In a career that spans 11 Crossfit Opens, 7 Crossfit Games and innumerable big events like Wodapalooza and The Italian Showdown, Noah Ohlsen has had many special moments. None of them stand out more clearly to his fans than the exhilarating performance he put on during Mary of the 2019 Crossfit Games.
The Road to Madison
Heading into his 9th Crossfit Open, hopes were high that 2019 would be another breakthrough year for the veteran athlete. But, the first few months put some serious doubt into that goal. First, Noah took 3rd at the first qualifying event of the year in Miami, where only the top spot would grant a pass to the Crossfit Games. Then, as the Open rolled through, Noah started off with a dismal performance in the first week. In the following weeks, he made a comeback, but despite some impressive performances making the Games was an impossibility. The Italian Showdown and Rogue Invitationals didn’t go as planned and Noah began feeling some serious uncertainty.
“I was really questioning myself – ‘man, do I belong at the top? How much longer can I physically do this? How much longer do I mentally want to do this?”
Noah caught a huge break with the invite process as other competitors ahead of him in the Italian Showdown were granted bids to The Games from superseding events. Noah’s finish in Italy was at last good enough to bring him to the show in Madison, WI. The last-minute invitation probably wasn’t enough to quell his internal concern, but a “Happy, but Hungry” mindset put things in motion that will go down in lore.
The 2019 Crossfit Games Begins
The first day in the men’s division of the 2019 Crossfit Games went as most people expected, Mat Fraser took 2 first place finishes and jumped to an early lead. Despite any concerns going into The Games however, Noah Ohlsen put out impressive performances on Thursday to stay within striking distance of the champ. On Friday, August 2, 2019 Noah did indeed strike.
Both Noah and Mat fell into the middle of the pack for a morning ruck event, giving Mat a slight edge in points. A sprint coupled with bar muscle ups and sled pushes began the point climb for Noah. Taking second, he left a mark on the leaderboard while Mat faltered with a 21st place finish. This set the stage for a bit of heroism for Noah and his fans.
The Big Event: Mary
The third event of the second day was a Crossfit Classic: Mary. For 20 minutes, competitors are tasked with completing as many reps as possible of five handstand push-ups, ten alternating pistols, and fifteen pull-ups. Although a simple triplet of movements, the difficulty comes from 20 minutes of nonstop work with hungry athletes fighting for every rep possible.
Noah Ohlsen lined up next to Mat Fraser at the starting line for what turned out to be a fireworks show. Following the starting chime, Noah came out with a hot pace. Fast enough for commentators to speculate if he was going to gas early in the event. After a few jokes and laughs, the commentators began to realize his performance was not waning. Noah led the pack consistently, but always with several competitors including Fraser on his heels. With only two points separating the two on the leaderboard, every last ounce of effort was required.
By the ninth round, it was clear that Noah’s plan was to stay fast and stay strong for the entire 20 minutes. By the 12th round, there were still 5 athletes within a few reps of first, but Noah continued to hold the edge. The commentators were well beyond thinking he was making a mistake and started breaking down his sound strategy of quick breaks, smooth transitions, and holding a challenging pace.
On the 15th round, the athletes changed ends of the arena. Noah’s walk across the floor was quickly followed by Jacob Heppner, Mat Fraser, and fellow Marc Pro athlete Scott Panchik. In the 15th minute, Fraser and Noah started pulling away. The “t-rex steps” of Fraser seemed to have no effect on Noah’s drive. At this point in his career, Ohlsen had never won a single Crossfit Games event, but it was becoming evident that this could absolutely become that first win. The crowd started coming alive, willing the underdog to hold off the former champ.
Seconds ticked away and with under a minute remaining, both athletes stepped to the pull up bar. Incredibly, both athletes finished the pull-ups and the next round’s handstand pushups and pistols, but only Noah was able to complete any more pull-ups. With a 2-rep lead, Noah Ohlsen won his very first Crossfit Event win and “busted that door down” by taking the leader’s jersey.
Noah held onto the leader position through the last day, but was eventually overcome by Mat Fraser. Ultimately, the Games ended for Noah with an impressive 2nd place podium finish. Between every event and break throughout the Games competition, Noah could be found using the Marc Pro to recover from the insanely intense work load of the week. Going into the 2021 Games season, Noah is still persistently using the Marc Pro and hopeful he can not only reach the podium again, but become a Crossfit Games Champion.