Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography
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The first morning of the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games began with high humidity and the threat of bad weather, but an action-packed day guaranteed with four events for the individual competitors and 500 points available.
Bike to Work Event One
The first event of the race involved 75 pull-ups to start, followed by a five-mile road/off-road bike ride, then 75 pull-ups and another five-mile ride. The women were first and it was a back and forth battle with multiple driver changes and a final leg race within the 45 minute limit.
Tia-Clair Toomey, the reigning and defending Strongest Woman on Earth, finished her set of 75 toe-to-bar first just over two minutes into the event, but the reigning second Strongest Woman, Laura Horvath, opened :15 seconds lead on the first five-mile lap and entered her set of 75 chest-to-barbell pull-ups first. Horvath completed his first bike lap in just under 16 minutes and headed to the platform for 75 chest-to-barbell pull-ups, nearly :45 seconds ahead of Toomey, who made up that time by doing massive sets with minimal rest.
On the final five-mile cycling circuit, Haley Adams stole the lead from Toomey on the first lap and opened a :10-:15 second lead over defending champion and rookie Emma Lawson. On the final lap, Toomey and Lawson closed the gap and it ended up being a foot race. When the dust settled, Adams won the event in 38:23 – the first of her career – and Toomey edged out Lawson for second in 38:26.
Of note: Danielle Brandon made up a huge time deficit on the final lap after being lapped by Adams. Brandon took 8th overall, but there were questions about whether she completed all five laps of the second cycling circuit.
On the men’s side, all eyes were on Ricky Garrard in his first race of the Games since completing his four-year suspension for PEDs, and it lined up well for him with a 10-mile bike ride. Noah Olsen was first off the platform, completing his 75 toes to the bar in just over two minutes, but after getting on the bikes, Roman Hrennikov took the win with a big pack following him, including Justin Medeiros, Lazar Djukic and Pat Wellner.
Jonne Koski was first from C2B when the rain started, Djukic wasn’t far behind. Koski opened a big lead over Djukic and Spencer Panczyk and went around athletes like Travis Meyer. But by the time it got to the final lap, things went sideways.
Djukic and Panczyk crossed the finish line without completing their final lap while leader Koski was still on the course. Sean Woodland and Chase Ingraham, the commentators noted that they did not beat Koski, but shortly after, Koski and Garard came to the stadium at the same time and Garard edged Koski to win the event.
Speed Skill Medley Event Three
Bad weather hampered the day’s events and caused the second event to be postponed to Friday. Event three, a two-part run and shoulder to overhead, has been postponed to tomorrow due to the weather. Instead, athletes will compete in a three-round competition that includes pegboard climbing, rope jumping, pistols and handwalking. Each round the field was narrowed and the skills increased in difficulty.
The women were first again and after the dust had settled on the qualifying rounds, Brandon, Mal O’Brien, Lawson, Elisa Fuliano and Rebecca Fuselier were in the final heat. After the rigorous pegboard climb, the women took to their jump ropes for 25 double crossovers. Neither of them made it to the handstand portion of the event, but Fuliano finished just under the three-minute limit to win the event, with Brandon right behind her. Three rookies – Fuliano, Fuselier and Lawson – finished in the top five.
On the men’s side, the final series included rookie Nick Matthew, Medeiros, Wellner, Garrard and Gui Malheiros.
The double-layout crossover proved difficult for the field, but it was Matthew and then Medeiros, who messed up with his strict pegboard climb and dropped his peg, who were the first to figure them out. Pressing to a handstand, Mathieu came up with it again first, followed by Malheiros and then Medeiros. Garrard, who has looked good in previous series, has struggled. Matthew completed the handstand walking portion and sprinted to the finish with Malheiros following in about :30 seconds later. The rookie took his first win of the event and 100 points, with the Brazilian finishing second and Medeiros nearly finishing to earn a Cap+1 result.
Fourth Event: “Elizabeth Elevated”
The final event of the weather-beaten day was the “Elizabeth Elevated,” a modification of the original benchmark workout. In this version, it includes 21-15-9-9-9 squat cleans at 135 and 95 pounds plus parallel bars and barbell dips.
On the women’s side, in the final heat, Emma Lawson had the leader’s jersey but struggled in the discipline, finishing 14th. Mother power took it, with Loewen taking the win in the event, the first of her career, and Kara Saunders taking second. O’Brien took third in the event, but ends day one in first place with 267 points. Just behind her is Emma Lawson on 249. Toomey heads into the break in 8th place, unfamiliar territory for the five-time Games winner.
On the men’s side, Garrard and Medeiros entered the event in a dead heat with 188 points each. Roman Khrennikov jumped out to a quick lead in the final leg, getting on the parallel bars before anyone else finished his first set clean. Vellner and Medeiros stayed close to the round of 16. In the middle round, Vellner took the lead.
Krennikov and Garrard were in hot pursuit, but Wellner held firm and built up a sizeable lead. At the end of practice, Vellner fought back and took the win. His technique on the parallel bars was defining, and he ended the day saying he was “almost a CrossFitter now.”