Judging Mikko, Part 2

August 5, 2009 2:00 PM

Posted in Competitors »
15 Comments » on this entry

Games09MikkoChuckGHD.jpgChuck Carswell was Mikko Salo's judge for the Event 6 Triplet. The workout was max rounds and reps in 8 minutes of:
4 Handstand pushups
8 KB swings (32kg)
12 GHD situps

Chuck wrote this about Mikko:
"M-I-K-K-O S-A-L-O" he said.

"Ok, here's what we have, 4 handstand pushups, head must touch the bumper plate, full lock out at the top. Keep the legs inside the hands and straight no kipping allowed. If your feet come off the wall on any rep, that's ok as long as you're still vertical when you lock the out. That's what makes a good rep," I said.

From there we move to kettlebell swings. I continue, "It's real simple, arms must touch the legs at the bottom and the KB needs to be straight up at the top.... no bent wrist with the KB out front. The bottom of the KB points to the sky for 8 reps and we're good. When you finish your 8th rep, I recommend you set the KB down as opposed to dropping it b/c you'll have to go get it, not me. Would you like to try a rep?" I ask.

He picks up the KB but I don't remember him taking a swing. From here we go to the GHD sit-up.

"Hands must touch the floor at the bottom and the pad at the top. How you get there is you're business as long as you touch in both places we're good. I only need 12 reps. You might want to hop up on the GHD and get it adjusted. Are we clear on the standards?"

Politely, Mikko says, "Yes." He fiddles with the GHD a bit.

I say, "You don't have to worry about counting the reps. I'll take care of the numbers; you take care of the work."

I'm doing way more talking than he is. He nods.

3-2-1 GO! Mikko rocks the 1st set of HSPU's. On to the KB swings. One of his reps doesn't count. The kettle bell is out in front. As the KB swings back thru his legs, I remind him of the standard loudly, "Kettlebell straight up!"

He nails it along with the rest of the swings. Now it's on to the GHD. He hops on and away he goes. As expected, 12 unbroken. He's moving well. HSPU 1,2,3,4 unbroken again. Back to the KB swings, and from here on Mikko seems to be moving effortlessly, even as he has to repeat reps here and there for missing the standards.

He's not in a rush. So, I think to myself, maybe he's injured. Whatever the case, he just looks too relaxed. As we enter round 3, Mikko shows no sign of slowing down. Then it dawns on me, I don't think he's injured. I think he's checked out.

Yup, Gone On a Trip. If you've been through the Mechanics and Consistency stage of the CrossFit journey and begun to dance with Intensity, then chances are you know the trip to which I refer. It's the one to the dark, cold but liberating place where ANYTHING other than the task at hand just doesn't matter. MIKKO is there.

While methodically adding reps to his final total, the seconds continue to fall from the clock. He might actually be enjoying this. No yelling, no screaming, or for that matter not much grimacing. He just moves about his work quietly and efficiently. Rep after rep and round after round, he ignores the pain, the heat radiating from the GHD pads, the shoes sticking to the wall as he forces the lockout, the sure frustration from missed reps.

As he starts round 5, for the first time I began to notice the fight start to surface. His face has changed slightly. His pace has slowed just a little, but it's still quick. It's obvious he wants more. Mikko continues to move through the triplet as if he programmed this WOD himself. Stop the clock and check the score.......Mikko 152 reps (tied for 2nd with Jason Khalipa).

After he catches his breath, I attempt to congratulate him and talk about the reps I took away at the KB station. He interrupts me, sticks out his hand as he smiles and says, "Thank you." He turns and walks away. Although he's walking around, I doubt he's back from his trip.

Or maybe he's back and packing for the next one.

15 comments on this entry.

1. BLARG wrote...

August 5, 2009 3:37 PM

Love this stuff, really do, but....

I'd love some videos even more! Some close-up action on these fine athletes with some aggressive music in the backdrop would be AWESOME! Show me where it's at!

2. Eric wrote...

August 5, 2009 4:27 PM

Where are you getting that he didn't know how to do the exercises or that he'd never done CF before? You made these same claims on the other article. Explaining judging standards is not the same as teaching the movement.


Sure looks like he's done plenty of the benchmarks so I doubt he had to be taught how to swing a kettlebell or do a HSPU.

If you're going to try to discredit CF at least put an honest effort into it.

3. Andy wrote...

August 5, 2009 5:23 PM

Well, you made a statement that he didn't know crossfit standards. He didn't know the double unders and that was it. All other competitors were told standards on Sunday as well. Mikko has been doing crossfit for a while....(a year or two)

"it's pretty cool that this guy didn't know how to perform many of the standard crossfit exercises and came in and basically cleaned house." incorrect. I think that's what Eric was referring to.

P.s I love these write ups

4. Kim Malz~FitMom wrote...

August 5, 2009 5:46 PM

Way to persevere Mikko.

Best of luck for continued success in your training.

August 5, 2009 6:42 PM

Call me a nerd, call me a homer for Chuck or Mikko or whomever, but that was a great read.

I was standing 10 feet from Mikko & Chuck that whole WOD. I actually lost a $5 bet to my buddy Corey because I made the crazy statement that Mikko would pull 10 rounds - thanks champ. We realized fairly early that Mikko was something special. I even made the bold (read: lucky) prediction that Mikko would win, after watching in awe as he nearly pulled 505lbs roughly an hour after dueling Chris Spealler in the wicked trail run. I actually thought this WOD was Mikko's most impressive performance of the weekend. Tall tales have abounded about Mikko's lack of "CrossFitty" training, & at the very least I cannot imagine that his every day gym has a GHD. His competence at a movement pathway that, at least to my knowledge, was completely foreign to him was impressive to say the least. This was the WOD that, in my opinion, solidified Mikko's claim to the title "Fittest Man Alive". Chuck's description of Mikko's near cyborg level of detachment from pain is spot on, & I swear I was thinking the same thing. The dude was actually enjoying it - I know he was.

6. Tom Brose wrote...

August 5, 2009 6:47 PM

Rudy, you're a nerd.

Chuck, nice writeup. Mikko was like a robot out there.

7. JB - CrossFit SS wrote...

August 5, 2009 6:55 PM

Right next to Mikko is another warrior that rode the CrossFit train to NeverNever Land.

Steve Willis grinded through his last set of GHDs and I to lift him off once they called time. He laid it all out, and once the adrenaline line was cut he literally couldn't sit up. He hung there like a rag doll until I came to my senses and helped him off.

Ditto for the Chipper WOD on Sunday (which is by far the most epic CrossFit performance I've ever witnessed). I've never seen someone fight so hard with so little left in the tank.

If they have film from that it needs to air.

8. Steve Willis wrote...

August 5, 2009 11:22 PM


Thanks for the kind words, if it wasn't for your help I don't know how I would have been able to complete that Chipper, I gave everything I had, to put it in simple English, I finished the Chipper, went to the Medic area and ended up on a chair with a towel over my head in tears, I had nothing more to give.

I would also like to thank everyone who made the weekend (CrossFit Games 09), the event that it was, from the CrossFit Staff, volunteers, spectators and the other athletes who battled it out with one another, including myself, Congratulations to Mikko and the other Tania, and all the other athletes for having the belief in themselves to actually undertake such an arduous and testing journey.

See you all next year.


9. ollieUK wrote...

August 6, 2009 1:23 AM

I don't think i ever recall Mikko being flat out on his back after a wod! He doesn't seem to move through the reps in rapid succesion, but he has the ability not to stop!

10. John Cintron wrote...

August 6, 2009 4:33 AM

How big is Mikko? It loooks like he has a big upperbody in the picture. Was the skins attire helpful to the athletes? Did anyone see a diffrence from wearing it compared to underarmor?

11. Scott Stevens replied to comment from BLARG...

August 6, 2009 6:46 AM

I think they're planning on releasing a DVD of this years events. Based on what they said they shot a TON of footage on several different cameras.

12. Eric wrote...

August 6, 2009 8:06 AM

Edited for clarity: "I doubt he had to be taught how to swing a kettlebell or do a HSPU on the day of the Games."

His profile has a time posted for Eva. So he's obviously done KB swings before. And I've got no way of knowing if he'd played around with KBs and done some gymnastics work prior to starting CF...my guess is yes. I'm not implying that CF invented this stuff.

And sure, he "learned" CF on the day of the competition, provided the Games were held in April 2008, which is when he says he started CF.

13. Matt Chan wrote...

August 6, 2009 8:42 AM


Love the "Gone on a Trip" paragraph... well stated.


14. Matt wrote...

August 6, 2009 2:57 PM

The European Qualifiers consisted of the following:

3 rounds for time,
400m run
21 Kettlebell Swings (m:32kg, w:20kg)
12 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

15-12-9 reps for time,
Clean & Jerk (overhead anyhow) - m:60kg, w:40kg
Handstand Push-Ups

As Many Rounds As Possible in 20 mins of:
250m row
10 Burpees (8ft target)
10 Ring Dips (shoulder below elbow)

So you can see Mikko has swung a KB and done HSPU's before. From hearing first hand from someone who competed in the qualifiers it's no surprise on how Mikko performed. Congratulations Mikko, Europe will come back even stronger next year

15. Chuck Carswell wrote...

August 6, 2009 3:38 PM

Rudy, Tom - Glad you guys noticed it as well. Cyborg is the appropriate nickname for Mikko. Not at all sure how he feels about it, but I guess you shouldn't pick your own nickname. And,that's another topic for another day.

Matt Chan- Thanks brother. I'm certain you take those trips as well.