Noah Ohlsen stole the show on day two of the Reebok CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.
The American clinched his first event win at the Games and narrowly edged out three-times defending champion Mat Fraser for the overall lead.
Here’s a look at the key talking points from the Alliant Energy Center.
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS STILL IN CONTENTION
A mixed day for the champions but both are very much still in contention.
Having won the first two events on Thursday, Fraser could only manage to cross the line in 17th and 20th in the Ruck and Sprint Couplet respectively.
He made an uncharacteristic mistake in the Ruck workout, dropping one of the bags and being penalised 60 seconds in the process.
In the afternoon session, he pushed for victory on Mary, matching Ohlsen for large spells of the workout but falling behind by just two reps.
The 29-year-old may not be in the leader’s jersey going into day three but there is still plenty more action to come over the next two days. He is right where he needs to be as he chases a fourth Games title.
Elsewhere, despite a hiccup in the Sprint Couplet, Tia-Clair Toomey retains her leader’s jersey, holding a 12-point lead over American Kari Pearce going into day three.
In her three events on Friday, the Australian finished 2nd, 12th and 4th respectively. Most people expected her to be further ahead at the halfway point, but the closeness of competition is down to the other girls stepping up and rising to the challenge.
Still, Toomey is in a sweet spot and will be relishing whatever the officials throw at the field for Saturday.
OHLSEN RISES TO OCCASION
Sevens years ago Ohlsen was a volunteer at the South East Regionals, and here he is all these years on, securing a first event win and finishing the day as overall leader.
The American started the morning in impressive fashion, finishing 24th in the Ruck and then snatching second behind Matt McLeod in the Sprint Couplet – a combination of a 172 foot sled push, 18 bar muscle-ups and then a 172 foot sled push back to the line in under six minutes.
In the afternoon session, he led from start to finish in Mary – a gruelling amrap of five hand stand push-ups, ten single leg squats and 15 pull-ups in under 20 minutes – producing 667 reps and making the difficult look easy.
He kept his transitions tight, going straight from the wall to the pistols and back to the pull-up bar. And what was stunning about his triumph was how he pushed hard and maintained the pace with the ferocious Fraser breathing down his neck.
Ohlsen’s best ever finish at the Games was fourth back in 2017, could the 28-year-old go better this year?
BIG NAMES FADE AWAY
At the start of the day we had 50 athletes in men’s and women’s categories and, after the three workouts on Friday, were now down to just 20 competitors each.
Of those who missed the cut, the notable names on the men’s side are Brent Fikowski and Ben Smith.
Fikowski, in particular, was being tipped for a podium finish this week but struggled, falling off the pace with 13th, 27th and 28th place finishes on day three.
The 28-year-old, a former professional volleyball player, clocked the third worst time in Mary and that cost him valuable points. Gracious in defeat after hearing of his elimination, Fikowski will no doubt be back better in 2020.
Smith, meanwhile, started the day in 10th but plummeted down the leaderboard and finished nine places outside of the cut. His inability to make it through was not down to a lack of fitness or talent but he just hasn’t been able to train properly in time since his knee injury.
He should be proud, nevertheless, and will be eager to return for a tilt at a second Games title.
On the women’s side, Sara Sigmundsdottir did scrape through Friday’s cut but, based on her form this week, doesn’t look like she could force her way beyond Saturday’s final elimination.
Whether it’s another off-day or just a lack of confidence, the Iceland native has been devoid of the same firepower of previous years. It’s hard to believe really with many believing she could give Toomey a run for her money this weekend.
Pearse was immense in the final workout of the day, producing 695 reps – 20 more than her next finisher – and winning her first-ever event. It was criminal how easy she made Mary look and, as result of her prowess, sits second in the overall standings behind Toomey going into day three.
The UAE interest continued on day two of the CrossFit Games.
Abu Dhabi-based Jamie Green stole the show again, sitting a stunning fourth overall in the women’s category.
The Kiwi, who trains at CrossFit Yas in the UAE capital, improved her position in the overall standings with 22nd, 4th and 3rd place finishes respectively in the Ruck, Sprint Couplet and Mary workouts on Friday.
The last two workouts of the day were her best, and she even held the lead briefly, but was reeled back on the sled push of the Sprint Couplet, and then subsequently hauled back by Kari Pearce and Kristin Holte in Mary.
Still, sitting fourth is phenomenal and sets Greene up for a serious push as the competition heats up on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Dubai-based Carmen Bosmans was eliminated after the first workout of the day – four gruelling laps of 1,500metres with the weight increasing from 20, 30, 40 and 50 pounds after each lap.
However, the Belgian national should be proud with finishing her week as the 46th Fittest Woman in the world.
In the men’s category, Abu Dhabi-based Elliot Simmonds survived two cuts on day two and sits a formidable 17th overall ahead of day three.
The Englishman, another CrossFit Yas athlete, finished his workouts in 14th, 16th and 10th respectively, and will be relishing the prospect of improving again on day three.
In the team event, CrossFit Alioth from Dubai lie ninth overall ahead of day three. The Dubai-based quartet of Phil Hesketh, Mia Akerlund, Synne Krokstad and Alexander Elebro placed 10th in the team ruck and 12th in the strongman’s fear.
American Mat Fraser was a class apart on the first day of the Reebok CrossFit Games at Madison, Wisconsin.
Here, we look at the key talking points from Thursday’s action.
HOW DID THE CHAMPIONS FAIR?
Defending champions Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey had contrasting opening days at the Alliant Energy Center.
Three-times defending champion Fraser won both his heats with relative ease, raising the temperature at the right time to leave rivals in his wake.
In the first heat, the 29-year-old finished his workout in 15:07.70, nearly 35 seconds ahead of compatriot Chandler Smith in second place.
He continued where he left off in the second heat, which was a more high-intensity workout, crossing the line in a time of 5:37.02, just three seconds in front of Pole Bronislaw Olenkowicz.
Elsewhere, Toomey, who is chasing a third successive Games victory, shone in the early workout. The Australian was in scintillating form, clocking 16:56.63 and in the process, finishing over 80 seconds ahead of overnight leader Karissa Pearce.
But in the afternoon session, the 26-year-old could only manage a mixed 12th after struggling on the hand stand walks. She was 42 seconds behind event winner Danielle Brandon.
Despite sitting third on the overall leaderboard, Toomey is certain to flourish on day two.
BIG BEN IS BACK
The 2015 champion Ben Smith, making his 11th successive appearance at the Games, showed just why he deserved the wildcard by dominating the first heat and finishing fifth in a competitive second heat.
The American had surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear earlier this year and, although his road to recovery was quick, he was unable to train seriously until before the Rogue Invitational in May where he placed 14th.
As a result of not earning his ticket to the Games automatically, CrossFit HQ decided to give one of the most decorated athletes of all-time a wildcard.
He did not disappoint and now sits fourth overall on the leaderboard.
Sigmundsdottir had enjoyed a solid season heading into this weekend’s Games, winning the CrossFit Open and Strength in Depth as well as securing podium finishes in Dubai and Wodapalooza.
But, whether the Iceland native had a slight injury or just an off-day is unknown, as she struggled in the opening event, finishing in a disappointing 40th after receiving a time cap from one of the judges.
In the second event, she improved and looked set to win the heat, but with just metres to go on the handstand walk, she fell and had to start the last section again. She eventually finished fifth.
Sitting 26th on the leaderboard may be disappointing, but the best way for the two-time podium finisher to get over a poor opening day is to put it behind her and make amends on Friday.
Scoring at this edition of the CrossFit Games was unlike anything we’d ever seen before.
After the first day the field of individual athletes was reduced from 148 men and 134 women down to 75 athletes in each category. In the team event, there was 14 teams to start the day, with three teams eliminated after the first event.
The field will look different every single day, and come the final day on Sunday, it will be a small and intimate race to the top. Key to this will be condensed fields with more space and better competition for the athletes.