CrossFit Games

A Look Back: What Did We Learn from the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Women’s Division

August 17, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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Time has passed and the dust has settled since the 2023 CrossFit Games have taken place and for the very last time in Madison, Wisconsin. Major storylines have already been dissected and digested. 

Hungary’s Laura Horvath took home the title of Fittest on Earth, and racked up five test wins, earning 285 points on Sunday alone. This was Horvath’s fourth time on the podium, her first as a champion. Another memorable outcome was first time podium finisher Arielle Loewen taking home third place. 

But so much more happened throughout those four days in August. Here are some additional storylines and takeaways from the women’s division. 

Slow Starts, Strong Finishes

Ultimately finishing in fourth place, Gabi Migala had an average of 16th place on her first six tests, her lowest finish being Helena, with a 27th. But on her last six tests, she finished with an average of 6th. She saved her best performance for last, taking third place on the Echo Thruster Final. 

Brute Strength’s Danielle Brandon averaged a 15th place finish on her first six tests, even though she nabbed a first place finish on Test 3: Inverted Medley. Her last six tests gave her a 10th place average, and three of her four top ten finishes were the last three tests. She finished in 9th place. 

The greatest comeback over the four days belonged to Emma Cary, as she came in 40th on “Ride” and 39th on “Alpaca Redux.” These finishes along with the other four on the first two days gave her an average finish of 19th place even though she took second place on “Helena” on Friday. On her last six tests, however, she averaged a seventh place finish, taking eighth overall. 

Queen of the North

The youngest woman to ever stand on the podium is a title that goes to second place finisher, 18-year-old Emma Lawson. The young Canadian put on a stellar performance all weekend with no test finishes below 15th, and only two outside the top ten. She won two tests, “Ride,” and “Intervals.” The former teen competitor exhibited poise throughout the event, repeatedly expressing her gratitude for her fellow competitors, fans and the opportunities she has been given that helped to bring her to Madison. Through years of hard work, devotion to her goals and dedication, she proved that she belongs with the women she has spent years chasing and admiring. 

  • “Only a few years back, I was watching Sara, Tia, Annie, Kari and all the other amazing athletes at the CrossFit Games being so strong and doing such incredible things. I didn’t even dare to dream that one day I could be there too, but they showed me that anything is possible,” shared Lawson on Instagram after the Games in 2022. 

Pushing Through Pain

Inevitably, athletes finish the weekend, their bodies battered, with a fatigue and soreness that many of us can’t fathom. However, there were several athletes that unfortunately had to withdraw due to injuries, and were greatly missed for the rest of the competition. 

Emma McQuaid withdrew from the Games after Test 5: Ski-Bag. She posted on Instagram that this was not the ending she wanted, and that she medically withdrew. She did not share further details, only that she would be spending ample time resting and recovering. 

Jamie Simmonds injured her elbow in the “Olympic Total,” while she was snatching, however she managed to finish the event, as the clean and jerk seemed not to pose a problem for her. She withdrew before the next test.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking injury for CrossFit fans was that of Ellie Turner. After experiencing a sharp pain in her lower back on “Alpaca Redux,” the Aussie gutted out “Ski-Bag,” and gave it everything she had. Barely able to stand after the test, fans could see that something was very apparently wrong. She came back out to the competition floor to complete “Helena,” but as she entered the coliseum after her final 400 meter run, the last in her heat, in obvious agony, no dry eye was found amongst her fans as the crowd roared for her tenacity and grit. Turner ultimately withdrew after that test. 

Filling the Void

Coming into the 2023 Games with five women missing from last year’s top ten, the big question on many fans’ minds was, who would take those spots? With some of the obvious contenders being the remaining five, one could speculate that the lower finishers on the 2022 roster would edge their way up. Additionally, the 2023 roster saw women returning to competition that had missed out in 2022. 

Living up to expectations, the five remaining top ten finishers from the 2022 roster maintained their top ten status in 2023. Additionally, Arielle Loewen, 11th place finisher from 2022 worked her way onto the podium. Katrin Davidsdottir and Emma Cary took seventh place and eighth place respectively this year, after missing out on the 2022 Games. And with Alex Gazan taking fifth and Paige Powers taking tenth, both athletes made major jumps from last year’s competition where they finished 24th and 25th respectively. 

The Sleddog Returns

As mentioned, two-time CrossFit Games champion Katrin Davidsdottir missed out on the 2022 CrossFit Games failing to qualify at Strength in Depth with a sixth place finish. Training with HWPO to prepare for this season, Davidsdottir took second place at the North America West Semifinal, and came to Madison with a new level of confidence, and self awareness. She took second place in the “Echo Thruster Final,” and had two additional top five finishes. The last eight times we’ve seen her at the CrossFit Games, she has finished in the top ten, standing on top of the podium in 2015 and 2016. With her eighth place finish in 2023, Davidsdottir proved to her fans that she’s back and here to stay.

  •  “Seventh fittest in the world, and what a journey it has been to get back here!” shared Davidsdottir on Instagram. “From sitting in the stands last year to being back out there with a chance to FIGHT this year.”

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