“My Final Ride.” Scott Panchik on the Cusp of Cementing His CrossFit Legacy Before Retiring
A perennial contender at the CrossFit Games for nearly a decade, Scott Panchik, will head onto the individual floor in Madison one last time. Yesterday, he announced on Instagram, “10 years and I’ve saved the best for last. This will be my FINAL ride.” A retirement announcement that adds all the more value and emotions when we see him compete this week.
Panchik will face off with a mix of fellow veterans and rising rookies while trying to reach the podium for the first time and now the last time. If he achieves this goal after a year away and a short-lived stint on CrossFit Mayhem Freedom, he will cement his legacy as one of the best, and most consistent, to ever lace them up.
Why it matters: Every sport has its list of athletes that must be part of the conversation when telling the story. The NFL has Tom Brady, Reggie White, and Jerry Rice and the NBA has Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. In CrossFit, the list of men and women are quite extensive.
- Men: Mat Fraser (5), Rich Froning (4), Ben Smith (1), Jason Khalipa (1), and Graham Holmberg (1) are all integral parts of the CrossFit story after combining for 12 individual gold medals and helping put the sport on the map.
- Women: Similarly, Tia-Clair Toomey (4), Annie Thorisdottir (2), Katrin Davidsdottir (2), Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (1), Sam Briggs (1), and Kristan Clever (1) had an equal impact while displaying strength on a consistent basis.
Panchik has never reached the podium during his eight trips to the CrossFit Games as an individual, despite racking up one of the most consistent performances of any individual athlete who’s never podiumed. He came close on three different occasions, placing 4th in 2012, 2013, and 2019. He didn’t crack the top three, but he proved that no stage was too big during battles with Mat Fraser, Matt Chan, Josh Bridges, Dan Bailey, Patrick Vellner, and Noah Ohlsen.
- The wily veteran went toe-to-toe with Fraser during the 2019 Clean event, lifting 375 pounds/170kg and finishing second while showing off his weightlifting skills. He also took third in First Cut, 4th in Mary, and third in Ringer 2, proving that he is a well-rounded athlete capable of taking on any test and fighting for a top finish.
- In 2012, Panchik won Fran en route to his first 4th place finish at the Games. However, the more important workout was the medball/handstand push-up event where Panchik finished 22nd. It was a low point of the weekend, but he showed his improvement at handstand push-ups years later with his performance in Mary.
Panchik’s epic battles with his fellow athletes did not solely take place in Carson or Madison. He also partnered with his peers during Regionals to put on a show. Panchik won the Central East Regional twice (2015, 2016) and finished second in 2013 and 2014.
- The 2014 Central East Regional served as a highlight of the season. Panchik and Froning went toe-to-toe all weekend long, finishing events within fractions of a second.
- The highlight of the battle was Nasty Girls V2. Froning had a better pace on the pistols while Panchik excelled at the hang power cleans. The four-time champ ultimately won by less than one second solely based on how he raced to the finish line.
Legacy is more than competition highlights: Panchik has a history of success in CrossFit with three seasons nearly reaching the podium. If he cracks the top three or wins the gold medal in 2021, he will have a reputation as one of the sport’s best athletes. However, building a legacy is more than simply racking up medals and event wins. Making an impact away from the competition floor is part of the process.
Panchik is the head man at CrossFit Mentality and uses the role to help people in Ohio strive to be healthier. Additionally, he shared his love of the training method with his two younger brothers — Saxon and Spencer — helping them begin their respective journeys toward the competition floor.
- Positively influencing others is only part of the process. Panchik is also using the 2021 season to show that he can continue to compete while being a loving husband and father to an infant. He finished second at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, setting himself up for his 9th trip to the CrossFit Games.
The future remains wide open: While Panchik continues to pursue a spot on the podium, he has a second goal in mind; one that will serve as a positive example for Games athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts alike. He just wants to be the best possible version of himself, regardless of whether he stands atop the podium.
- “Year after year, I want to come in and be better than I was the year before. I started this sport at 23-years-old, and I’m 33 this year,” Panchik said. “I stepped on the floor [at the MACC], and I was like, ‘I want to put 300 on the bar, and I want to snatch 300 pounds at 33.’ And I don’t want age to ever be a factor in whether I’ve got more in me. Do I have more in me? If I have more in me, let’s keep going.”
- “That’s been the thing that has kept me coming back year after year. Is there more in you? How far can you take this? How good can you get? And when I finish and whenever my career is over, I know that when I’m done, that was the best version of me. There was nothing else I could do. I think that this year — based on the first three stages — is shaping up to be my best year yet.”
The bottom line: Panchik is back on the individual competition floor after a year of working with a team. He is one of several men in contention for a spot on the podium in one of the most intriguing years since 2015. Whether he achieves his goal remains to be seen, but regardless, Panchik will have the opportunity to build upon an already impressive legacy in the sport in his final year competing on the Games floor.