In a sport where intensity and mystery are par for the course, it isn’t easy to hone in on a handful of exciting moments. However, the sport of CrossFit in 2022 saw enough loaded barbells, organizational shifts, and event magic to satisfy the finickiest of fans.
Below are five moments in time that we think A) elicited a response from fans or B) impacted the sport and community greatly. You don’t have to love CrossFit to appreciate a clutch lift performed by a clutch athlete, an event that’ll go down as an instant classic, or the complicated emotions behind a significant change in leadership.
Best CrossFit Moments in 2022
- Guilherme Malheiros Sets the Barbell Complex Record at Copa Sur Semifinal
- Emma Lawson Becomes the Youngest Athlete to Wear the CrossFit Games Leader’s Jersey
- Adrian Bozman Steps in as Lead Programmer for the CrossFit Games Season
- Chandler Smith Lifts the Log and Finishes Second at Rogue Invitational
- Garard and Migala Win Madison Era Signature Event: The Capitol
During his rookie season at the 2021 CrossFit Games, young Brazilian athlete Guilherme Malheiros won the hearts of fans on the back of not one, not two, but three event wins throughout the competition. While the sprint and the clean/run ladder were solid wins, his victory in Event 12, a one-rep max snatch event in the Coliseum, is what solidified his rising star status.
In 2022, the CrossFit Games team made the decision to introduce two standardized workouts to the Semifinal stage of the competition: a repeat workout from the 2014 Regionals featuring running and legless rope climbs, and a barbell complex consisting of three cleans into two front squats into one shoulder-to-overhead move.
In week one, Tudor Magda and Griffin Roelle both lifted 345 pounds at the Syndicate Crown Semifinal. At the Granite Games, three weeks into the Semifinal, Anthony Davis set a new top lift of 355 pounds. With one week remaining, Malheiros emerged as the most likely candidate to top that lift at the Copa Sur Semifinal in South America.
He didn’t need the lift to win the event, but there wasn’t really any doubt about whether or not he’d attempt to set the record. Malheiros loaded the bar to 162 kilograms (357 pounds) and stepped up to the bar. The energy in the predominantly Brazilian crowd was palpable; you could almost feel it through the livestream from your home.
Malheiros opted for squat cleans from the beginning, all three of which looked easy enough. The front squats also were no issue. Malheiros then showed a little hesitancy in getting primed for the jerk — his first sign of potential weakness. However, once he engaged, he rocketed under the barbell and easily hit the lift to establish the heaviest lift of the 10 worldwide Semifinals.
After two scored events at the 2022 CrossFit Games, the youngest competitor in either the men’s or women’s Individual divisions, Emma Lawson, found herself in first place overall.
Note: The women’s heat 4 can be seen in the video below at the 46:35 mark.
Having taken third on the opening event, Bike to Work, and third on the second scored event, Speed Skill Medley, the 17-year-old had 188 total points, 12 better than Mallory O’Brien and Haley Adams who were tied for second at that point.
When Lawson put the white and red NOBULL leaders jersey on for the third scored event of the competition, Elevated Elizabeth, she became the youngest Individual athlete to ever wear the leader’s jersey for an event in the history of the CrossFit Games.
For the first time in the entirety of the history of the CrossFit Games, someone other than Dave Castro was responsible for programming the CrossFit Games season. (Castro was fired from his position as General Manager of Sport in January 2022 and then rehired by CrossFit in a different role on the affiliate side of the business.)
“I never doubted I was qualified to do it; I don’t think anyone else is more qualified.” – Adrian Bozman
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding that change, or the person who would be stepping into that position, it was always going to be met with some uncertainty.
“When you’re the lead programmer for the CrossFit Games, in essence you become a coach to the fIttest people in the world.” – Justin Bergh, General Manage of Sport for CrossFit
Adrian Bozman, who was formerly the Head Judge for the CrossFit Games, is now the mastermind of the Games. He is one of the few people who has had proximity to the programming process for the CrossFit Games season for nearly the entirety of its existence. In more recent years, he had been integral to the process, as he worked closely with Castro to make sure all preparations were accounted for in his role as Head Judge.
Looking back on the season, it seems appropriate to say that Bozman certainly rose to the challenge. He introduced a variety of new elements at the CrossFit Games, particularly in the realm of skills and gymnastics, but additionally by putting an emphasis on execution in many of his workout designs.
Some critics have said he pulled out too many tricks in year one, but he has replied and assured us there will be plenty more creativity in the programming, and challenges for the athletes, in the 2023 season and beyond with him at the helm.
However, following The Sandbag Ladder at the Games in which the final four men all failed to hit the final sandbag, the one-rep max Log Lift (aka The Texas Oak) at the Rogue Invitational would not succumb to the same fate; enter Chandler Smith.
Note: Chandler’s press can be seen in the video below at the 1:44.30 mark.
After a disappointing Semifinals in which he battled asthma and allergies and fell well short of qualifying for the Games, Smith went on to win the “Q,” Rogue’s online qualifier, to earn a spot at the 2022 Rogue Invitational.
Smith got off to a strong start with event finishes of sixth, second, and ninth before stumbling a bit with a 12th and a 16th. He roared back with a third-place finish on the Duel II, setting himself up for the Texas Oak lifting event on Saturday night.
As the field whittled down, the last lifters standing were Smith and Roman Khrennikov facing down the 300-pound Austrian Oak — a log Rogue designed for the Arnold Strongman Classic. Smith was first and wasted no time hitting his lift with little struggle. When the Russian, Khrennikov, could not do so, it meant Smith had secured his first event win of the competition.
He’d go on to notch a couple more third-place finishes on Sunday and battle his way to a second-place overall finish in the competition, the highest finish of any online qualifier not just in 2022 but in the history of the Rogue Invitational. It was a great capstone to his year, which was derailed earlier than expected in the Games season.
The athletes began in North Park, where they completed 20 pig flips. They then exited the stadium and ran three and a half miles toward the Capitol, located in the heart of Madison. A 200-meter Jerry Bag Carry was awaiting them there, followed by a 200-meter Husafell Sandbag Carry, ending at the top of the Capitol steps.
It took incredible vision and creativity to pull this event off from both the competition and broadcast perspective, and it has been celebrated as such.
Because the event had no time cap, the final part of this event saw the community at the foot of the Capitol building rally around last-place finisher Rebecca Fuselier as she ascended the Capitol steps. And while that moment will undoubtedly live on in the history of the sport, we would be remiss not to recognize the winners of this monumental workout.
The men’s winner was Ricky Garard, who continues on the path to redemption after serving a four-year ban from competition following the 2017 CrossFit Games. Event Five marked his second event win of the competition. The Australian would go on to secure a podium spot.
The winner on the women’s side was Poland’s Gabriela Migała, notching the first win of her Games career en route to her second consecutive top-10 finish at the Games.
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Featured Image: Patrick Clark | Athlete Eye’s Photography