The 2023 CrossFit Quarterfinals is a wrap…for the athletes. While the workouts are over, CrossFit is still working on reviewing video submissions and handing out penalties when needed. The review process will run through next Monday, March 27, but there have been quite a few penalties handed already. It doesn’t appear that any penalties thus far have impacted who qualifies (or doesn’t) to Semifinals, but there is still time.
But after following the action over the past four days, we summed up five things we learned from this year’s Quarterfinal competition.
Justin Medeiros is Just Fine
The CrossFit Open has become just a means to get to Quarterfinals. With a low threshold to move forward, top 10% in your region (an easy feat for the best in the world), many athletes don’t place an emphasis on where they finish during the three week Open.
However, seeing Medeiros sitting in 78th in the world during the Open was a bit of a shock. Medeiros had a quiet off-season, only competing in the Rogue Invitational this past October…where he narrowly edged out Chandler Smith and Pat Vellner. Since then, Medeiros has only been seen doing The Gauntlet at Wodapalooza in January.
So seeing Medeiros not have a top 10 finish in any of the four scored events in the Open was something to keep an eye on. While the alarms were not sounding, another mediocre finish, by his standards, at Quarterfinals would have raised some concerns.
Medeiros, however, put those concerns to rest this past weekend. Medeiros was #1 in the world in Quarterfinals with an event win and only one workout outside the top 5 in the world (Workout 3 he finished 15th).
The solid performance does nothing else other than giving him an extra 20 points against his competition in the worldwide ranking and a ticket to the North America West Semifinal in Pasadena, California, later this year. But it does send a message to the rest of the field that Medeiros is ready for the rest of the season.
The Women’s Division is Heating Up
After Tia-Clair Toomey announced she was pregnant and would not be competing this year, many looked at Mal O’Brien and the heiress to the throne. After taking 2nd place this past season, O’Brien was the 2023 CrossFit Games favorite.
And Mal did not disappoint during the CrossFit Open this year. Winning for the second consecutive year, O’Brien looked solid throughout the three weeks as she earned $15,000 for her worldwide win, but more importantly solidified her as the favorite this season.
The Quarterfinals leaderboard has O’Brien atop the worldwide leaderboard once again. A look at her scores and overall point total would lead you to believe that no one did well against her when looking at the five scored events.
However, a closer examination of the individual scores shows that Laura Horvath, who finished third overall, actually beat O’Brien in four of the five events! So if that was the case, why does Horvath have double the points and in third place?
Well, the wall-facing strict handstand push-ups pushed Horvath down the leaderboard in Workout 1. Horvath finished 111th in the world in that event compared to Mal’s 2nd place finish. After that workout, Horvath beat Mal’s score the next for events and never finished outside the top 9 in the world.
Strict handstand push-ups, especially deficit, have been Horvath’s Kryptonite and it reared its ugly head again this past weekend. However, with a larger field in Quarterfinals, Horvath’s score was severely damaged by many non-Games athletes who are just better than her at that movement.
Once at the Games, Horvath will still likely be near the bottom of the leaderboard in an event featuring strict HSPUs, but the worst she can do is 40th. Still a huge impact to her overall point total, but with more events at the Games and her ability to beat Mal in other modalities, the title Fittest on Earth is still up for grabs.
Adrian Bozman Isn’t Afraid to Try New Movements
After Adrian Bozman programmed unbroken single-unders, double-under crossovers and L-sit to handstand in last year’s Skill Speed Medley and the Burpee Pull-up in this year’s Open, it is not that surprising that Bozman threw in wall-facing handstand push-ups, single-under crossovers and V-ups into Quarterfinals.
While some might argue that an online competition with thousands of athletes is not the place to try a new movement (along with sometimes difficult to judge movement standards), it is clear that Bozman is not concerned about that.
Bozman, with a background in gymnastics, has pushed the envelope already in his three programmed competitions in less than a year. With Semifinals approaching, it would not be surprising to see more unique and different gymnastics-based elements in the programming.
Advancing to Semifinals Isn’t Guaranteed
While for the top athletes, qualifying for Quarterfinals is a walk in the park. But once Quarterfinals rolls around, getting a ticket to Semifinals is not guaranteed.
This year most of the big name athletes and Games veterans made it through to Semifinals with ease. However, there are a few who were near the cut line and just squeaked by and there are a few whose season is over.
On the women’s side, Stephanie Chung, who was looking to make a comeback this season currently sits in 65th on the North America East leaderboard. Bethany Shadburne Flores is still rehabbing her back after last year’s injury, but she narrowly made it into the top 60 by finishing 55th in North America West.
On the men’s side, Zach Watts is in 79th in North America West. Alex Caron and Alex Vigneault started off slow after Day 1, putting their chance to advance in jeopardy. However, three strong performances later and both are now sitting within the cut line. And then there is Willy Georges. The three-time Games veteran’s season is likely over after finishing 70th in Europe. Georges, who had been dealing with bronchitis during the Open this year, was unable to match the intensity needed this past weekend to make it into the top 60.
Of course, there is still a chance Chung and Georges are able to get an invite to Semifinals depending on how many go team or decline their invite ahead of them.
New Names are Making a Push for Rookie Debut
A lot of the focus on the leaderboard is spent on the big names, the Games veterans. And while rightfully so, there are plenty of names near the top of the leaderboard who are lesser known and are looking to make their first appearance as an individual at the CrossFit Games.
There are five men and three women sitting in the top 20 worldwide who have never made it to the CrossFit Games as an individual. While a high finish in the Open/Quarterfinals is no lock on a great performance at Semifinals, it does show that these athletes have what it takes to be competitive.
A good share of the Games field every year is made up of rookies and this year will likely be no exception. So keep an eye on these top finishers from this year’s Quarterfinals…
William Leahy IV (7th)
Fabian Beneito (8th)
Victor Hoffer (10th)
Harry Lightfoot (17th)
Jack Farlow (18th)
Anikha Greer (6th)
Manon Angonese (8th)
Oihana Moya (16th)
And, of course, there are plenty of men and women outside the top 20 who do better in in-person competition who are looking to make their first appearance at the Games this year. Who those will be is hard to say, but all we do know is that this year is shaping up to be another great one with plenty of interesting storylines and tight competition.