The Final Stage of the 2020 CrossFit Games in Aromas, California, officially begins on Oct. 23 with the first of three days of competition. Five male and five female athletes will take part in Director of the Games Dave Castro's tests in order to determine the fittest among them. Two-time CrossFit Games champion Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir is heading back to Aromas — the site of three events in 2016 — and she is ready to fight for a gold medal once again.
Speaking exclusively with PopCulture.com, the "Sled Dog" detailed her training schedule leading up to the games, as well as the differences between her previous trip to Castro's family's ranch and the current iteration. In 2016, the athletes received news that they had to be in the lobby of their hotel at 3 a.m. They had no other information. Only when they congregated in the morning did they learn that they were making a surprise trip to Aromas.
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"Waking up at 3:00 and telling us that we're going to the Ranch is one of the coolest experiences ever," Davidsdottir told PopCulture. "I think that's what makes our sport so cool is the unknown and the unknowable, and the surprise effect of it all. And how it's not just physical. It's 'How do you handle those things?' When things get like, 'All right, we're going to be here, and now you're not sleeping.' It's super cool. So I had a great experience with that, that year."
Davidsdottir and her fellow athletes took part in only three events at the Ranch before heading back to Carson for the remainder of the 2016 games. This year will be very different, considering that there will be no fans in attendance and that the entire competition will take place in a "bubble." The circumstances will be unique, but they will not distract the former champion from her preparation.
"Now it's just like any other competition. You plan for where you're going to be," Davidsdottir explained. "I've already planned out... I've made a list of food that I'm going to buy before. We'll have Yeti coolers, we'll plan on that. Normally, we'll probably go with a suitcase every single day with whatever clothes or shoes we might need, and the food that's prepared. So it's definitely helpful in a sense that you can start visualizing your environment. Besides that, I think part of the sport is really just being prepared for anything."
Davidsdottir originally made her CrossFit Games debut with consecutive appearances in 2012 and 2013. She finished 30th and 24th, respectively, but missed out on 2014 due to struggling with legless rope climbs during the qualifying Regionals. She ended the day in sixth place overall, one spot below the cutoff line.
Since her missed year, however, Davidsdottir has been among the sport's best athletes. She became the second female to win the CrossFit Games twice (2015, 2016) and registered three more top-five finishes in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This list includes a third-place finish in 2018. She has been one of the most consistent athletes, which she attributes to coach Ben Bergeron and the CompTrain team.
"I think it's just one of those things that throughout the years, you learn about yourself as a competitor, as an athlete," Davidsdottir explained. "I had the most incredible coach and team around me that do always keep me in check in what I do, [I] fully trust wherever I'm at in the training season. If Ben looks at me and says, 'We're going to be ready,' I know that we're going to be ready. And that's that. And that you show up every single day and give your best."
As someone that has been to Aromas previously, Davidsdottir has experience with the terrain and possible movements. She took part in a 7k trail run, finishing fourth, and then a heavy deadlift event. The day ended with a chipper workout that involved wall-ball shots, weighted GHD sit-ups and a final weighted hill sprint.
Director of the Games Dave Castro has previously repeated events over the years, so it's entirely possible that one of these three from 2016 could reappear. If so, Davidsdottir will have one advantage in that she previously experienced the grueling work and regularly trains to sprint up steep inclines at the Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts. She can also go back and rewatch some of the footage from the YouTube coverage or the Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness documentary as a form of film study.
"I think it's always worth watching, whether it's myself or other competitors," Davidsdottir said about the old footage. "Because there's always something that you can pick up. ... Maybe someone went slower at the start and then had a better kick at the end. Did they make up a lot of ground on the hill, or was it basically that 'go full out' and then just hold on for dear life on the hill? I think anything you can always look at stuff and learn. I probably won't do that unless they announced that as a workout. And then I would go and look at it before."
The Final Stage of the 2020 CrossFit Games takes place Oct. 23-25. The top five male athletes and the top five female athletes will compete in an unannounced number of events created by Castro. Pluto TV and the Games' website, Facebook and YouTube channels will provide streaming coverage while CBS will air a two-hour block on Saturday morning.