The CrossFit Games “The Madison Era”: 30-16 Women’s Rankings

January 1, 202413 min read

Following the 2023 CrossFit Games the “Madison Era” of the Games is now officially behind us. Similarly to how we did for the Ranch Era and the Carson Era, we’ve set out to try and identify the top athletes from the third location that has played host to the CrossFit Games, Madison, Wisconsin. 

Changing Formats

The first year in Madison was 2017. The first two years were very normal years there, but everything changed during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The dramatic differences in the structure and execution of those seasons make this era a bit nonlinear in terms of assessing performance. 

2019- Everyone Makes It

In 2019 over one hundred more people qualified for the Games than any other year during this era AND there was a dramatic cut structure which caused even some of the best from this time period to get between one and five events before being cut. Subsequently, it yielded overall finishes from some that are remarkably better and worse than any other year in their career. 

2020- No One Makes It

The following year, this time due to global circumstances, the Games was split into two stages, and the first stage took place online for the first time ever. Only five men and five women advanced to Stage 2, which we are still counting as during the Madison era, even though none of the events or stages took place in Madison that year. Once again we have results which are non congruent relative to certain athletes careers otherwise, but, it’s what we have, so it’s what we’ll work with. 


Last week we rolled out three articles counting down the men from 30 to 1. This week we will focus on the women, beginning with the women ranked 30-16, followed up by the women 15-6, and finishing with the top-5 women from the “Madison Era”. 

*Note: These are my personal rankings. Thursday on the B.Friendly Fitness Podcast I will be joined by John Young of JY Barbell Club, who has made his own rankings for a debate in which we will attempt to compromise where we have differences amongst our rankings. 

30. Samantha Briggs

Samantha Briggs 2018 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 9th – 2017
  • Average Finish: 18
  • Event Wins: 2 (Assault Banger/Madison Triplet – 2017)

Despite being eligible for Masters status throughout this entire era, Briggs managed to qualify four out of five years in a row from 2017 to 2021 including a ninth place finish in 2017. In her final year she finished 21st, one spot short of making the cut to the top-20. Her career is one of legend, but her accomplishments still warrant a place on this list during the “Madison Era”.

2.9 Emma McQuaid

Emma McQuaid 2022 Games 1111
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 5 Appearances
  • Best: 12th – 2021 and 2022
  • Average Finish: 19.8
  • Event Wins: 0

McQuaid is Ireland’s finest and has made it to five consecutive CrossFit Games. Twice she’s been 12th, during the strange seasons she was 20th and 19th, and she fell off this past year to 36th. Much like Tim Paulson on the men’s side, her ability to consistently qualify got the Games, more so than the standout performances, earns her a spot on the list.

28. Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault

Carol Ann Reason Thibault 2018 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 11th – 2020
  • Average Finish: 15.25
  • Event Wins: 0

Reason-Thibault had a four-year stretch from 2017 to 2020 which displayed a consistent level of fitness regardless of format. Fifteenth, 19th, 16th and 11th respectively places during that span. She was never quite able to crack the top-10, but she was never in the bottom half of the field either. One of the top Canadian women in the history of the sport and a deserving spot in the “Madison Era” Top-30.

27. Alessandra Pichelli

Alessandra Pichelli 2018 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 11th – 2017
  • Average Finish: 15
  • Event Wins: 0

Pichelli’s resume during this era looks very similar to fellow Canadian Reason-Thibault, four appearances in five years and a fairly consistent return. Eleventh, 14th ,13th and 22nd in 2021. Pichelli was a little better in terms of placement, but she did also have the worse finish of the two women. It’s splitting hairs really.

26. Thuri Helgadottir

Thuri Helgadottir 2019 Games 1111
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 9th – 2019
  • Average Finish: 15.5
  • Event Wins: 0

Heldgadottir, as the previous two women have, made the Games four times during this era. Her performances, very consistent. However, a ninth place in 2019, despite the different format, and a 13th in 2021 stand out to me as the best two performances from any of these women and offset the 18th from 2017 and 22nd from 2022 (when neither of the other two were qualifying any more). Helgadottir is the first of four Icelandic women on this list.

25. Bethany Flores (Shadburne)

Bethany Branham 2017 Games 1111
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 5* Appearances (6th qualification in 2021, but DNS due to Covid)
  • Best: 8th – 2019
  • Average Finish: 16.2
  • Event Wins: 0

Flores checks in at 26th, but there will always be a lingering question of what could have been when it comes to her in 2021. Apart from that year, where she missed the competition due to Covid, she also made it five of the other six years during this era. Her best finish was eighth in 2019, but she was also 15th in 2023 and 16th in 2018- showing an impressive consistency against two very talented fields five years apart with several setbacks in between.

24. Alex Gazan

Alex Gazan 2023 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 2 Appearances
  • Best: 5th – 2023
  • Average Finish: 14.5
  • Event Wins: 0

Gazan is tricky to place with only two appearances in the two most recent years. The 24th in 2022 as a rookie is ok, the fifth place in her second year is very impressive. I wrestled with her ranking a lot, and felt she needed to be on here, but with only the one really solid performance, I couldn’t justify any higher than this. 

23. Sara Sigmundsdottir

Sara Sigmundsdottir 2018 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 4th – 2017
  • Average Finish: 14.7
  • Event Wins: 1 (Fibonacci Final – 2017)

Sigmundsdottir is one of the more mysterious cases in CrossFit Games history, however, when it comes to the “Madison Era” alone she had four appearances (one ended in withdrawal) and a fourth place in 2017 which still weighs nicely in her favor. Ninteenth in 2019 with the cuts and 21st in 2020 online look ok, but the formats of those years do diminish the performances. All in all, this feels ok as a place to put her with that fourth place and 4 qualifications. 

22. Emma Cary

Emma Cary 2021 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 2 Appearances
  • Best: 8th – 2023
  • Average Finish: 12
  • Event Wins: 0

A rising star in the sport currently, coming off an eighth place finish in her second season competing at the Games in the elite women’s division. As a rookie she was 16th in 2021, she missed 2022 rehabbing a back injury. She was good enough in limited opportunities to be recognized here, but the best is likely still to come for Cary.

21. Emily Rolfe

Emily Rolfe 2019 Games 1111
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 12th – 2023
  • Average Finish: 15
  • Event Wins: 3 (5K – 2023, Run-Toes to Bar – 2021, Ruck – 2019)

Rolfe was a rookie in 2019 and did alright on the six events we got to watch her do. She got cut in the final round alongside nine other women on this list. After not making the online Games in 2020, she’s qualified every year since. Unfortunately she had to withdraw following event 1 of 2022, but 15th in 2021 and a career-best 12th in 2023 despite being 34 years old are hard to argue with. She also boasts three event wins in this era (only five women on this list have more).

20. Cassidy Lance-McWherter

Cassidy Lance McWherter 2018 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 2 Appearances
  • Best: 10th – 2018
  • Average Finish: 11
  • Event Wins: 0

Two years and two strong performances is the theme for the next three women on the list. Lance-McWherter competed in 2017, she was 12th, and 2018, she was 10th, before stepping away from the sport. 

19. Tennil Beuerlein

Tennil Reed Beuerlein 2017 Games 1111
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 2 Appearances
  • Best: 6th – 2017
  • Average Finish: 9
  • Event Wins: 1 (Sprint O-Course – 2017)

Very similarly to Lance-McWherter, Beuerlein was sixth in 2017 and 12th in 2018 before walking away. The sixth place gives her the edge over Lance McWherter, it also gave her the title of “Fittest American Woman” that season. 

18. Alexis Raptis

Alexis Raptis 2023 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 2 Appearances
  • Best: 6th – 2023
  • Average Finish: 8
  • Event Wins: 1 (Echo Press – 2022)

Although the two seasons were different, Raptis has a similar resume to the previous two ladies. Tenth as a rookie in 2022 with an event win, and backed it up with a sixth place finish in 2023. There are a lot of talented young women in the sport right now, don’t forget that Raptis is one of them.

17. Arielle Loewen

Arielle Loewen 2023 Games Sebs 1111
Image Credit: Sebastian Castillo
  • 3 Appearances
  • Best: 3rd – 2023
  • Average Finish: 9.3
  • Event Wins: 1 (Elevated Elizabeth – 2022)

What Loewen has done the past three seasons is simply phenomenal. She went from competing at the Granite Games Semifinal in 2021 with no expectations, to becoming the third “Fittest Woman on Earth” in 2023. Probably the coolest thing about what Loewen has done these three seasons is that she’s gotten better across the board each year. Fewer bad finishes, more great finishes, and the overall results show it. That’s what the methodology suggests should happen, she’s just applying it at the top end of the sport in a way few can.

16. Amanda Barnhart

Amanda Barnhart 2018 Games 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 6 Appearances
  • Best: 7th – 2019 and 2020
  • Average Finish: 12.7
  • Event Wins: 3 (Bike-Snatch – 2021, Sprint Couplet – 2019, Clean and Jerk Speed Ladder – 2018)

Barnhart checks in towards the middle of the list here with six consecutive CrossFit Games appearances. She’s generally been pretty good, and although she was seventh in both 2019 and 2020, I look to the ninth in 2021 as her career best performance. Regardless, three-straight top tens, six-straight qualifications, and three event wins is a more complete resume than anyone else on the list up to this point.

Ranks 15-6 will be coming out tomorrow. 

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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