Athletes

  • Day One Wrap-up Granite Games

    Friday afternoon at the 2014 Granite Games in St. Cloud, Minnesota got off to a great start with an impressive group of Kill Cliff athletes tackling the always popular “Snatch Ladder” event.

    On the Men’s Elite side, Kill Cliff athletes Elijah “EZ” Muhammad and Mat Fraser got things moving as they tore through the event one. After posting an online video last week snatching 315 lb., it was no surprise that Fraser, a former Olympic weightlifter hopeful, took first place in the opening event with a 305lb. lift in a time of 5:16. Although four men hit the same weight as Fraser, he was able to take home the win by completing it in a faster time. Just as impressive was Muhammad who completed the rep of 295 lb. but did so at a blistering pace of 4:06 good enough for fifth place.

    In the evening, both men took on the formidable “Deadly Ropes” event which consisted of five rounds of two rope climbs, four deadlifts at 365 lb. and eight burpees over the bar. Just as he did at Regionals this year, Muhammad flew through the rope climbs but Fraser’s consistent pace throughout allowed him hang on to second place overall at the end of day one as he finished fifth in this event. Slowed slightly by the deadlifts and burpees, Muhammad took a seventh place result on the “Ropes” but moved up to end day one fourth in the standings.

    The Kill Cliff ladies were also in action today with Brooke Ence Sawyers, Stacie Tovar and Grace Dresher throwing around some serious weight in their own “Snatch Ladder” competition. Sawyers flew through the ladder notching a 185 lb. lift while posting a scorching time of 4:05 to take the win in the first event of the Granite Games. Although Dresher and Tovar both were able to hoist 180 lb. (a PR for Tovar) neither could put up as much weight as Sawyers or do it as quickly. After event one, Dresher sat in fourth with a time of 2:31 while Tovar followed in seventh with a time of 6:39.

    After a presentation of the American flag and a singing of the National Anthem, the Women’s Elite athletes set off for event two. Just as the men did, the ladies hustled through the “Deadly Ropes” event which also consisted of five rounds of rope climbs, deadlifts at 240lb. and burpees over the bar. The final heat was loaded with some of the fittest women around in the realm of competitive fitness who turned a ten minute time cap into a five minute workout. Tovar got off to a great start but after some confusion from her judge with a rep count, fell off the lead pace a bit. Sawyers brought home another solid result finishing in sixth place with a time of 6:07. The result kept her in the overall lead for the first day while Tovar headed home sitting comfortably in fourth, closely trailed by Dresher in fifth.

  • Valerie Voboril - Mom, Teacher, Games' Athlete

    The growing trend among athletes who qualify for the CrossFit Games is towards a more professional lifestyle in which they dedicate a bulk of their time to training, diet and prep. Some in the community would argue that the age of the part time CrossFit athlete who can still make an impact on the podium at the Games is over.

    Valorie Voboril might have something to say about that.

    This 36 year old “supermom” has not only qualified for five of the last six CrossFit Games (she missed 2011 when she was pregnant with her daughter) but she has excelled finishing in third in 2013 and fifth in last summer’s Games.

    Now, as she enters her 12th year as a teacher at Richmond Street Elementary in El Segundo, CA, Kill Cliff recently sat down for a quick Q and A session with Voboril to find out how she juggles being a mom, elementary teacher, wife and kick ass CrossFItter.

    What do you love about teaching?
    It's such a joy to watch the enthusiasm of students learning and discovering. I love their curiosity and thirst for knowledge. I also love that I get to learn something new everyday I come to work.

    How did you get into CrossFit (being that you teach elementary school)?
    Being a teacher I would really use my summers to explore different activities looking for my newest fitness fad (mountain biking, aerial fabric, krav maga, sprint triathlons). The summer of 2008 I had the opportunity to try CrossFit. I quickly got hooked. I didn’t expect it to last so long.

    How do you balance teaching, being a mom and CrossFit especially when it comes to the Open, Regional and Games prep?
    I have a tight schedule. I have the support of my family, and I have my coaches which helps me to stay balance and be prepared for the Open, Regionals and Games. I teach from 7:30 am -3:30 pm. I train from 3:45 am - 5:00 pm. Spend time with my family from 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm. I do my work at home from 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm. Finally I get sleep after that.

    With all of the things you have going on, what is your happy place?
    Reading books in bed to my daughter. I love the quiet, peaceful time of sharing a good book, then talking about our favorite activities from the day and looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow brings.

    At the Games, what is your motivation?
    I am motivated by my daughter, my students and my family. I want to be the best me I can be and be a role model for those around me.

    What role does your family play in your career (CrossFit)?
    My family is my biggest support system. They encourage me, motivate me, challenge me and allow me to pursue this amazing sport.

  • 2014 Crush Games - Sunday (Championships)

    Kill Cliff athletes Mat Fraser, Cole Sager, Stacie Tovar and Grace Dresher, who collectively dominated the qualifier workouts on Saturday, picked right up where they left off for Sunday’s third and final day of the 2014 Crush Games in Miami, FL.

    Dresher and Tovar started the day in first and second place respectively and maintained a comfortable lead in the Female Pro Division as they got back to work. In the first event, titled “Old McDonald,” Dresher and Tovar did exactly what they needed to and Tovar notched a second place finish while Dresher followed close behind her in third. After the first of three workouts on championship Sunday, Dresher maintained a narrow one point lead over Tovar as the pair began to pull away from the rest of the competitors. Event number two called “2012 Throwback” was a combination of both legless and regular rope climbs mixed with heavy front squats. Tovar showed everyone why she is the athlete to beat as she grinded through this workout finishing third in the heat and pushing her way past Dresher into the first place spot going into the third and final event of the weekend. Dresher struggled in some of the later rounds with the legless portion of the rope climbs and finished eighth place, dropping her to second overall.

    Tovar, proved again that strength is “booty” while sporting her trademark white shorts. She left no doubt during the final event of the day as she laid waste to both the competition and her reps winning the final Sunday workout titled, “Timothy Davis.” This up-and-back event, for both the men and women, started and finished with muscle-ups, followed by two rounds of “DT” (12,9,6 deadlifts, hang cleans and shoulder-to-overhead) and finishing up with 120 double unders. Tovar was the only Female Pro athlete to finish the workout in the 10 minute time cap and cruised to the overall Champion of the 2014 Crush Games. Dresher ended her weekend with a strong finish as well coming in second in both the last event and the overall standings.

    Mat Fraser entered the morning sitting comfortably in first place and never looked back. In a very “Rich Froning-esque” performance, Fraser kept his sights on the scores and results of the second place Sager and went into each workout with a simple plan: beat Cole by at least one spot. The strategy paid off right away as Fraser finished the opening event in second while Sager came in fourth. While neither competitor dominated the second event seeming to almost pace their efforts against one another on both the legless and regular rope climbs and 225 lb. front squats. The scores they posted kept both men comfortably within the top two spots and both easily made the final cut of 12 remaining athletes who would compete the third and final event on Sunday.

    Having locked up both first and second place going into the last workout (the eighth of the weekend), both men didn’t slow down as Sager pushed past the final set of muscle-ups and jogged to a first place finish followed closely behind by Fraser. The weekend ended with Mat Fraser taking the 2014 Crush Games Male Pro Division Championship with 27 total points and Cole Sager right behind in second with 32 points.

  • 2014 Crush Games (Saturday)

    The 2014 Crush Games in Miami, FL are one of the biggest offseason competitions for top competitive fitness athletes. Crush Games has a unique two part format which allows athletes to compete and post scores on either Friday or Saturday. Based on standings at the end of Saturday, the top 24 Male Pro qualifiers and the top 12 Female Pro qualifiers advance to battle it out during Sunday’s final two championship events.

    This past weekend four Kill Cliff athletes headed south to throw down with some of the other fittest professionals on the planet. Games’ rookie Cole Sager along with the 2nd fittest on the planet, Mat Fraser from Champlain Valley CrossFit tackled five events in the Male Pro division. On the women’s Pro side, Games’ veteran, Stacie Tovar, from CrossFit Omaha and Grace Dresher from Oklahoma showed up to try and crush the competition.

    These four did not disappoint as they immediately grabbed the top spots in the standings giving the crowd what they came to see. Tovar and Dresher made Saturday all about the midwest as they traded first and second place finishes back and forth throughout the first four events. In case there were any doubts, these two ladies dominated the final event “Chip Away” which was a combination of reps of double unders, one arm dumbbell snatches, box over jumps, alternating weighted pistol squats, pull-ups and muscle-ups. Tovar easily took first place while Dresher finished in second leaving the rest of their heat in the dust and securing their spots in Sunday’s two championship events.The duo finished the day with Dresher in first and Tovar close behind in second after the first five qualifying workouts.

    For the men, Mat Fraser and Cole Sager, also arrive in South Beach ready to win and threw down their markers as the athletes to beat in the Pro division. Sager and Fraser were neck and neck going into the fifth and final workout. With the clock ticking towards the last seconds of the ten minute time cap, the pair pulled ahead in their final heat as Sager was able to catch Fraser with both men repping out 51 double unders in the “Chip Away” event. Entering the finals for Sunday’s Crush Games, Mat Fraser leads all Pro male competitors with 16 points and following closely behind is Cole Sager with 19 points.

  • Gym Dating: Post Break-Up Protocol

    Intra-gym dating is not uncommon.  What people often forget about is the potential fall-out, especially in a gym like a CrossFit, where classes consist of a fairly small community and you’re bound to bump into your ex.

    When you decide to disconnect from a significant other, the aftermath can be ugly for not just you, but everyone at your gym. Nobody wants to uproot their daily routine, but everyday discomfort isn’t a reasonable solution either.

    So here is the proper protocol for surviving the gym dating break-up.

    • Be cordial, and keep your crap outta the gym.I realize sometimes it’s hard to hold back feelings of anger, frustration, or regret, but there’s an appropriate time and place for those talks, and the gym isn’t it.

    Consider the comfort of those around you and put private conversations on hold.  You, your ex, and everybody else will be more productive without the distraction of problematic conversation.  You can’t really call dibs on a gym, so just roll with it.

    • Don’t avoid contact altogether.I assure you, it IS possible to stand in a room with somebody you happen to loathe.  And doing so may in fact make you a stronger and better person.  It takes tolerance and emotional reason to hold back any anger you have, but keep to your routine without concerning yourself with anybody else’s attendance.
    • Flirting with a future can be dangerous.Things may have ended on good terms, or without total closure.  In either situation, it’s easy to fall back into flirting or fornicating as friends.  But heed my warning; if you lengthen a relationship that has seen its end, complications will arise.Keep the cut clean by exchanging friendly banter, but stopping short of anything suggestive.  If interest no longer exists but excessive communication continues; somebody will get hurt.
    • Ease into other visible relationships.For folks who spend a lot of time at the gym, it makes sense to date individuals with like interests of fitness and health.  But if you recently stepped away from something, and dive right into another dating opportunity, people will talk and feelings will be hurt.  It’s best to go slow, and hold off on rubbing things in an ex’s face.
    • Let go of negative nonsense.Typically one ex will harbor some sort of resentment. That’s just human nature.  But that doesn’t mean it has to control a situation.  The best way for both parties to move on and progress in a positive manner, it to simply let go.It may take some work, but force your mind to make peace with things.  It didn’t work, and it doesn’t matter why.  Resolving things in an adult manner and moving on will make the best of the situation.

    A gym is meant to be a place void of negativity.  Motivation, inspiration, health, and wellness should be at the forefront of members’ minds, so do yourself and your peers a favor by keeping the past in the past.  Rather than dwelling on what went wrong, focus on the present and its potential, and how you can use the lessons you learned from your gym dating experience. Keep positive and your future will be a bright one.

    Abi Reiland

    Co-Owner / Trainer, CrossFit 8035

    Author, www.prettyngritty.com

  • Interview with All-Around Lumberjill Champion: Erin LaVoie

    Throwing axes?  Easy.  Chainsaw relays?  Done.  World records?  She’s got 2 of those. Guinness Book of World Records for most Christmas trees cut down in 2 minutes?  Did that in 2008.  First place All-Around Lady Jill in the 55th Annual Lumberjack World Championships?  Just did it last month.  We’re talking about Kill Cliff ‘s multitalented athlete, Erin LaVoie. Here are some insights into this champion’s amazing attitude, and the story of how she got to where she is today.

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    Congratulations!  Now that you’re back from Hayward, WI, how does it feel to be All-Around Lumberjill Champion?

    Incredible.  I’ve been watching and re-watching the videos of all the events.  It’s amazing, but it’s so stressful, it’s a 3-day event and each day you have to qualify for the next day.  Plus, the main [televised] events don’t happen until 5pm, so you spend the whole day having to manage yourself, manage your time, warm ups and nutrition.  I eat like a bird and hydrate a little bit all day long.  I don’t want to be full when I get up to compete.

    How long have you been competing in this?

    11 years.  I was studying forestry in Spokane and just, sorta, fell into it.  Back then I was on a team, but now, as a pro, I’m primarily competing as an individual.

    There are a lot of different events with fantastically descriptive names: Logrolling, Hot Saw, and Boom Run, what is your favorite to compete in?

    The Underhand Chop is by far my favorite.  It feels amazing to just smash through the log.

    My least favorite would probably be the Double Buck –it’s a “Jack and Jill” partner event.  I think I prefer relying on myself.  Plus, it’s hard to find good partners you can count on.

    Do you have any advice for people interested in competing in lumberjack events?

    Yeah, just show up at a competition and introduce yourself!  Everyone is happy to help. We all know each other really well, travel together to the events all over the world.  Ask us anything.

    It seems like lumberjack competitions have made a point of supporting and showcasing women in competition, has this always been the case?

    Not really.  Earlier on, women were lucky to have 1 event.  For a long time I was the only girl with a bunch of old guys.  Probably one of the worst things was when I was competing in Australia and one of the guys came up to me and said, “What are you doing here?  I hope you brought a pie – because that’s all you’re good for”.  I was pretty shocked by that.  In the end, I actually beat his son and nephews by a large margin.  After that, he came back up to me and said, “I guess you can stay”.

    Not everyone is like that, but we really have to earn our place.   There are some girls who think it’s a joke, but most of us take it seriously and work hard for it.  We put on exhibitions and competitions to support the female competitors.  We’ve done fundraisers for women’s shelters.  We try to raise awareness to grow it as a sport."

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    I understand you are also a golfer, tell me about that.

    Not really.  I golf with my dad.  Every year we do the Christmas Wish tournament.  I’ve gotten the award for longest drive 2 years running.  That was pretty cool.

    How have Lumber Jack competitions shaped you as an athlete?

    The biggest lesson is: seconds count.  You just have to go as hard as you can.  Let me give you an example, in this World Championship second place in the Under Hand Chop was 30.44 seconds and I won first with a time of 30.43.  Every second matters.

    How would you describe your love of the sport?

    I love the people and I love the power.  It feels so good to be so strong, to put that strength to work.  I also love the traveling, I’ve been everywhere from Australia to New Zealand and Canada.

    How long have you been doing CrossFit?

    4 years.  A friend got me into it when we were living in Virginia.  You always remember your first WOD; mine was as many 25lb kettle bell swings as you could do, then do a 200 m jog for 12 minutes.  I blacked out 14 swings in! I was used to doing 2 workouts a day for years prior to that, so I thought I was in good shape but no!  When I moved back to Spokane, I couldn’t find a good gym. So as the story often goes, I set one up in the garage.  Eventually friends started coming, the garage got too small and we moved to a bigger space. And now CrossFit Predation has been open for just over 3 years.

    How has CrossFit shaped you as an athlete?

    I really can’t train the Lumber Jack events in the winter.  It’s just too frozen.  So I focus on CrossFit.  When I first got back to Lumber Jack competitions after CrossFit, I just smoked them, I felt SO strong.  While everyone else was bending over to catch a breath, I was thinking, 'What’s next?'"

    What is a typical day of training like for you?

    It’s a lot of CrossFit.  I do a WOD, then I’ll chop 2 blocks then back to another WOD.  Right now it’s too hot to train outside, so I do mostly CrossFit.

    What’s your diet like?

    Ergh, not good.  I mean it’s 90% good, but I like jelly bellies and ice cream a lot.  I try, but I can’t cook.  It’s mostly just meat and steamed vegetables.

    How does Kill Cliff help with your performance?

    I just crave it!  It’s amazing. It refreshes me.  I can feel it the next day it really helps my recovery.

    How do you fill your days when you’re not training and competing?

    I love the water; we live near the river.  I paddle board.  I also have a black lab; we go hiking a lot.

    What happens to all the wood, once the competitions are over?

    Back in college we would donate it to a restaurant for their stove.  Sometimes we do a huge bonfire.  To be honest, at the big competitions, I’m not really sure.

    What’s next?

    We are expanding the gym.  In a year we are opening a bar.  A pub, to be exact.

    Competition-wise, I just want to keep winning more titles.  Maybe I’ll break a new world record?  I haven’t done that in a while.

    Do you have any final words to share?

    No.  Actually, yes.  If you don’t work out, you need to.  We need to stay on top of the food chain.  Life is good when you’re fit.

    Love this article?  Know another Lumberjill?  Tell me about it!  Email Camilla@killcliff.com

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