Six Burning Questions Heading into the 2022 CrossFit Games Season
As we take stock of 2021, the second year of the global pandemic, one ravaged by travel restrictions, surging cases, and seemingly unending waves, we have to give credit where credit is due. CrossFit’s season still went off, the Games were a huge hit, and the sport survived another tumultuous year after an earth-shattering 2020.
So, how will 2022 top this year? Let’s hope it’s all about the competition on the floor, and not what’s happening off of it. With that in mind, here are six burning questions we all want to find out the answer to over the next 365 days.
1. Is Justin Medeiros the next Mat Fraser? The 22-year-old sophomore mullet man wasted no time in bypassing an entire generation of elite CrossFit athletes in snagging the 2021 crown. Medeiros, who is clearly cut from a similar “die for every point” cloth as five-time retired champion Mat Fraser, looks as if he could rule for decades given his age and performance trajectory.
Or is this a new era of parity in the sport where the title changes hands every year and a few veterans snag one belt before they walk off into the sunset (we’re looking at you Ben Smith)? If history is any indication, this will not be the case and we’re in for a long reign given Fraser and Rich Froning are basically the only champions the men’s division has had in the last decade.
2. Is Ricky Garard redeemable? The Australian has said and done all the right things lately, coming clean about taking PEDs, and looking as if he wants to earn back the trust of CrossFit fans and his fellow competitors. Everyone loves a second chance story and Garard’s road to redemption will ultimately come down not to his placement at the CrossFit Games, but his test result afterward.
Garard is irredeemable in some people’s eyes, however, it’s like that in any professional realm. Some sporting fans are purists and if you’ve been popped once, you are dead to them for life. However, Garard has a real chance to clean up his name, and needs to stay clean for the rest of his career for this to happen, and likely also clear from controversy. Time will tell, every test he does that comes back negative helps his case, but this is clearly a two strikes and you’re out situation.
3. Where does Eric Roza take CrossFit in an endemic pandemic? When Roza took over the company from disgraced founder Greg Glassman in 2020, he had grand plans and worldly ambitions. His hiring of Gary Gaines to head up all global affiliates sent a clear message: CrossFit was out for world domination and no country was too small to target.
But we all know what happened, a global pandemic swept across the planet, and by the end of 2020 it had thrown everyone and their dog’s plans into the trash. A “new normal” has emerged where certain markets are now much more difficult for CrossFit HQ to target, most notably China and Asia where the mainland has adopted a “zero Covid-19” strategy that will keep events out of there for what looks like years.
The question is, how does Roza pivot in an endemic landscape? Does he solidify CrossFit in North America and bide his time when it comes to grandiose international goals, or does he stick his expansion plans on countries he knows he can send his team in and out of safely without major headaches? Knowing Roza and his track record, he already has a thought process in place, and pulling the trigger is just a matter of time.
4. Will we see or hear from Greg Glassman? Disgraced former CEO and CrossFit founder Glassman has a new book coming out, titled “Defining Fitness”. Glassman has largely kept out of the public eye since he stepped down in 2020 amid a whirlwind of controversy.
Will CrossFit fans welcome him back, or is he going to get the cold shoulder in trying to reenter the sport’s discussion sphere? Many would point to the latter, as some of his actions have permanently burned bridges, however, it remains to be seen how much of CrossFit and its subsequent community has cast him off permanently.
5. Where does Tia-Clair Toomey go from here? Currently on the hunt to become the first-ever person to compete at the CrossFit Games, the Summer and Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, Toomey is clearly superhuman and not of this planet. If she qualifies for Beijing 2022 in the two-man bobsled for Australia, it gives her yet another notch on her belt, and puts her into thin air territory. But a sixth CrossFit Games title, which would push her past Fraser, is the ultimate benchmark.
Toomey is the greatest female CrossFit athlete of all time, a title she may never relinquish, but 2022 presents a salivating opportunity: the chance for fans to place her above her male counterparts as the greatest CrossFitter ever, period.
6. Will Patrick Vellner retire? Along with Ohlsen, Vellner has, and always will be, a fan favorite and one of a few veterans we’d love to watch ride off into the sunset with a title on their resume. Vellner got close this past season and has clearly mulled the idea of calling it a career, however one thinks he’d love to go out with a bang.
Medeiros is the favorite heading into the 2022 CrossFit Games, but you can never count out Vellner given his track record. Will he finally capture that elusive title, which would cap off an extraordinary career? Or will Medeiros and company prove too much for “ghost” as he decides his body has had enough and it’s time for one of the sport’s defining personalities to retire?