Pearce’s Podium Performance and Place in History
Kari Pearce turned in one of the all-time clutch event performances Sunday with a desperately needed event win in Atalanta to close the competition and earn the one accolade that has eluded her during her career: a podium finish at the CrossFit Games.
Elite Company: As 2009 CrossFit Games champion Tanya Wagner draped the bronze medal around her neck, Kari Pearce instantly joined the front of the line in the conversation for the most accomplished american woman in CrossFit Games history alongside some early legends of the sport.
- Kristan Clever: 2010 CrossFit Games Champion, 2013 Spirit Of The Games winner, two-time podium finisher (2010, 2011-2nd), two-time fittest woman in America, four consecutive years finishing 4th place or better at the CrossFit Games (2009-2012). Clever was one of the early pioneers of the women’s division and her battles with Annie Thorisdottir in 2010 and 2011 were a primer for the exciting growth and explosion of talent in the women’s division.
- Julie Foucher-Urcuyo: Two-time podium finisher (2012 – 2nd, 2014 – 3rd), two-time fittest woman in America, four top-five finishes at the CrossFit Games. When she was at the Games, Foucher-Urcuyo was undoubtedly one of the best in the sport, but unfortunately for fans her competitive career was cut short by her future medical career as a doctor which meant a year away from the sport in 2013, and an early retirement after an achilles injury in 2015.
- Valerie Voboril: Two-time podium finisher (2010 – 3rd, 2013 – 3rd), four top-five finishes at the CrossFit Games. She consistently flies under the radar and most likely isn’t the casual fans first choice in this category, but Voboril’s resume stands just as tall as the rest and perhaps even more so when you consider some of her additional accomplishments. In the modern era of the games (2010 and beyond) she’s the oldest podium finisher ever (34, 2013), the oldest athlete to crack the top-five at the Games (35, 2014), and she’s the only woman to make the podium after taking time away from the sport to have a child. When she qualified for the Games at 38 years-old in 2017, she became one of the few athletes to qualify and compete at all three homes of the CrossFit Games.
Kari’s case: The one glaring thing missing from Pearce’s resume prior to this season when compared to the other American greats was a podium finish at the Games. Much like the lack of a championship has disqualified athletes like Barry Bonds, Karl Malone, and Dan Marino from some of the all-time great conversations, the lack of hardware kept Kari Pearce’s tremendous resume from truly shining, at least until now.
- Four times in the past five seasons Pearce has finished as the fittest American woman at the CrossFit Games (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
- Five consecutive times she has finished inside the top-ten overall at the CrossFit Games, a streak that is current, and after this season, is continuing to improve.
- Three times she has finished inside the top-five at the Games since 2016, before 2020 no other American woman has done it even once during that time frame.
- Not a stat but still: Pearce has had arguably two of the most mind-blowing single event performances over the past two years at the Games regardless of gender division. Her 695 reps in Mary and time of 47:56.68 in Atalanta are the standard bearers going forward for those workouts.
The cherry on top: Adding to the importance of Pearce’s podium finish was the fact that it broke a five year podium drought for American women at the CrossFit Games. In an individual sport that has typically been dominated at the top by multi-year champions, a podium finish at the Games is a more appropriate statistical equivalent to the titles that serve as career line items in other team sports.
The bottom line: Kari Pearce has now cemented herself as one of the all-time greats in the sport through her continued excellence at the highest level, and she’s not done yet. For an American women’s contingent that was shut out of the medal count for half a decade, there couldn’t have been a more deserving woman to break the streak in 2020.