Three Final Takeaways From the 2021 Rogue Invitational
The first major off-season CrossFit competition came to an exciting conclusion on Sunday with the two “Fittest” athletes standing on top of the podium after three days and seven events. After a few days to soak in what we witnessed inside Dell Diamond at the third annual Rogue Invitational in Round Rock, Texas here are some of my final takeaways from the competition.
- Canadians cash in: The “Great White North” was well represented on the podium as perennial medalist and Canadian Pat Vellner took second place and fellow countryman Jeffrey Adler taking third. For the unassuming and often underrated Adler his performance was overlooked throughout. He recorded six top-ten finishes including four finishes in the top-5. This is just his second podium finish in a live, CrossFit-sanctioned event but after his performance this weekend he looks more focused and better prepared than ever.
Alexandre Caron finally got his pay-day, earning $11,925 for his ninth place finish after famously becoming the only men’s Games qualifier to not earn any money during this past Games season. He actually ended up in the hole, paying CrossFit a total of $670 to compete in the various stages to end up at the Games.
The fourth Canadian man in the competition, Alex Vigneault was poised to make a push for a top-5 finish but ended up withdrawing on the final day due to an illness. He had moved into the top-10 after Day 2 thanks to a spirited run on Saturday with an 8th, 6th and 3rd place finish. He ended up 16th overall.
On the women’s side Emily Rolfe and Carolyn Prevost placed 16th and 18th respectively but it was Prevost who was able to earn some extra cash and make a statement. Before the final event, Prevost competed in the Rogue Record Breakers Repetition Deadlift Competition. She broke her record she set last year with 67 deadlifts in two minutes, earning an additional $5,000.
- Teens continue to prove they belong: Those waiting to see if Emma Cary and Mallory O’Brien were going to see a dip in their performance after the Games season were once again disappointed. The two 17-year olds showed they are here to stay and will be contending for the podium sooner than later. O’Brien placed eighth, just one place behind her Games finish, thanks to four top-ten finishes including a fourth place in event six, “The Chipper”. A few costly no-reps in event 5 and two missed reps in the final event would lead to her two worst finishes of the weekend and possibly a top-5 finish.
Cary placed 12th at the end of the weekend, four spots better than her Games finish. Like O’Brien, Cary had four top-10 finishes with her best finish being fourth under the lights of the baseball stadium during the “Bella Complex”. In typical Cary fashion, she went out hard in all of the events, pushing her competition and herself, leading to some tough finishes including a 6th place in event 3, the “Echo Burner”, where she led for most of the event.
What their performance at Rogue shows is that both teenagers will continue to get better as they get more live competition experience and that the possibility of seeing one of these teenagers on the podium at the Games is just around the corner.
- Glimpses of 2020 Samuel Kwant: It’s been just over a year since Kwant finished as the second “Fittest Man on Earth” and the past season has been a forgettable one for the four-time Games veteran. A much publicized chronic illness disclosed after finishing 14th at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge hampered the 25-year old which resulted in him failing to qualify for the Games. An invite to the Rogue Invitational offered an opportunity to see how he has progressed since the illness.
A glance at the leaderboard would suggest that he has his work still cut out for him as he placed 13th, which considering the level of competition is still impressive. The most encouraging sign that he could be on his way back to competing at a high level is his performance in the final event, the “Duel”. He was the only athlete in both the men’s and women’s divisions that competed in all five rounds of the “knock-out” style event. He was consistent throughout and actually had the lead over Guilherme Malherios in the final round but the young Brazilian’s speed was the difference as he edged Kwant by just 0.2 seconds for the event win.
Do not count Kwant out yet, he’s still young considering all his experience and just too talented to simply think he has peaked. He may never get to his 2020 Games season form again but to simply see him on the competition floor competing at a high level again is a win in itself.