.
- Emma McQuaid: could be an up and down weekend, but her overall fitness and a couple big hits in two and six will keep her inside the cutline throughout.
Nine (or more) for Five
Once again there are about twice as many women in this echelon than remaining spots; and once again it will be an exciting weekend to see who manages to navigate the test best and claim what they’ve come for.
- Jacqueline Dahlstrom: she could arguably be in the above group, but overall I think this is a tougher test for her than last year’s Semis were.
- Thuridur Helgadottir: she made her first Games in 2012, and she’s still doing it. Like Dahlstrom I don’t love these tests for her, but her veteran savvy is so good that she often goes unnoticed. She was third at Strength in Depth last year with two events wins and only one finish worse than seventh.
- Sara Sigmundsdottir: it seems that many people are unsure of what Sigmundsdottir is capable of any more, which is understandable. Her two standout workouts last year were the Barbell Complex (because she went too heavy and it was hard to watch) and the very next workout where she picked up an event win. That was the bad and the good. The problem was everything else was just average compared to the other women who made the Games. I don’t think she had full confidence in the knee yet one year ago, hopefully this year she does because these tests look good for her on paper.
- Emma Tall: missed out on Semis last year after a 14th place worldwide (6th in Europe) Quarterfinal finish. Sometimes a year away can cause people to forget about the potential. Tests 1 and 2 could get her off to a strong start, tests 4 and 5 will be the critical ones for her to manage, but the last day looks good for her too which could bode really well in terms of her chances to get back to the Games.
- Elisa Fuliano: I was ready to write her off as a one and done Games athlete, until I saw her at Wodapalooza. She has the chance to win two events this weekend in tests 2 and 6, and even though a couple others could be tough for her, we’ve seen the ability to weather that storm and still make it through.
- Manon Angonese: like Tall, Angonese was not at Semis last year, but we did see her at the Rogue Invitational. She showed there that she is strong (6th on Texas Oak and the Duel II), good with ring muscle ups (3rd on the Goblet), and good with strict handstand push ups (2nd on Snatch and Press)… all three of those things carry over well to what this Semifinal test consists of. Angonese is a name you’ll want to know this weekend.
- Solveig Sigurdardottir: Sola had some stand out performances last year at Semis, taking three top three finishes. But the other three were outside the top ten, and she did not fare too well at the Games where her only top half finish was on the Sandbag Ladder. She’ll need to have some home runs once again to stay relevant, but with all of Europe in one field, this time those big points will be harder to come by.
- Claudia Gluck: high and lows plagued her chances at Semis last season, but she’s been training hard alongside Victor Hoffer and does have some upside this weekend. She was 7th among European women in the Open and 10th against them at Quarters. The gymnastics tests, and also the final test, should all be good for her. I think this all comes down to Linda for her, she’ll need a solid finish there to keep her in the mix.
- Elena Carratala Sanahuja: she tied with Sigmundsdottir on points at the very competitive Lowlands Throwdown last year, ultimately both being relegated to the LCQ where she battled into a Games qualifying spot. She’s not really the most flashy athlete, so she’ll likely be racking up a lot of 10th through 20th place finishes meaning she probably can’t afford a really bad finish anywhere.
Of course there are many other women who will be looking to topple the entire landscape, but these are the ones I think are most likely to be challenging hard for the final Games qualifying spots of the 2023 season.
Brian’s Europe Women’s Picks
|Europe: 11 spots|
|1||Laura Horvath||16||Noortje Bleeker|
|2||Annie Thorisdottir||17||Linda Keesman|
|3||Gabriela Migala||18||Camilla Salomonsson Hellman|
|4||Karin Freyova||19||Tayla Howe|
|5||Matilde Garnes||20||Elena Carratala Sanahuja|
|6||Emma McQuaid||21||Oihana Moya|
|7||Jacqueline Dahlstrom||22||Marie Robin|
|8||Sara Sigmundsdottir||23||Lucy McGonigle|
|9||Emma Tall||24||Andrea Solberg|
|10||Thuridur Helgadottir||25||Ella Wunger|
|11||Manon Angonese||26||Nicole Heer|
|12||Elisa Fuliano||27||Aoife Burke|
|13||Solveig Sigurdardottir||28||Silvia Garcia Izquierdo|
|14||Claudia Gluck||29||Sara Alicia Fernandez Costas|
|15||Aimee Cringle||30||Evie Hollis|