The time has come. The 40 strongest, savviest, and most undeniably fit women in the world have descended on Carson, California, where they will vie for a chance to conquer whatever the CrossFit Games throws at them in a bid to become this year’s “Fittest Woman on Earth.”
As in our (totally unofficial) ranking of the most competitive men, we looked at three main categories: 1. previous CrossFit Games finishes, 2. scoring within each of the eight 2016 Regionals, and 3. the overall ranking of 2016 Regionals performances from the fitness-competition-watchers at FloElite, who measured each athlete’s scores as if they were all competing head-to-head.
Take a scroll through the gallery to get a look at the women we’re watching this year, ranked from the odds-on favorites to the hungry outsiders who could make a run at the title.
After her third-place finish last year, it’s easy to forget just how close Sigmundsdottir was to clinching a win at the 2015 CrossFit Games, when she was actually leading until she failed the handstand pushups in the final event. That eleventh-hour trip-up, when she all but ceded victory to countrywoman Katrin Davidsdottir, has undoubtedly propelled Sigmundsdottir through another year of grueling training—she’s admitted as much—and she flashed her prowess with a win in the talent-loaded Meridian Regional. Let’s see if it powers her through the finish line this year.
The two-time champion (and two time runner-up) has a 45-pound-plate-sized chip on her shoulder after heat stroke—which she suffered during last year’s hellacious Murph—forced her to withdraw from the 2015 Games. (Not to mention her spinal injury, which kept her out of the 2013 Games.) But that’s all in the past, now, and if "Iceland Annie" brings the heat like she did at the Meridian Regional—where she finished essentially deadlocked with Sara Sigmundsdottir—then she could have a shot at the first women’s three-peat.
It hardly seems possible, but the reigning Fittest Woman on Earth seems even fitter than she did last year. Her East Regional win was utterly dominant—she was the only woman to complete Event 6 in under 10 minutes—and when the Games begin, she could reach another gear that CrossFit fans haven’t even witnessed yet. Between her, Sigmundsdottir, and Thorisdottir, 2016 could be the year that Iceland owns the podium.
CrossFit’s three “Dottirs” have (justifiably) earned a lot of the pre-competition focus—just don’t tell that to Kara Webb. The powerfully built Australian absolutely crushed Regionals Event 1—no woman anywhere else in the world beat her time—and after last year’s fifth-place finish, Webb could definitely make a run at the gold this year.
Toomey wasn’t even expecting to make the CrossFit Games in 2015—she figured 2016 was her year—and she ended up getting second. So think of how dangerous she’ll be this year, with another year of experience and training under her belt. And consider this: Toomey will also be representing Australia at the Summer Olympics in Rio after claiming the top qualifying spot with a 111kg (244.7 lb) clean-and-jerk and an 83kg (182.9 lb) snatch. If Olympic lifts feature prominently in the Games—and they probably will, beyond the already announced clean ladder—then look for Toomey to make another run at the podium.
Holte placed a respectable 17th last year, but she vaulted herself into the 2016 Games conversation with a powerhouse showing at Regionals. The three-time Games competitor has something of a competitive advantage, too: She’s already faced off against two of the Dottirs in the Meridian Regional, but she has been training ahead of the Games at the CrossFit Invictus talent factory.
Bridgers was ascendant in the Atlantic Regional, claiming three first-place finishes in Events 1, 2, and 6. If that performance is any indication of her improvement this year heading into Carson—she placed a respectable 24th last year—then look out for Bridgers to seriously challenge the women’s elite for a podium run. After all, she’s already gotten close, with a 6th-place finish back in 2014.
Mathews placed only 36th last year, so she definitely raised a few eyebrows in the stands when she emerged as the top competitor from the West Regional, with two first-place and two second-place event finishes. Look for her to stake a claim in the top 5—and, if all goes well, make a run at the podium.
Known simply as "Camille" by her many fans in CrossFit land, Leblanc-Bazinet may not have performed to expectations in 2015—she was visibly shaken up after getting called for several no-reps in the snatch ladder—but the 2014 champion has shown every indication of making a strong run this year. She obviously cruised to an easy win in the South Regional, and when she steps up to the line in Carson, she’ll be hard to overlook, especially if the Games are heavy on gymnastics movements that favor smaller athletes.
Second in the East Regional, Reason-Thibault is yet another Games veteran who could make some moves at this year’s big event. She crushed the Open this year, as she did last year. If the Canadian keeps pace with Katrin Davidsdottir like she did in this year’s East Regional, then don’t be surprised to hear her name among the best when the dust settles.
The 2013 Games champion and a fourth-place finisher in 2015, the rangy Briggs—who only arrived in the U.S. on Monday after some visa trouble—is an unparalleled endurance specialist. Her two clutch wins at the 2015 Games came in the pressure-cooker Murph and the sprint-carry combo of Mainline Madness, and she stockpiled most of her 2013 points in swimming, rowing, and running events. If the Games go long, look for Briggs to grind past the pack.
Pearce was the only female athlete besides Kara Webb to complete Regionals Nate under the time cap. A slightly shorter athlete like Leblanc-Bazinet and Webb, Pearce also stands to gain if the events skew toward bodyweight exercises and gymnastics moves.
To borrow from Shakespeare: Though she be but little, she is fierce. Even though the winner of the Central Regional stands only 5’0”, Barden’s strong performances on rings and deadlifts alike make her a formidable competitor. An easy way to spot her at the games: She loves mismatched colors, particularly her shoes.
A six-time CrossFit Games competitor coming off an 11th-place performance in 2015, Tovar could definitely make moves this year. The powerhouse owner of CrossFit Omaha is a paragon of the sport and a marvel of consistency, so expect to see her right in the middle of the fight when the going gets tough.
The compact Canadian is about as grizzled a CrossFit Games veteran as they come. This will be her fifth consecutive CrossFit Games, with four top-25 performances (including a fourth-place finish in 2014) under her belt. With that kind of mental and physical toughness—not to mention her habit of training with Canada’s elite CrossFitters—it’ll hardly be a surprise if Letendre once again finds herself in elite company.
The 21-year-old Wells is something of a newcomer to CrossFit, but her obvious fitness bona fides (she won Wodapalooza 2016) and affinity for booty shorts has made her popular with, well, just about everyone. She posted impressive Regionals performances in a range of events, and she could easily crack the top 10 (and probably the top 5) as she continues her meteoric rise through the CrossFit ranks.
Helgadottir probably has some top-level street cred simply because she’s from Iceland, but the #SmallButMighty one proved it on the gym floor at the Regionals, becoming the first of only two women to complete Event 2 (aka Regionals Nate), and doing so in record time. If the other Icelanders are any indication, Helgadottir might make a surprise charge at the top tier in this year’s Games. No pressure.
As the top competitor out of California, Fisher hails from the high-intensity CrossFit Invictus program that has produced some of the best competitive CrossFitters around for almost a decade. At just 22, she’s younger than most of the top competitors, but her formidable Olympic lifting skill is sure to pay off at the Games. Plus, the San Diego native is on home turf.
“Abbott the Red,” as she is known, put together a rock-solid Regionals this year ahead of what will be her third CrossFit Games. A former collegiate basketball player in her native Canada, Abbott has the athletic prowess and all-out fitness to do some damage in the standings this year.
Cho didn’t have a spectacular Regionals performance, but her sixth-place performance at the 2015 Games—on the heels of stalwarts like Webb and Briggs—is a good reminder that she’s got the athleticism and training to make the top 10 once again. Don't count her out.