The men’s competition is slated to take place from Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 6. There will be two days of competition before an initial cut down to 30. There will be an additional day of competition for those 30 men, then a final cut down to 20. The top-20 men will then finish the competition on Sunday.
Eight of the top ten men from last year are back, including two-time defending champion Justin Medeiros. It had been two years since any man, any where, had beaten Medeiros in a live competition, and then suddenly he took fifth at the North America West Semifinal, and suddenly we have a hell of a battle on our hands for the Games this year!
The Top Ten:
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You Have to Beat Him at the Games
I’m still giving the nod to Medeiros. His record at the Games the past two seasons is staggering. He doesn’t have bad finishes, he doesn’t give away points mid-workout. It will take not just a very fit man, but a clean run and damn near perfect execution to beat him. Do I think it can happen? Yes. Am I picking anyone else until it does? No.
Rookie Runner Ups
Roman Khrennikov technically wasn’t a rookie last season since he competed in Stage one of the 2020 Games online. However, it was his first live appearance at the Games. Since 2010 the other athletes who have placed second in their first live appearance are Rich Froning (2010), Josh Bridges (2011), Mat Fraser (2014), Tia-Clair Toomey (2015), and Laura Horvath (2018). I don’t think Khrennikov is going anywhere; he will be in the hunt.
The Canadian Conundrum
Pat Vellner or Jeff Adler? It’s really splitting hairs. They each won their Semifinal this year, but Adler got the better of him in three big competitions last season (Semifinals, Games, Rogue). And yet, it still somehow feels like Vellner is the Canadian to beat at the Games. It’s tight at the top, expect one Canadian male on the podium. I’m going with Vellner, but it’s no guarantee.
I know it’s a little boring, but I’ve picked the eight men that made the top ten last year, and filled in the other two spots with Dallin Pepper and Brent Fikowski. I had picked both in the top-ten last year as well and was wrong. I’m very high on Pepper to have a much improved sophomore year in the elite division. He had all top-ten finishes at Semifinals and was in the mix with Adler, Hopper, and Khrennikov throughout. He strikes me as an athlete with that final heat swagger and I think he’ll be spending a lot of time there this year.
Vets Who Still Have It
Quite frankly, it’s going to be difficult to make it to Sunday in the men’s field, and some very fit individuals will miss out. I’m giving the nod to a slew of veterans here (Ohlsen, Koski, Sager, and Moorad) who were all ookies at the Games way back in 2014. There’s a reason their still here after all these years, and I still think they have what it takes to survive the cuts.
Speaking of Rookies
The * from here on out denotes 2023 CrossFit Games rookies, and this year I’m only picking one to make it to Sunday- Jelle Hoste. If you’ve already seen the women’s power rankings article, you’ll know I didn’t pick any female rookies to make it through. That leaves Hoste as my pick for overall “Rookie of the Year” this time around.
Most Improved Candidate?
Last year Cole Greashaber made the Games and finished 33rd notching top-ten finishes on two tests, “Elevated Elevated” an “Rinse’N’Repeat”. High skill gymnastics and swimming are two things he is quite good at that we typically only see at the Games (as far as the in season stages go). However, he was one of the four men who just beat Medeiros at Semifinals, and his best finishes there came on workouts that didn’t involve gymnastics. I expect a much more well-rounded athlete this year and to be in the running for “Most Improved”.
So much is going to be on the line on Saturday, and these are the group that I think will be battling for that final day of competition. With a long run and a heavy lift, whatever else is tested that day is going to be critical. In an ideal world it balances the scales for the “Fittest” to show their merit across a balanced day of testing.
Who’s Going to Breakthrough?
There are four rookies in this group, and then three other men who were in this range last year (Crouch, Vigneault, Upenieks – Panchik was 20th). This is the range where we will see some definite surprises. One or two of these guys will do better than expected, meaning a couple guys from the previous ten will have their weekend early.
There are several men in this last group of ten that are not only rookies, but also relatively unknown entities in terms of what they excel at, and how they will hold up against the hardest test and the best CrossFitters in the world.
Both South American men have intrigue as their Semifinal performances were not only good enough to keep Guilherme Malheiros out, but also put up relatively competitive scores on several of the tests.
Big Strong Men
Several big strong men have fought their way into the Games field (some speculate that’s because of a bias in the Semifinal programming that really shows itself in this bottom part of the field). It will be interesting to see if tests which favor this skill set show up early in the competition. If that’s the case, a few of these men will likely fight their way into the field for Saturday, and from there, who knows.