CrossFit’s competition season culminates this week with the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games, which take over the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA from July 22–28. Of the thousands who took a stab at the Open hoping to make the final cut, only 47 men remain. These athletes—arguably some of the toughest in the world—will engage in a series of challenges unbeknownst to them until moments before the competition, making it impossible to train for the exact workouts that’ll be on tap. After all, CrossFit is all about the unexpected—and it’s exactly what makes the fitness program so effective.
But if the Games are so unpredictable, how has Rich Froning managed to win the last two years in a row? And can he win again this year? To help answer these questions, we chatted with Nate Forster, CrossFit coach and competitor, and owner of Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave and Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach.
“Rich Froning is definitely a huge favorite to repeat in 2013.” says Forster. “He won the Open and still has never showed a weakness. CrossFit is about being good at everything and having no weaknesses—he’s a monster.”
In addition to Froning, Forster suggests you keep your eyes on these top contenders:
Although Khalipa finished seventh in this year’s Open, behind athletes like Froning, Josh Bridges, and Scott Panchik, he really upped his game for the Northern California Regionals. After cruising through some insanely challenging WODs he finished in first place in five out of the seven workouts, which ranked him ninth in this year’s Regionals competition. The 2008 CrossFit Games champion is hungry to get back on the podium this year, and if the workouts aren’t too endurance-heavy, he very well could reclaim his title.
Bridges took second in 2011, then had to forego competing in 2012 due to military deployment. However, that didn’t stop the SoCal local from completing all of the workouts from the 2012 Games on his own time. Despite missing last year’s Games, suffering some injuries, and entering his 30s, Bridges still finished third in this year’s Open, making him a serious contender to watch.
Only 25 years old, Panchik is already showing signs that he’s more than ready to compete with the world’s fittest. Last year, during his rookie CrossFit season, he took fifth at the Central East Regional and fourth at the Games. Having come so close to the podium during his first year, Panchik is likely to be incredibly eager to up his game this time around. One more reason you might want to put your bets on Panchik: He’s beat Froning at two events thus far, besting the two-time champion by two spots on “Jackie” and completing Event 7 of the Regionals 10 seconds faster.
And let’s not forget about the ladies in this year’s competition. With the defending champ, Annie Thorsdottir, out with an injury, the podium is wide open, and next in line could be Sam Briggs. Similar to Panchik’s 2012 success, Briggs placed fourth at the 2011 Games and probably has something to prove this year. The CrossFit community expected her to come back and place in 2012, but a knee injury kept her from qualifying last year. This year, the British competitor is back with a clear mission: to win it all. With her very strong endurance base she could really do well if the Games play to her strength, as opposed to the movements she has more difficulty with, like snatches.