Fraser Wins First Games, Davidsdottir Repeats

July 25, 2016

Andréa Maria Cecil

The Fittest on Earth are proven. 

Mat Fraser set a goal of winning the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games. Instead, he finished second for the second consecutive year. This year he’s the champion.

Fraser amassed a lead greater than anyone ever has, finishing 197 points ahead of second-place finisher Ben Smith, who won the Games last year. Fraser recorded seven second-place event finishes and one first-place finish.

Now that he’s reached his goal, Fraser has set a new objective.

“Keep winnin’ it,” said the 26-year-old three-time Games competitor.

When asked if he had a specific number of wins in mind, Fraser answered in the negative.

“As long as it stays fun and I’m healthy, I’ll keep goin’,” he said minutes after Games Director Dave Castro declared him the winner and he walked off the tennis stadium floor to cheers and applause from Games volunteers waiting in the tunnel.

Davidsdottir, meanwhile, became the first female repeat champion since Annie Thorisdottir won the Games in 2011 and 2012. The experience was one she couldn’t put into words.

“I don’t know,” said a beaming Davidsdottir as she grasped an Icelandic flag. “It feels amazing.”

She added: “It’s been a great journey.”

Davidsdottir, 23, is a four-time Games competitor.

Individual athletes ended five days of competition—that included 15 events—with a retest event Castro aptly called “Redemption.”

Just before 8 a.m. Sunday, Castro posted a photo on his Instagram account of a transparent pegboard affixed to a rig inside the tennis stadium at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

“Time to see who learned from last year … and who didn't,” Castro wrote.

When the pegboard appeared at last year’s CrossFit Games, many competitors were dumbfounded. So were many observers. But they shouldn’t have been.

In a 2002 CrossFit Journal article titled “The Garage Gym,” CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman expressed his affection for the pegboard.

“Pegboards can be used to develop great back and arm strength,” he wrote.

Glassman continued: “The climbing rope, campus board, climbing holds, and pegboard all give great work emphasizing the back and arms as well as the hands and forearms. These apparatuses are invaluable to rounding out your program.”

Last year’s event, called Pedal to the Medal 1, called for 3 pegboard ascents, a 24-calorie row, 16 calories on a stationary bike and 8 dumbbell squat snatches (100/70 lb.). The time cap was 6 minutes.

Three women completed all the pegboard ascents: Margaux Alvarez, Amanda Goodman and Kari Pearce. Seventeen men were able to do the same.

“The final has been more than a year in the making,” Castro said before revealing the details on the tennis stadium floor Sunday morning. “I’m really excited.”

He ended his announcement of the individual athletes’ final event by asking if they were excited to show the world how they had improved on the pegboard.

This time, competitors were not surprised.

“So they gave us Murph again to show, yes, it was a good test, and now they’re giving us pegboard,” said three-time Games competitor Marcus Filly after the day’s second-to-last event.

Kari Pearce was excited to tackle the pegboard for a second time at the Games.

“It’ll be fun just to see this year compared to last year for the girls,” said the two-time Games competitor.

Since 2015, she’s practiced not only simple vertical pegboard ascents, but also moving horizontally on the pegboard.

“I feel good about that one,” Pearce said with a wide smile.

She finished Redemption in third place.

After walking off the soccer stadium floor following Sunday’s first series of events Jacob Heppner laboriously straightened his arms in an attempt to illustrate his soreness.

“I practiced (the pegboard), but we’ll see,” he said.

He finished the event in 19th place overall. Last year, he finished Pedal to the Metal 1 in seventh place.

Six-time Games competitor Michele Letendre said she trained with the pegboard “a lot” over the past year.

“It hurts the biceps quite a bit,” she said.

In 2015 Letendre was not able to complete any of the pegboard ascents.

“Last year we were so wrecked. I was almost there but missed,” she explained.

Letendre finished Redemption in 9:48.19 for a 10th-place finish in the event.

Redemption also inspired the team competition’s final six events, which called for each team member to perform as few as 3 pegboard ascents and as many as 6.

Although defending Affiliate Cup champion CrossFit Mayhem Freedom saw its lowest finishes there—a tie for ninth place in Final 1 and a tie for eighth in Final 3—it wasn’t enough to deflate the lead it built going into the final day of competition. Likewise, Mayhem became the second team to twice win the Affiliate Cup. The first was Hack’s Pack Ute, which won the Games in 2012 and 2013.

Mayhem recorded the widest margin of victory by a team as it finished 119 points over 12 Labours CrossFit in second place.