CrossFit Games

Preseason Rankings: Top 10 Men and Women Heading into 2022

February 15, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Rogue Invitational, Rogue Fitness
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The 2022 season is almost here, and although there are three distinct parts of the season to make it through before the Games this summer, it’s time for some preseason power rankings heading into the Open. 

These are my top 10 ranked men and women leading into the 2022 season: 

Men: 

  1. Justin Medeiros

Notable Competitions: 

  • 1st CrossFit Games 2021
  • 1st Rogue Invitational 2021
  • 3rd CrossFit Games 2020
  • 1st Filthy 150 2018

Following his wins at the 2021 Games and the Rogue Invitational, Medeiros is currently the man to beat at every competition he enters. And until someone does so, he will be ranked number one.

2. Patrick Vellner

Notable Competitions: 

  • 2nd CrossFit Games 2021 and 2018
  • 3rd CrossFit Games 2017 and 2016
  • 2nd Rogue Invitational 2021 and 2019
  • 1st Rogue Invitational 2020
  • 1st Wodapalooza 2021, 2020, 2019

On paper, he looks like the only guy who can challenge Medeiros for the title of Fittest on Earth. Second at the Games, second at Rogue, and the winner at Wodapalooza. Some may say he’s getting old, but he’s one of the best we’ve ever seen and there’s no precedent to think that a man in his early 30s who has regularly dominated most of the other men still competing is too old to continue doing so. Expect Vellner to make another title run this year.

3. Brent Fikowski

Notable Competitions: 

  • 3rd CrossFit Games 2021
  • 2nd CrossFit Games 2017
  • 1st Dubai 2019

Although he faded towards the end of the Games this past season, there are many who think he may have been a little more injured than he wants to publicly admit; some think he may have actually won this past season had he not been. He has taken the entire offseason off to prepare for another run at it. The only potential problem for him would be another online semifinal. Barring that, expect another podium run for “The Professor”.

4. Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson

Notable Competitions:

  • 4th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 4th Rogue 2021
  • 3rd CrossFit Games 2019 and 2015
  • 2nd Dubai 2018 
  • 1st Reykjavik 2019
  • 2nd Rogue 2019

The king of Europe and the picture of consistency. BKG is riding a seven year streak of finishing 8th or better at the Games. He was fourth last year and fourth at Rogue. He’s not flashy, but this man knows how to navigate the CrossFit season as well as anyone currently doing it.

5. Roman Khrennikov

Notable Competitions:

  • 1st Dubai 2021
  • 13th CrossFit Games 2020 (Stage 1 – online)
  • 3rd Dubai 2019

His competition pedigree apart from the Games speaks for itself, and with a visa to the United States finally secured, the men’s field needs to take notice. He’s technically riding a five competition winning streak at the moment (LCQ, Butchers Classic, Madrid, Russia and Dubai). But, it’s his performance from Dubai in 2019 that really stands out. He, along with Fikowski and Vellner, battled right to the end and all three of them were nearly 100 points ahead of BKG. 

6. Jonne Koski

Notable Competitions:

  • 6th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 1st German Throwdown 2021
  • 6th Dubai 2021

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard anything from Koski in the offseason it’s because he had shoulder surgery in September and has been rehabbing from that. This may scare people away from him being ranked this highly, but elite level athletes have shown the propensity to make speedy and impressive recoveries before. He has four top ten Games finishes to his name and is coming off a 6th place finish last year so this is where he belongs.

7. Saxon Panchik

Notable Competitions:

  • 5th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 1st Granite Games 2021
  • 10th Rogue 2021
  • 8th Wodapalooza 2022; 4th Wodapalooza 2020; 5th Wodapalooza 2019

One of the harder athletes to place on this list. He won the Granite Games, and had a stellar performance at the CrossFit Games taking 5th overall. Since then he’s finished 10th at Rogue and 8th at Wodapalooza. On the whole, we’re not too worried about those offseason finishes though. They aren’t that bad really, and the nature of those competitions is a little different than the Games season. Since 2012 there’s been at least one Panchik in the top 10 every year other than 2020, Saxon will be looking to carry that mantle forward into 2022.

8. Lazar Dukic

Notable Competitions:

  • 9th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 12th Rogue 2021
  • 2nd Dubai 2021; 5th Dubai 2019; 11th Dubai 2018

Lazar and his brother both broke through onto the global scene this year, but with a little more age and experience it is Lazar who had the kickstart to the type of career he’s looking for in 2021. Although his performance at Rogue was underwhelming, that’s not too surprising considering the program there and his relative strengths and weaknesses. He is so good at mostly everything though, that with another year to build that base of strength he is the one man on this list that I am most concerned I may have too low.

9. Ricky Garard

Notable Competitions:

  • 3rd Dubai 2021

A bit of a wildcard here, but the only data point we have is from Dubai where he did find himself on the podium. Granted that field wasn’t necessarily full of the names we’d like to see him compete against, but a podium finish in Dubai in any year is a big accomplishment. Everyone will certainly be watching him this year, and if he does finish in the top ten it will be a success for him in his first season back from suspension.

10. Guilherme Malheiros

Notable Competitions:

  • 7th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 5th Rogue 2021

I understand if some are up in arms about this low of a ranking for Malheiros, but hear me out. It is rare to win three events at the Games as he did this past year. Don’t believe me? Ask Fikowski: he won four events as a rookie in 2016, and has only won three total events at the Games since. Winning events at the Games is huge in terms of points and placements, and if he’s able to replicate that I will eat my words. But if not, a finish closer to tenth is more likely for Malheiros in 2022.

Narrowly missed the list (in no particular order): Alexandre Caron, Alex Vigneault, Cole Sager, Jeff Adler, Noah Ohlsen, Samuel Cournoyer, Travis Mayer.

Women:

  1. Tia-Clair Toomey

Notable Competitions:

  • 1st 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 CrossFit Games
  • 2nd 2016 and 2015 CrossFit Games
  • 1st Rogue 2021, 2020, 2019
  • 1st Wodapalooza 2020 and 2019

I could just say “5 Time” and leave it at that. But she also won nine events last year at the Games…nine! Against a full field. Annie Thorisdottir gave her a scare at Rogue, but Toomey rose to that challenge when it mattered most too. Thorisdottir is not in the field this year and second place Laura Horvath was 256 points behind her in 2021. It doesn’t matter that she’s taken a few months off to qualify for the Olympics, or that she gained some weight to do so, her level of fitness is so far superior to the rest that barring injury, the sixth title is inevitable. 

2. Laura Horvath

Notable Competitions:

  • 2nd CrossFit Games 2021 and 2018
  • 4th Rogue 2021; 5th Rogue 2020
  • 2nd Lowlands 2021
  • 1st Strength in Depth 2020

With Thorisdottir out of the individual competition, this seems like the clear choice for number two on this list. Horvath has finished second at the Games twice, and as far as we know only has one weakness to speak of. She finished in the top half of every event last year in Madison, and her overall fitness will drown out that weakness even if it shows up. 

3. Haley Adams

Notable Competitions: 

  • 5th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 4th CrossFit Games 2020
  • 6th CrossFit Games 2019
  • 1st CrossFit Games Girls 17-18 2018
  • 5th Rogue 2021; 8th Rogue 2020
  • 5th Wodapalooza 2020

Yes the last three years have been wildly inconsistent in terms of the season, but you know what hasn’t been? Haley Adams. Sixth in 2019, 4th in 2020, 5th in 2021, and 5th at the Rogue Invitational despite the fact that it was a strength biased test and everyone knows that’s the area of her fitness she’s working on most. She’s already in the conversation for fittest woman to never podium at the Games, perhaps 2022 is her year to finally check that off the list.

4. Gabriela Migala

Notable Competitions: 

  • 6th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 3rd Lowlands Throwdown 2021
  • 3rd Rogue 2021
  • 7th Wodapalooza 2019

Migala’s 2021 season has probably not gotten the credit it deserves: 6th at the Games, 3rd at Rogue, 3rd at Dubai. That warrants this ranking alone. There is one outstanding question with Migala though, and it’s legless rope climbs. Back in 2018, a deficiency in those prevented her from advancing past First Cut, and this year those didn’t show up in live competition for her at all. Nevertheless, if, like Horvath, that is in fact the one weakness she has, her all around game is still good enough to securely place her near the top of the women’s field. 

5. Kara Saunders

Notable Competitions: 

  • 2nd CrossFit Games 2017
  • 4th CrossFit Games 2018
  • 3rd Rogue 2020
  • 1st Torian Pro 2021

One of the drawbacks to the 2021 season is how many of the top women in the sport ultimately didn’t get to compete at the Games, or at least compete at full capacity. And from the onset this past summer in Madison it was clear something was off with Saunders. As we eventually found out, she was sick, and ultimately had to withdraw. It appears as if she is on track to run it back this season though, and if she does she’s a scary addition to the women’s field who does have a chance to podium if things go her way. 

6. Mallory O’Brien

Notable Competitions:

  • 7th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 8th Rogue 2021
  • 2nd Granite Games 2021
  • 3rd North American Quarterfinals 2021

We really want to see more from the young superstar before ranking her this high, but it’s awfully hard not to even with the small sample size available. Last season she was 2nd place worldwide in the Open behind Toomey, 3rd place in North America at Quarterfinals, 2nd place at an in person Semifinal (Granite Games), managed to put together a 7th place finish at the Games and 8th place finish at Rogue. With a few big names like Thorisdottir and Holte being removed from this year’s field, O’Brien might just find herself doing better at the Games in 2022 than she did in 2021.

7. Bethany Shadburne

Notable Competitions:

  • 8th CrossFit Games 2019
  • 1st West Coast Classic 2021
  • 2nd Wodapalooza 2020
  • 4th Wodapalooza 2018

Shadburne was another victim of illness last year and it was to the dismay of nearly everyone who loves the CrossFit Games. Shadburne looked so impressive at the West Coast Classic and seemed to be very dialed in for the Games. We will never know how well she would have done last year, here’s to hoping we get to find out this year. 

8. Katrin Davidsdottir

Notable Competitions:

  • 10th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 2nd CrossFIt Games 2020 
  • 1st CrossFit Games 2016, 2015
  • 15th Rogue 2021; 13th Rogue 2020
  • 1st Wodapalooza 2018

Although there are several women who beat Davidsdottir last season at both the Games and Rogue, there’s something to be said for experience and consistency over time; this woman knows how to compete. In case anyone has forgotten, she’s had seven consecutive top 10 finishes at the Games, and before last year it was six straight top five finishes. She’s made a big move this offseason relocating back to her home country of Iceland, and we have a feeling this will be a positive change for her in 2022.

9. Amanda Barnhart

Notable Competitions:

  • 9th CrossFit Games 2021
  • 7th CrossFit Games 2020 and 2019
  • 15th CrossFit Games 2018
  • 10th Rogue 2021; 7th Rogue 2020
  • 4th Wodapalooza 2020
  • 1st Down Under CrossFit Championship 2019

Another athlete who has largely been underappreciated despite her consistent excellence over the last three seasons: 7th in both 2019* and 2020, and 9th last season. *Note that in the 2019 season it has been documented how much the combination of scoring and programming favored the generally smaller athlete, and Barnhart still found her way into the top 10. She does often get overshadowed or forgotten amidst all the other top women in the sport, but make no mistake about it, Barnhart is perennial top ten Games material.

10. Brooke Wells

Notable Competitions: 

  • 5th CrossFit Games 2020
  • 8th CrossFit Games 2018
  • 6th CrossFit Games 2016
  • 10th Rogue 2020, 7th Rogue 2019
  • 6th Wodapalooza 2020, 2nd Wodapalooza 2017, 1st Wodapalooza 2016

It is not out of the question that Brooke Wells would have made the podium at the CrossFit Games last year if not for the devastating elbow injury she suffered. And at the very least, she would have highly contested Adams for fittest American woman. Nevertheless what happened happened, and now she’s on the road to recovery. The women’s field is very top heavy, and very good, and there are several athletes who narrowly missed this list who might be able to keep a recovering Wells out of the top ten. However, as I’ve mentioned already, the capacity for athletes to make incredible recoveries from injury is high, and if Wells is able to make it through the qualifying rounds, there’s a good chance she’ll at the very least be a top ten contender again this year. 

Narrowly missed the list (in no particular order): Danielle Brandon, Emma Cary, Emma McQuaid, Jamie Simmonds, Karin Freyova, Sara Sigmundsdóttir.

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