New Faces, New Places: Athletes On The Move In 2021
The 2021 CrossFit Games season is coming into full view, and we’re less than two months away from the official kick off of the Open. Every year the competitive landscape shifts as athletes evolve and make changes to their regimen including coaches, programming focus, and training environment.
This season is no different and we have already seen some moving and shaking from well-known athletes and podium finishers as they gear up for another round of competitive fitness. With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of the confirmed changes so far in the new year as preparations ramp up for the March 11 start date of the Open.
Flashback: During the Regionals era, physical location changes had major ramifications on the competitive landscape as an athlete’s location dictated their Region, and subsequently which Regional they competed in. This meant a simple change of scenery also meant a change in the athlete field (and relative difficulty) that would stand in the way of a Games ticket.
- With the 2021 rulebook clarifying that citizenship will dictate your competitive location (i.e. continent) any location changes in isolation will only drastically affect athletes that live outside of the country of their citizenship which could potentially require them to travel internationally in order to compete.
Coaching changes: The following athletes have decided to make a switch in the coach that will be tasked with programming and cultivating their development in hopes of either a tangible improvement in their performance on the leaderboard, or a fresh perspective in their approach.
- Brooke Wells, PRVN Fitness: The six-time individual Games athlete and 5th place finisher at the 2020 Games is coming off a career best finish, but has amicably parted ways with longtime coach Ben Bergeron and his CompTrain program. Wells is still in the early stages of her prime, and being based in the Nashville area means that she will be training with other athletes in the PRVN stable led by Shane Orr who has helped wife Tia-Clair Toomey become the undisputed G.O.A.T. in the women’s division.
- Alec Smith, PRVN Fitness: A two-time individual Games qualifier and podium finisher in the team division with CrossFit Krypton, Smith joins Wells, a regular training buddy, as another Nashville-based athlete flying under Shane Orr and Tia-Clair Toomey’s PRVN Fitness banner. The last time we saw Smith in competition, he withdrew from the Australia CrossFit Championship with lingering back issues.
- Will Moorad, PRVN Fitness: The most recently announced athlete to join the PRVN squad, Moorad also trains alongside Smith and Wells in the Nashville area at CrossFit Trivium. Moorad was one of the surprise performances of 2019, finishing 10th at the Games after a five year hiatus from the sports biggest stage, and a misdiagnosis that forced him to temporarily retire from competition.
- Sara Sigmundsdottir, TBD: While there has not been a final confirmation from Sigmundsdottir’s camp, the two-time podium finisher has confirmed that she has sought out a new coach and program for the 2021 season. We will report back once Sigmundsdottir and her team confirm for sure.
Training environment: A handful of top athletes have decided to pack up and move to greener pastures in the form of a new home and training environment. Given the circumstances of the past calendar year, it is not surprising to see some athletes change places to be closer to coaches or congregate for a training environment more conducive to the demands of an elite athlete.
- Bethany Shadburne & Danielle Brandon: A pair of top 10 finishers at the 2019 CrossFit Games have set up shop in Las Vegas to be closer to coach Justin Cotler and Kari Pearce who is also coached by Cotler. Pearce and Cotler relocated to “Sin City,” from New York during the 2020 season amidst the early turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s now three top 10 women in the same location training and pushing each other on a daily basis, which instantly puts Vegas on the map as a training hub.
- Samuel Kwant & Amanda Barnhart: Two CompTrain athletes coming off of career best finishes at the Games have decided to relocate to New England to be closer to coach Ben Bergeron and his training squad that includes two-time champion Katrin Davidsdottir. Barnhart has been a long time athlete of Bergeron’s that has had a tremendous rise in the sport in recent years, finishing 7th at the Games in 2019 and 2020, and Kwant surprised everyone (not us though) by finishing 2nd at the 2020 Games behind Mat Fraser.
Worth noting: There is some speculation around the eventual circumstances of a handful of athletes in the community, including Tia-Clair Toomey, who is currently in South Korea for bobsled training, Chandler Smith, and Mat Fraser. Out of respect to those athletes and their processes, we will report updates only when we get explicit confirmation.