You never know what’s going to happen as some of the world’s top athletes compete to be crowned Fittest Man, Fittest Woman, and Fittest Team on Earth
Wall Burpees Separate the Tough from the Tougher
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To weed out the top 30 athletes in the team, men’s, and women's divisions, each participant had to do a “sprint chipper” for time. The workout of the day (WOD) consisted of 21 glute-ham developer sit-ups, 15 snatches (165 pounds for men; 100 pounds for women), and nine wall burpees—all to be performed in less than 5 minutes. For petite athletes like 5-foot-2 Gretchen Kittelberger (pictured), leaping over this tall wall quickly and efficiently was particularly challenging, but the fastest competitors knocked out the challenge before 3 minutes had ticked by.
Rich Froning Takes His First Event Win
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The “sprint chipper” was a huge confidence booster for Rich Froning, who dominated the event with a time of 2:28:3. Although the 2011 and 2012 champ stayed near the top of the leaderboard all weekend, this was his first event victory of the four-day individual competition, hence the oh-yeah-I-killed-that reaction here.
It's Mano-a-Mano for the Men
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2008 CrossFit Games winner Jason Khalipa made it no secret that he wanted to dethrone Froning at this year’s Games. Both admitted later in the press conference that they saw the entire Games as a dual between just them. “When he walked, I walked,” Froning said, and Khalipa agreed, sharing the same strategy. “It was really important for me to beat Rich—that's all I cared about,” said an emotional Khalipa, who lost his chance to edge out Froning during the “Sprint Chipper” when he came in fourth. Here the two eye the scoreboard to see where things stand before going into the finals.
Team Finals Dig Up the Worm
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Part one of the grueling last round of the team competition required each group of three guys and three gals to complete 120 handstand push-ups in segments of 10, one athlete at a time, against a plexiglass shield held up by teammates. As if that weren't challenging enough, part two upped the ante by forcing each team to work as one. In unison, they needed to pick up a heavy log cut into six segments connected by a short rope (imagine sausage links) and perform 40 squat clean and jerks—in less than 20 minutes. The event was so difficult that the defending champs, Hack's Pack UTE, finished in eighth place. But at that point they had such a huge lead points-wise that they still won their second Affiliate Cup title in a row.
Things Get Shaky for the Women and Men
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Pistols, or single-leg squats, are nothing new to CrossFit. But a weighted pistol? Most athletes would tell you that they had never attempted such a move. When the exercise was announced as part of the surprise WOD for the men’s and women's finals, the contenders had a chance to practice it for the first time ever in the warm-up. During the actual event, few made it through the three rounds of five reps on each leg (preceded by five deadlifts of 405 pounds for men and 265 pounds for women) without wobbling and losing their balance while holding the 53-pound kettlebell.
Competitors Turn the Games on Its Head
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Athletes with a gymnastic background had their chance to shine during the 80-foot handstand walk, which wrapped up Cinco 1, or part one of the two-part final WOD event. Having already performed a super heavy deadlift (smaller athletes including 165-pound Josh Bridges struggled through the 405-pound lift) and balance-challenging weighted pistols, few managed to complete the inverted stroll across the tennis stadium. Froning and some ladies, such as Talayna Fortunato, were among the few who mastered flawlessly racing on their hands without a hitch.
Women Swing into Action
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After a one-minute rest following Cinco 1, athletes continued to Cinco 2, the second WOD in the final event. Both men and women faced three rounds of five muscle-ups on the rings, five deficit handstand pushups, and a 90-foot overhead walking lunge (men with a 160-pound axle bar and women with a 100-pound one). Time allowed: seven minutes. Only two or three men and women were able to complete the entire shoulder-splitting workout.
Death March to the Finish
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Quivering legs, unsteady feet, and dropping barbells made it clear that the 90-foot walk to the finish would be the most painful procession ever. No athlete—man or woman (such as Lindsey Valenzuela, pictured here)—was able to complete the ultimate task in the Cinco 2 without putting the heavy barbell down at least once. And no one could rush through it either, as the judges were very strict about doing each and every lunge perfectly.
Samantha Briggs Out-Fits the Competition
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With two-time champ Annie Thorisdottir from Iceland sitting on the sidelines due to an injury, the title of Fittest Woman on Earth was up for grabs. And Great Britain's Samantha Briggs, 31, lifted, lunged, and burpeed her way to the win. U.S.A. didn’t disappoint either: SoCal's Lindsey Valenzuela and Valerie Voboril flanked Briggs on the podium. Incidentally, the three ladies are good friends—they trained together in California for six weeks leading up the Games.
Cinco 1 Is a Cinch for Froning
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Keeping his pace steady, cool, and manageable, Froning calmly killed the deadlifts, making 405 pounds look as light as a couch. The same wasn't true for many of his fellow competitors, especially those who had a one-rep max of the same weight. From there, Froning pumped out the pistols, albeit with some wobbling. He made up for any shakiness with a solid, unbreaking handstand sprint, setting the tone that the stadium was his house.
Time to Take a Hike
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The overhead walking lunge was no walk in the park for any athlete, especially the little guys, including 5-foot-5 Bridges who had to carry his own weight (165 pounds). And for others, like Khalipa (pictured), who had come so close to unseating Froning, it was a walk of shame as his watched his biggest competitor and CrossFit icon slowly stroll into first place.
Third Time's the Charm for Froning
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Returning champion Froning made CrossFit history when he claimed his third consecutive title of Fittest Man on Earth. After kicking butt in 12 grueling multi-day events, the 26-year-old still had enough energy to leap over the tennis stadium wall and dive into a pink-clad mob featuring his wife and father. Afterward, when accepting his first-place prize and check for $275,000, he did a box jump onto the podium. The man is an unbeatable machine who promises to keep coming back and winning for as long as he can. And when he's done with the individual competition in the distant future, he plans to move onto the team event. Rest assured, Froning is only getting started.