September 27, 2017
New Divisions and Lasting Legacies
By Brittney Saline
Familiar names and champion faces atop the Leaderboard. 
Familiar names and champion faces atop the Leaderboard. 

Week 1 of the fourth annual CrossFit Team Series, presented by Compex, is done.

Like last year, teams had five days to complete four, separately scored workouts. Unlike last year, teams were comprised of two athletes instead of four, and competed in one of three separate divisions: male, female or mixed.

Though the teams look a little different this year, the leaderboard after Week 1 is topped with familiar names: Leading the men’s division is Reebok Legacy, comprised of 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games champion and nine-time Games veteran Ben Smith and six-time Games veteran Scott Panchik.

Annie Thorisdottir and Katrin Davidsdottir lead the female division, at the same time making Team Series history as the first team comprised entirely of CrossFit Games champions—and back-to-back ones at that (Thorisdottir won the Games in 2011 and 2012; Davidsdottir took the title in 2015 and 2016).

Holding the top spot for the mixed division is Team XPN World, represented by Alex Vigneault and Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault, two- and three-time CrossFit Games athletes, respectively.

All athletes belonging to the top three teams of each division have competed at the CrossFit Games, with the exception of Caroline Dardini, partner to Alec Smith on Team Winter Is Coming, which currently holds third in the mixed division.

Male Pairs

For Smith and Panchik, it’s business as usual. The pair competed together in 2014 and 2016 on the team that has dominated the Series since its inception three years ago, known first as Team Reebok East, then Team Reebok Classics in 2015 and finally as Team Reebok Reunited last year. Smith competed on the team all three years, and now the aptly named duo looks to further the team’s leading legacy.

Ben Smith and Scott Panchik 

Though each is an individual Games veteran, it’s clear their team experience has paid off. Two of the four workouts demanded that athletes synchronize their movements, and Smith and Panchik kept perfect time, pacing—then racing—as one during the thrusters and bar-facing burpees of Workout 1 before giving a master class in synchronization in Workout 3: decreasing reps of increasingly heavy cleans sandwiched by sets of 50 wall-ball shots. Though Smith is two inches taller than Panchik, the pair still managed to synchronize not only the bottom of the squat but the overall arch of their unbroken wall-ball shots, each ball connecting with its target simultaneously.

Despite an 11th-place finish in Workout 1, back-to-back second-place finishes in Workouts 2 and 3 and a fourth-place finish in Workout 4 put Reebok Legacy on top, ahead of Training Think Tank—comprised of four-time Games veterans Travis Mayer and Noah Ohlsen—by just 1 point. Frederik Aegidius and Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson hold third. Interestingly, no team among the top three won any workouts during the first week.

Female Pairs

So far, the female division has been a race of champions, with former champs Thorisdottir and Davidsdottir leading second-place Rogue Fire & Ice, comprised of 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games champion Sam Briggs and two-time Games bronze finisher Sara Sigmundsdottir. The name “Fire & Ice” is perhaps a nod to Briggs’s previous vocation as a firefighter and Sigmundsdottir’s native Iceland.

Living up to their champion reputations, after Week 1, Thorisdottir and Davidsdottir hold the fewest points—6—of any division, their reward for winning Workouts 2, 3 and 4 after beginning with a third-place finish in Workout 1. Even then, their Workout 1 time of 3:39 was only 3 seconds slower than the winning team’s time, set by Chelsey Grigsby and 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games athlete Jamie Hagiya. Additionally, the Dottirs’ time for Workout 2—9:38—was the fastest of all three divisions.

Still, their fellow champion and sister Dottir weren’t about to let them off easy. After Rogue Fire & Ice began the Team Series with a fifth-place finish in Workout 1, the team spent the rest of the week nipping at Thorisdottir and Davidsdottir’s heels, matching their three consecutive wins with three consecutive second-place finishes. Briggs and Sigmundsdottir finished only 6 seconds slower than the Dottirs in Workout 4—a 100-calorie row followed by 100 toes-to-bars—and a mere 3 seconds slower in Workout 3.

“Thanks for not killing me,” Sigmundsdottir wrote to Briggs on Instagram after the couplet of wall-ball shots and cleans.

Sitting in third with just 3 more points than Rogue Fire & Ice is five-time Games athlete Alessandra Pichelli and three-time Games team athlete Whitney Heuser.

Mixed Pairs

For the mixed pairs, it was the Canadians who claimed Week 1. Vigneault and Reason-Thibault earned Team XPN World the top spot with top-three finishes in all four workouts and won Workout 4 in 5:33. The team currently enjoys the largest point margin between first and third of any Team Series division, at 22 points.

Had the pair finished the thrusters and bar-facing burpees of Workout 1 just 1 second faster, it would have snagged two Workout wins—24th-ranked Beauty & the Beard (Caroline Conners and Austin Spencer) finished the work in 3:37 to Team XPN World’s 3:38.

Single seconds can make all the difference, as two-time Games athlete Alexis Johnson was surely thinking when her partner, three-time Games athlete Travis Williams, forgot to tag her before her share of double-unders in Workout 2—120 reps each of chest-to-bar pull-ups and hang power snatches, bookended by 120 double-unders per partner—and delayed her start by 1 or 2 seconds.

“I've been friendzoning (Williams) for years ... and now he turns me down for a tag?!?” Johnson wrote in an Instagram post, playing on the duo’s name, Fitaid Friendz(oned). Thankfully, the duo had a few seconds to spare, winning the workout in 10:12, 23 seconds before sixth-ranked team Blood and Heart (Mauro Acevedo and Jennifer Reyes) completed the work.

Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault and Alex Vigneault 

Fitaid Friendz(oned)’s win added to its fourth-place finish in Workout 1, and back-to-back third-place finishes in the remaining workouts put the team in second after Week 1, 3 points behind Team XPN World.

Team Winter Is Coming is currently in third place, making the CrossFit Team Series a family affair as team member Alec Smith pulls a repeat of the 2017 Atlantic Regional, joining his brother Ben in a podium spot. Not to be left out, the third and youngest Smith brother, Dane, is looking to edge Alec out of that podium spot, as he sits just 1 point outside of third with his partner and girlfriend, Emily Brady.

“Thanks (CrossFit), our relationship has never been so ... in sync,” Dane joked on Instagram after the team completed Workout 1.

Week 2 of the 2017 CrossFit Team Series starts today. Once again, teams will have five days to complete the final set of workouts. Scores are due on Oct. 2, and there’s US$101,250 on the line. What shifts will the leaderboard see next week?

*All scores for Week 1 of the Team Series are pending validation