Who to Watch at This Weekend’s 2016 CrossFit Games

The 2016 CrossFit Games kick off Thursday evening, from around 5:00 PM GMT, streaming live from Carson, California. In anticipation, we’ve made a few predictions for ones to watch over the weekend, which culminates in what’s sure to be an insane final on Sunday.

A brief history of the CrossFit Games

2007: The CrossFit Games debuts at a ranch in Aromas, California. Designed as a test of skill, strength and stamina, over a total of three workouts. The final workout was drawn from a hopper like a game of fitness bingo.

2008: Back at the ranch, with four times as many athletes competing for the title of Fittest on Earth. 2008 introduced us to Jason Khalipa, a CrossFit veteran and one of the sport’s defining figures.

2009: CrossFit goes global. Regionals are introduced and the appearance of a JumboTron at the ranch turned a backyard BBQ into an event of considerable note.

2010: Sectionals are introduced to cope with the explosion of entries around the world. CrossFit moves the Games to the Home Depot Centre.

2011-2014: CrossFit signs a 10-year deal with Reebok, and Rich Froning takes four consecutive first place wins.

2015: The qualifying standards for the CrossFit Games are raised dramatically, harvesting only the very best from each region. A Regionals level athlete today, is magnitudes better than a Games level athlete from 2007.

Ones to watch

Mat Fraser

Fraser finished second last year, when everyone thought he was a shoe-in to succeed Rich Froning as champion. He destroyed Regionals, and proved that he’s out to win everything. If Fraser doesn’t win this year, the whole thing might just shut down and call it quits.

Ben Smith

The current champ may not be the most charismatic champion CrossFit’s ever had, but he’s a veteran and a hell of an athlete. If anyone is going to give Fraser a real big boy’s fight this weekend, it’ll be Ben Smith. Look out for him when the big weights come out, and keep an eye on how consistent he is over these three days of competition.

Scott Panchik and Noah Ohlsen

Both of these athletes are podium pushers, and have come within seconds of taking events to win the Games in previous years. Panchik is a little bit more experienced, but Ohlsen is just as hungry.

Sara Sigmundsdottir

Just like Fraser, everyone sort of expected Sigmundsdottir to win in 2015, and second place might have pushed her into near-invincible territory this year. Expect some epic battles for first and second on the ladies side, with Sigmundsdottir pushing the top spot all weekend long.

Katrin Davidsdottir

It’s probably fair to say that not many people saw it coming when Davidsdottir took first place in 2015, but ever since, she’s proven to be every bit the champion. 2015 was no fluke, and the CrossFit women better hope they’re ready for the stronger, leaner Davidsdottir entering Carson this weekend.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Kara Webb

One former champion in Leblanc-Bazinet, and a near-champion several years in a row in Kara Webb. Canada’s Leblanc-Bazinet wants her title back after a low-ish finish in 2015, and Webb wants so badly for her constant grinding to pay off. Both have the stamina and the strength to go all the way, but they’ll need to push it to beat the Icelandic.

You can stream the entire 2016 CrossFit Games for free, live on their website.

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