Staff Picks: Top Moments From Kari Pearce

October 27, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Kari Pearce
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Last Friday perennial podium contender Kari Pearce announced her retirement and revealed that the Rogue Invitational would be her final time on the competition floor. This weekend’s competition will bring an end to a career that saw Pearce break a five year podium drought at the 2020 CrossFit Games, and earned her the title of the fittest American woman for a record fourth time.

In honor of her swan song in Austin this week, our staff compiled our personal picks for our favorite moments across Pearce’s illustrious career over the past seven seasons.

Justin Lofranco, Editor-In-Chief

Everyone else here is going to share memories of Kari Pearce as an athlete. I’m going to talk about her as a person. Joyful and disciplined. Those are two words I’d use to describe Kari. 

  • She works so damn hard too. Not many people know this but she responds to every message she receives on social media and regularly responds to comments, and not just on her own posts, but others’ too. 
  • There also hasn’t been a media request she’s turned down that we’ve asked for. It’s always, “OK, let me check my schedule,” then we settle on a date and time, and always with a smile on her face. Oh and then she’s the 2020 third fittest woman on earth with running a business. It’s nuts. 

I’ll miss running into Kari during athlete check-ins, catching up for a quick chat, and I’ll miss seeing her compete, but we’re not going to miss Kari Pearce and what she does next, cause she’s not going anywhere, and whatever she turns her mind to will be very hard to ignore.

Tommy Marquez, Staff Writer

My favorite moment has to be the moment – in my humble opinion – that Kari Pearce truly arrived as one of the top athletes in the sport. At the 2016 Games a lot of people had Murph circled on the schedule as an event to watch considering the havoc it wreaked on the field a year prior. 

  • A lot of people picked Sam Briggs to win the event again considering her win in Murph in 2015, but a lot of people forget that Kari finished 5th in Murph as a rookie that year. The change in the format of the event to partitioning the reps into 5 rounds meant there was incentive now to push the pace harder with set breaks from each movement baked into the format.
  • Seeing Kari track down the lead in the final round and be the first athlete to exit the stadium on the final run was a big eye opener for a lot of people. Considering she held off Carleen Mathews and Katrin Davidsdottir – who were right on her heels exiting the Soccer stadium – in the final mile, it signaled a step forward in her mindset and engine that helped her ditch the moniker of just being a gymnast. 

Winning Murph for herr first career event win at the Games was a huge deal. Mentally and physically its one of the more demanding events, but symbolically speaking, having an American reclaim the top spot of a workout that was named in honor of an American hero was also fitting considering the result helped Kari Pearce become the fittest American woman for the first time. 

Emily Beers, Staff Writer

For me it has to be Mary at the 2019 CrossFit Games: Watching Kari Pearce log 695 reps during Mary at the Games in 2019—completing more than 23 rounds of 5 handstand push-ups, 10 pistols and 15 pull-ups—in what appeared to be effortless fashion blew my mind. 

  • As a funny sidenote, Kari said the main reason she went unbroken on her pull-ups was because her calf was cramping from the Ruck Run earlier that day and going unbroken meant jumping up to the bar less times. 

The very fact that she could just choose to go unbroken for that many sets shows just how insanely fit her upper body endurance is. More proof of this is the fact that Kari told me she wasn’t all that sore the next day even after 695 reps. Unreal.

Lauren Kalil, Staff Writer

One of my favorite moments of Kari Pearce might be less exciting than some of her Games appearances but it was one that speaks to just how fit Pearce is. The memorable moment I’m referring to is during the 21.1 Open announcement with the couplet of handstand walks and double-unders.

  • While wall walks weren’t necessarily a new movement for Pearce, doing them for speed was probably less familiar to her. Pearce’s performance showcased both her incredible gymnastics skills and ability to adapt to a new competitive movement with very different standards than most people practicing wall walks were used to. 

Finishing at 13:04 almost going unbroken on her double-unders, solidified just how much she can adapt and overcome.

Patrick Clark, Staff Writer

When I think of the greatness that is Kari Pearce one can’t help but think about her gutsy performance in Atalanta during the 2020 Games. Who knew at the time that performance would be her last time competing at the Games. 

  • As unfortunate as the events of this year’s Games might have been, it is hard to imagine a more perfect ending on the competition floor than Atalanta. Pearce wasn’t just competing against four other athletes in what CrossFit Director of Sport Dave Castro called “the most difficult final of any Games, if not the most difficult event, to date,” but she was chasing a legacy as the top American women CrossFitter of all time. 
  • In my mind she cemented that title with her dominant performance, one that when I broke it down in detail was simply mind-blowing. I remember a few weeks later after things had settled down after the Games, we sat down with her in her home and had her break down that event in person and it further highlighted how truly amazing an athlete she was. 

Her fitness alone didn’t win her that event – and with it her first podium finish – but rather all the intangibles that are required to be one of the top athletes in the world. She is truly a special breed of athlete and we were all lucky enough to witness it.

What were your favorite moments from Kari Pearce’s career? Let us know in the comments below. 

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