From Oct. 27-30, 50 of the planet’s fittest and strongest athletes converged at Dell Diamond Stadium in Austin, TX, to partake in the 2022 Rogue Invitational, which hosts both competitive CrossFit and strongman competitions.
Over four days, BarBend‘s CrossFit writer and photographer Patrick Clark captured stunning shots of both events, showcasing athletes at their highs and lows throughout the weekend. Below are 20 of Clark’s favorite shots and a brief explanation of what you’re seeing.
[Related: Check out BarBend’s leaderboard for complete coverage of the 2022 Rogue Invitational]
Teenager Emma Lawson Takes on the “Texas Oak”
This Canadian sensation burst onto the scene in the 2022 CrossFit Games season showing that despite just being 17 years old, she was ready to compete with the top women athletes in the sport. Those who weren’t convinced by her placing sixth at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games should be now after a podium finish at Rogue.
Even more impressive than her two event wins was her eighth-place finish in the “Texas Oak” event. Not known particularly for her strength, Lawson tied seven other athletes by lifting the odd object at 190 pounds.
Among that group of athletes were Annie Thorisdottir, Amanda Barnhart, Olivia Kerstetter, Manon Angonese, Gabriela Migala, and Ellie Turner, all known for their strength. This event shows the continued evolution of Lawson and how she has yet to reach her potential as an athlete.
The Return of Thor
Hafþór Björnsson didn’t show up to compete in the strongman competition. However, his larger-than-life presence was felt even if he was just there to break the 56-pound Weight Over Bar World Record, which he did rather easily.
Thor, who is also known as “The Mountain” from his stint in HBO‘s Game of Thrones, tossed the implement of 23 feet and three inches. This bested the previous record — which he set in 2019 at the Arnold Strongman Classic — by one inch.
Finding Small Victories
Jacqueline Dahlstrøm didn’t have the best finish at the 2021 Rogue Invitational, finishing last. An athlete who is known more for her gymnastics than her strength, she did better than her 17th place at this year’s competition would indicate.
She had three top-10 finishes this year while only having one last year. The Norwegian also made sure she had fun and celebrated when she had the opportunity, especially in workouts where she thought she would struggle. The “Heavy DT” event was one such workout, where it was more about finishing the event under the time cap than her placing.
His Name is Tim Paulson
Paulson is one of CrossFit’s true professionals. As a veteran of the sport, he has competed in six-straight CrossFit Games. This was his first time competing at the prestigious Rogue Invitational, having received an invitation through their online qualifier.
Known for his celebrations, Paulson let the crowd at Dell Diamond know he came to compete during the “Texas Oak” event. He was able to log press a weight of 280 pounds overhead, placing seventh, his best finish of the weekend.
Nakonechnyy Shoulders the Weight
In this photo, Pavlo Nakonechnyy prepares to press the 280-pound Cyr dumbbell — the same weight that the CrossFit men pressed on the log, these men press with one arm — over his head during the second event of the competition. The Ukrainian placed ninth in the event, clearing the ladder and lifting the 300-pound Cyr Bell once.
Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi
Ricky Garard has never been one to play to the crowd, often using their cheers and channeling that energy to help him, especially in lifting events. So when he was introduced to the log lift, he knew he needed that encouragement more than ever during the weekend.
It paid off for the Australian as he successfully lifted 280 pounds after numerous missed lifts. Due to the tiebreaker — a Jerry can race — he finished third in the event, in large part to the crowd and the love they showed him.
Welcome Back Mr. Smith
The 2022 CrossFit Games season was less than ideal for Chandler Smith, one of the more popular and talented athletes in the men’s division. He failed to qualify for the Games due to his continued battle with asthma, which came ahead of the Granite Games Semifinal.
If the offseason has given us any indication, Smith seems to be back and perhaps better than ever. He finished second overall at the competition, thanks in large part to his impressive event win in the “Texas Oak.”
Martins Licis Chalks Up Enroute to “Rogue-A-Coaster” Win
Lifting chalk and strongman go together like peanut butter and jelly. Martins Licis, who won the 2019 World’s Strongest Man and 2021 Rogue Invitational, showers himself with chalk while awaiting his turn to tackle the “Rogue-a-Coaster, ” the newest strongman implement created through the mad-scientist mind of Rogue owner Bill Henniger.
Chalk it up to the, ahem, chalk, or perhaps his combination of strength and technique, but whatever it was worked — he won the spectacle of an event with a time of 0:33.44.
Welcome to the Show Kid
The weekend didn’t go as planned for teen sensation Olivia Kerstetter. Still, she gathered a lot of data and experience from her first major competition against the top Individual women in the sport. She could have competed at any other competition to gain this experience. Instead, she put herself out there for the whole world to see.
Her performance had many peaks and valleys, as she finished 16th overall. Post-Rogue, she and her coaching team, led by Jacob Heppner, will go back to the drawing board and figure out where she goes from here. She may remain in the Teen Division to defend her Fittest Teen title or elect to compete as an elite individual. Whatever her decision will be, she took on the brutal workouts over the weekend and showed she can compete with the best.
Horvath Establishes Her Dominance
Laura Horvath crossed the finish line with her hand raised after her Event Five win in “The Turtle.” The win was her third of what would end up being a fourth-straight event win for the three-time CrossFit Games podium finisher.
Her streak of event wins essentially clinched the title for her, solidifying herself as one of the best women athletes in the sport.
Turner’s Climb to the Top
Ellie Turner burst onto the scene last year as she came out of relatively nowhere to make her first Games. Many saw her trip to the Games as a product of Tia-Clair Toomey not competing in the Oceania Semifinal and an injury to Jamie Simmonds. This year, Turner put those doubters in their place as she once again made the Games and improved on her finish, placing 18th, earning her an invite to the Rogue Invitational.
The Australian was expected to do well with the Rogue programming and she didn’t disappoint, recording seven top-10 finishes. Those finishes included a fourth-place finish in “The Duel II,” which led to her tying Lawson with 670 points. Ultimately, Turner would lose the tie-breaker and finish fourth overall.
No Monkeying Around
We haven’t seen the monkey bars used in a major CrossFit competition since the 2018 Games where it was featured during the obstacle portion of the “Battlegrounds” event. Rogue was able to bring this rig out of the mothballs and just like in 2018, it provided just enough of an annoyance for athletes during Event Five, “The Turtle,” to play a small role in the finish of that event.
Eyeing the Competition
Ending on a High Note
Much like Kerstetter, former Teen Division athlete Jack Farlow was able to gather some much-needed experience competing against the best men in the world. However, it was a very frustrating experience, as well.
Farlow only had one top-10 finish while collecting five bottom-five heading into the final event. Faced with “Heavy Grace,” the Canadian was able to show everyone why his future looks so bright as he crossed the finish line with both arms up in elation. He won his heat in fourth-place overall.
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Dani Speegle was no doubt one of the more popular athletes in the field. She was typically one of the last athletes to leave the field of competition, as she would take the time to give hugs and high-fives, sign autographs, and take pictures with the fans.
The fans decided to give back to her as one group handed her a box of her favorite Crumbl Cookies after the final event. In true Speegle form, she accepted the box with a smile and hugs.
Faster Than a Turtle, Kwant Wins His First Rogue Event
Samuel Kwant stood atop the man-made hill that Rogue created for the competition, pulling the rope hand-over-hand, smooth and steady. And smooth and steady is the best way to describe Kwant. You can also say quiet, unassuming, and underrated.
That description of him was more evident than ever in “The Turtle” workout, where he picked up the event win. He crossed the finish line with little celebration and because of that, little fanfare. But the former Games runner-up and last year’s fourth-place finisher could care less. Well, at least, he’s not telling anyone.
Finishing With a Bang and a Sigh of Relief
Kara Saunders is arguably one of the greatest female CrossFit athletes of all time. She’s had a career most athletes would die for. The last few seasons have been anything but easy for the Australian, as she has given birth and saw her 2021 Games cut short due to the after-effects of Covid-19.
The 2022 Games saw a return to the form of the Saunders we have known, as she placed seventh overall. Her performance at Rogue mirrored her 2022 Games not only in final placing but at her impressive finish in the final event. Unlike at the Games, where she placed second in the final event, at Rogue she won the event outright. Saunders finished “Heavy Grace” with a look of happiness and relief that the grueling four days of competition were finally over.
Jorge Fernandez Proves His Fitness is Elite
Fernandez isn’t used to being in the spotlight. His CrossFit career has always been associated with his Invictus team, a team that finished third at the Games this past year. This offseason he branched out a bit and did the online qualifier for Rogue, which he finished second to Chandler Smith.
In his first five events, Fernandez looked a bit out of place, as his best finish was 12th. In Event Six, “The Duel II,” the former collegiate baseball player made it through the elimination-style bracket, culminating with a head-to-head showdown with two-time Fittest Man on Earth® Justin Medeiros.
This put Fernandez centerstage in the finals, where he was able to show off the fitness that got him to the competition. He was less than a second away from beating Medeiros in the event as he collected his best finish of the weekend.
“Iceland Annie” is Back
Last year, Annie Thorisdottir gave six-time Fittest Woman on Earth® Tia-Clair Toomey a run for her money as she nearly upset her, placing second at the Rogue Invitational. This season, she was considered one of the athletes to become the first woman not named Toomey to win the competition.
Despite training as a team athlete over the last nine months, the two-time Fittest Woman on Earth® showed she’s still a contender to challenge Toomey as she placed second. It was vintage Thorisdottir throughout the competition, as she had nine top-10 finishes. She was the only woman to do that, averaging a finish of 6.9-place. Her trademark smile was also on display before and after each event.
The Champ Goes All Out for the Win
Justin Medeiros knows that the margin between being a champion and a runner-up is a matter of seconds and inches. That’s part of the reason why he has won five-straight live competitions, including the Rogue Invitational twice. That trait of his was put on full display during the final round of “The Duel II” where he faced off against Jorge Fernandez.
In a field full of contenders, every point counts, especially event wins. He and Fernandez were neck-and-neck throughout the workout. Medeiros had a slight lead on the sandbag carry but could see that Fernandez was gaining on him. So, he elected to dive for the finish, which paid off. He won the event while knocking the wind out of himself. But for the W, it seemed well worth it.
Featured Image: Patrick Clark / Athlete Eye’s Photography