One of the most storied legends in CrossFit is the arrival, dominance and fame surrounding the Icelandic women of the sport.
When Annie Thorisdottir arrived in Aromas, California for the 2009 CrossFit Games she likely had no idea how much influence her presence would have on the growth of the sport in her home country, across Europe and around the world. When she took second place at the 2010 CrossFit Games she began an era that has seen at least one Icelandic woman on the podium every year since then with the exception of one (2013). During that period, she won twice (2011 and 2012), finished second twice (2010 and 2014), and finished third once (2017).
However, it wasn’t long before other Icelandic superstars emerged in her wake. After two non-memorable Games appearances early in her career, Katrin Davidsdottir made a return at the 2015 CrossFit Games and asserted herself as a contender early in the week of competition. She would go on to win that year, as well as in 2016, and become the second woman, both Icelandic, to win back-to-back titles.
In 2015, though, Katrin wasn’t the Icelandic woman who captivated audiences. A rookie to the CrossFit Games, Sara Sigmundsdottir, took the competition by storm. After placing third in the worldwide open that year, and going on to win the Meridian regional in an epic duel with Thorisdottir, she had the attention of analysts and athletes alike.
Her breakout event at the Games that year was the Heavy DT. She demolished the field in that event and earned the moniker from CrossFit Games announcer Sean Woodland as the “new Icelandic queen”. She would continue to impress, and even took the overall lead into the final two events of the competition, and that’s when everything began to unravel for her.
She struggled on the peg board, and then failed several reps on the parallette handstand push-ups. As the time cap hit on the final event she was left pedalling hopelessly on the assault bike in the middle of the tennis stadium staring at the floor wondering what went wrong. Davidsdottir was announced as the champion, while Sigmundsdottir was left to ponder what could have been. She put on a brave face and celebrated her countrywoman’s victory. She stood on the podium that year in third place, but a certain amount of determination had set in already for Sara, who made it her goal to win the CrossFit Games.
The three years since then have been quite a journey. She has moved to different countries, hired different coaches, tried different training programmes. She has got massive sponsorships deals, travelled all over the world and won off-season competitions.
She has had plenty of success within the CrossFit season as well. She won the Open in 2017 and won three consecutive regionals between 2015-17, but the Games have continued to be a challenge for her. She placed third in 2016, once again settling for a place in the shadow of Davidsdottir and Australian Tia-Clair Toomey. A fourth place at the Games in 2017 was a step in the wrong direction making it her first time to miss the podium on the biggest stage. Then, in 2018, she was forced to withdraw with a rib injury and every one who loves the sport was forced to ask the tough question: had the opportunity been lost for Sara to ever stand on top of the podium at the CrossFit Games?
That brings us to this season. Here’s what we’ve seen from Sara so far in the lead-up to the 2019 CrossFit Games at various sanctionals: Dubai, third place; Wodapalooza, third; CrossFit Open, first; Strength in Depth, first and the Rogue invitation, second behind Toomey but ahead of Thorisdottir and Davidsdottir.
It’s been a full season for Sigmundsdottir, and it’s been an impressive one. And one that suggests the Sigmundsdottir we could be seeing at the Games is the best version we’ve seen since at least 2016.
The Rogue invitational featured every podium finisher (other than Kara Webb who is taking this season off to have her first child) since 2014. That’s only five women (Sigmundsdottir, Davidsdottir, Thorisdottir, Toomey and Hungarian Laura Horvath who was second last year at the Games), but that doesn’t matter. We know the women’s field is top heavy but it’s exactly these women who have stood in Sigmundsdottir’s way at the Games.
She appears healthy and happy this year, and she should be coming into the Games with more confidence than she’s had before. There still might not be another CrossFit athlete, male or female, who receives louder ovations when taking a competition floor than Sigmundsdottir does. All the signs are there for her to have her best CrossFit Games finish yet in 2019.