Ashleigh Moe and Alicia Connors

2010 CrossFit Games Finals

Women's Epic Matchup 4: Ashleigh Moe and Alicia Connors

Games newcomers set the pace in their Regional qualifiers

Alicia Connors
Age: 20
Height: 5' 3"
Weight: 135

Ashleigh Moe
Age: 26
Height: 5' 2"
Weight: 127

The 2010 CrossFit Games season has been a testament to the caliber of the athletes involved. In many regions, old favorites, veterans and previous "sure bets" were bested by no-name newcomers. While this isn’t a new trend (Jason Khalipa was unknown entering the 2008 CrossFit Games finals), it was seen in regionals from coast to coast and beyond. In both the men's and women's divisions, newcomers made their presences known and qualified for the Games, sometimes in very convincing fashion. Alicia Connors and Ashleigh Moe are two such athletes.

Ashleigh Moe, from Mt. Baker CrossFit, completely dominated the Washington Sectional, taking first or second in every event besides the max deadlift. In fact, she finished 28 points ahead of her closest competitor. Second and 20th were separated by 21 points. At the regionals, Moe was impressively consistent in besting former Games competitors Cyndi Frieling, Kallista Pappas and Jenny Olson, as well as HQ trainers and affiliate owners Miranda Oldroyd and Nadia Shatila. This time Moe won by a smaller margin, but she was in the top 5 for every event except the axle deadlift. Behind going into the final event, Moe had to make up ground.

Alicia Connors, from CrossFit Taranis, provided an equally impressive showing in her qualifying events. She displayed great strength in the British Columbia Sectional but proved she can run too. She put together a 165-lb. power clean, 220-lb. back squat, 160-lb. bench press and 285-lb. deadlift for an 830-lb. CrossFit Football total, then placed first overall in a 5-kilometer footrace (run at the regionals) over mixed terrain.

"She started dabbling with CrossFit when she was 16 years old," coach Reed MacKenzie explains. "She changed her training to follow a three-on, one-off cycle while adhering to main-site programming religiously.

This was at the age of 18. This also happened to coincide with her joining CrossFit Taranis. Connors’ first CrossFit competition was the one-day Taranis Winter challenge in December 2009. She came first in each of three to take first overall.

Her performance turned some heads and lit a fire under her ass as she contemplated throwing her hat in the ring for the CrossFit Games. Connors knew she could do well but wasn’t prepared for such outstanding results, especially at the regional level. Her goal was to keep up to two-time Games competitor Lauren Pryor, who is one of Connors’ heroes, and she certainly surpassed that goal."

Although Moe is six years senior, both athletes match up nearly identically on paper. Both athletes are shorter and similar in size, and when it comes to raw strength, the numbers are virtually mirror images. Their back squats are identical at 215, and Moe has a 5-lb. advantage on the deadlift (290 to Connor's 285--well over two times body weight for both ladies). On WODs like Fran, the athletes are separated by a mere three seconds (Moe is ahead by a hair). On the Olympic lifts, differences are more apparent. Connors has a 20-lb.  advantage in both the clean and jerk and the snatch. Interestingly, the snatch complex was the only event in which Connors did not place first or second in regional competition in Okotoks, Alta.

According to MacKenzie, though, the WOD results are not an accurate gauge of Connors’ Oly potential.

"Alicia is one of the most technically proficient lifters at our box," he says. "We went into that event with a game plan of optimizing her score without being unrealistic. Alicia could probably have hit a 115 on that complex and perhaps a 120, but that was a coaching call. One thing that we emphasize with our athletes is no butchered technique for a 5-lb. better score. An ugly snatch can hurt you, and that is not acceptable. She agreed and we went with that strategy."

“She can clean and jerk 165 lb. with no press-out and snatch 125 lb. with no press-out also. We aren't in the least bit disappointed with that score considering that the women that out-lifted her significantly also outweighed her. This is something that we have to be prepared for in CrossFit.”

Both athletes hail from competitive team-sport backgrounds. Ashleigh played soccer player at the collegiate level, eventually suiting up for the University of Alabama. She was drawn to athletics and exercise after college and was an aerobics instructor for years. She’s competitive by nature, so CrossFit was a sure fit. She competed last year and took fifth at the Northwest Qualifier.

Connors was a pitcher in fastball and made it to the Western Canadian championships. She was also a point guard in basketball and the captain of all her athletic teams, which always did well in provincial championship tournaments (the equivalent of state championships in the U.S.). In recent times she’s entered a couple of 10-kilometer races and competed in amateur weightlifting competitions.

In a perfect world, Connors would see double-unders; moderate-weight, high-rep Olympic lifts; box jumps; pull-ups; thrusters and GHD sit-ups. Pick your rep scheme and exercises. She did last Friday's main-site WOD- 5 rounds of 40 double unders, 30 box jumps, 20 kettlebell swings- in 15:16, and she used the men's standards: a 1.5-pood kettlebell and a 24-inch box.

Moe likes longer met-cons and endurance work. She ran the 5 miles at the Northwest Regional in 39 minutes in the midst of a brutal competition. She claims strength is not her specialty, and the axle deadlift indeed tripped her up at the regional. She lifted 5,017 lb. in 90 seconds with 173 lb., the lightest weight athletes were allowed to use. The competition was super tight, and she lost some ground in the middle by chalking.

In preparation for the Games, Moe is getting used to heavier weights. She explained this in detail during her interview with CrossFit Radio. She has also been toying with volume and hitting all of the other regional WODs to compare times with other individuals. Rest and recovery are in the bag: she’s a grade-school teacher and swears she is in bed by 7:30 p.m. to ensure nine hours of sleeps. Moe has cleaned up her diet and doesn't eat grains or dairy, but she’s not concerned with quantity currently. She also eats the same thing every single day.

Connors "is constantly working on some of the more advanced and challenging gymnastics movements and has been since before entering any competition as she hates to scale anything," MacKenzie explains. "She is much stronger than she gives herself credit for in these movements, and everything is being fine tuned. We actually went into regionals thinking the run was going to be her weakest event, but she killed it.  We were thankful, however, that there was no rowing as she is only 5-foot-3."

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11 comments on this entry

1. Chris Schaalo wrote...

Alicia Connors is the Shiz! Look out Aromas...

Good luck to both of you in Cali in a few weeks

2. Louise Hodge wrote...

Alicia is an ANIMAL.
I competed with her at Regionals and I have NEVER seen work capacity like this. Every time I thought she would burn out she didn't and just kept going at a pace that was UNREAL. Watch out Aromas, here comes a Fire Breather.

3. connor thompson wrote...

Alicia!! Lets see another Canadian CF Games champ shall we?

4. Sully wrote...

So proud of you Alicia!! You will inspire all kinds of little girls to grow up knowing strong=beautiful!!

5. Skip Chase wrote...

Our best to both athletes. Ashleigh has the work ethic necessary to be a champion.
In regards to her Olympic weight lifting, we hired Masters Olympic Weightlifting Champion, Chris Dariotis, to work with her, and she has experienced marked improvements.

6. kat wrote...

Go CANADA!!!!!

7. Annie Olson wrote...

Ashleigh - you were so impressive to watch at sectionals / regionals! Glad to see you're getting your props on mainsite! You are seriously badass. Can't wait to see you tackle the games

8. Drew Hawken wrote...

Good luck Alicia your awesome!

9. Eric wrote...

Good luck to you two ladies! For the first two posters, I believe the games are in Carson this year ;).

10. Noah wrote...

Love the video of the Canadian champs. So humble and so down to earth. Makes me proud to be a Canadian. I'm rooting for these two!

Go Canada.

11. John and Lynn Wilson wrote...

Hey Ashleigh! We are so proud of you! I am so looking forward to watching you compete in Nationals! You are awesome in so many ways!


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