The Dubai Fitness Championship (DFC) may have concluded three weeks before this article was published, but there’s plenty to process from those four days of high-level competition.
Over 20,000 pictures were shot during those days by BarBend‘s CrossFit writer and photographer, Patrick Clark, who captured some iconic and beautiful moments in the process. Below are his favorite 20 photos from the DFC and a brief blurb on why each photo stands out.
[Read: Check out BarBend’s leaderboard for complete coverage of the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship.]
Porter Chalks Up
Khan Porter chalks up before Event 4, “Ride or Die”, an elimination-style event that featured calories on the Rogue Echo Bike and legless rope climbs. It was the rope climbs that had the Australian chalking up before the start, as time was of the essence once the clock started.
Porter would make it to the Semifinals, placing seventh, just missing out on the finals. It, unfortunately, was one of his last events as he would remove himself from the competition the next day to avoid re-aggravating an injury.
Beneito Selles Finally Gets His Moment
Fabian Beneito Selles embraces his girlfriend, Sara Valera, after being announced as the winner of the men’s division in an exciting finish. The Spaniard has had a rough three seasons as he has been pursuing a goal of competing at the CrossFit Games. He even considered retirement after Wodapalooza back in January.
Thanks to his gym, Training Culture, coaches, and community, including Valera, he has made himself an early contender for a Games spot out of Europe and the face of the growing and talented Spanish CrossFit movement.
Rolfe Looking Ahead
Emily Rolfe’s 2022 Games season did not end as she intended. As a top-15 contender in the women’s field, she saw her Games come to an abrupt end after the first event, when blood clots in her left arm forced her into emergency surgery. Nearly four months to the day, she found herself on the competition floor once again — not just participating, but dominating.
Freyova, Front and Center
Karin Freyová lines up in the center lane prior to Event 5, “Strong Like An Oryx”. The Sloviakian has been a staple of the DFC, where she made her name known and became a Games contender. She picked up her first major competition win at the DFC with a dominating performance that saw her win three events and finish with six top-five finishes in eight events.
Fasa Making the Leap
Reggie Fasa loves himself a good barbell complex and the programmers, DFC and HWPO, were happy to oblige. Named “Barbell Furious”, this workout featured 10 cleans into 10 front squats, finishing with 10 shoulder-to-overheads all at 220 pounds.
Fasa went unbroken on the cleans and front squats before taking a 10-second rest before ripping off the final 10 reps of shoulder-to-overheads which was completed with a jump over the bar and sprint to the finish. His time in the opening heat of 1:37.53 was good enough to win the event and put $3,000 in his pocket for the win.
The Climb to the Top of the World
Media access for the opening event of the DFC was very limited. Most folks didn’t have approval to shoot within the stairway of the world’s tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa.
This is the type of event that is unique to the DFC. For the 40 athletes, including Javier Gonzalez (pictured above), to scale the stairway to the 160th floor has only been attempted by a handful of people prior to the event.
Strong Like Moos(brugger)
Freya Moosbrugger was the youngest woman in the field at 21 years old. Her youthful enthusiasm was on full display throughout the weekend, including during this celebration after placing fourth in “Barbell Furious”, her best finish of the competition. In just her fourth live competition, she traveled to Dubai to gain valuable experience that she felt held her back in her 2022 Games performance, where she placed 32nd as a rookie.
She placed ninth at the DFC in a field which featured many Games veterans. For Moosbrugger, the experience far outweighs the final finish.
Downtime for Koski
We often see the athletes when they are just competing on the field of play for no longer than 20-30 minutes. It’s in the warm-up area that the athletes spend most of their time awaiting to compete.
BarBend was given access to see what happens behind the scenes. Veteran Games athlete Jonne Koski has been in this situation many times and looked right at home in the warm-up area, scrolling through his smartphone.
Cringle Takes on Iconic Movement
The final event of the DFC featured a staple of the 10-year old event, the “Devil’s Press”. Aimee Cringle and the rest of the DFC field had to tackle 30 of these devilish movements.
The “Devil’s Press” is a burpee with a dumbbell in each hand and then a press overhead. The iconic movement made its competition debut at the DFC back in 2012 and has now become one of the most hated movements by athletes in competitions ever since.
A Lift From the G.O.A.T.
Much fanfare was made when it was announced that Mat Fraser and his HWPO team would be assisting the DFC organizers with programming for the event. Fraser and his team have made waves during the offseason after programming a number of competitions including the Madrid CrossFit Championship.
A two-time winner of the DFC title, it was a welcome return for an athlete who became a fan favorite in the region. He gained another fan in Italy’s Valentina Magalotti when he stepped in to help her reach the rings during the final event.
Damián Martínez Satorres points to the Spanish fans in attendance at the Coca-Cola Arena after a successful lift during the “Hang Clean” ladder. He would end up finishing sixth in the event, his best finish of the competition.
A Champion Realized
With a win in the tiebreaker event heading into the final event of the DFC, Beneito Selles seemingly needed to defeat Brent Fikowski, the perennial Games podium contender and DFC favorite, to win his first major offseason title.
However, Stelles didn’t account for German Moritz Fiebig winning the final event in such dominating fashion and four other athletes finishing ahead of him. For a moment, the leaderboard was in flux, and Selles was unsure of his competitive fate. When the reality set in that he had, in fact, won, Fiebig raised an emotional Selles’ hand.
2022 CrossFit Games rookie Seher Kaya takes a moment to catch her breath and center herself after finishing Event 3, “Get a Grip”. The native of Turkey that lives in Norway placed 16th in the event and 15th overall.
Serbia in the CrossFit world is best known for producing Games athletes and brothers Lazar and Luka Đukić. There is, however, another Serbian athlete who intends on making his name known and that’s Luka Vunjak. He first burst onto the scene this season with his impressive performance at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal as a 22-year-old this past season.
At the DFC, Vunjak further established himself as someone to watch. He recorded two top-five finishes at the DFC including fourth place in the “Hang Clean Ladder” where he successfully lifted 375 pounds.
Moosbrugger closed out her DFC weekend with a seventh-place finish in “Walking With the Devil” which solidified her overall ninth-place finish. She traversed the first part of the workout, a 100-foot handstand walk, with little problem, going unbroken during that distance.
Race to the Finish
The younger Đukić brother, Luka, edges out Vladimir Sechin in the tie-breaker of the “Hang Clean Ladder”, which was five hang squat cleans for time. He beat the 22-year old Russian by just :07 of a second. Đukić would place seventh, an improvement form the ninth place he finished at last year’s event.
Moya Giving Her All
Oihana Moya is considered one of the pound-for-pound strongest women in CrossFit and she put that strength on display like a Macy’s store during Christmas in the “Hang Clean Ladder” event where she placed second, finishing with a lift of 265 pounds, which is over 100 more pounds than her bodyweight.
She finished runner-up to Freyova, which marked her first of four top-five finishes that propelled her to a fifth-place finish overall.
Đukić’s Up Among the Downs
The elder Đukić brother, Lazar, was considered an early favorite to podium if not win the DFC title. The two-time Games top-10 finisher and DFC veteran that placed second last year. Unfortunately he struggled throughout most of the competition as he recorded just two top-five finishes, placing 12th overall.
However he did record an event win in “Ride or Die”, the elimination event. In the finals he was able to beat his brother by three seconds and let out a sigh of relief and anguish as he crossed the finish line.
The Calm Before the Climb
On the ground floor of the Burj Khalifa there was an eerie silence among the athletes which isn’t irregular, especially for the first event of a competition. The athletes were heading into the unknown as all they knew was that they had 160 stories to ascend to the top of the world’s tallest man-made structure.
Hear Her Roar
At 30 years old Hanna Karlsson was one of the older women at the DFC. This past season wasn’t the ideal one for the 2019 Games athlete as she dealt with injuries and failed to advance past the European Quarterfinals despite a strong showing in the Open. She showed that she’s ready for the upcoming season with some very encouraging performances including her win in “Ride or Die”.
From the Echo Bike, she beat Freyova to the rope for her single legless rope climb which she had no problem with and knew immediately after she landed that she had the event win, letting out a scream as she jogged to the finish line.
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Featured Image: Patrick Clark Photography | Athlete’s Eye Photography