Men's Fitness wil be on-location next weekend (July 24-27) for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games, but in spirit of the event we're flashing back to the most memorable moments and incredible feats of fitness.--Year after year, the Reebok CrossFit Games are garnering more and more attention. In fact, this year’s event, held at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA, drew more than 25,000 spectators—a monumental increase from 9,000 in 2012. And it’s no wonder—as the strongest, fastest, most conditioned and well-rounded athletes set out to prove they’re the fittest in the world, it’s nothing less than an absolutely incredible display of drive, determination, and raw athletic talent. After advancing from the Open competition that runs from March to April, the winners move onto the Regional Qualifiers in May and June, where only the elite score a highly coveted spot in the July Games. At this year’s event a total of 47 men and 45 women competed as individuals. There were new faces, veterans, a two-time defending champ, and plenty of crowd-charging moments of greatness. Check out our picks for the seven most memorable.
1. Froning Three-Peats!
All eyes (and bets) were on the two-time defending champion Rich Froning, but it looked, at first, like all that pressure was tripping him up—the fitness phenom got off to a rocky start with a lowly 30th place finish in the Pool event. Then, as the Games forged on, Froning plucked his way back up the leaderboard with modest, but strong finishes during Saturday’s competitions. Drawing on the electric energy of his fans and followers he crushed the final three events with three straight 1st place finishes. His unbroken handstand walks in Part 1 of The Cinco had the crowd on its feet for the entire stretch as they watched him leave his competitors in the dust. Once again the 26-year-old proved he’s an unstoppable machine—and after seven days and 12 brutal events he managed to perform one last box jump up onto the podium to accept his prize. By defending his title of “The Fittest Man on Earth” Froning scored another fat check for $275,000 on top of an additional $14,000 in winnings from the individual events.Rich Froning Talks After Taking the Lead in Day Two >>>
2. Khalipa Returned to the Podium
A five-year veteran of the CrossFit Games and 2008’s champion, Jason Khalipa isn’t known for his impressive endurance capabilities. So it came as a huge surprise when he captured three straight wins—all in endurance-heavy events—including his most impressive win for the 21,097-meter row. Yes, that’s a half marathon on a rowing machine! In addition to that, Khalipa took 1st in the 2,000-meter row, and another 1st place finish for the Burden Run, which is composed of a 2.1 mile run, a 100-yard “Pig Flip,” a 600-yard “Log Carry,” and a 66-yard “Iditarod Drag.” The 27-year-old certainly was a fan-favorite and earned a well-deserving 2nd place spot on the podium along with a $65,000 payout and $11,000 in winnings for individual events.
3. Smith Snagged a Spot
There were plenty of names tossed around as to who could take down Froning, or at the very least end up on the podium beside him, but Ben Smith wasn’t one of them. He is, however, well known in the CrossFit community as that guy who trains alone—and get this—in front of a refrigerator! (Don’t ask, we don’t get it, either.) Although this four-year veteran of the Games has encountered varying levels of success in the past, no one was expecting him to make a comeback—especially after his 11th place performance in 2012. But it turns out he must’ve cranked up the number of those fridge workouts, because this time Smith displayed relentless perseverance and determination throughout the course of the entire competition. In seven of the 12 events, the 23-year-old finished in the top 10. Most impressive were his 2nd place finishes in the Pool event, the Burden Run, as well as Part 1 of The Cinco. Smith was rewarded for all his efforts with $35,000 for his 3rd place finish in addition to a $6,000 payout from individual events.
4. Bridges Got Left Behind
Unlike Smith, Josh Bridges was one of those names in the running to get a serious shot at the No. 1 slot. The 31-year-old missed the Games in 2012 due to military deployment, but came into 2013 strong and inspired to win. Bridges came out of the gate fast and hard with a solid 3rd place finish in the pool, followed by a win in the Legless, Naughty Nancy, and the 2007 event, but in a moment that shocked everyone, the wheels fell off when he stumbled into a 28th place finish in Part 1 of The Cinco event. Although the SoCal local rallied back to finish second in Part 2 of The Cinco event, his costly slip up dropped him way down to 7th overall. Still, Bridges took home $12,000 from individual event winnings. We’ll all be routing for him again in 2014 and hope to see him strengthen his weaknesses.Men's Fitness' 2013 CrossFit Games Predictions >>>
5. Fisher Become One to Watch
Garret Fisher hung around the top five on the leaderboard throughout most of the competition. Young, strong, and extremely consistent, the 22-year-old showed he’s certainly one to watch. Although he missed the podium by finishing fifth, Fisher had seven solid top-10 finishes in the Games this year, so keep your eyes on this guy in 2014.
6. Samantha Briggs Was Crowned the Fittest Woman on Earth
Unfortunately, the two-time defending female champ, Annie Thorisdottir was relegated to the sidelines thanks to a lower back injury, but in her absence we got to experience another serious athlete—Samantha Briggs. The 31-year-old firefighter from Manchester, U.K. came into the 2013 games like a ball of fire after returning from her own injury (of the knee) in 2012. Right from the start there was no question Briggs was going to wipe the court with her competitors. Her domination included 1st place in both row events, 2nd in the Naughty Nancy, 1st in the Sprint Chipper, and top-10 finishes in eight of the 12 events. Briggs took home the $275,000 prize along with an additional $12,000 from individual events. With Thorisdottir optimistic about a 2014 return we’re looking forward to the ultimate head-to-head between these two women as they battle it out for the title.
7. Hack’s Pack UTE Dominated Team Competition
Sure, most of the attention stays on the individual events, but the team events are always a huge crowd-pleaser. Hack’s Pack UTE, took the title in 2012 and returned this year just as strong to crush the field by more than 100 points in the overall standings. After together tackling 10 grueling events, like the Stadium Relay, the Burden Run, and the Ascending Chipper, Hack’s Pack UTE tallied up an incredible seven top-three finishes, four of which were 1st place wins. Team competition involves strong strategy, playing to each others’ strengths, and working cohesively; and the camaraderie and teamwork they demonstrated was both inspiring and energizing to experience. The competition in 2014 better be ready to take them on once again.