Different year, same result as once again as Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey took top honors at the 2018 CrossFit Games.
Just as he had done in 2016 and 2017, Fraser headed into the final event with an unassailable lead over the field. Despite having the title in the bag, Fraser held nothing back, storming to victory, making him only the second CrossFit athlete ever to win three Games titles.
Fraser was the overwhelming favorite heading into the competition, leading after the first day of competition and never looking back. “This year was the most nervous I’ve felt,” Fraser said in his post-tournament media conference, “I felt underprepared.” Clearly, it didn’t show.
In second place was fan-favorite Patrick Vellner despite a series of set-backs.
On the first day, the 28-year-old Canadian damaged his bike, then he had a scary fall climbing over a cargo net two days later and in the final event of the week, dropped a weight plate and saw it roll away causing him to lose vital seconds. Vellner had finished third the last two years.
Finishing off the podium was Swede Lukas Högberg who edged out 2017 runner-up Brent Fikowski on a tie-breaker. When asked what he’ll do to celebrate after the competition, he answered simply “go back to the hotel, eat some Cinnabons and go to sleep I guess.”
In the women’s event, Tia-Clair Toomey’s road to the top of the podium was very different from 12 months ago. In 2017, she had won by the narrowest of margins, topping fellow Australian Kara Webb (now Saunders) by just two points. This year, her winning margin was a commanding 64 points, 1,154 to Games rookie Laura Horvath’s 1,090.
The 21-year-old Hungarian made a real statement at this year’s Games, having led after day one and never dropping out of the top three, making her a potential title contender in future.
Rounding off the podium was two-time Games champion Katrin Davidsdottir, who was returning to the top three after a disappointing fifth at last year’s competition.
This year’s competition began with the toughest day in CrossFit Games history, which started with a criterium cycling race, a 10-lap race around the Games venue.
That was followed by a gymnastics event, in which athletes had to complete 30 ring muscle-ups (beginning hanging from gymnastic rings, and pulling oneself up to full extension above the rings) with the quickest finisher winning.
After that, athletes competed in a weightlifting competition, testing their max back squat, shoulder press and deadlift. Later that evening, the athletes gathered to complete a marathon on the rowing machines. 26.2 miles with the men’s and women’s event winners finishing in 2:43:50 and 3:00.42 respectively.
The CrossFit Games is designed to test all facets of fitness. One of the key principles of CrossFit is being prepared for the unknown and unknowable, and as such events are kept secret ahead of time.
This year’s competition took that notion one step further, when CrossFit Games director Dave Castro announced an event in which the athletes were expected to start, then follow the judges’ instructions, totally unaware of when each component would end.
Dubbed “chaos,” this event included disciplines such as SkiErg, burpees, box jumps, overhead squats and a giant tumbler pull.
The competition was hosted in Madison, Wisconsin for the second straight year, with a deal in place to keep the Games there through 2021.