The battle for an invitation to the Games was as close as any fan dared to hope for coming into the final day. Competition favorites Katrin Davidsdottir and Cole Sager each held a slim six point lead and were by no means guaranteed of victory; which is, without a doubt, what they both came to Cape Town in search of.
(800 m run, 50 c2b pull ups, 100/75 push ups, 150 squats, 800 m run, vest; 100 pts)
This event is one that looks rather innocent on paper, but then a couple nuances were thrown their way. First, the bodyweight reps must be done in unbroken sets of 25; if not, there’s a 200 meter penalty lap for each extra break. Second, they weren’t bodyweight reps. Athletes learned the night before that they’d be doing this workout with a weight vest on.
Davidsdottir performed as expected, and as needed, on this one. She lead after the run, never relinquished it, and crossed the finish line with a big smile knowing this would set her up well for the rest of the day. A trio of Australian women, Simone Arthur, Carly Menzies, and Courtney Haley finished second through fourth. Both women who had been pressuring Davidsdottir on the leaderboard, Mia Akerlund and Alessandra Pichelli, struggled finishing 13th and 10th respectively.
The men’s heat was very tight throughout. Jonas Muller led the way after the first run but was quickly caught by several others. During the bodyweight portion of the workout it was James Newbury who took control, reaching the run and finishing first for his second event win of the week. Fellow Aussie Luke McMahon took second and Streat Hoerner finished third. Sean Sweeney finished fourth while Sager was sixth, which was enough for Sweeney to jump ahead of Sager for the overall lead.
Standings After 8 Events:
(20/30 cal row, HS walk, 20/30 cal ski, HS walk, 20/30 cal bike: 100pts)
Two for two for Davidsdottir today. She has been great on her hands for as long as she’s been competing and is a workhorse on the erg machines. She won the event by nearly thirty seconds, expanding her overall lead heading into the final. Ex-gymnast Courtney Haley came second, while Pichelli rounded out the top 3.
For the men Tim Paulson used his size and power to get out to an early lead. He was more than capable during the handstand walks to hold off the field and comfortably claimed his second event win of the competition. When Sweeney came across in second place everyone started looking for Sager. Several other men crossed the finish line and by the time Sager came in, seventh overall for the workout, it was clear that Sweeney would be in the driver’s seat for the last event.
Standings After 9 Events:
(3-2-1 legless rope climbs, 21-15-9 axle bar thrusters;100 pts)
The women’s competition was all but wrapped up coming into this one as Katrin had a sixty-two point lead. All she needed was to avoid a bottom-three finish to secure the coveted invitation to the CrossFit Games. It was not the prettiest way to lock up the win for Davidsdottir. She took 5th on the event and still seems to have difficulty with legless rope climbs, but she’d done enough work on the earlier events to earn her the title of Fittest in Cape Town for 2019.
Sweeney was sitting twenty-four points ahead of Sager and would therefore need a finish of 5th or better to guarantee the win, assuming Sager would win the event. As it turns out, this combination of movements (rope climbs and thrusters) is perhaps the best possible set of movements Cole could have asked for. Not once, but twice when rope climbs and thrusters have shown up in Regional competition Cole Sager has taken first in his region and third worldwide on the event. In 2016 he famously overcame a seemingly insurmountable gap with his performance on that workout to earn the final qualifying spot out of the West region. Was there to be more magic with this couplet for Sager today?
Cole certainly did his part; he was ahead from the start and comfortably won his heat. It wouldn’t be enough though. Sean Sweeney, “the Crossfit Cowboy”, finished right behind Cole, securing his invitation to the CrossFit Games.
For Sean this is a massively important accomplishment. He’s never broken the top 20 in the CrossFit Open (his best ever finish was 57th and last year he was 142nd), which means if he was going to the Games this year his best chance was to win a Sanctional. On top of being a great competitor, Sean is a genuine, kind-hearted man who always puts on a show for the fans. He earned the respect and love of the locals in South Africa who will surely be cheering for him next summer in Madison.
Superheroproject had 100 points to make up over the final day and would have six scored events to try and do so. They’d have to do well, win some events, and also hope that Vondelgym stumbled a little. Superheroproject had an excellent final day winning 4 of the 6 events while taking a 2nd and a 3rd on the other two, but would it be enough to overcome the 100 point gap?
Vondelgym’s model of consistency continued, they never had a placement worse than 5th all weekend. And yet, after being beaten on 5 consecutive workouts they needed to beat Superheroproject on the final event if they were going to retain the spot they’d held all weekend; and it couldn’t have been any closer. Vondelgym took second on the event.
Superheroproject took third, and in the end beating them by one place on event 12 was enough. They won by an incredibly narrow margin of 2613 to 2609.
For Vondelgym they’ll be making a return trip to the CrossFit Games after finishing 33rd there last year. It’s worth noting that they are doing so as an affiliate. The new team structure, which allows teams to be comprised of athletes from anywhere around the world, seems to point towards super teams having an advantage. The other teams who have qualified so far from different Sanctioned events are representative of that. Congratulations to Vondelgym for sticking together and winning this weekend, earning the right to represent their affiliate in Madison again this summer.
Final Team Standings:
*Invitation to CrossFit Games