The Rogue Invitational wasn’t just the first CrossFit-sanctioned event on our own turf, it was also a unique competition in the history of the sport, bringing together an unprecedented field of CrossFit’s current and past champions, as well as many up-and-coming athletes hoping to represent its future. When it came to the eventual podium finishers, however, surprises were relatively few and far between. Whether they considered the event an exhibition, a tune-up for the Games, or a chance to make a statement, the world’s elite CrossFitters proved to be just that.
In the Men’s Individual competition, 3x defending Fittest Man on Earth Mathew Fraser got off to a bit of a rough start on day one. After his apparent win in the opening GORUCK event was wiped away by a penalty (bumping him to third place), he was then bested by Patrick Vellner and rookie Chandler Smith in the Mule and managed just a fourth place finish in the Chipper. The unbeatable one looked beatable, if only for a moment. Fraser closed out the first day by edging out a highly motivated Vellner and Sager in the Amanda.25, and on Sunday, he did what he often does: separated himself from the pack. Wins in the Cyclone and Snatch & Press sealed Fraser’s overall First Place finish (and a $50,000 prize), leaving Vellner, Sager, Streat Hoerner, and the increasingly impressive Chandler Smith to battle for the remaining podium spots. In the end, Vellner edged out Sager, leaving the Final Top 3: Fraser (712 pts), Vellner (554 pts), and Sager (524 pts).
The Women’s podium race could easily be described as the sport’s all-time Hall of Fame on display, as three multi-time CrossFit Games champions, Tia-Clair Toomey (2017, 2018), Annie Thorisdottir (2011, 2012), and Katrin Davidsdottir (2015, 2016) battled two women more than capable of joining them as title winners in 2019, Kristin Holte and the comeback kid, Sara Sigmundsdottir. By winning two events on both Saturday and Sunday, Toomey ensured she was still top of the pack at the end, but the trio of Icelanders gave her something to think about, with Sigmundsdottir making the boldest statement of all, overcoming recent injuries to finish runner-up. Final totals: Toomey (696 pts), Sigmundsdottir (620 pts), Thorisdottir (492 pts).
Things were a little more surprising in the Team competition, as Iowa’s CrossFit OC3 Black (Colin Cartee, Joe Piersanti, Luke Schafer, Taylor Williamson, Andrea Nisler) earned a spot in the CrossFit Games by dominating much of the weekend, including wins in the GORUCK, Mule, C2 Medley, and the closing event, the Tug of War. OC3 was able to edge out Invictus Back Bay (Boston, MA) and Rich Froning’s perennial favorites, CrossFit Mayhem Freedom (Cookeville, TN). The final podium: OC3 (640 pts), Invictus Back Bay (588 pts), Mayhem Freedom (558 pts).
Finally, for longtime CrossFit devotees, the “Legends” division offered some of the best highlights of the Rogue Invitational, as many fan favorites from the men’s and women’s ranks returned to prove they could still take on the same challenges as the current top contenders in the sport. For the men, 2008 CrossFit Games champ Jason Khalipa (340 pts) beat out 2010 champ Graham Holmberg (334 pts) and Dan Bailey (310 pts). It was Khalipa’s first individual competition in five years, and it earned him a return to the Games. Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Sam Briggs (who never appears to be past her prime) finished first in three of four events, holding off Becca Voigt Miller and impressive biathlon winner Annie Sakamoto to take the top podium spot: Briggs (372 pts), Miller (350 pts), Sakamoto (304 pts).
While they didn’t technically have a “podium finish,” Rogue Record Breakers competitors Martins Licis (565 LB Steinborn Squat) and Kristin Rhodes (175 LB Monster Bell) also were among the weekend’s big winners.