CrossFit Games

190 is the New 160: A Look at Women’s Semifinal Snatches

June 18, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Instagram @avakitziphotography
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As we watched woman after woman hit a 190-pound snatch at the recent Semifinals, it was easy to become numb to what we were witnessing. Easy to forget where we were two, three, five, or 10 years ago.

As a CrossFit OG, I watched women at this year’s Semis hit 200-pounds after an 800-meter run in Test 4, and string together 125-pound snatches in Test 5 as if was 65 pounds, and I couldn’t help but look back to the opening event of the 2010 CrossFit Games, to the debut of the workout Amanda (9-7-5 ring muscles-ups and squat snatches at 135/95 pounds).

That year, Amanda was considered highly-technical, causing men and women alike to struggle, not only with getting through the 21 muscle-ups, but also on the 135/95-pound snatches. Watching old coverage of that event today potently shows us how far our sport has come. (Scroll to 1:42.16 in the workout, where 2008 Games champion Jason Khalipa, who was known for his strength in those days, goes for a walk with the barbell and face plants).

And for an even more potent example of progress, we took at the women’s snatch numbers from the 2023 Semifinals and compared them to two previous max snatch events from years gone by. 

The details: Throughout the seven Semifinal competitions this season, 54 women hit at least a 190-pound snatch—18.5 percent of the field—while 18 hit 200 pounds or more, the heaviest lift put up by Hannah Black in North America West with 215 pounds.

When we compare this to just two years ago, to the one-rep max snatch event at the 2021 CrossFit Games (which isn’t even a fair comparison, we should add, as it’s comparing a Semifinal field to a Games field. Further, the athletes in 2021 didn’t have to do an 800-meter run first), the Semifinal field of 2023 still takes the cake.

  • In 2021, just two athletes—Tia-Clair Toomey and Annie Thorisdottir, hit 200 pounds, while five athletes hit 190 pounds, or 13 percent of the fittest women in the world.

Going back a bit further to the max snatch event at Regionals in 2015: That year, only five women hit 190 pounds or more. 

  • Even more telling, however, is that in 2015, 165 pounds was considered a heavy snatch. In four of the eight regions that season, 165 pounds was good enough for a top 10 score, and in both the West region and the Atlantic region, the winning snatch was less than 180 pounds. 
  • In fact, only five percent of the field was able to hit 180 pounds or more in 2015. This year, when we consider North America West, North America East, Europe and Oceania, 45 percent of the field posted 180 pounds or more.

The big picture: “Measurable and repeatable” has always been at the heart of CrossFit, and with good reason. Tangible numbers allow us to measure progress, progress that we otherwise might take for granted.

  • Case in point: In 2023, we are no longer impressed to see women hit 180 pounds. It’s expected at bare minimum to be somewhat competitive at the Semifinal level. But go back in time just a few short years, and it’s easy to appreciate just how challenging of a feat that really is. 

Just ask the women who competed in Amanda in the opening event of the 2010 Games.

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