Significant Achievements from the 2023 Games — Individuals

August 24, 2023

Chad Schroeder

In this series, Chad Schroeder will break down notable feats achieved by the athletes at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, leaving the community with a number of memorable moments.

For the first time since 2015, there would be a new woman, man, and team crowned  champions at the CrossFit Games. Adding to the anticipation of the finals, the age-group and adaptive divisions had a lot of historical career storylines emerging. There was a lot of speculation and excitement going into the Games — and the Games delivered. 

In this series, I will break down notable feats achieved by the athletes at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, leaving the community with a number of memorable moments as we said goodbye to Madison.

Podium Athletes

The individual podium produced a number of noteworthy occurrences — predominantly Canadian themed:

  • First time that a country besides the United States won at least half of the positions (Canada with three).
  • The fourth time that two Canadian men were on the podium:
    • 2007 – James Fitzgerald (first place) and Brett Marshall (second place).
    • 2017 – Brent Fikowski (second place) and Patrick Vellner (third place) *After the Ricky Garard disqualification.
    • 2021 – Patrick Vellner (second place) and Brent Fikowski (third place).
    • 2023 – Jeffrey Adler (first place) and Patrick Vellner (second place).


2023 Men's Podium

2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Individual Men's Podium | Photo by flsportsguy photography


  • Of note, there was almost a Canadian men’s sweep with Brent Fikowski falling just short of the podium in fourth place.
  • Second men’s champion from Canada.
  • Second woman from Canada to podium: Emma Lawson (second place) and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (first place in 2014).
  • Canada now has the third-most combined individual Games podiums with 12 (surpassing Australia with 10).
  • First time no man from the United States was on the individual podium.
  • First time just one athlete from the United States was on the individual podium – Arielle Loewen (third place).
  • Ironically, a key talking point a few years back was the United States women’s drought on the podium between Julie Foucher on the 2014 CrossFit Games podium in third place and Kari Pearce taking third place at the 2020 CrossFit Games. Are the roles reversing now? In 2021 and 2022,  Justin Medeiros was the only United States man on the podium – none in 2023. Last year, Mal O’Brien was second place and Arielle Loewen took third place this year.
  • None of the women’s podium won their Semifinal. It was the first time that either the men’s or women’s Games podium did not have a Semifinal/Regional winner.

Laura Horvath (First Place)

Laura Horvath

Laura Horvath during Individual Test 10 | Photo by Tai Randall 


  • After three podium places including two second places, Horvath finally broke through to win her first CrossFit Games championship.
  • Only the second woman to win in Madison with Tia-Clair Toomey winning the others five times.
  • Now in the exclusive club of eight athletes with four or more individual podiums in their career.
  • Only athlete to be on the individual podium the last three years.
  • Wore the leader’s jersey three times, including obviously the most important last leader’s jersey on the podium. She has worn a total of six leader’s jerseys in her career.
  • Won 80.5% of the possible points, the lowest number since Toomey’s first championship in 2017 with 76.5%. Also, Horvath had the smallest point margin of victory at 47 points since Toomey in 2017 with the epic 2-point win over Kara Saunders. This illustrated how tight and exciting the women’s race was at the Games this season. There were three different leaders with four lead changes during the Games.

Jeffrey Adler (First Place)

Jeffrey Adler

Jeffrey Adler after Individual Test 6 | Photo by @wongsdottir


  • Along with winning the championship, it was his first time to podium as well, but the third time he finished in the top-5 out of his five Games appearances.
  • First time since 2009 that a non-United States male has won the CrossFit Games. Mikko Salo from Finland won the 2009 CrossFit Games.
  • Sixth athlete to win the Games, Semifinal/Regional, and Open (ninth time the achievement has been accomplished).
  • Won the last three leader’s jerseys, the first three for his career.

Emma Lawson (Second Place)

Emma Lawson

Emma Lawson during Individual Test 9 | Photo by Tai Randall


  • Youngest athlete to be on the individual podium at 18 years old. Mal O’Brien also was on the podium at the 2022 CrossFit Games at 18 years old, but Lawson was relatively younger.
  • Won her first two individual Games career test wins.
  • Wore the leader’s jersey six times. She has now worn the leader’s jersey a total of seven times in her career.

Patrick Vellner (Second Place)

Patrick Vellner at the 2023 Games

Patrick Vellner during Individual Test 10 | Photo by Johany Jutras


  • Now in an extremely exclusive club of five athletes with five individual Games podiums — the other four who are basically the Mount Rushmore of CrossFit: Tia-Clair Toomey, Mathew Fraser, Rich Froning, and Annie Thorisdottir.
  • Won the most individual silver medals with three total.

Arielle Loewen (Third Place)

Arielle Loewen During Individual Test 9

Arielle Loewen during Individual Test 9 | Photo by Tai Randall


  • Became the fifth mother to stand on the individual Games podium. Last season, she was the fittest mom in the United States, this year she is now the Fittest mom on Earth.
  • After starting her career with five Regional appearances (four of five in the top 15), she retired from competition to have her daughter. She then came back in the 2021 season and made the last three Games, improving her place every year – 14th, 11th, third. 

Roman Khrennikov (Third Place)

Roman Khrennikov

Roman Khrennikov during Individual Test 6 | Photo by Johany Jutras


  • Only Horvath and he have been on the individual podium the last two years (Horvath the last three).
  • Wore the leader’s jersey for the most tests at the 2023 Games with eight. 
  • Won the Spirit of the Games Award, which was greatly inspired by his determined performance in the last two tests with a foot injury he sustained at the end of the Muscle-Up Log test. He also won the Most Improved Award at the 2022 CrossFit Games. He became the first athlete to win multiple CrossFit Games awards (Spirit of the Games, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved).

Other Notable Performances

  • Gabriela Migała continued her hot streak over the last three seasons coming in a career-best fourth place, inching ever so close to the podium.
  • Brent Fikowski had another great Games coming in fourth place, his fifth top-four finish in his eight Games appearances.
  • Alex Gazan greatly improved on her 2022 Games rookie year place of 24th, coming in fifth place, which earned her the Most Improved Award of the Games. 
  • Dallin Pepper had a career best fifth place in his second Games as an individual. At just 21 years old, he holds the best Games individual male finish from a former Games teenage competitor (previous best of Guilherme Malheiros in seventh place at the 2021 CrossFit Games).
  • Alexis Raptis backed up her rookie 10th-place finish at the 2022 CrossFit Games coming in sixth place, which included a three-test stint in the leader’s  jersey.


Alexis Raptis

Alexis Raptis exiting North Park after Individual Test 4 | Photo by Meg Ellery


  • Jonne Koski is one of the best all-time men out of Europe. He tied his career high performance in sixth place out of his nine Games appearances. He also wore the leader’s jersey once after the first test. It was the third time in his career he wore the white jersey after the Games first test. It was also his seventh overall white jersey worn at the Games.
  • Chandler Smith had his second-best Games finish of his career in seventh place. This begs the question of whether or not he will still  go team with his friend Noah Ohlsen next season as they were contemplating during this season.
  • Of the four athletes joining the 10 individual Games appearances club in 2023, it was Katrin Davidsdottir with the best performance, coming in seventh place – her eighth career top-10 performance for the two-time Games champion who made a stellar comeback after missing the Games last year. For the three men competing in their tenth consecutive Games, it was Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson with the best performance in 11th place. Unfortunately, this snapped his streak of eight consecutive Games top-10 places, but it was still a great effort given that he was injured for roughly the last third of the Games. Rounding out the 10 Games appearances club was Noah Ohlsen in 16th place and Cole Sager in 34th place, both who most likely were competing as individuals for the last time at the Games.
  • Athletes from Asia did very well compared to historical performances. Seher Kaya came in 23rd place, besting her 2022 CrossFit Games place of 29th.. This was the all-time best individual performance of an athlete from the Asia continent. Ant Haynes, who received a backfill invite roughly two weeks before the Games started, came in a respectable 30th place making the first cut. He was just three places shy of his 27th place from the 2019 CrossFit Games.


Ant Haynes

Ant Haynes during Individual Test 8 | Photo by @wongsdottir


  • Alexia Williams in 30th place was the best all-time performance for a South American woman at an in-person Games (Melania Rodriguez was 17th place in Stage 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games).
  • With 2022 CrossFit Games third-place man Ricky Garard missing Semifinals due to a biking injury, the Oceania men’s field was still well represented with Jay Crouch taking eighth place, his best performance in his four individual Games appearances. Also, Bayley Martin took 12th place in his Games individual rookie appearance.

Bookending the Age Ranges

The Rookie of the Year went to 17-year-old Olivia Kerstetter in 16th place. Last year, the women’s Rookie of the Year went to another 17-year-old at the time, Emma Lawson. Only one Rookie of the Year Award was given this year. Of note, the top male rookie was Jelle Hoste in 10th place, which ironically is the highest the top-placing rookie has ever finished. It just goes to show how hard the competition is nowadays at the Games for rookies to break into the top-10 overall. Kerstetter is now the youngest individual test winner of all time at 17 years old who narrowly edged out Mal O’Brien’s test win age at the 2021 CrossFit Games by just over a week. Two other rookies with standout performances were Bayley Martin in 12th place and Shelby Neal in 19th place.


Olivia Kerstetter and Jacob Heppner

Olivia Kerstetter and Jacob Heppner | Photo by Adam Bow


Along the lines of rookies, the 17-year-old female streak continued this year with Olivia Kerstetter. Last year at the 2022 CrossFit Games, it was Emma Lawson and at the 2021 CrossFit Games it was Mal O’Brien and Emma Cary. Needless to say, they all have made their impacts right off the bat and are only getting better. Next in line to potentially keep the streak going is back-to-back teenage girls champion (and 3-time podium athlete) Lucy McGonigle who already competed at the individual Semifinal this year in Europe and will be 17 years old next season.

On the other end of the individual spectrum were the oldest individual woman and man, Emily Rolfe and Will Moorad, both 34 years old. They were also both the oldest individuals in the 2022 CrossFit Games for their genders. Unfortunately, with all the other storylines occurring, their CrossFit Games performances went under the radar by most.

Rolfe came in 12th place, the best of her four Games appearances. Since 2015, this has been bested only by Kristin Holte in fourth place at the 2021 CrossFit Games (35 years old)/sixth place at the 2020 CrossFit Games (34 years old) and Samantha Briggs ninth place at the 2017 CrossFit Games (35 years old)/ fourth place at the 2016 CrossFit Games (34 years old).

Moorad was even more impressive in 14th place. The last time a male individual 34 years old or older placed better than 14th place was Neal Maddox in ninth place at the 2013 CrossFit Games at 35 years old (Maddox was also 15th place at the 2014 CrossFit Games at 36 years old). Moorad made his rookie Games debut at the 2014 Games, also in 14th place (which he tied this year for his second-best performance). It is impressive to see him having a career renaissance, after a number of injuries after 2014 which kept him from the Games again until 2019.

It is very remarkable what Rolfe and Moorad accomplished given how much tougher and younger the competition is in this era of the CrossFit Games. Next year, they can move up to the age-group division, but it appears they may still have their eyes set on the individual division.


Will Moorad during Test 6

Will Moorad during Individual Test 6 | Photo by @wongsdottir


Movement on the All-Time Games Test Winners Rankings

  • Laura Horvath, with five test wins, now has a total of 11 for her career, tied for fourth all-time for women with Samantha Briggs.
  • Brent Fikowski, with his test win, now has a total of eight for his career, tied for third all-time for men with Josh Bridges.
  • Patrick Vellner, with his test win, now has a total of seven for his career, fifth all-time for men.
  • Jeffrey Adler, with his two test wins, now has a total of six for his career, tied for sixth all-time for men with Jason Khalipa.
  • Roman Khrennikov with his two test wins now has a total of five for his career, tied for eighth all-time for men with three other men.

Games Test Win Streaks

Jeffrey Adler is the only individual to have won tests in the last four Games.

Laura Horvath, Patrick Vellner, and Danielle Brandon have won tests in the last three Games. 


Danielle Brandon after winning Individual Test 3

Danielle Brandon after winning Individual Test 3 | Photo by Adam Bow


Home Run Hitters Knocked More Out of the Park

  • Danielle Brandon won the Inverted Medley test, her fourth career test win. All four of her test wins included handstand walking (2022’s Skill Speed Medley, 2021’s Event 8, and 2019’s Second Cut).
  • Emily Rolfe won the Cross-Country 5K, her third-career test win. All three tests included running long distances (the other two being Event 10 at the 2021 CrossFit Games with 3 miles of running, and the 2019 CrossFit Games Ruck test with 6 kilometers of running).
  • Jonne Koski, whose previous three career test wins all involved swimming, won his fourth career test in Ride with cyclocross-style mountain biking. On his previous two cycling Games tests, he came in second and third.

Individual Wrap-Up

A considerable number of accomplishments were made in the individual divisions this year including the crowning of two new champions. The overall records and rankings were shuffled up by the 2023 CrossFit Games. This trend continued into the team division, which will be reviewed next.


Cover photo by @lifeofmalm


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