Reading time: 3 min 51s
June 16, 2014

Should the European Region Be Split Up?

Written by Damect Dominguez

The 2014 CrossFit Games Regionals provided plenty of shocks and talking points, with perhaps the biggest upset coming from the European Regional as defending women’s champion Samantha Briggs missed out on an automatic qualification spot, finishing 4th.  This prompted a huge debate in the community as to whether Briggs should receive an invite or not, but there were other questions too, centering on whether the European Region should be split up.

Well now, that’s quite a proposition—but it does have some validity. To start with, three former (and current!) champions of the Games have come out of this Region—Miko Salo (2009), Annie Thorisdottir (2011,2012) and Samantha Briggs (2013). Based on the pedigree of these champions, one would assume that this is an incredibly competitive Region, and this is true, to an extent. The depth of female talent in Europe is immense. We all know about Briggs and Thorisdottir, but other big names include Katrin Davidsdottir, Thuridur Helgadottir and Kristin Holte. When you consider that Briggs finished 4th in this Region, that lends to the argument that Europe should be split up, given the apparent high number of elite-level athletes. In fact, when comparing all Regionals, the average performance of Games-qualifying female competitors from Europe is 3rd worldwide, behind Canada East (1st) and Australia (2nd) respectively.

Furthermore, on a logistical scale, Europe in its entirety is a pretty big place, so travelling to Regionals isn’t as simple as jumping in the car and driving for a few hours. Athletes need to think about flying to the destination to compete for three days. There are a great number of boxes (and thus competitive CrossFitters) in Europe that are growing exponentially in correlation with the consistent boom of CrossFit around the world. In fact, out of the 209, 585 athletes who registered for the 2014 Open worldwide, 11,959 European athletes successfully completed all five workouts.

However, there is an argument against the European Region being split into multiple qualifiers. For starters, Briggs herself has said that she doesn’t believe that it needs to happen just yet. Frederik Aegidius, who competed for Team World at the CrossFit Invitational last year and finished 4th at Regionals understands that the lack of depth in the men’s field may be a reason why the European division hasn’t been developed just yet. “What I’m hoping for in the next few years is that they’re going to expand the European region or divide it into more Regions so we get more spots at the Games,” says Aegidius, a two-time Games competitor. “I do see the point of them [CrossFit HQ] not letting more people qualify from Europe (on the male side) since we haven’t really proven that more than anybody outside of the top 3 belong there. But hopefully within the next couple of years the three male athletes from Europe will go in and prove that we actually deserve to get more people there.

Gone are the days of Miko Salo—though I hope he has enough in the tank to make another run at the Games in 2015. In 2014, however, the three qualifiers in the men’s division are all Games rookies. This may point to a high turnover of athlete who aren’t able to be consistent at the top level. However, it’s more likely due to the strong emergence of raw talent that may make waves in the near future. After all, Jonne Koski, the 1st place finisher, is only 19—and he’s also the protégé of Salo. The Luke Skywalker to his Yoda, if you will. But though Koski put on a spectacular performance over the three days of competition, he, along with the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the region would have had a difficult time qualifying in other regions—the Central East and SoCal, for example

So, while it would appear that Europe has a lot of pedigree and history in CrossFit, there is an argument to be made that now is not the time to break up the region. But I like to think of myself as an optimist, and aside from my prediction that Iceland Annie will regain her title in 2014, I think that with the constant rise in numbers of participants in the Open and the young talent that is coming through, it won’t be long before we see a joint male and female Games champion from the Europe region in the same year. At that point, the level of competition will be so high that it would be foolish not to separate the European Regional into two (or even three) separate ones.

Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

1 thought on “Should the European Region Be Split Up?”

  1. “We all know about Briggs and Thorisdottir, but other big names include Katrin Davidsdottir, Thuridur Helgadottir and Kristin Holte.”
    Why you guys forgot about Oxana Slivenko (silver medalist of Olympic Games 2008, 3x World champ and 6x European champ in weightlifting), who hold 5th place at 2014 Europe Region right after Sam Brigs with just 1 point more?


Leave a Comment