Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography | Victoria Costello
Enjoying Morning Chalk Up? Access additional exclusive interviews, analyses, and stories with an Rx membership.
Mal O’Brien and Saxon Panchik have been officially announced as the winners of the 2022 CrossFit Open.
One big thing: Both O’Brien and Panchik switched coaches this season, with O’Brien now training under five-time Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser at HWPO and Panchik at PRVN Fitness in Nashville, TN.
O’Brien, who won CrossFit’s Rookie of the Year last season after she placed seventh at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games, has become the youngest Open winner in history at age 18. She admitted at a post-Open press conference Thursday that her coaching changed this season was challenging at first.
- “Basically we have been focusing on quality, which is something I think I struggled with last year. I was still new and I’m young, so it’s just like I want to do as much as I can and I just wanna keep working out all day and there was not a lot of strategy behind it,” O’Brien said of her coming last year.
- “Something Mat (Fraser) has done for me is to look at the big picture, and we’re really focusing on longevity, so right now I’m training to have the longest and (most) successful career I can, so quality over quantity is basically our main focus right now…It was super hard at first, but I have gotten into my groove, so (I’m) very happy about that,” she added.
- And any doubts O’Brien might have had about her new coach’s less is more approach were certainly put to rest with her recent Open win, an accomplishment she said was never her goal, “but that’s just how it played out.”
- This is also how she said she is going to continue to approach the 2022 season: with a “no expectations, just taking things day-by-day” strategy.
Panchik now has bragging rights among his siblings Scott and Spencer, becoming the sixth different men’s Open champion ever. The four-time Games athlete and reigning fifth Fittest Man on Earth has long been on the cusp of breaking away from the shadow of his older brother, and this win could signal this could be the year.
His decision to retest 22.2 with his new team less than 24-hours after participating in the live announcement was key in him winning this year’s Open.
- “When I went through that workout I executed everything perfectly that I had in my head and then when I finished the workout I thought, ‘Okay you left a lot on the table.’ So as soon as I got back that night I thought of the idea of doing it the next morning. And I talked to my coach and said, ‘Hey I didn’t feel like I hit my full potential on that workout and if you approve I’d like to just try it again and push that boundary and see where I can go and he agreed.’”
Panchik added this win is definitely the culmination of a long journey for him that started when he was young, and he is happy he knows he can now compete with the best of the best.
- “It means the world to me, I got into this sport when I was 12 years old and I used to compare myself to the females of the sport when I was young, going with all the female’s weight. And obviously as I progressed through the sport I got over to the men’s weights.”