CrossFit Games

2021 CrossFit Games Day One Recap, Line-By-Line

July 28, 2021 by
Photo Credit: John Newby
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Day one of the 2021individual competition at the CrossFit Games opened on a warm, hazy and slightly overcast morning in Madison, WI. It was 75 degrees as event one began with the entire men’s and women’s field wading into Lake Monona for a mass start. With four events on the agenda for the day, 400 points were up for grabs in both divisions. As the dust settled, one athlete had secured 397 of them.  Here’s how the action went down.

Leaderboard, End of Day One

  1. Brent Fikowski (322)| Tia-Clair Toomey (397)
  2. Justin Medeiros (313)|Haley Adams (340) 
  3. Jonne Koski (310) | Kristin Holte (331)
  4. Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson (307) | Kristi Eramo-O’Connell (295)
  5. Patrick Vellner (288) | Danielle Brandon (286)
  6. Saxon Panchik (286) | Katrin Davidsdottir (283)
  7. Andre Houdet (265) | Amanda Barnhart (280)
  8. Lazar Dukic (256) | Laura Horvath (277)
  9. Guilherme Malheiros (251) | Brooke Wells (274)
  10. Samuel Cournoyer (250) | Mallory O’Brien (272)

Event 1: 

  • For Time:
    • 1-Mile Swim with Fins
    • 3-Mile Kayak
    • Time Cap: None


  • Event one began with a mass start in the 78-degree water (notable: the first swim event at the CrossFit Games was in 2011, this is the longest swim in Games history).  
  • Jonne Koski got off to a massive lead within the first five minutes of the 1-mile swim. He got to his kayak in just over 21 minutes, making a quick transition back into the water.
  • The first woman to finish the swim was Amanda Barnhart, a division 1 swimmer at Cleveland State in college, she was also the second person overall to complete the first part of the event. She grabbed her paddle and kayak just under 23 minutes.
  • Barnhart was followed quickly by Emma Tall, Brent Fikowski, Kristi Eramo-O’Connell and Lazar Dukic.
  • As Koski fell into a comfortable rhythm in the kayak, Barnhart appeared to struggle within the first few minutes of the 3-mile paddle. By the 30-minute mark, Barnhart’s lead disappeared as Tall and Eramo-O’Connell caught her.
  • By the 45-minute Emma Tall opened up a large lead for the women as Tia Clair-Toomey pulled even and then ahead of Eramo-O’Connell who started drafting the four-time champ. The two athletes joked with each other as they pulled away from the rest of the female pack.
  • At this point no one can even see Koski because he’s so far ahead.
  • Toomey took over the lead from Tall at the 51-minute mark. Settling into a comfortable, strong pace with Eramo-O’Connell continuing to draft behind her kayak.
  • Koski cruised to victory through the final 50m swim after discarding his kayak to the boat launch and finish line at 1:06:44. Lazar Dukic took second for the men at 1:09:10. Alex Vigneault (who came out of nowhere) and Brandon Luckett followed him. This was Koski’s third career event win.
  •  On the women’s side, Toomey held off a final charge by Eramo-O’Connell to take her 25th career Games win at 1:11:01. Eramo-O’Connell and Tall took second and third.
  • Notable finishes — Men:
    • Justin Medeiros — 5th
    • Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson — 6th
    • Travis Mayer — 10th
    • Patrick Vellner — 35th
  • Notable finishes — Women:
    • Emma Cary — 6th
    • Laura Horvath — 8th
    • Mal O’Brien — 9th
    • Katrin Davidsdottir — 13th

Event 2: 

  • For Time:
    • 126-foot sled drag, 220/180 pounds
    • 5 Pig flips, 510/350 pounds
    • 12 muscle-ups
    • 12 bar muscle-ups
    • 12 bar muscle-ups
    • 12 muscle-ups
    • 5 Pig flips 
    • 126-foot sled drag
    • Time cap: 12 minutes

Men’s Division Recap:

  • A classic Games triplet, individual event two required athletes to drag a heavy sled 126, then flip a heavy pig (it’s 6’10” long, 510 pounds for men, 350 pounds for women) five times before completing four sets of 12 muscle-ups (ring, bar, bar, ring) and then flipping the pig five more times, and dragging the sled to the finish line.
  • In heat one, Samuel Cournoyer took a commanding lead early and held it all the way through the end, holding off Brent Fikowski and Will Moorad to take the heat win. Cournoyer finished in 8:09.71, while Fikowski and Moorad finished in 8:35.34 and 8:51.70 respectively.
  • In the second heat, Patrick Vellner took over the lead during the bar muscle-ups and opened up a 5 rep lead. Scott Panchik and Jason Smith kept the pressure on through the last set of ring muscle-ups. Vellner needed a strong finish after the morning event and got just that, finishing in  7:42.42 to secure 100 points. Cournoyer’s time held from the first event to take second, while Panchik’s time of 8:16.30 was good for third. This was Vellner’s third career event win. 
  • Notable finishes:
    • Brent Fikowski — 7th
    • Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson — 9th
    • Justin Medeiros — 15th
    • Noah Ohlsen — 21st

Women’s Division Recap:

  • The only changes for the women’s division were the weight of the sled, now 180 pounds and the weight of the pig, now 350 pounds.
  • Notably, in the first heat, Danielle Brandon was segregated at one end of the field as a COVID precaution (following the positive tests by her training partners Bethany Shadburne and Kari Pearce).
  • From her position at the far end of the field, Brandon got off to a fast lead which she held through most of the muscle-ups as Amanda Barnhart, Emma Tall, Sydney Michalyshen and Kristi Eramo-O’Connell kept the competition tight.
  • Eramo-O’Connell came off the rings first though, with Brandon close behind. It all came down to the final sled pull and Brandon got there first, finishing the event and taking the heat win in 10:22.76. Barnhart, as she has been known to do, made up huge time on the final sled pull to take second place in the heat at 10:42. 54, while Baylee Rayl finished third in 10:47/06.
  • In the second heat, veteran podium athletes Laura Horvath, Annie Thorisdottir, Tia-Clair Toomey and Katrin Davidsdottir took the lead. 
  • Toomey took over the lead alone during the bar muscle-ups. Meanwhile, Horvath and Thorisdottir battled for second with a large group including Haley Adams, Emma McQuaid and Mal O’Brien kept the pressure on.
  • The four-time champ ran away with the event win, finishing in 8:27.92, almost two full minutes better than Brandon, it was the 26th of her career. Emma McQuaid finished second at 9:36.70, followed by Horvath at 10:07.7. Brandon’s time from heat one was good enough for fourth overall, and Adams rounded out the top five at 10:27.8.
  • Notable finishes:
    • Annie Thorisdottir — 6th
    • Emma Tall — 9th
    • Mal O’Brien — 11th
    • Brooke Wells — 14th

Event 3: 

  • For Time:
    • 550-yard sprint
    • Time cap: 4 minutes

Men’s Division Recap:

  • An awkward distance for a sprint event, athletes started outside, ran around a bend, into the North Park stadium, and across the field to the finish.
  • The athletes were divided into four heats. Sam Stewart took the win in heat one and set the initial time to beat at 1:17.73. In heat two, Luka Dukic and Jayson Hopper legged it out against each other to best Stewart. Dukic finished in 1:17.07, while Hopper finished in 1:17.26.
  • The third heat set fire to the field. Guilherme Malheiros took the win and set the new time to beat at 1:15.37, Will Moorad took second at 1:15.59 and Pat Vellner finished in third at 1:15.72. Notably, Saxon Panchik finished in 1:15.94 and Andre Houdet ran the course in 1:16.77. This would ultimately be the top five for the event. Vellner continues to climb out of the hole he dug in event one.
  • No one in heat four came close to the third. Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson took the heat win at 1:17.68 but finished eighth in the event.
  • Notable finishes:
    • Jayson Hopper — 7th
    • Noah Ohlsen — 10th
    • Justin Medeiros — 11th
    • Scott Panchik — 34th

Women’s Division Recap:

  • The first of four heats for the women only had 4 women. Danielle Brandon set the time to beat out of heat one at 1:   . Jessica Griffith took heat two after outkicking Sasha Nieves, but couldn’t overtake Brandon’s time finishing in 
  • In the third heat, Brooke Wells set a new time to beat at 1:24.43, while Katrin Davidsdottir came in just behind Brandon’s time at 1:27.49. The final heat was the fastest of the day for the women as Tia-Clair Toomey took the win with a time of 1:24.17, edging out Wells by .36 seconds. Haley Adams nabbed third place overall with a time of 1:25.74, while Kristin Holte took fourth with 1:26.67. Brandon’s time from the first heat was good enough to hold on to fifth.
  • Notable finishes:
    • Katrin Davidsdottir — 6th
    • Kristi Eramo-O’Connell — 7th
    • Laura Horvath — 14th

Event 4: 

  • For Time:
    • 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of:
    • Wall walks
    • Thrusters, 185/135 pounds (short bars)
    • Time cap: 20 minutes

Men’s Division Recap: 

  • In a callback to the 2021 CrossFit Open, Director of Sport Dave Castro programmed a descending ladder couplet of wall walks and heavy thrusters. A combination of movements that can wreak havoc on an athlete’s shoulders — shoulders that already swam a mile, paddled three miles, completed 48 muscle-ups and flipped a heavy pig ten times today. Ouch.
  • In the first heat, Scott Panchik got off to an early lead going unbroken through the early rounds. He was the first athlete to move on to the second wall on the competition floor. Cole Sager hung with him early, but fell in the middle rounds. Panchik took the heat win and set the time to beat at 13:39.61. Jay Crouch earned second place at 15:18.65. Uldis Upenieks finished third at 15:53.12.
  • The second heat pitted Brent Fikowski (who created probably the best athlete video ever in 21.1) against Justin Medeiros, Noah Ohlsen, Saxon Panchik and Patrick Vellner. Through the first half of the workout, all five men were virtually tied.
  • In the middle rounds, things started to change. Medeiros made a charge in the middle rounds, overtaking Fikowski. Saxon Panchik, Ohlsen and Vellner kept the pressure on.
  • In the end, Scott Panchik’s time held up and he earned his second career event win. Medeiros secured second place with a time of 14:50.28, while Fikowski and Saxon Panchik grabbed third and fourth with times of 15:05.03 and 15.17.35 respectively. Ohlsen and Vellner battled to the end with Ohlsen edging the Canadian out by less than a second. Ohlsen took sixth, Vellner took seventh, as Jay Crouch’s time from heat one secured fifth.
  • Notable finishes:
    • Jonne Koski — 9th
    • Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson — 12th
    • Chandler Smith — 13th
    • Jeffrey Adler — 14th

Event 4: — Women’s Division

  • In the first heat, Emma Cary, one of the two 17-year-olds in the women’s competition, got out to an early lead in the first few rounds. Gabi Migala and Arielle Loewen were breathing down her neck. The teenager showed a lot of poise holding off the older competitors through the middle rounds, even building her lead. In the later rounds, it was all Cary. She set the time to beat at 14:25.57 and earned her first ever heat win. Arielle Loewen locked up second in the heat at 14:57.23.
  • In heat two, teen phenom Mal O’Brien challenged Tia-Clair Toomey early on as the two went rep-for-rep in the first rounds. The other 17-year-old showed incredible poise, running her own race, staying ahead of Toomey to finish in 13:41.22 and become the youngest event winner in Games history. She was the only female athlete to go sub-14 and beat Toomey, who took second, by 34 seconds. That said, Toomey ended the day with 397 out of a possible 400 points. Emma Cary’s time held up for third place overall.
  • Notable finishes:
    • Tia-Clair Toomey — 2nd
    • Brooke Wells — 4th
    • Arielle Loewen — 6th
    • Annie Thoridottir — 9th

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