The 2021 Rogue Invitational is taking place the weekend of Oct. 29-31 at the Dell Diamond stadium in Round Rock, TX, and will be streamed live on YouTube.
Two main features of the Invitational will be the Individual CrossFit competition and the Legends competition. Two-time Rogue Invitational women’s champion Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr and the 2020 Rogue Invitational men’s champion Patrick Vellner will be on hand to defend their titles.
Both athletes are part of a field of 20 women and 20 men composed of top 2021 CrossFit Games finishers, including five of the six podium Individuals. The athletes will be competing for a record-breaking prize purse, only topped by the CrossFit Games. The Legends competition will see 16 CrossFit icons (nine men and seven women) who were top contenders and fan favorites in the early years of the Games.
Storylines to Follow
The Rogue Invitational brings together CrossFit’s past and present stars who make up a significant amount of the sport’s history. Here’s who you should keep your eyes on in the Individual division.
Will anyone be able to keep up with Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr as she vies for her third straight Rogue Invitational title? Toomey-Orr is one of the best CrossFit athletes of all time as the five-time CrossFit Games champion from 2017-2021.
At the 2021 CrossFit Games, she dominated the rest of the field. Most of Toomey-Orr’s competition from the Games will be at the Rogue Invitational — so it’s safe to assume she’s favored to win.
In addition to preparing for the Rogue Invitational, Toomey-Orr has been busy training to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics on the Australian bobsled team. Shortly after winning her fifth straight Games title last August, the Australian was at the New York Lake Placid bobsled training center prepping for the upcoming bobsled season.
How does Justin Medeiros — the freshly minted Fittest Man on Earth® — perform in his first competition after winning the 2021 CrossFit Games? The 2021 Games were only Medeiros’ second career competition victory (he also won the 2019 Filthy 150 to qualify for the 2020 CrossFit Games).
It is hard to say if Medeiros will go on a winning streak as many other champions have done. He faces stiff competition at the Rogue Invitational and in the next Games season, including Patrick Vellner, Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson, and Saxon Panchik.
Patrick Vellner is the returning Rogue Invitational champion. He is also coming off his second silver medal performance at the CrossFit Games (and fourth overall Games podium finish). After a few stumbles at the 2019 and 2020 CrossFit Games, Vellner is back in top form.
A second Rogue Invitational championship will be a great way to cap off Vellner’s year and build momentum for a run at the coveted title of Fittest Man on Earth® in 2022.
Notable Individual Mentions
Three individuals did not compete at the 2021 CrossFit Games. The Rogue Invitational will be the capstone event for their 2021 seasons.
Kari Pearce had to withdraw right before the start of the CrossFit Games due to having COVID-19. Heading into the 2021 Games, Pearce was considered a top-five contender. Pearce’s withdrawal was especially unfortunate, as she was coming off her career-best third-place finish at the 2020 CrossFit Games.
Additionally, Pearce recently announced that the Rogue Invitational would be her last competition before she retires. The seven-time CrossFit Games qualifier will leave the sport as arguably the United States’ best female CrossFit competitor.
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Sam Kwant had a long-time chronic illness flare-up right before the 2021 Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge (MACC), which hindered his performance, leaving him in 14th place. However, he placed second at the 2020 Games, insinuating that he could do well at the Rogue Invitational.
Ben Smith also did not qualify for the 2021 CrossFit Games at the 2021 MACC. The 11-time Individual Games veteran will want to show he can still compete with the sport’s top echelons.
Smith will also be attending the 2021 Rogue Invitational as both a coach and competitor. This season he coached Laura Horvath (also competing in the Rogue Invitational), who returned to the second spot on the Games podium for the second time in her career.
The Legends competing were, at one point, at the top of their class. Among the participants will be the first-ever USA CrossFit Invitational Team from 2012 — Kristan Clever, Rebecca Voigt-Miller, Julie Foucher, Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Matt Chan, and Josh Everett (as a coach). Other year’s Invitational teams are partially part of the 2021 Legends roster.
There is a mix of actively-competing Legends and ones that have moved on from competitive CrossFit. Rich Froning and Dan Bailey are still competing in the Games seasons, as are Annie Sakamoto and Rebecca Voigt-Miller for the women.
Froning jumped into the Legends competition for the Amanda event in 2019, but this will be his first full Legends competition, and he’s a favorite to win. At the beginning of his career, Froning competed with these Legends. As they started to fade away from competition, Froning never did and every year has always been on top or one step from the top of a CrossFit Games podium (except 2020 when the Team competition was canceled).
2021 will be Froning’s first full Legends competition — he competed in the Amanda event in 2019 — and he’s a favorite to win. Although some of his peers have faded from the competitive circuit, Froning has remained only a few steps away from the Games podium. A testament to Froning’s elite fitness throughout his career is his Open placement — he’s the only athlete to rank in the top 19 worldwide in every Open.
Every Legend, except for Foucher and Froning, is Masters age now (35 and up). While many of them have decided not to compete in Masters competitions, others have embraced it, such as 2021 Masters 45-49 Champion Annie Sakamoto and three-time Masters medalist Rebecca Voigt-Miller.
Chris Spealler and Kristan Clever competed as Masters at the 2017 CrossFit Games during the first year of the 35-39 age division. Though he didn’t compete due to having COVID-19, Dan Bailey was planning on participating at the CrossFit Games as a Master in 2021.
Other Legends have picked up other competitive sports — Josh Bridges fought Jacob Heppner in a boxing bout in September, and Margaux Alvarez now competes in long-drive golf competitions.
Stacie Tovar is planning to appear despite being 20 weeks pregnant with her second child. Kara Saunders competed while pregnant in a scaled version of 19.2 for an Open Announcement.
The Old and the New
There are a total of nine Individuals that will be competing in their third Rogue Invitational: Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, Katrín Davíðsdóttir, Ben Smith, Samantha Briggs, Patrick Vellner, Laura Horvath, Kristin Holte, Cole Sager, and Chandler Smith.
Conversely, there will be several Rogue Invitational rookies this year (Individual and Legends) – a total of nine women and twelve men. The most notable are Josh Bridges, Justin Medeiros, Mallory O’Brien, Guilherme Malheiros (who recently became a Mayhem athlete), and Emma Cary.
O’Brien and Cary — both 17 years old — are coming off of stellar 2021 CrossFit Games performances and will look to continue their upward trajectories at the Rogue Invitational. With a seventh-place Games finish for O’Brien and a 16th-place finish for Cary, the rest of the women’s field must contend with these future Games powerhouses. How much have they improved in three months since the 2021 CrossFit Games?
The Invitational will also be one of the last competitions fans get to see Kristin Holte compete in CrossFit as an Individual. After her fourth place in her eighth consecutive CrossFit Games this year, she announced that she plans on retiring from CrossFit Games competition at the end of this season. In November, Holte also intends to compete at the Mayhem Desert Heat and the Dubai CrossFit Championship in December.
- 11 of the total 17 CrossFit Games Individual Champions will be competing at the Rogue Invitational: Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr (5), Annie Thorisdottir (2), Katrín Davíðsdóttir (2), Justin Medeiros (1), Ben Smith (1), Samantha Briggs (1), Rich Froning (4), Kristan Clever (1), Tanya Wagner (1), Mikko Salo (1), and Jason Khalipa (1).
- Of all the 90 Individual CrossFit Games podium spots, 57 podium-placers are in either the Individual or Legends fields.
- Total Games Appearances: 284 (180 Individuals / 104 Legends)
- Total Games Individual Appearances: 250 (167 Individuals / 83 Legends)
- Total CrossFit Games Individual Top-Five Placings: 85 (52 Individual / 33 Legends)
- Total CrossFit Games Individual Top-10 Placings: 137 (88 Individual / 49 Legends)
- Total CrossFit Games Individual Events competed in: 2,857 (2,001 Individual / 856 Legends)
- Total CrossFit Games Individual Event Wins: 175 (117 Individual / 58 Legends)
- Nine of the Spirit of the Games winners will be competing: Jason Khalipa (2009), Chris Spealler (2010), Annie Sakamoto (2011), Kristan Clever (2013), Rebecca Voigt Miller (2014), Dan Bailey (2015), Cole Sager (2017), Samantha Briggs (2019), and Katrín Davíðsdóttir (2020).
More Fun Facts
The Rogue Invitational roster is stacked with talented and accomplished athletes. Here are a few significant achievements split between the Individual and Legend competitors.
- Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr is tied for the most Individual championship wins with five, and has won the most CrossFit Games events at 33.
- Rich Froning has been first or second at the CrossFit Games all 11 years of his participation, with a total of nine championships (four Individual/five Teams) and two silver medals (one Individual and one Team).
- Rebecca Voigt Miller has competed in the most CrossFit Games of all time with 13 (10 Individual and three Masters).
- Annie Thorisdottir and Ben Smith have competed in the most CrossFit Games as Individuals with 11 apiece.
- The former and current youngest CrossFit Games male champions are competing at the Rogue Invitational: Jason Khalipa (2008) and Justin Medeiros (2021).
- The previous and current youngest CrossFit Games Individual event winners are competing at the Rogue Invitational: Annie Thorisdottir (2009) and Mallory O’Brien (2021).
A Historic Prize
The prize purse for the Rogue Invitational is substantially larger this year and is only eclipsed by the CrossFit Games itself. Rogue made a baseline contribution to the winnings in both cash and Bitcoin, which continues to grow and change dynamically as ticket sales increase.
- $5,935 for 10th-20th
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The 2021 Rogue Invitational is a Must-See
As the first year of the new CrossFit Games offseason schedule winds down, the Rogue Invitational is a can’t-miss occurrence. CrossFit’s biggest stars, both past and present, will likely rekindle former rivalries as they throw down for some serious prize money.
The Rogue Invitational is sure to bring out the best from all the athletes in both competition and camaraderie, and the fans get to enjoy all the spectacle along the way.
Featured Image: @richfroning on Instagram