Judging Mikko, Part 1

August 4, 2009 5:02 PM

Posted in Competitors »
16 Comments » on this entry

Games09MikkoStephaneWallball.jpgStephane Rochet, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for USD, was Mikko Salo's judge for the Event 5 Couplet at the end of Saturday at the 2009 Games. The workout was 3 rounds for time of:
30 Wallball (20lbs, 10')
30 Squat snatches (75lbs).

Stephane wrote this about it:

I wasn't really paying attention to where guys were placed, especially on the first day. I did not really know who Mikko was. When he came over to me, he struck me as a nice, humble guy. He asked a few questions and did few practice reps on each exercise.

His snatches were solid. His wallball was bad from the start. He couldn't get into a rhythm, and he kept hitting the bottom of the target, which didn't count. I explained he needed to hit higher on the target. He tried a couple more. One was good and I said, "That's the one!"

Then the event started. It hadn't sunk in. Mikko struggled immediately with the wallball. He kept hitting the bottom of the target or missing all together. I kept saying "NO," which made me feel bad, but these reps were not even close and that's how it goes.

Mikko struggled through that entire first set of 30. He did not say anything to me. He swore a little at himself in Finnish, but mostly he just kept trying. Rep after rep. He never stepped back, never got physically frustrated nor did he ever move away from the wall. He just kept going. I took away at least 15 reps that first set.

Then he hammered out his snatches. He came back to the wall and the struggles continued. I took a bunch more reps away (I must have disallowed close to 30 reps throughout the entire workout). He kept the same attitude. He just kept going, missing on every 3rd or 4th rep.

Finally he adopted the system of throwing the ball to the target, letting it fall to the ground, catching it off the bounce, then squatting and throwing it up for the next rep. This was much slower for each attempt, but he was much more successful with this method.

Very few misses after he went to this style. And no breaks. Like a machine. Rep after rep. He crushed snatches, and if I remember right he finished with a good time (fourth!). And he did not look too tired either. He shook my hand and never said anything about the reps I took a way. Total class act and a tremendous athlete.

I'll never forget how he just kept going....great mental toughness.

16 comments on this entry.

1. Tim Salters wrote...

August 4, 2009 6:55 PM

Great article!! I'm dying to see some videos of this guy!

2. Jamie Crichton wrote...

August 4, 2009 10:38 PM

Were you at the games?!

3. pellicio wrote...

August 4, 2009 11:23 PM

Re-read if you don't get it. Well put, Rochet.

4. bleedCF wrote...

August 5, 2009 5:32 AM

Ok...lets explain why he demonstrated mental toughness on many accounts...
1)Completing that many wallballs over a short ammount of time takes a tremendous toll on the body, shoulders, legs, arms etc...especially when you are also doing squat snatches mixed in which requires extreme coordination, balance, and technique.
2) There is a strong cardio aspect when doing a workout like that....if you are a crossfitter you understand that once your breathing is suffering, everything gets hard.
3)If you have ever competed in a CF event, you know the frustration and toughness it takes to recover after you have been told a rep doesnt count, especially 30 of them.
4)For Mikko to keep focused and push through the pain and be told upwards of 30 times he needed to re-do reps and to keep his composure is the definition of mental toughness.

Go try that workout...but re-do every 3rd or 4th wallball.

5. ken c wrote...

August 5, 2009 5:37 AM

try the workout and see how easy it is. the mental toughness part is that he was missing reps and still never stopped or got frustrated. oh and when you do try the workout (and i know you won't) make sure you are doing it for time.

6. ummm... wrote...

August 5, 2009 6:09 AM

charlie and larry are jokes. period.

7. Christy Phillips wrote...

August 5, 2009 6:15 AM

The wallball-snatch workout was hands-down THE most mentally and physically challenging workout at the games for me.
Because it was the FIFTH workout of the day. The trail run, max effort deadlift and sandbag sprint all placed very high demands on the posterior chain, so did driving that stake into the ground, come to think of it. By the time we got to wallballs and snatches, my back was shot. I only had to re-do two or three reps but that was because by the second round, each wallball was a max effort event in and of itself- squat down, pick up ball, deep breath, set core, ignore searing back, PUSH through with the legs, pray it reaches the target, repeat X 30. I barely made it under the 20 min DNF cut-off and I distinctly remember at one point during the snatches thinking, "I don't have to do this and if I stop now, I won't have to come back tomorrow", I quickly ignored that thought and through sheer will, finished. For Mikko to have to re-do upwards of 30 reps and still finish 4TH in that event is amazing to me.

Anyone who says wallballs are easy needs to do 150 wallballs for time, 20 lbs for men, 14 lbs for women to a 10 ft target, make sure someone else counts your reps- even fresh, that one'll getcha :)

8. Jake B wrote...

August 5, 2009 7:09 AM

I used to think wallballs were for pansies. Stupid and worthless, waste of effort, minimal return and a waste of a wod.

This was totally unfounded as I have never had the chance to heave one of those suckers around, they just look easy.....untiil the level 1 cert last weekend in Chicago. We did wallballs.
First off, those balls are huge.
Second, they're heavy.
Third, 10 feet is a long way up.
Fourth, they're all over the place and hard to manage.
Fifth, doing multiple reps is mentally defeating.

Wallballs rank right up there with burpees in the suck factor. I hate them.

9. aj kruppa wrote...

August 5, 2009 7:15 AM

It is mental toughness to do this workout while subbing balls with full keg's of Yuengling.
It is mentally tough, because you just know all that beer is lonely.


10. joe lengel wrote...

August 5, 2009 7:18 AM

If I'm not mistaken the wallballs had to be thrown to an 11 foot target at the Games. Correct me if I'm wrong but that is a lot harder than 10 feet.

11. Jordan wrote...

August 5, 2009 9:51 AM

Obviously Chapstick Charlie and Larry have never done wall-ball in a workout! I was in the affiliate competition and that wall-ball target was higher and harder to hit then a normal 10ft target. Missing reps is frustrating and mentally drains you when you are doing it for time. Oh...and to Larry...its a 20lb lopsided object that your squating to full depth then exploding the ball upwards to hit a tiny little target, not just throwing a ball at a target...try it sometime!

12. Eric wrote...

August 5, 2009 10:19 AM

I'm not trying to discount his ability and effort at the Games--obviously they were superhuman--but Mikko is a firefighter and a rescue diver in real life. So I'm pretty sure his responsibilities on a day to day basis require plenty of mental and physical toughness, along with putting his life and health at risk. Those factors probably have something to do with him not getting rattled during a workout, regardless of how hard it was and how tough his judge held him to standards.

13. Chris wrote...

August 5, 2009 1:44 PM

Just because wall ball comes up in WODs doesn't mean everyone has the ability to do them. They are expensive to buy and even if you build your own you still have to have something 10 ft off the ground that serves as a reasonable target. Before I started working at an affiliate and was CrossFitting on my own I had to sub for wall balls many times. If you haven't actually practicerd wall balls a lot they can be tough to get the hang of. Especially considering the factors of a target that was higher than normal, and the fact that, as Christy mentioned, it was the FIFTH workout of that day. Mikko, to my knowledge, has been CFing for some time following the mainpage WODs to the best of his ability with regards to equipment needs.

14. Eric wrote...

August 5, 2009 1:51 PM

No, Mikko has said he's been doing mainpage WODs for the last year or two. He did have to get some instruction on doubleunders prior to the final WOD, but didn't say anything about not knowing how to do wallballs. There were plenty of people who had trouble with the wallballs, both in the individual and affiliate competitions. I saw affiliate teams take DNFs on the stadium WOD because they got stuck on the initial 30 wallballs.

15. irishrhino wrote...

August 7, 2009 7:31 AM

Hey larry and Charley. . . it's a freaking 20 pound ball and the 4th event on an already brutal day for these athletes.

What a couple of TOOLS!!

16. Q wrote...

August 7, 2009 8:16 PM

It's good to know that even a cyborg like Mikko hates wall balls as much as me.

Scratch that.

No one hates wall balls as much as me.