In the 2009 Games final, just 7 seconds seperated Calgary and Invictus.

2010 CrossFit Games Finals

Affiliate Epic Matchup: Invictus and Calgary

Games originals were neck and neck in '09

Two stacked teams from the Western Hemisphere finished three points and one place apart in last year's CrossFit Games. CrossFit Invictus and CrossFit Calgary went virtually neck and neck for the whole competition, and the two teams were just 7.1 seconds apart in the final chipper, with Invictus coming out ahead. CrossFit Calgary finished fourth overall in the Affiliate Cup, and Invictus was fifth.
Invictus is located in the heart of San Diego, a hotbed for CrossFit. After a strong showing at the Games last year, they placed third in this year's brutal Southwest Regional competition. Calgary is a town of one million people that managed to place four individual athletes in the top 16 last year. This year they are sending the same 4 athletes – James (OPT) FitzGerald, Michael (Bro-PT) FitzGerald, D.J. Wickham and Lauren Pryor – and the affiliate team took first place in the Canada Regional.
The teams have ties that go beyond competition, each outfit has a great deal of respect for the other.
"I heard a rumor that we were being matched up with Calgary," says coach C.J. Martin of Invictus. "If that's the case, it's a huge honor. That whole crew is phenomenal. James FitzGerald is one of my mentors and has had an enormous influence on the way I coach my athletes. I have had a chance to meet many of his athletes when I visit Calgary, and they are uniformly humble and generous. It's going to be fun to compete alongside them again this year.”
By the numbers, the teams produced very similar results last year. In the North Pad OHS/pull-up event, Invictus was on top. They finished second overall in the WOD with a score of 951, seven points away from the leader. Proud father and CrossFit Oly coach Mike Burgener was seen after the event beaming over daughter Sage's performance in the WOD.
Calgary also did very well, finishing seventh with 925. The tables were turned on the run event, in which teams of four ran a relay on the infamous Hill at the ranch. This time Calgary finished fifth (11:37), 10 spots ahead of Invictus (12:15).
Invictus entered the third Friday workout just two points behind Northwest CrossFit, the eventual champion. In the afternoon heat, the San Diego team struggled with several missed wall ball reps early on but was redeemed when Sage Burgener knocked out almost 30 straight shots. They finished the event 15th overall, which slipped them from second to fourth overall. Calgary had a similar result: 18th overall.
Both Invictus and Calgary made it to the six-team final WOD, and drama was high even though Northwest had only to finish the WOD to win the Cup. With Burgener leading Invictus and Brett (AFT) Marshall (second in the 2007 CrossFit Games) leading Calgary, a vocal crowd drove the team from San Diego to a narrow victory in a hard-fought race to the finish.
Not surprisingly, both teams came back strong in this year's competition. Calgary took first in Canada, winning two of the three events and showing a wide bandwidth of athleticism. Their worst finish was fourth place in the second event, which included cleans and ring dips. The competition wasn't easy, however, and the title came down to the final event, a run, barbell and burpee workout Calgary was able to win. CrossFit Vancouver took second place in the event, tying for first overall. Ultimately, it took two tie-breakers to determine the winner.
CrossFit Invictus had a similarly arduous regional competition. They took second place in their first event and came on strong in the second workout, finishing first. After a solid performance in the first and second workouts, they sat in first place heading into Day 2. All that was needed was another stellar performance on the final event, which combined a heavy tire, a heavy log and some squats into a 10-minute torture fest. Unfortunately this was not the reality. Invictus faltered and finished 15th in the event, which placed them in a three-way tie for third.
Both teams have learned lessons from their regionals and are optimistic in the run-up to the games.
"We have a really well-balanced team," states Marshall, CrossFit Calgary's coach. "We've been working together, as a unit for a long time now, so in any WOD we know how to split up the work, how we are going to transition, who can do what, and we really apply those strategies to everything we do. Every person kills themselves in every workout, competition or training, and we push each other constantly. Having a well-rounded team and a group of athletes willing to bring themselves to another level at every training session pays huge. However, the strength of our ladies was probably the single factor that gave us the extra edge to take top spot at regionals."
Invictus' coach credits similar team dynamics for his team's performance.
"We attribute a ton of our success, both last year and at Regionals, to our group's dynamic,” Martin says. “The team is like family. All of the athletes are close friends and are there to support each other in and out of the gym. I think their love and respect for each other creates an environment that makes training and competing fun. We have a really cool mix of returning and new team members this year. We are returning Sage Burgener and Justin Nahama from last year's team.  We thought for sure we would return at least four individuals from last year's team, but Katie McLaughlin received the exciting news that she was pregnant with her first child just days before Sectionals, and Josh Edgeman injured his wrist during the tire-flip/log-carry workout at Regionals and couldn't get medical clearance to make a run at the Games this year.
“Luckily we are blessed to have some studs that were ready to jump in and fill their spots. Michele Vieux opted to compete with the team in Katie's absence (Michele was an individual competitor at last year's Games), and Shane Farmer, who is relatively new to CrossFit, has been training hard with the team in case Josh's wrist kept him out of competition."
Both coaches employ the use of additional training to prepare the teams for the rigors of competition.
"The CFC team trains individually during the week, focusing on areas that they need to improve as an individual," Marshall says. "Friday, Saturday and Sundays are team-training days with volume, number of WODs, intensity and programming coming from me and dependent upon the team's progress, strengths, weaknesses, energy, etc. I think that a strong individual on a team is a huge asset; however, it is definitely not enough to go up against a solid, rounded team. I believe we have a solid, well-rounded team. I also believe that the time that a team has to work together will play a huge factor in a team's success. The teams that are together often and started early have an advantage.
“Obviously then, the teams that end up with a good mix of skills and strengths and have had an opportunity to train together will do well. If that team happens to be made up of ‘firebreathers,' they should rise above. However, even in this scenario you never know. Proper programming and preparation can take an ‘average' team and allow them to rise up over teams that are ‘better on paper.'”
Martin has periodized the team's schedule to peak at the right time.
"The team does train differently than the rest of the gym. Our group programming is designed for general physical preparedness, but we knew when Sectionals, Regionals and Games were going to be and structured our athletes' training so that they were peaking for those events. I think the biggest difference in our team's training is that we place more emphasis on strength and skill work. Most of our conditioning sessions incorporate rest intervals, and we let them rev their engines only occasionally. And we typically train to reggae or mellow surf music; I am not sure the rest of our gym would go for that."
Despite the success they have experienced, both coaches are modest in predicting their results at the HDC. Marshall has been around CrossFit for long enough to know predictions often dissolve when competition rolls around.
"As I said in my interview at the Canadian Regionals, I hate to even begin to try and predict outcomes in this sport,” he says. “It is growing and changing too fast."
The sentiment is echoed by Martin, who has also been involved with the Games since their inception. He was a competitor in the inaugural CrossFit Games and threw his hat in again in 2008. Last year he coached his affiliate squad.
"Having had the pleasure of witnessing the evolution of the CrossFit Games since its inception, I know better than to try to assess how athletes or teams stack up,” he says. “Every year the talent gets exponentially more impressive. This year will be no different, and I think the teams have absorbed a lot of that talent, so you're going to see some unbelievable athletes pushing their teams onto the podium."
Wisdom should not be confused with complacence. When asked if they are coming for blood or just for fun, both teams show their competitive nature. In both cases, however, the drive for performance and the gauge of success is more about maximizing potential than winning.
"I would say neither," Marshall says when asked if his team is going to L.A. to win or just have fun. "We are definitely not going to just have fun. There is a reputation here at CFC that all athletes want and will uphold. Are we out for blood? No. Our team is made up of individuals that would definitely lay their own blood on the line, though."
The Invictus crew has a unique outlook on the competition. Martin explains it as an opportunity to maximize the depth of the athletic experience and the community experience.
"We've always embraced a very Zen approach to competition," he says. "With CrossFit events, you don't know what to expect and you don't control your opponents' actions. The only thing you control is your effort. If our team gives their full effort and unconditional support of each other, we will celebrate like crazy and walk away as if we won the thing, even if we finish dead last. Our rank amongst the other teams is completely irrelevant."
Invictus rolls deep. Anyone in attendance at last year's Games surely heard the roar from the sea of green shirts. This phenomenon is by design, Martin explains.
"Our team and our gym see the Games as a celebration of community. It's an opportunity for the athletes to forge an even deeper bond by competing side by side, and for our participants, it's a chance to go give their support of our athletes and all others who are out there giving it their all. We take a huge amount of pride in the gym's support of the community and have always made a point to give that support not only to our team and athletes but also to others that inspire with their effort. This year we have more than 70 spectators confirmed (and counting) to make up ‘the Sea of Green.'  They'll be rowdy, but you'll never hear them disparage another team or athlete. They're there to provide encouragement and support – first to our team, and then to all others."
Regardless of the friendly attitudes, these two top teams will be bringing it when game time rolls around, and the competition will be fierce.
Sage Burgener– No big mystery here, Sage kicks ass with the Olympic lifts. Her father might have had a hand in that.
Nichole DeHart - She is one of the original CrossFit Kids who grew up in Ramona at Brand X, and she was one of the first professional CrossFit athletes (she took third at the 2007 CrossFit Games and won $200, thereby losing her “amateur” status).
Michele Vieux - Michele competed as an individual at Games in 2008 and 2009. She is freakishly strong and fast, but more importantly she is a great leader who helps everyone keep a healthy perspective about training and competing.
Justin Nahama - Many are sure he's superhuman just by virtue of the fact that he can get more done in one day than anyone else. He is a Marine JAG, newlywed (they met at Invictus) and will be a father within days after the Games. Even with limited time to train, he maintains crazy strength and speed.
Nuno Costa - Nuno is a CrossFit Endurance head coach. He runs so gracefully that some people actually like running after watching him. He ran the 400-meter dash in 47.7 seconds and currently competes in a variety of endurance events (5K's, half-marathons and triathlons).
Shane Farmer - Shane is relatively new to CrossFit but is a great athlete. He was a member of the University of San Diego crew team and now coaches rowing seminars for us. His development as a CrossFit athlete and coach has been impressive, and his future is very bright.
CrossFit Calgary
Rebecca Jansen - 33 years old, 5'7”, 135 lb. Loves running, loves running hills even more. 15 rounds Cindy, sub-5-minute Fran, 18-minute Angie. A competitive Irish-dancing background helps Rebecca knock off box jumps for days and string together double-unders like the world just might end.
Blaine Jansen - 34 years old, 5'11”, 165 lb. Hates running but it doesn't show, loves burpees and knees to elbows. Max pull-ups: 51, Grace: 3:21, Nate: 10 rounds, Angie: 5:22.
Taylor Marshall - 29 years old, 5'9",185 lb. Plays a lot of volleyball, enjoys Olympic lifting and shorter duration WODs. Not a big fan of running or anything with the word "L" in it. CFT: 890, C&J: 245, snatch: 170, max pull-ups: 49.
Tahylor Law - 26 years old, 6'5”, 200 lb. College baseball background, well rounded, hates running, loves rowing, hates burpees, destroys wall-balls. Sub-3-minute fran and grace, Cindy: 26 rounds, max pull-ups: 52, split jerk: 275.
Stacey Deering - Competed in 2009 Games in Aromas for CFC affiliate team and is looking forward to doing it all over. Favorite workouts are the grinders. Hates burpees and thrusters. Loves Angie (18:46), Cindy and Helen. Started CrossFitting 3 years ago. Favorite part of CF is the community at CFC. Favorite lift is the clean.
Ali Loach - 28 years old, 5'7”, 148 lb. Played soccer for 16 years, dabbled in bobsleigh and then found CrossFit in '06. Loves to lift heavy but hates pull-ups because her glutes weigh her down. Loves shorter power WODs and would be quite content if she never did knees to elbows again. Back squat: 220, deadlift: 280, 3RM OHS: 150, Grace: 3:47. Blaine, Rebecca and Ali are all related.

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4 comments on this entry

1. Lisa M wrote...

Go kick some serious a^* CFC. A stellar group of individuals who come together to make an amazing team. Good luck we will be cheering loudly at our computer screens.

2. Richard wrote...

As a proud Invictus member keeping the spirit alive from somewhere in the Indian Ocean, I can say without a doubt that the tenacity and spirit of this team is unfathomable. Never seen such a group of more dedicated individuals working toward a common goal than Michele, Sage, Justin, Shane, Nichole, Nuno, and Josh, all personal and close friends of mine. Hats off to CFC for an amazing bunch of athletes as well. This is going to be a good one. Good luck to both teams! Go GREEN!

3. Kate wrote...

Invictus and CFC make me proud to be a CrossFit athelete. I keep coming back because of the communities they build and the support they show for all of their members, elite and otherwise. I will be cheering for both teams at the games, but maybe a little bit harder for Invictus. GO GREEN!

4. Colin hill wrote...

Good luck CFC are an awesome and formidable group of athletes that will represent Calgary well. We will be following your process via the net. Cheers


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