Ten Things We are Thankful for this Thanksgiving

November 22, 2023 by
Photo Credit: @crossfitchamblee
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It is that time of the year. There is a chill in the air, and everyone starts to gather to celebrate and reflect on the year that was 2023. Thanksgiving is when we give thanks for all the good we have experienced during the year–from push jerks and PRs to family and friends.

CrossFit has delivered an incredible year full of people and things to be thankful for. Here are ten things we were happy to have in our lives in 2023. Let’s raise a glass to what we are grateful for from CrossFit this year.

  1. Ricky Garard Returns to Rogue

After returning to the CrossFit Games in 2022 to finish in third place, the stage was set for Ricky Garard to have a monster 2023. That is, until he crashed his mountain bike in the middle of the competition season, tore the AC joint in his shoulder, and had to withdraw from the Games season. Garard pursued his rehab diligently and made a triumphant return to the Rogue Invitational in October. He finished the weekend in fifth place and won Event 2, “Seat at the Bar.” 2024 looks to be a big year for the Aussie.

  1. Roman’s Final Day of the 2023 CrossFit Games

Ask anyone about the most powerful moment of the 2023 CrossFit Games and most will say one word: Roman. Khrennikov looked fantastic to start the weekend, with no finish outside ninth place until the eighth workout of the Games. It looked to be a fight to the finish between Adler and Khrennikov but then Khrennikov landed awkwardly on a sandbag as he jumped over his log during the Muscle-Up Logs event. He was seen in a wheelchair after the event and surprised the crowd in the Coliseum when he limped in and proceeded to gut out double under after double under on one leg. 

In the post-event interview, Khrennikov continued to wow the crowd with his dedication. He was asked what kept him going. He responded, “I want to be a hero for my son and have him see me fight until the end.”

I’m not crying; you’re crying.

  1. Female Coaches

With Jeff Adler and Patrick Vellner standing on the CrossFit Games podium this year, two female coaches stood incredibly proud. Caroline Lambray and Michelle Letendre have been coaching Adler and Vellner, respectively, for years, and seeing two-thirds of the men’s podium coached by women was a big deal in a sport primarily populated by male coaches. 

  1. Jeff Adler Breaks Through

Adler has always looked competitive at the Games, but his results had yet to show it. Before this year, Adler had two fifth-place Games finishes, sandwiched between a 13th and 33rd place. He never was able to fully put it together. Until 2023. 

With Caroline Lambray’s guidance, Adler fixed the holes in his game and came into Madison in 2023 cool, calm, and collected. He finished the weekend over 100 points ahead of second place, finishing in eighth or better in all events except two. 

  1. The Future is Bright

Only some people knew the statuesque Jelle Hoste before he arrived in Madison to compete in his first CrossFit Games. Sure, some people had noticed Hoste at Semifinals, where he finished first in two events, but many people wrote the tall Belgian off at the start of the weekend. He proved everyone wrong, finishing in tenth place, winning the Cross-Country 5k, and showing a spark usually only visible in seasoned Games athletes.

Another rookie who looked strong in Madison was Olivia Kerstetter. After winning her age division among the teenage girls in 2021 and 2022, she threw caution to the wind and competed at the North America West Semifinal with women up to 14 years her senior. She qualified for the Games, where she finished in 16th place, won the final event, and won the Rookie of the Year award.

The image of her lunging down the floor toward her long-time training partner, Jacob Heppner, is ingrained in our 2023 Games memories.

  1. Mom Strength 

The fans missed seeing Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr on the competition floor at the 2023 CrossFit Games, but they didn’t have to wait long. Toomey-Orr was announced to make her return to competition after giving birth to baby Willow at the 2023 Rogue Invitational. And return, she did. She took second place at the end of the weekend, winning two events.

With Toomey-Orr missing the Games, Arielle Loewen stepped up to represent the mom contingent. Keeping up with the youngins, Loewen had a fantastic weekend, finishing in third place on the podium with five top-five finishes. That Mom strength is real.

  1. Team Invictus’s Second Attempt Brings Gold

There was much talk about the super teams heading into the Games, mostly centering around East Nashville PRVN and CrossFit Oslo Navy Blue. Sure, there were some murmurings about Invictus, but after Jorge Fernandez strained his hamstring during Semifinals, most people had written off the Southern California team. 

But, man, did Invictus prove everyone wrong? The same team that finished in third place in 2022 was determined to bring home the gold this year, and they were a lesson in teamwork and consistency, never finishing lower than eighth place in any event, with nine event finishes in the top three.

  1. Laura Horvath Wins It All

In her sixth year competing at the CrossFit Games, Laura Horvath finally broke through to be crowned the Fittest on Earth. She put on a dominant performance, with five first-place event finishes, three coming in the final four events. Horvath backed up her Games win with a win over Toomey-Orr at the Rogue Invitational, and it is clear that this is a rivalry that fans will be enjoying for years to come.

  1. Young Female Athletes Say No

First, it was Haley Adams. Then it was Mal O’Brien. This year, we saw two young women stand up for their mental health and choose to step away from the sport they competed in since they were teenagers. O’Brien was considered the heir to the Games throne, and in May, she posted on Instagram that she would not be competing at Semifinals. 

The support poured in on social media for both her and Adams, and slowly, the two women began to post again. First, pictures of them smiling with friends, then content of them training with joy in their eyes. 

Fans cannot wait to see both Adams and O’Brien back on the competition floor, physically and mentally healthy.

Photo Credit: @crossfitgames 
  1. Madison Goes Out With a Bang

It was Madison’s swan song as the CrossFit Games head to Austin, Texas in 2024. After seven years in one of America’s Fittest cities, the mark of CrossFit will be forever etched on Madison’s skyline. From big lifts in the Coliseum to a bustling vendor village to the event that epitomizes the sport’s time in Madison, the Capitol, athletes, and fans will forever hold Madison close to their hearts.

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