Five Burning Questions Entering the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Season
The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games season is upon us, and there are already conversations taking place about the annual trip to Madison, WI. There are too many to count at this point in the season, but here are five that we find to be the most important.
Who Takes Over for Tia-Clair Toomey?
- Since the 2017 season, there has only been one woman that has stood atop the podium at the CrossFit Games – Tia-Clair Toomey. She has won the title of Fittest on Earth six times, but she will not take part in the 2023 season after announcing that she and husband Shane Orr are expecting their first child together.
- Toomey’s absence leaves some big shoes to fill, but which athlete will step up and take control? Mallory O’Brien is the name on the tip of many tongues, and for good reason. She finished second in the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games after going toe-to-toe with Toomey all weekend. O’Brien also won an event during the 2021 Games.
- Of course, one of the biggest reasons why O’Brien will enter the season as a favorite is her coach. She works with five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser. O’Brien already has skills, but Fraser is someone that can teach her how to fully embrace the pain.
- O’Brien may be the most popular name right now, but there are multiple other contenders that can not be overlooked. Two-time champion Annie Thorisdottir returns to individual competition while Brooke Wells takes on another season more than a year removed from elbow surgery.
- Laura Horvath does not get discussed as frequently due to some past issues with handstand push-ups, but there is no denying that she is one of the best athletes in the division. She has stood on the CrossFit Games podium three times in her career, and she put on a dominant show during the 2022 Rogue Invitational.
Will Justin Medeiros Get a Three-Peat?
- Justin Medeiros figuratively burst into the spotlight during the 2020 CrossFit Games season when he finished on the podium with Mat Fraser and Samuel Kwant. He showed that he could contend with the top athletes in the sport and created the expectation that he could be a podium contender.
- Medeiros has since gone on to win back-to-back titles at the NOBULL CrossFit Games, which put him in elite company. He joined Fraser (five titles) and Rich Froning Jr. (four titles) as the only male athletes to win multiple times.
- Medeiros hasn’t been as active during offseason competitions. He won the 2022 Rogue Invitational, but he didn’t compete at TYR Wodapalooza. He has just continued to train for the season.
- No one really knows how he will perform until he takes part in Semifinals, but there is no reason to doubt that Medeiros will once again be the man to beat in Madison. He has just been too consistent since 2020.
Can Ricky Garard Get Back on the Podium?
- The 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games marked the first time that Ricky Garard was able to compete in a CrossFit-sanctioned event after serving his drug suspension. There were numerous questions about how he would perform, and he answered them all by securing a spot on the podium and winning multiple events.
- Since the NOBULL CrossFit Games ended, Garard has only continued to perform at a high level. He finished 10th at the Rogue Invitational and then he won the TYR Wodapalooza after a fierce battle with Roman Khrennikov.
- Garard has put on a show since returning to CrossFit-sanctioned events, and it appears that he is someone that will challenge Medeiros for the title of Fittest on Earth. Though there are still questions remaining about his future.
- Garard is already a well-balanced athlete with considerable strength, but can he continue to work on his pacing for longer events? This was something that disrupted “Back Attack” at the Rogue Invitational and “King Arthur” at Torian Pro. Though Garard also dealt with a stomach issue during the Semifinals event.
Which Team Takes Over After CrossFit Mayhem Freedom’s Reign?
- For the first time since the 2015 season, the Team division will not feature Rich Froning Jr. The CrossFit GOAT has announced his retirement after winning 10 titles (six team and four individual).
- Froning’s absence from the competition floor will create a power vacuum entering 2023. The crown will be available for dozens of contenders, but which one will step and take it?
- CrossFit Reykjavik is out of the picture after Thorisdottir returned to individual competition, but perennial contender CrossFit Invictus will likely be back. CrossFit Oslo Navy Blue will also draw attention considering that the team finished second in 2022.
- Additionally, Move Fast Lift Heavy will have two teams contending for spots at the NOBULL CrossFit Games. Christian Harris will lead one while Dex Hopkins will lead the other.
- One change for the 2023 season that will create extra intrigue is the return of Super Teams. Members no longer have to live within 100 miles of the respective affiliates. Instead, they just have to prove that they were at the affiliates doing the Open workouts with their team members.
- Super Teams opened up the opportunities for high-profile athletes to compete together in pursuit of a common goal. Just look at CrossFit Krypton, which finished second in 2019. This team consisted of Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Alec Smith, Cody Mooney, and Jessica Griffith.
- With Froning retiring from Team competition, the stage is now set for even more Super Teams. There will be high-profile athletes that will join forces to try to win a title and cement a spot in CrossFit history.
Is Katrin Davidsdottir Primed To Contend for a Podium Spot?
- The past two seasons have not played out as Katrin Davidsdottir planned. She finished 10th in the 2021 CrossFit Games, left CompTrain to return to Iceland, and then failed to qualify in 2022. Though she joined CrossFit Reykjavik as a potential injury replacement.
- Davidsdottir failing to qualify was a stunner for CrossFit fans. The reason is that she had qualified nine times since 2012 and had finished on the podium four times. This includes her two titles.
- Since the 2022 season came to an end, Davidsdottir has made a major change. She joined Mat Fraser’s HWPO in September 2022 and became teammates with Samuel Kwant, Jayson Hopper, Mallory O’Brien, Thuri Helgadottir, and Amanda Barnhart.
- This partnership is key for multiple reasons. One, Fraser’s programming helped him become a five-time CrossFit Games champion. Two, Davidsdottir and Fraser trained together when they were both winning titles in their respective divisions.
This familiarity will be key as the two-time champion takes on the 2023 season. She will have someone in her corner that knows very well how to push her, which will only supplement the existing fire that burns after she missed the 2022 CrossFit Games.