The CrossFit Games offseason is short this year, which means it’s time to start scoping talent for the 2021 competition schedule. The Open kicks off the season in February, with Sanctionals events to follow, some already announced. Dare we say it — it’s starting to feel like old times again.
While Tia-Clair Toomey has demonstrated consistent domination with a four-peat performance in 2020, the rest of the women’s field has vacillated during her reign. Get up to speed with the lineup below of the women you’ll want to keep tabs on this coming year.
Andrea Nisler (USA)
Andrea Nisler started her CrossFit Games Career on the team side of things, making the podium in 2018 with team CrossFit OC3. After four years of team competition, she participated in the 2020 CrossFit open to qualify for the Dubai CrossFit Championship — and placed 15th in the world. After Games format changes meant she wouldn’t qualify with her team, Nisler decided to compete as an individual.
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She made a strong showing that was good enough for 10th place in the first stage of the Games. During Stage One of the Games she took sixth place in the one-rep max front squat event with a 287-pound lift, 13 pounds heavier than Stage Two qualifier Brooke Wells and 57 pounds apart from both Katrin Davidsdottir and Haley Adams. As an affiliate owner out of Minnesota, Nisler keeps a busy schedule, but her eyes are on training weaknesses — like running — as she gears up for 2021.
Melina Rodriguez (ARG)
Melina Rodriguez has been quietly climbing the CrossFit ladder of success from Argentina and made a name for herself this year at the Brazil CrossFit Championship. Rodriguez won narrowly, becoming the first female from Latin America to win a Sanctional event. She started her competitive CrossFit career at the 2017 Regionals (RIP) in the team competition. In the 2020 Open, she took first in Argentina and 28th worldwide. During this year’s CrossFit Games, Rodriguez placed 17th, punctuated by a fourth-place finish in the handstand hold event at 1:59. At just 24 years old, expect big things from this Latina in 2021 and beyond.
Kara Saunders (AUS)
The last woman to truly challenge Toomey, fellow Aussie Kara Saunders competed at the Games this year just sixteen months postpartum. She placed 12th in the Open and eighth overall, with her strongest showings in the remixed classic events Friendly Fran and Awful Annie, placing second in both. While she wasn’t quite the “she-bear” we’ve seen in year’s past, she’s got a few more things going on these days, including being a mama bear.
“I’m not just working on getting back to being one of the Fittest Woman on Earth® after having a baby, I’m working on a booming business (with a toddler), raising a cool as little lady, a rock-solid marriage with my best friend, financial stability and a ton of good experiences and stories to tell in the end,” Saunders said on Instagram following the 2020 Games Stage One. Look for the 31-year-old to come back even stronger this year.
Haley Adams (USA)
At 19 years old, you can expect Haley Adams to be on this list for a few years. She came onto the CrossFit Games scene in 2016 at 14 years old and has never seen lower than a sixth-place finish. At the 2020 Games, Adams took second place in the 2007 Reload event, 42 seconds ahead of Games veteran Kari Pearce. She also took second in the Swim ‘N’ Stuff and Bike Repeater events, putting her cardio engine on display.
While Adams has some ground to gain on the strength and capacity side of the Games, let’s not forget she debuted in the women’s division four years younger than Toomey did. Sharpening her saw at CrossFit Mayhem, Rich Froning’s gym, Adams has nothing but time and training on her side.
Dani Speegle (USA)
It feels like Dani Speegle has been on the cusp of a big win for a couple of years now, and 2021 could be her year. Speegle has placed in the top five of such events like the Dubai CrossFit Championship, Wodapalooza, CrossFit Strength in Depth, and the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge. She then surprised many with a first-place Open finish in the United States in 2019, ranking fifth worldwide. She went on to place 26th at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and was cut after the 6,000-meter ruck event, which she described as her “biggest weakness.” She had a better showing in 2020 with a 13th-place finish, taking fourth in the one-rep max front squat at 293 pounds. But she did win a Games competition this year — the NBC Titan Games, hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Chloe Smith (USA)
On the heels of Haley Adams, Chloe Smith is your next CrossFit teenage phenom. The Louisiana native competed in the Teens division of the CrossFit Games for three years, winning two of them (2017 and 2019). With the Teen events being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the 18 year old has been hard at work in Baton Rouge, hitting 200-pound snatches and 230-pound clean and jerks. Smith has been focusing on Olympic weightlifting, qualifying for USA nationals. Look for this incredibly strong teen to make waves in 2021.
Sara Sigmundsdóttir (ISL)
What a few rollercoaster years it’s been for the Iceland native, with 2020 as no exception. After a couple of third-place finishes at the CrossFit Games in 2015 and 2016, Sara Sigmundsdóttir was the favorite for many coming into 2017, and looked dominant after winning the Open that year. After bombing the haystack-ridden Madison Triplet at the Games, she ended up in fourth place, and that’s the highest she’s placed since.
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The next year she would withdraw from the Games with a rib injury. In 2019 and 2020 she won the CrossFit Open, but just never looked like the dominant Sara from Games past. After the 2020 Games she revealed she had been suffering from an infected box jump injury and would be taking time to heal and recover properly. We’re hopeful to see a fully recovered, mentally ready Sara in 2021.
Karin Freyova (SVK)
At 25 years old, Karin Freyova made some noise at the 2020 CrossFit Games as one of the few to snag an event win from Toomey. The Slovakian took first in the 1,000-meter row event with a 3:15 time, edging out second-place finisher Amanda Barnhart by just two seconds. But she’s not just an engine: Freyova placed 11th in the front squat event, holding her own on the strength side of things. Freyova jumped from a 21st-place Games finish in 2019 to 14th in 2020. She’s also a strong Sanctionals competitor, placing fourth in her first Dubai CrossFit Championship and second at the same event in 2019. Expect a strong showing for her 2021 season.
Gabriela Migala (POL)
While she’s not yet a household name, the young Polish native is no stranger to competitive CrossFit. She started as a podium finisher in the Teen’s division at the 2016 CrossFit Games. She’s been the first-place Open finisher out of Poland since 2016 and placed 75th in the 2019 CrossFit Games and 18th in the 2020 Games. Poland’s Migala was also 2020’s Norwegian CrossFit Championship winner, and while she only took one event during the competition, she proved consistent wins medals —gold ones, even. Her resume includes strong showings at Wodapalooza, CrossFit Strength in Depth, and the Dubai CrossFit Championship as well.
Featured image (left to right): @aenisler and @sarasigmunds on Instagram