When the changes to the CrossFit Games season were announced in August 2018, teens and masters athletes were left wondering whether age group divisions would return. Once the official 2018-2019 CrossFit Games season rulebook was released in January it revealed that the age group divisions would remain mostly intact but with a two key changes.
2019 Open By the Numbers:
- 172,388 teen and masters athletes registered the Open.
- 65,042 teen and masters athletes completed all five WODs RX.
The first change: An athlete’s overall Open placement will no longer contribute to an athlete’s overall score in the Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ).
- Context: Take a look at the 2018 AGOQ leaderboard for Male 35-39. You’ll notice the first scored event of five is an athletes’ Open Finish. At the top of the list, Kyle Kasperbauer finished 7th in the Open and so received 7 points. That accounts for 20% of his overall score.
- Going forward, all 200 athletes who qualify for the AGOQ start from zero. If an athlete wins their divisions in the Open they don’t start with a leg up. Starting in 2014, Open placement accounted for 20% of an athletes overall AGOQ score which is pretty significant.
- Scoring an athletes’ Open placement essentially eliminated 75% of the age group field from earning a qualifying position to the CrossFit Games. There are a handful of exceptions but very few.
- Similar to Regionals, the AGOQ workouts are heavier and more skilled. It’s designed to be a more advanced test to see who’s ready for the big show. Removing the Open score will allow athletes who are stronger and more skilled a chance to prove their fitness on a more even playing field.
The second change: All age group divisions have been reduced from 20 spots to 10.
Taking a look back at some of the previous years, this change has the potential to have some significant changes in the outcome for masters divisions, less so for Teens.
- 42 masters from the 11th to 20th AGOQ places (and 11th to 20th Open places from 2011-2013 before the AGOQ, 2010 had a global qualifier at each Regional) have podiumed at the Games. That’s 17.1% of all masters podium athletes.
- A total of 7 athletes actually won their division who placed between 11th and 20th in the AGOQ.
- Only three Teenagers (12.5%) have been 11th place or higher in the AGOQ and then went on to podium at the Games. None of them won their division.
The Bottom Line: Quite a few masters athletes from places 11 – 20 have gone on to stand on the podium at the Games. By removing an athlete’s Open score from the AGOQ it has the potential to balance this out a little more. It alleviates the pressure on masters to peak for the Open then maintain that peak level for the next two months. As one multi-year masters athlete shared with us, it’s usually the healthiest and the fittest athletes who stand on the podium at the Games.
The Age Group Online Qualifier kicks off May 2 – 6, 2019.