Do Fraser’s and Sigmundsdottir’s Dominant Open Performances Forecast Games Championships?
While score verification is still underway and will be for a few more weeks, Mathew Fraser and Sara Sigmundsdottir are the unofficial winners of the 2019 CrossFit Open.
Here’s a quick look at their week by week performances:
- Fraser: 59th, 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 1st — 66 total points overall
- Sigmundsdottir: 6th, 5th, 2nd, 23rd, 5th — 41 total points overall
Keep this in mind: Neither Fraser nor Sigmundsdottir were required to do the Open in order to go to the CrossFit Games. Both won a Sanctional earlier this year: Fraser won Dubai and Sigmundsdottir won Strength in Depth. However, both could improve their seed at the Games by performing well in the Open.
A look back on past Open Winners: Does winning the Open mean you’re going to win the CrossFit Games?
- Of the 16 Open Winners, seven went on to win the CrossFit Games. However, Fraser and Rich Froning account for five of the seven wins. The other two were Sam Briggs (2013) and Annie Thorisdottir (2011).
- The other Open Winners ranged in Games finishes between 4th and 13th, with a DNQ from Sam Briggs (2014) and Jamie Greene going Team (2016).
- In fact, of all the past 48 Top 3 overall Open athletes, just 35% of them made the Games individual podium in the same year (note, there were a few instances where some of these athletes went Team).
- The Open and the Games are also vastly different competitions. The Open is spread out over five weeks where athletes get to choose their environment and conditions in which they will perform each workout (as many times as they like). The Games on the other hand is contested in a 4 – 5 day span against the best in the world with multiple events each day, which are all one-and-done.
- So will it be different in 2019? Turns out Open success is not the best indicator of whether an athlete will win the CrossFit Games, let alone get on the podium.
…But let’s not forget, the 2019 is unlike every other Open in that it’s a direct qualifier for the CrossFit Games. One implication is that scores are more directly comparable because top athletes are taking every workout more seriously.
The case for Fraser: By all accounts everything is going according to plan on his quest to tie Froning for the most All-Time Individual Games Championships with four. Here are some of the significant achievements that he added to his stellar Open career resume:
- Passed Rich for the most All-Time Open wins, with four.
- Second lowest average Open workout finish in his career with a 13.2 place (averaged 8.0 place in 2017). His only “hiccup” was 19.1 where for a “shorter” athlete, Fraser still performed very well with a 59th place worldwide.
- Open Announcement 19.5. Not only did Fraser set an insane time-to-beat for the world in the announcement, it was never beaten. Being in the electric Miami announcement atmosphere and being pushed by a fellow reigning Games Champion Tia-Clair Toomey definitely helped. It was only the second time this happened in Open history where the worldwide best time for a workout was set during an announcement. The other was done by Sam Briggs in 14.5 where she too was also pushed by a reigning Games Champion, Rich Froning, who beat her out by just five seconds. Regardless, Briggs had the best women’s time worldwide for 14.5.
- Two Open Workout Wins. Fraser now has a total of six for his career moving him up into 4th All-Time behind Briggs, Froning, and Josh Bridges.
- Fraser has translated his Open wins to Games Championships twice out of his previous three Open titles (he took second the other time). Bodes well for him at the 2019 CrossFit Games.
The case for Sigmundsdottir: 2018 was rough for Sigmundsdottir having to deal with injury at the start and end of the season. Despite last year’s setbacks, this season’s Open finish is not surprising based upon her rebounding lead-up to the Open. After 2017, Sara returned to her native Iceland and has tapped coach Phil Mansfield to overseeing all aspects of her training. She had two Sanctional 3rd places in Dubai and Wodapalooza, and then kicked off the Open with her aforementioned win at Strength in Depth. All things are going about as well as possible so far for Sigmundsdottir.
So what are relevant take-aways from Sigmundsdottir’s Open win?
- She’s been in this position before, having won the Open in 2017. But her 2017 performance wasn’t nearly as dominant. She nudged out second place Kari Pearce by just 4 points, but went on to finish a disappointing (for her) 4th place at the 2017 Games.
- Sigmundsdottir’s 32-point margin over Annie Thorisdottir is the second largest margin of victory for a women in the Open. In 2014, Sam Briggs destroyed the field with a 127 points margin over 2nd place. Moreover, she beat Fraser’s point total along with having a notable 8.4 place workout average this Open showing amazing consistency.
- Despite never winning an Open workout worldwide in her career, Sigmundsdottir has racked up an impressive nine worldwide Open Workout Top 5s since 2015 including three this Open (note she had none last year as she was recovering from injury).
Given the prominence of this Open, does it give more significance to Mat and Sara’s wins with regards to their chances to go on and win the Games? As outlined above, it is debatable that winning the Open will lead to a Games Championship. Going off just the evidence we have from their Open performances and past history:
- For Fraser, Yes. He won the Open yet again without having to against the strongest competition ever. He’s been in this position before and there is no reason not to expect him atop the podium in Madison yet again in August.
- For Sigmundsdottir, Maybe. Success in the Open has been quite routine for her, but unfortunately it has not led to a Games Championship. Her second Open win is another great accolade to add to her resume. But will it translate to her long-desired Games Championship is still TBD.