CrossFit Games

22.1 Versus 2021 When it Comes to the Elite Women

March 1, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Instagram @prvnfitness | @tamanephotography
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Each year, the road to CrossFit Games qualification is a long one, one that puts athletes through at least 15 unique, varied tests before determining who deserves to compete on the biggest stage.

Last year, this included four tests during the Open, five during Quarterfinals and another six or seven at Semifinals, and we can assume 2022 will be similar.

And while it seems only fair that multiple, unique, variable tests should be required in order to figure out who the fittest athletes in the world worthy of a Games invite, when we look at the women’s leaderboard after 22.1—a random, simple 15-minute test with three largely non-technical movements—a picture emerges. Even amongst a field of more than 115,000 women (who submitted scores), the fittest in the world from 2021 are already setting themselves apart.

Looking at 22.1: Although the leaderboard is still unofficial until Wednesday at 5 pm PT, after just one event, six of the top 10 women, including the top three—Mallory O’Brien, Gabriela Migala and Emma Cary—all finished in the top 16 at the Games last summer.

What about the other 34 qualifiers from 2021?

  • First, we must consider athletes who announced their retirement after last summer. This list includes Kari Pearce, Mekenzie Riley, Jessica Griffith and Alessandra Pichelli. Of them, only Pichelli submitted a score on 22.1. 
  • Further, two others—Larissa Cunha (under drug sanction) and Svetlana Kubyshkina—didn’t participate in 22.1, bringing last year’s Games field down to 34 athletes that we can assume are trying to make a run at the Games this season.

Twenty of those 34 athletes are in the top 100 after 22.1, while 28 of them are in the top 200. And while that might not sound that impressive, we must remember that this is against a field of more than 115,000 women, meaning 28 of these 2021 Games athletes are already in the top 0.1 of one percent after just one 15-minute test.  

Worth Noting: Though both Bethany Shadburne and Danielle Brandon are currently two of the lower ranked athletes from last summer’s Games—425th and 200th respectively—it can be argued that had they not been the 22.1 live announcement athletes, who essentially act as guinea pigs while the world watches and learns from them, chances are they would both be ranked considerably higher than they are. Neither redid 22.1.

The Bottom Line: Generally speaking, the fittest athletes are going to prevail, regardless of the test, begging the question: from a purely analytical perspective, do we really need three qualification rounds and 15 tests to find the fittest to compete at the Games?

But maybe that’s old news. 

CrossFit founder Greg Glassman put it this way: 

“Historically, the ranking of the Open for men and women held magnificently through the Regionals or Sanctionals and the grueling days of the Games. One year the women held nearly one through 10 ranks. The point is that the Open was (a) more than adequate predictor of the outcome of many more exposures that we could have all gone back to work after the Open confident that we knew who the fittest on earth were. The rest was show.”

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