Photo credit: Carlos Bown | Bown Media
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This Wednesday, 36 teams will compete to hold the Affiliate Cup at the top of the podium while they will be sprinkled with champagne on “Championship Sunday” at the NOBULL CrossFit Games 2022. However, as we have learned from years past, most of these teams’ dreams of this moment will quickly be dashed as only a few select teams will break away from the pack and give reigning champions Cookeville, TN a hard time.
This marks the second year of the division’s current format and, like previous years, it has brought out more talented teams stacked with sports superstars. This season’s tag team division has been more in vogue than ever and for good reason as some of the best teams from last year have returned and new ones have been formed, all with the aim of having their names etched on the “Coupe”. “.
Death, taxes and CrossFit Mayhem Freedom winning the Affiliate Cup are constants. The Tennessee team has won a record five titles at the Games, including the last three. Every year they won by bigger margins. Last year, they were 279 points better than their nearest competitors. In 2019 they won by 198 points, in 2018 they were 112 points behind. During their five-title reign, the average margin of victory has been 142.6 points.
Last year they won a team record in seven of 12 events, including the first five events. As dominant as this team is, this year’s team should be the best team Rich Froning Jr. has ever assembled. Returning are Andrea Nisler and Taylor Williamson, considered the best female team athletes of all time.
Joining the trio is Canadian Samuel Cournoyer, a person many believe will be a future individual podium contender at the Games. Cournoyer proved it with his third place finish in a stacked individual field at Wodapalooza. The 26-year-old has played in three Games finishing as high as 10th in 2020.
The newly formed team placed second in the Open, first in the team quarterfinals and won all six events in the union crown semifinals. In both CrossFit scheduled workouts of the semifinals, Freedom had the third best weight lifted in the snatch ladder (935 LB) and the fourth fastest time (11:20.83) in the “Thruster + Legless” workout among the playground.
If these are the last Games for Froning, considered the “greatest CrossFit athlete” of all time, then he has built a team that sees him achieve a record 10 combined Games titles, all but one data.
The main reason this year’s Tag Team Division has garnered so much attention is the formation of a star-studded team in Iceland. CrossFit Reykjavík returns to the Games for the first time since 2017 but with a much different look. Two-time Games champion Annie Thorisdottir decided to try her luck in the team competition after reaching the individual podium at last year’s Games.
She was able to recruit Americans Lauren Fisher, Tola Morakinyo and Aussie Khan Porter, who unlike Thorisdottir have experience competing at the Team Games. Morakinyo has three Games appearances on a team and is considered one of the strongest men in CrossFit. Fisher last appeared at the Games in 2019, finishing third with Team CrossFit Invictus. Finally, Porter has six Games appearances, including a team appearance in 2019.
Reykjavík won the “Snatch Ladder” workout in the semifinals with a total weight lifted of 955.5 pounds and had the second fastest time in the “Thruster + Legless” workout. The combination of superstars poses a serious threat to Mayhem Freedom on paper.
CrossFit Oslo came out of nowhere last year to finish second at the Games behind Mayhem Freedom. This year, the team returns with a different name, adding color to its name, passing by CrossFit Oslo Navy Blue. The team remained largely intact with the return of Ingrid Hodnemyr, Lena Richter and Eivind Dahl Ringard. The addition of Nicolay Billaudel, three times “Fittest Man in Norway”, makes a good team even better. Billaudel entered the 2019 Games as Norway’s national champion, finishing 40th.
Hodnemyr and Richter give Mayhem’s Williamson and Nisler a hard time as the fittest women’s duo in the division. The Norwegians (with Kristin Holte) already have a victory under their belt against their Mayhem counterparts when they finished ahead of them (with Haley Adams) in their victory at Wodapalooza in January.
As expected, the team easily won their semi-final, finishing 120 points ahead of their closest competitor at Strength in Depth. Oslo Navy Blue joined Mayhem Freedom and CrossFit Reykjavík as the only teams to win all six of their semi-final workouts.
The black horses of the podium
If there’s one team that knows just how talented and prepared Mayhem Freedom is – not that there’s any doubt about it – it’s Independence Mayhem. The team is made up of four very talented individuals with varying degrees of competition experience. Alexis Johnson is a name that stands out because of her Games experience as an individual and as a team. She has appeared at the Games three times, with her last appearance being a member of the Don’t Stop team which finished sixth at the 2019 Games.
Angelo DiCicco was on his way to stardom as a two-time ‘fittest teen’, but a back injury forced him into early retirement. This retirement was premature as he continued in CrossFit to prepare him for his career as a firefighter. This led to him entering the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge as an individual last year and qualifying for the Last Chance Qualifier. Joined by Argentinian Sasha Nieves who competed at the Games last year as an individual, the former Olympic weightlifter brings untapped strength and potential. Luke Parker also brings a high level of strength and performance to the team training alongside Froning’s Freedom team.
The team won four events at MACC, winning its semi-final by 80 points. In the semifinals, they actually matched their Freedom counterparts with a lifted weight of 935 pounds in the “Snatch Ladder”. Their time of 11:55.21 in the “Thruster + Legless” workouts is eighth best among the Games field.
CrossFit Invictus‘ is synonymous with the team division, having representation at every Games since the team division’s inception in 2009. This year’s team is looking to return to the podium, something they have accomplished three times in their rich history, including an Affiliate Cup Championship in 2014.
Brittany Weiss and Jorge Fernandez are survivors of last year’s team that finished 19th. They added former teenage star Devyn Kim, who had her first Games team experience last year when Invictus Unconquerable was disqualified for having an athlete test positive for a banned substance. Joshua Al-Chamaa will finally make his Games debut after many years of tough breaks and close calls. The Briton is considered one of the fittest men in the UK and, paired with Fernandez, gives the team a mighty 1-2 punch in the strength and power events.
They were the best team in the Granite Games semi-finals, winning against a stacked field with consistent effort across the board. All six of their finishes were in the top 3 including three event wins.
Top ten contenders
Some other teams that can cause Mayhem Freedom headaches and the teams chasing them include Russia KT CrossFit who actually holds the “Thruster + Legless” workout record with a time of 10:44.00 when they won the Far East Throwdown.
Urban Energy CrossFit returns after a seventh-place finish at last year’s Games. They put on a show in the Torian Pro Semi-Final by winning three practices.
Canadian teams CrossFit Taranis Tree of Life and CrossFit Pro1 Montreal are teams that are no strangers to the Games in terms of experience.
American teams CrossFit OBA, Move Fast Lift Heavy and CrossFit Greater Heights Ascend finished behind Invictus at the Granite Games, but are considered threats to the podium due to their wealth of Games experience from individuals on each respective team.