This year’s CrossFit season is different from the year’s past, but fans experiencing change fatigue will be happy to have a blast from the past — the return of live Open announcements by CrossFit HQ. Every Thursday at 5:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. EST, CrossFit will announce each week’s Open workout. You can set a reminder to catch the first announcement in the YouTube video below, where CrossFit will announce workout one — 21.1.
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In total, there are three CrossFit Open workouts. Here’s an announcement schedule that you can reference:
- 21.1, Engine vs. Skill — announced Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. EST
- 21.2, Youth vs. Experience— announced Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. EST
- 21.3, Panchik vs. Panchik — announced Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. EST
CrossFit Open Athlete Matchups
On March 10, 2021, CrossFit announced all of the athlete pairings for the three Open workouts. They are as follows:
- 21.1, Engine vs. Skill — Kari Pearce Vs. Kristi Eramo O’Connell
- 21.2, Youth vs. Experience — Samuel Kwant Vs. Justin Medeiros
- 21.3, Panchik vs. Panchik — Scott Panchik vs. Saxon Panchik
You can watch the initial announcement, made on March 9, 2021, on Games Central on CrossFit’s YouTube show:
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Pearce Vs. Eramo O’Connell
Based on the name of the event — Engine vs. Skill — this matchup appears to make sense. O’Connell, who is 31 years old, has a strong triathlon background, while 31-year-old Pearce is a former competitive gymnast and third-place finisher in the 2020 CrossFit Games. In fact, it was during Atalanta — the final event of the Games that featured skill-based movements such as pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and pistol squats — that Pearce cinched her only event win to end the American women’s podium drought.
This is the second time the two CrossFitters have gone head to head during an Open announcement. The first was during the 17.2 announcement.
Fun fact: if Pearce wins the 2021 CrossFit Games, she’ll be the first American woman to do so since Kristan Clever won in 2010.
Here is what workout 21.1 — aka Engine Vs. Skill — consists of:
- One wall walk
- 10 double-unders
- Three wall walks
- 30 double-unders
- Six wall walks
- 60 double-unders
- Nine wall walks
- 90 double-unders
- 15 wall walks
- 150 double-unders
- 21 wall walks
- 210 double-unders
15-minute time cap.
That’s 605 total reps. Each athlete’s score will be their final time. If an athlete doesn’t finish within the time cap, the total number of reps completed before the time cap.
- Pearce — 13:04
- Eramo O’Connell — Cap plus 138 (72 reps shy of finishing within the time cap)
Both athletes had a fast learning curve figuring out the most efficient way to perform wall walks. The highlight of the match was Pearce performing a nearly unbroken set of 210 double-unders.
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Kwant Vs. Medeiros
This is a big matchup in the Men’s division as Kwant and Medeiros were the second-place and third-place finishers, respectively, at the 2020 Games. With five-time Games winner Mat Fraser retired and out of the mix, fans could very well be watching the next Fittest Man on Earth® during this announcement. As for the theme, it’s pretty darn fitting.
Though Kwant is only 25 years old, he’s competed in every CrossFit Open since 2012, four Regionals (2014-2017), and four Games (2016-2020). Notably, he put Fraser on notice last year when he had an incredible end-of-day-two, early-day-three run in the finals by winning Swin ‘N’ Stuff and getting second in Happy Star and Sprint Sled Sprint. His strong finish was enough for a silver medal and $115,000.
Medeiros is 22 years old and made a big splash in his CrossFit Games debut. Notably, he proved to be a true contender by holding Fraser’s pace throughout the Ranch Loop event. He even told Fraser off by saying they were going to sprint, not talk, when the finish line was in sight. His consistent performance — including eight top-three finishes in the Final — earned him third overall. He was able to go toe-to-toe with Fraser, but now can he fend of Kwant?
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Panchik Vs. Panchik Vs. Panchik
The final Open announcement will see the brothers Panchik face off. Scott is 33 years old. Saxon and Spencer are 24. Between the three of them, they’ve made 11 Games appearances (Scott with eight and Saxon with three). Scott’s best Games finish is fourth place (2012-13, 2019). Saxon placed ninth in 2019 and 21st in 2020. The workout, which isn’t yet known, is titled “Sibling Rivalry” and will all but guarantee an exciting workout debut. It will be announced on March 25, 2021, at 12 p.m. PST.
How to Qualify for the 2021 CrossFit Games
The structure of this year’s CrossFit season is pretty different compared to year’s past. The main difference is that there will be a three-step qualification process, including the Open, the Quarterfinals, the Semifinals, and a Last-Chance Qualifier for athletes who finished within three spots of a Games qualifying position.
This year’s qualification system is also continent-based. CrossFit will recognize North America, Europe, Oceania, Asia, South America, Africa. The top 10% of athletes (25% of teams and 10% worldwide for age-group competitors) during the Open will move on to the Quarterfinals.
During the Quarterfinals, the top men, women, and teams from each continent must submit videos for review. However, the number of submissions changes depending on the continent.
- North America: 150 women, 150 men, 100 teams
- Europe: 90 women, 90 men, 60 teams
- Oceania, Asia, South America, and Africa: 50 women, 50 men, and 40 teams.
There will be 10 total live Semifinal events — four North America events, two in Europe, and one each in Asia, South America, Africa, and Oceania. The number of athletes who will qualify for the Semifinals is as follows:
- North America: the top 120 men and women and 80 teams (30 men, 30 women, and 20 teams in each of the four Semifinals).
- Europe: the top 60 men and women and 40 teams (30 men, 30 women, and 20 teams in each of the two Semifinals)
- Asia, Africa, South America & Oceania: the top 30 men and women and 20 teams, respectively.
Ultimately, 38 men, 38 women, and 38 teams will qualify for the Games via the Semifinal events. Two additional men and two additional women will qualify via the Last-Chance Qualifier.
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Major CrossFit Changes in 2021
In addition to the sweeping changes made to the CrossFit season, there have been many changes within the CrossFit community, making this year unlike any other for the sport. Here’s a breakdown of the major must-know events that have taken place in 2021.
- Five-time CrossFit Games champ Mat Fraser retired from competitive CrossFit.
- Jacob Heppner retired from competitive CrossFit and wants to be a commentator for CrossFit.
- CrossFit introduced Adaptive Divisions to its competitive season.
- There is also an Equipment-Free option for CrossFitters who would rather compete in their home gym or at their local gym. (Note: No-equipment competitors can’t qualify in the Games.)
- CrossFit premiered a new weekly news show, Games Central, on YouTube.
- The first 10 members of CrossFit’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council were announced.
- Four-time Fittest Woman on Earth® Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr continues to dominate her Bobsledding pursuit.
- NOBULL became the title sponsor for the CrossFit Games (for the next three years).
- WHOOP is now the official wearable of CrossFit.
- Sports anchor Derek Forrest is a new member of the CrossFit media team.
Stay tuned to BarBend, as we will update this page as more information about the 2021 CrossFit Open announcements is made available.
Featured image: @kristieramo on Instagram