Can Rich Froning win the 2021 CrossFit Games with three new teammates?
CrossFit's new rulebook dropped a month ago, and there are some significant changes when it comes to the team division, who compete for the famed Affiliate Cup at the CrossFit Games. Although there was no team portion for the 2020 CrossFit Games, it will return in 2021 and there is some news when it comes to the greatest quartet of all-time.
Four-time individual winner Rich Froning, who has won four team titles as well, leads CrossFit Mayhem Freedom, which has become a veritable dynasty when it comes to the sport. Froning finds himself with three new teammates for this season as rules axed two of his buddies from the squad due to CrossFit's rule that team members must live within a hundred miles of the box they will compete for.
Scott Panchik, who is based out of Ohio, is returning to individual competitions after joining Froning's squad for last season. Chyna Cho is based out of California and therefore can't compete with the squad, and Tania Percevecz said she is taking the year off from competing to deal with some medical issues.
Froning of course was able to find three replacements in short order, and features some heavy hitters. First is Andrea Nisler, who came 10th in the women's division in 2020. Then there's Taylor Williamson, a team mainstay when it comes to podiums who has won both the Rogue Invitational and the Dubai CrossFit Championship as part of different squads.
Finally there is Chase Hill, who is Froning's cousin through his wife. Hill qualified for the 2020 CrossFit Games as part of Froning's Mayhem Independence squad before the team portion got axed due to the pandemic.
So, can Froning take three new teammates and make magic? The chances are high. Froning has proven himself to be a great leader and selector when it comes to the team competition, as an iteration of his squad has won four titles in five years and came second the one time they didn't win.
Froning has long been known as the Godfather of the sport, and now he's found a way to identify and cultivate talent, which includes Hayley Adams, a teenager who trains under his wing and is already looking like the future of the sport.
This season will be different however and test Froning like no other. For the team competition, there will be quarterfinals and semifinals, which will likely see Froning's squad up against some fellow heavy-hitting American squads before the Games even begins. You can also expect CrossFit to squeeze the number of teams down due to Covid-19 and social distancing, which means dog fights for spots in the finals.
Alas, betting against Froning is like betting against Mat Fraser or Tia-Clair Toomey, all have proven they can win, again and again, over and over. Expect more of the same this year when it comes to the Godfather and his CrossFit Mayhem Freedom compatriots.