This year has been a whirlwind of changes in and around the world of CrossFit. Sporting events around the world have been canceled or postponed due to Coronavirus, and the 2020 CrossFit Games were not immune. Initially, CrossFit responded to the global pandemic by cutting the athlete field to just 30 men and 30 women, and eliminating Team, Masters, and Teens divisions.
Earlier this month, more changes unfolded when CrossFit announced the first portion of this year’s CrossFit Games will take place online. After that initial online qualification series, the top 5 men and top 5 women will move on to compete in person, presumably at the CrossFit Ranch in Aromas, California.
While there is still a lot we don’t know about the 2020 CrossFit Games, we can make a few educated guesses on who we’ll see in the in-person Top Five set to take place at The Ranch this fall. We asked a few resident experts for their Top Five predictions.
Patrick Vellner’s 2020 CrossFit Games Predictions
Pat Vellner, a perennial fan favorite who has competed in CrossFit since 2013, was having one of his best seasons to date before COVID shut everything down. Coming off of his first career Open worldwide victory, and emerging victorious at Wodapalooza, the former Games runner-up has a Top 5 prediction full of well-known names in any CrossFitters home.
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Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson
“The first four were the top four from The Open and have been consistent this season. As well as being consistent performers in online formats and including last year’s podium. Chandler is a wild card.”
“Also consistent performers this year. Kristen, Kari, and Sara are always great in online formats. Tia is Tia. Kara has been getting better every time we see her since her pregnancy. She came in third at Rogue competing at 3:00 AM.”
Noah Ohlsen’s 2020 CrossFit Games Predictions
Noah Ohlsen has competed in CrossFit since 2012. A proverbial underdog, Ohlsen’s motto “Happy, But Hungry” has always paid off. He’s won a Regional, won an Open, and found himself on the second place podium at the 2019 CrossFit Games, behind the champ Mat Fraser.
Ohlsen was one of the first round of athletes, along with Chandler Smith, who opted out of the 2020 Games after Greg Glassman’s comments earlier this year. Now that Eric Roza’s acquisition of CrossFit is free and clear, Ohlsen has put his name back in the mix and is placing himself at the top of his Top 5 predictions.
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson
Armen’s Hammer’s 2020 CrossFit Games Predictions
If there is a title to be had in the CrossFit related industry, Armen Hammer, has held it. Athlete, affiliate owner, writer, editor, YouTube vlogger and CrossFit commentator, Armen has done it. Armen was also the one who broke the news that Greg Glassman was retiring as CrossFit’s CEO, sharing his experience with us on the BarBend Podcast the very next day.
Armen shared his Top 5 picks with individual comments and a blanket note,“Take this all with a grain of salt. Without knowing details on the format or specifics of the scoring, it’s a shot in the dark.”
(Notes in parentheses are Armen’s own)
Mat Fraser (obviously)
Patrick Vellner (done incredibly well in online comps this year)
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson (the forever forgotten badass for some reason)
Chandler Smith (unstoppable trajectory to greatness)
Tia-Clair Toomey (duh)
Sara Sigmundsdottir (won the Open this year)
Kara Saunders (legend)
Kristin Holte (sleeper, crushes comps)
Katrin Davidsdottir (sled dog)
Ben Garves’ 2020 CrossFit Games Predictions
Another name in the CrossFit media sphere is Ben Garves. Podcast host, YouTuber, athlete, and content creator, Ben has been covering CrossFit from all angles for years, bringing the latest on the CrossFit Games season, athlete training, stories to watch, and ways to become active in your community.
Mat Fraser — Not a lot has changed for Fraser in quarantine. The guy has been the epitome of hard work paying off since 2016. His attitude doesn’t make him a thought leader or even a moral leader in a time of divisiveness in the sport, but it’s hard to argue against his work ethic until he proves us otherwise.
Patrick Vellner — In all the ways I’ll say later in this write-up that Noah Ohlsen got lucky in 2019, Patrick Vellner was the equivalent version of unlucky. A bad performance in the Sprint Couplet (cue drama) and a penalty on the Sprint saw Vellner get cut before getting to the events we knew he would excel at. He’s still one of the best true CrossFit athletes out there and I maintain that he and Chandler Smith are the two people in best size and shape to unseat Fraser.
Chandler Smith — Chandler has put himself in a unique training position not seen before in this (or really any) sport. He’s literally being paid by the US Army to train for CrossFit. Seems ideal. Tracking Chandler’s growth from previous years, through his outright win at 2020’s Mayhem Classic, there’s an inarguable momentum which has him on course for the top-five this year.
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson — He has two podium finishes. Why are we still ignoring this guy? Yeah, fourth is lower than his placing last year, but he deserves to be in the top-five conversation.
Noah Ohlsen — I wouldn’t expect many people to move Noah this far down their list after he wore the Leader jersey for so long in 2019. Here’s my case for the drop: he got lucky. Is Noah Ohlsen one of the top five male athletes in the sport? Absolutely. Is he so incredible that I expect him to challenge Fraser each year? Probably not. If Patrick Vellner and Ben Smith hadn’t been cut last year, they would’ve seeped valuable points from Ohlsen in the last two days and shook up the resulting podium places.
Sara Sigmundsdottir — Sigmundsdottir has always had one of the highest potential ceilings for elite performances, but has failed to overcome a myriad of mental mistakes at pivotal moments in her career. Here’s the difference this year: quarantine. Early in the 2019 season, Sara dropped Phil Mansfield as her coach and began training herself. Since then, we’ve seen seven podium performances from her at Sanctional events and two overall CrossFit Open titles. She has proven she is more successful training alone, and there is no greater impetus for solo training than that of COVID-19.
Tia-Clair Toomey — The only reason I’m second-guessing my ranking for Sigmundsdottir this year is because it means I have to move Toomey down one spot. She’s young, she’s been at the top for three years, and there’s no evidence to say her reign is going anywhere. In fact, I see Toomey as still having plenty of room left to improve. If she continues to grow her weightlifting and stays hungry for improvement, she’s going to have a career longer than Rich Froning’s. You read it here first.
Katrin Davidsdottir — I don’t know of a single athlete (male, female, or team) with more mental fortitude. Training physical skills is one thing, but becoming mentally strong for trying times (activism and COVID, anyone?) is something I think the Davidsdottir-Bergeron powerhouse is uniquely suited to overcome.
Dani Speegle — What do Dani Speegle and Justin Timberlake have in common? If we look at the final class of upcoming Regional-level athletes in 2018 and tried to make predictions as to who was going to make the big leap in 2019, it would’ve been as difficult as trying to determine which NSYNC member would become one of the world’s biggest solo acts. Turns out it was Dani Speegle and Justin Timberlake.
Kristin Holte — Holte is an athlete who has quietly racked up three consecutive top-ten finishes and made her first podium placing in 2019. Yeah, she’s been around. We’ve just never given her the credit she has due, and I expect her to hit the top-ten a fourth time this year.
Featured image: Noah Ohlsen and Patrick Vellner on Instagram