What a season. With a whirlwind of controversy and change in this year’s CrossFit Games, the event actually proved to be one of the most entertaining and nail-biting thus far. Qualification standards, a new scoring system, drastic cuts, and the way in which the sport was broadcasted all promised a mixture of confusion and excitement leading up to the events in Madison, WI.
Event one displayed the ability of CrossFit to diversify and expand the field as a whole. Starting with 148 men and 134 women, the Games looked a bit crowded. Despite this, a savage cut got rid of half of those competing right off the bat. Things started to look a bit more normal after this major, and in my opinion very necessary cut. The next few cuts though, had athletes and fans alike wondering if this new structure was fair and just in doing its job of finding the fittest on earth.
We witnessed top tier athletes like Sara Sigmundsdottir and Pat Vellner get wiped out early on Saturday. Annie Thorisdottir was the first to argue that these cuts might have their flaws after being eliminated from the competition after a quick sprint event. Thorisdottir posted on Instagram saying, “I don’t really know what to say… congratulations to the women that made the cut, but I don’t believe we have had enough tests to be able to make a top 10 cut just yet.”
This year proved to athletes that having any area of weakness in your CrossFit arsenal is detrimental to your success at the Games. You better be well-rounded-and almost perfect if you want to dodge a cut – be able to sprint, ruck some serious weighted distance, crush your gymnastics skills, and display power at the barbell.
Despite a wildly new format, I think the Games did get the job done and proved one thing: Tia-Clair Toomey, Mat Fraser, and Rich Froning’s Mayhem Freedom are still the best. No amount of change or structure was able to alter this fact or take their crowns as fittest on earth. Toomey ended the events with a whopping 1,071 points, leaving second place finisher, Kristin Holte, behind by 195 points (876 total). Following Holte’s impressive performance was third place finisher Jamie Greene.
If you had any doubt in Mat Fraser’s ability to get it done after taking the crown three years in a row, this year once again proved that his grit and drive doesn’t crack under pressure. Fraser usually runs away with the lead early on. However, this year it wasn’t the case. It was a close fight between Fraser and Ohlsen up until Sunday. Ultimately we witnessed Mat Fraser take his 4th victory while racking up 6 event wins at the CrossFit Games. Finishing second behind Fraser with an impressive performance and equally impressive overall attitude and demeanor, was 28-year-old Noah Ohlsen, a five-time Games competitor who finally took a well-deserved stand on the podium this year. Iceland’s Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson took third overall in his ninth appearance at the Games racking up 888 points when it was all said and done.
So, in the midst of some major changes, it’s safe to say that this year’s CrossFit Games may have been one of the most entertaining yet. But, what does this mean moving forward? Will things stay the same next year, or will CrossFit step back and look at how some of these changes cost athletes and fans alike? Only time will tell.