CrossFit Open Announcement Top Five Moments — Rich Froning and Mat Fraser Headline 15.1

February 18, 2021 by
Photo credit: CrossFit LLC
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The 2015 CrossFit Games season featured a major change in the men’s division with Rich Froning retiring from individual competition after edging out Mat Fraser in 2014. The four-time champion switched over to the team division while Fraser faced increased expectations. Fans referred to him as the “champion in waiting.” 

The two men competed for the top podium spot at the end of the 2014 CrossFit Games, and they continued to battle at the start of the 2015 season. They joined Dave Castro for a highly-anticipated Open announcement and faced off one more time, resulting in a truly memorable moment. 

#4 — Rich Froning Calmly Chases Down Mat Fraser

Castro took CrossFit fans to Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, MA for a battle between the top two men from 2014. Fraser and Froning faced off in a workout consisting of two parts. 15.1 was a nine-minute AMRAP featuring 15 toes to bar, 10 deadlifts (115 pounds), and five snatches (115 pounds). 15.1A gave the athletes six minutes to set a one-rep max effort clean and jerk. 

Fraser and Froning kept a similar pace during the first round of the workout. They matched reps during the toes to bar, deadlifts, and snatches. Though the defending champion took a more methodical approach to his transitions while his opponent quickly switched between movements. 

Fraser continued to hold a two to three-rep lead through five rounds of the workout. He moved faster through the barbell work but took time to rest before jumping up and grabbing the pull-up bar at the start of each round. Froning maintained the same pace that he started with and steadily closed the gap with a methodical approach that helped him win four Games titles. 

  • “Fraser still slightly ahead of Rich Froning,” play-by-play announcer Sean Woodland said. “And you notice how Fraser is looking at the clock. Froning will do that as well, trying to pace off of that as well. Round 5 is in the books. Both men are back to the pull-up bar at the same time.” 

Froning briefly passed Fraser during the sixth round, taking a one-rep lead on the toes to bar. This advantage disappeared during the barbell work as the two men continued to match each other on the movements, but it was a sign of things to come. 

Fraser and Froning hit the pull-up bar with just over 30 seconds remaining in the workout. The fierce competitors tied each other after their first set of reps, but the defending champ took over after a brief rest. He built up another lead while keeping a steady pace and limiting his breaks while Fraser stepped away from the bar right before the buzzer. 

  • “Three seconds to go! You’ve got three…Fraser’s off the bar!” Woodland shouted. “And Froning is going to take it by three reps!” 
  • “Woooo. That was insane,” color commentator Bill Grundler added. “That was absolutely incredible. That was absolutely incredible. And again, it’s the pacing that Rich has. He just has that (down) to an absolute science. The guy knows exactly how fast and how far and how hard he needs to push himself. It doesn’t matter the time domain. It just doesn’t matter.” 

Froning secured the victory during the first portion of the Open announcement and continued his winning streak during 15.1A. He battled with Fraser on the heavy lifts while trading leads. Froning ultimately took the lead with roughly 30 seconds remaining, lifting 343 pounds. Fraser cleaned 345 pounds with less than 10 seconds to go, but he failed his jerk attempt. 

With the Open announcement over, Fraser moved forward to Regionals and the Games as the favorite to top the podium. He finished second to Ben Smith in Carson, forcing him to make some changes in his training. Fraser returned in 2016 as a very different competitor and kicked off a historic winning streak. 

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