Dubai Day 3 Recap and Take-Aways

Written by Brian Friend

After a day at the beach, and a day in the desert, the athletes competing at this year’s first sanctioned event in Dubai made their way to the tennis stadium for 3 events on day 3 of the competition. With over half the events completed now we have a much clearer picture of how things might shape up on the final day, but we also were reminded of some things we already knew…

Sam Briggs is Back

It wasn’t a surprise to see Sam near the top after Day one or Day two, but here we are at the end of Day 3 and she’s got what I’d consider an impressive, if not a commanding, lead over Jaime Green and the rest of the field.

There are a few events on the agenda that she knew would be weak spots for her. Event 4, a 1 rep max snatch, was certainly one of those, and she said she was just happy not to finish last. She hit a post-surgery PB of 76 kg, good enough for a 27th place finish and 39 points.

Everyone knows she loves muscle ups, but would the yoke be too heavy for her in event 5? The short answer is no! She placed 3rd with a time of 7:31. The last event of Day 3, aptly named Acid Bath, looked like it was hers to lose. In the end, Laura Horvath absolutely annihilated this one, but Sam finished second, while her closest competitor so far, Jamie Greene took 15th.

Sam has a 34-point lead with one day to go. She’s already said there are a couple events on the last day she likes, and a couple that will be tough for her. Sara Sigmundsdottir is lurking just 2 points behind Jamie, and it looks likely that one of those three women will be leaving Dubai with a ticket to the CrossFit Games. Even if Sam gets caught by one of them on the last day, it’s great to see her fit and healthy, and ready for yet another great season.

Laura Horvath can’t do HSPUS

Before you get upset, let me qualify that, she can do kipping hspus. However, when you make them strict, add a weight vest, or increase the deficit, she struggles. Don’t believe me? Check the past results:

  • 2016 Regionals, Nate with strict hspus Laura took 32nd in that event in the European region, her score was CAP + 158 reps. It kept her out of the Games.
  • 2017 Regionals, Murph variation with strict, weighted hspus and Laura took 40th (yes, last place), her score was CAP + 142 reps, it kept her out of the Games.
  • In 2018, the only Regional workout that had hspus was the event 5 chipper, but they were kipping hspus, which she can do. She qualified for the Games.
  • At the Games we had the Fibonacci event with kipping paralette hspus; she finished 17th, her second worst finish at the Games that year. Some thought maybe this was a weakness she had finally addressed based on this finish…

And then today, on a workout that only had 15 paralette hspus, she failed to get through them, took a DNF, and took herself out of the running to win this event and qualify for the Games in Dubai. It was shocking to see, but based on history, it shouldn’t be that surprising.

BKG is Awesome, but he never wins events

If you know your Games history you’re probably appalled to read that; Ccome on man! He won Murph in 2015! And you’re right. But did you know that event win is not only his only event win at the Games, it’s the only time he’s ever finished in the top three of ANY EVENT in the 5 years he’s been to the CrossFit Games?

In the last two years he’s only had three event finishes worse than 15th. He’s very consistent, and that’s why he’s always in the top 10 at the Games. But his inability to hit the “home-run” is hurting him again here in Dubai. Mat Fraser has two finishes (8th and 9th) that are worse than any finish BKG has had. But Mat has won three events, and BKG has only finished in the top 3 on one event (2nd place in Event 5, behind Mat).

Speaking of Fraser…

Pretty much everyone expected to see Fraser pull ahead once we got into the tennis stadium, but the way he did it today was even more impressive than you might think.

Being in the last heat for the 1 RM snatch was an advantage, and he capitalized fully on it. His lift of 137 kg was 1 kg more than both Jason Smith and Ruan Duvenage who had gone in previous heats and was enough for Mat to win the event. Now, we know Fraser’s lifetime PR is 315 lbs, but it’s been a while since he hit that. And the last time we saw him in competition for a 1 rep max snatch was at the Games in 2017. That year he snatched 291 and took 5th in the event. 18 months later in Dubai, today, he snatched 302 lbs. Hold on to that thought…

He won event 5 easily, and no one was surprised. He showed in Madison that he can handle a high volume of muscle ups (3rd place on 30 MUs for time), parallette hspus (1st place in Fibonacci), and a heavy yoke (1st place in Aeneas). So this event was sort of a given for him to win.

Event 6, on the other hand, was not straightforward at all. Acid Bath is such a fast race, with so much emphasis on power output, that there was a real chance for him to have a good score, but still have several people beat him be small margins and therefore sacrifice some critical points if one of the other key contenders, namely Willy Georges or BKG, could win this event. 17 men in the field finished in 5:08 or faster, including several ties. You only get 53 points for 17th place, but it was only 11 seconds slower than the second place time of 4:57, which two men tied for, and one of them was Mat Fraser…

Whether it’s the gamesmanship of the heavy snatch, a matter of seconds in a sprint event like Acid Bath, or even overcoming a never before seen implement like the lifeguard buoy in event 2, Fraser is fit enough to always find a way to do what he needs to do, regardless of what the event is, to fend off the competitors. And let me tell you, while he’s still the best, these other guys, the Willy Georges, BKGs, Pat Vellners, and Brent Fikowskis out there, are real competitors in his mind, and if he lets up, they will chase him down.

Team Sweden

Heading into the final day of competition there are probably only 2 teams who can win. Invictus with Rasmus Anderson, Lauren Fisher, Tommy Vinas, and Regan Huckaby have a 20 point lead over, Team Sweden…

That’s right, the power teams of Omnicide, Jackal, and Invictus X are all at least 32 points behind Team Sweden, which begs the question; who are these guys?

Glad you asked!

Team Sweden is comprised of four past Games athletes with a total of 10 Regional and 5 CrossFit Games appearances between them. Male teammates Simon Mantayla and Alexander Elebro teamed up with Amanda Franden in 2016 on Team CrossFit Solid and took 8th place at the Games. The other female on their roster, Sara Armanius, was a member of Team Fabriken at the 2017 CrossFit Games.

What’s so fascinating about how well they’re doing is that the team competition in Dubai is basically a collection of individual events, meant to favor teams comprised of high level individual athletes. Knowing that, and seeing what we’ve seen so far from Team Sweden; Simon, Alex, Amanda, and Sara deserve a ton of credit, and recognition, for the incredible athletes they are.

If they’re able to make up the 20-point gap on Invictus on day four it will be a very well earned, well deserved victory, for a true team, that has also demonstrated their individual brilliance so far in Dubai.

Quick Hits

  • The only female athlete to place in the top 10 of all events so far is 23-year-old Karin Frey of Slovakia. She’s in 4th overall and has been extremely impressive thus far.
  • Jaime Greene, showcased her muscle up ability in a couplet style format once again on event 5 which she won by almost an entire minute. She did something similar in the 2017 CrossFit Games when she won Amanda .45 in impressive fashion against all the best women in the sport
  • Tola Morakinyo had perhaps the most impressive day we’ve ever seen from anyone on a CrossFit competition floor. He snatched 150 kg! (That’s 332 lbs) and then turned around and won an individual event (as the selected representative from his team) which included 30 ring muscle ups and 15 paralette hspus. Afterwards he joked that he still has some work to do on his running, but I think we can give him some slack there considering just how dominant he was in these other two, very different, events today.
  • Roman Khrennikov gets his first event win in event 6 against the best field he’s ever competed in. He also got 2nd place in the Desert Run that was event 2, and credits his work with Aerobic Capacity as the reason for his success in those two events.

Day 4

The final day in Dubai will feature 4 events. Once again they start at 1 pm in Dubai, which is 4 am on the East Coast in the US. It’s going to be a great day of competition with some of the biggest names in the sport fighting for the first coveted spot in each division to the 2019 CrossFit Games.

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